Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

17714301My Review:
A compelling, heartfelt, story!

It's safe to say I have not read a book like this one ever before, and I mean that in the best way possible. Wingate shares with us two stories separated by time. She artfully weaves Iola Anne's story into Tandi's in an intriguing way that pulled me deeper within the pages. The use of letters and a prayer box is such a beautiful concept!

Before I ramble about Tandi, I want to focus on Iola for a moment. This woman is amazing, generous, and compassionate. Her heart is so big. She doesn't even judge or feel any kind of bitterness toward her neighbors for how they treat her. That is simply amazing. People like Iola in real life are few and far between. We as readers need to learn from this wonderful fictional lady.

As for Tandi... Wow. She's been through so much. She has this strength within her, that she doesn't realize is there. Her life is truly messed up, but as she meets her landlady, through her landlady's prayer boxes, she is slowly transformed from the inside out. I don't want to spill too much, but I like watching positive actions get positive results.

To conclude, The Prayer Box fell short of my expectations by a small amount. I requested this book without realizing it is geared for women a generation older than I. Nonetheless, I found it a good read and Wingate's writing is up to par in her latest release.

I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Back Cover:
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house. Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin {Revell Blog Tour!}

16117006My Review:
Another fantastic WWII story from Sarah Sundin!

Georgie was a highlight in With Every Letter and I couldn't wait to learn more about her. I love her kind heart. Without it, she and Rose would have missed out on a great friendship with Mellie, who we met in the first book. Though she'd let other people make decisions for her all her life, Georgie found herself ready for a change.

There was a little overlap between the first and this one, but a very minor one at that, and it didn't affect Georgie's story at all. As always, Sundin's writing is excellent and smooth. The journeys she put these characters on were not easy. However, on the flip side, our journey isn't either. Watching Georgie and Hutch grow through the course of the story felt like the most natural thing. Nothing happened too fast or too slow.

It was effortless to get lost in the era and world Georgie and Hutch found themselves in. I love the WWII era. The relationships, the faith, the common hope for a better future. One of my favorite scenes is set on Christmas day with Georgie on a flight. She led the men in carols and Christmas cheer, despite the war going on around them. You don't see or hear things like that any more. The scene is a highlight for me. Speaking of highlights I'll note real quick that Lucia is a big one. I hope we see her again! She was absolutely adorable!

Previous fans of Sundin's work will not be disappointed by her latest release. I loved following Georgie and Hutch through their struggles and I loved diving into their worlds for a time. I look forward to getting to know Kay better in the next book. Perhaps I'll finally have my questions answered.

Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Back Cover:
Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace--and a love that remains true.

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made? 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden {CFBA}

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Into the Whirlwind
Baker Publishing Group (August 15, 2013)
by
Elizabeth Camden


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.




ABOUT THE BOOK

After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Into the Whirlwind, go HERE.

My Review:
A wonderful, whirlwind, of a story!

I was swept away into Chicago, 1871. We follow the story through the Great Fire and into the rebuilding of the city. I found myself fascinated by Mollie's watch company and how business, among other things, was conducted. Camden did fabulous with her research. The emotions Mollie and Zach experienced after the fire were the perfect amount, enough to be realistic but not too much  for the reader to lose interest.

There's nothing quite like getting lost in a historical setting and enjoying the characters, the conflict, and their personal journeys. Mollie truly felt real. She's level-headed, intelligent, and likable. She has her flaws, but she strives to do the right thing by her employees, most of whom are veterans from the Civil War.

Into the Whirlwind hosts many side characters, but I never felt there were too many or that they were imposing too much on Mollie. It's a hard balance but Camden pulled if off expertly. As for me, I liked Declan and Alice best and I'm hoping that maybe we'll see Declan again in a future book...?? ;) Ahem.

In sum, I believe Into the Whirlwind is my new favorite, of the works I've read, from Camden. I teared up more than once. There were many times I didn't know how things would work out. Times I had to set the book down and reflect on the characters, on the decisions they made. I would love to read about these characters again. The book was that enjoyable.

I received this book from CFBA through the publisher in return for an honest review of opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Icing on the Cake by Janice Thompson {Revell Blog Tour!}

16153369My Review:
Another great rom-com from Thompson!

This is an excellent addition to the Weddings by Design series, and a well written one at that. Not that Picture Perfect wasn't splendidly done, because it was. I just think Icing on the Cake is just that: the icing on the cake. Thompson brought to surface an issue that is scarcely written about in fiction: obesity. She handled it with grace and accuracy.

Nonetheless, it felt good to get to know such a beautiful character. I enjoyed Scarlet's presence in Hannah's story, but nothing could have thrilled me more than getting to know dear, sweet, funny Scarlet more. As with every character I grow fond of, I loved watching Scarlett blossom into the woman God made her to be, flaws and all. She changed for the better.

So far, there hasn't been a book written by Miss Thompson that I haven't liked. Time literally flies when I pick up one of her novels, in a very good way. I cannot express how much I enjoy her style, her characters, and her humor. I really need to go finish her Weddings by Bella series now...

If you enjoy clean romantic comedies, then I can almost promise you Janice Thompson won't let you down! I recommend for ages 15 and up.

Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Back Cover:
Scarlet isn't sure if she has just the right ingredients for true love--or utter disaster

Scarlet Lindsey is busy making her dreams come true. She's moved her bakery to a prime spot on Galveston's most popular street, she's planning an extravagant cake for her best friend's wedding, and she has a great relationship with Bella Neeley, the island's most popular wedding coordinator. Business is booming and Scarlet is enjoying the ride.

But when Bella's dangerously handsome brother Armando breezes into her life, Scarlet is faced with a sticky situation. Should she stay with the safe, sweet guy who's been a fixture in her life for years? Or will this brash Italian hunk melt her guarded heart?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering {CFBA}

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rules of Murder
Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
by
Julianna Deering

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014).



ABOUT THE BOOK

Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rules of Murder, go HERE.

My Review:
An exciting, 1930s mystery!

When I first heard about Rules of Murder I fell in love with the cover. The style and the font fit the story setting very well. But, as we all know, we cannot simply judge a book by its cover. I'm happy to say what I found inside the cute cover is a fabulous mystery that befuddled me further with every new clue. Though I will note with some pride I did see one of the twists coming... Ahem. Anyway.

Deering did her research well. Drew, Madeline, and Nick's accents, and even the way they talked, popped off the page. She crafted the setting very well, also bringing it off the page, reminiscent of Downton Abbey. I don't think she could have made the story feel any more real and for that, I praise her.

Drew and Madeline are positively adorable together. I loved the banter between them and between Drew and Nick. The three of them make up a great cast and I cannot wait to read more about them in the next novel Death by the Book!

If you enjoy mysteries or any of Agatha Christie's works (note: I have not read any of her novels) then I can guarantee you'll like this one. With an escalating mystery, true to the times characters, and a tangible setting, Deering's debut is one you won't want to miss. I recommend to 15+ for some minor violence surrounding a murder.

I received this book from CFBA, through the publisher, in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong {Revell Blog Tour!}

Cover ArtMy Review:
A good debut from Armstrong!

I love stories about small towns. They're attractive because of the close-knit family feel they bring, yet this attractive quality also repels many. Last Chance emanates warmth and kindness. Its residents share the love of Christ to any wanderers, especially people running from something, like Lainie. I loved how Lainie learned to appreciate people, despite their obvious flaws and imperfections.

The change in Lainie from her arrival at Last Chance to the final pages is subtle, though she certainly is different by the end. Personally, I wanted to see more of her internal transition. However, I liked Lainie's courage. As for other characters, Fayette and Elizabeth have left a permanent mark on my memory. Elizabeth's stubbornness and Fayette's determination combined to eventually straighten Lainie out.

I did not like how Armstrong never gave us a description of Ray. I thought he was some older man at first, but after Lainie began to have an interest in him, I decided he must be younger than I thought. If anything, it was a minor frustration for me. The ending felt a little rushed with no post-climax. I finished the book longing for a little more faith presented in the story; however, given Lainie isn't a Christian at the onset that's okay. Armstrong's writing is easy to read and keep up with, but this isn't a favorite. I do look forward to where she takes this series and with whom.

I'd recommend this book to older teens, due to minor adult content (drinking, Ray owns a bar, drug dealing and using are brought up once or twice.)

I received this book from Revell in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks!

Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Back Cover:
The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort-especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.
Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fall Releases I'm Really Excited About!

Hey everyone! I apologize that things have been slow around here, my family and I have been really busy as of late with no hope of slowing down for a little while yet. So, to make it up to you all, I got this brilliant idea to post about several titles releasing this fall that I'm excited about.

Whispers from the Shadows (The Culper Ring #2)
Book Blurb:  
This exciting and adventurous romantic spy novel is the second book in a new series from Roseanna M. White. Whispers from the Shadows combines fascinating cloak-and-dagger secrets with a tale of love and intrigue during the War of 1812.
Treachery causes Gwyneth Fairchild's world to crumble. The daughter of a British general, she just barely saves her life by fleeing London aboard a ship to America. Her goal is to find refuge with the Lane family in Maryland, having been told by her father she could implicitly trust Winter and Bennet Lane, even though their nations are once again at war. After meeting their son, Thad, she soon discovers they are a family much like her own. The Lanes trade in a dangerous commodity--espionage.
Not long after Gwyneth is on his ship, Captain Thad Lane experiences the tug of love, though he fears it may blur lines of loyalty. With family playing the part of enemies and enemies proving themselves friends, a future with Gwyn is uncertain. But at this moment, with the British advancing on Washington and Baltimore, they have only their shared faith in God as a shield about them.

Release Date: August 2013
Why I'm Excited: I really, really, loved Ring of Secrets and Fairchild's Lady. I cannot wait to read about Gwyneth and Lane! <3
Icing on the Cake (Weddings by Design #2)
Book Blurb:
Scarlet isn't sure if she has just the right ingredients for true love--or utter disaster
 Scarlet Lindsey is busy making her dreams come true. She's moved her bakery to a prime spot on Galveston's most popular street, she's planning an extravagant cake for her best friend's wedding, and she has a great relationship with Bella Neeley, the island's most popular wedding coordinator. Business is booming and Scarlet is enjoying the ride.
But when Bella's dangerously handsome brother Armando breezes into her life, Scarlet is faced with a sticky situation. Should she stay with the safe, sweet guy who's been a fixture in her life for years? Or will this brash Italian hunk melt her guarded heart?Fan favorite Janice Thompson is back with more wit, more weddings, and more of what you love best--bridal-business drama laced with laughs.
Release Date: August 2013
Why I'm Excited: I fell in love with Thompson's writing style with Picture Perfect. So naturally I'm excited for the sequel! I loved Scarlet in the first Weddings by Design series and I'm happy to get to read about her happily-ever-after.

Into the Whirlwind  -     
        By: Elizabeth Camden
Book Blurb:
After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.
Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.
While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?
Release Date: August 2013
Why I'm Excited: First of all, isn't that cover just gorgeous? I think so. I love the soft colors and that adorable hairstyle on our heroine. :-)

On Distant Shores (Wings of the Nightingale, #2) 
Book Blurb:
Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace--and a love that remains true.
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson. 
Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?
With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.
Release Date: August 2013
Why I'm Excited: I liked Georgiana in With Every Letter and I was so happy when I found out On Distant Shores would be about her. :-)

Stranded (Alaskan Courage, #3) 
Book Blurb:
When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn't satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn't lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby's position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn't the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.
Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He's surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.
Release Date: September 2013
Why I'm Excited: Dani hasn't disappointed me yet! Love the McKenna family! :)

Love's Awakening (The Ballantyne Legacy, #2) 
Book Blurb:
 Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?
Release Date: September 2013
Why I'm Excited: I'm a new fan of Frantz's work but I thoroughly enjoyed Love's Reckoning.

Trapped (Private Justice #2) 
Book Blurb:
 When librarian Laura Griffin's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James "Dev" Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn't just dangerous--it's deadly.
Release Date: September 2013
Why I'm Excited: I have loved all of Irene's books and I'm sure Trapped will be no exception. :-D


Book Blurb:
Gideon O’Riley has been given another chance at a life with Lonnie. But will the fight for her heart risk it all over again?
  After finally finding love with his sweet bride Lonnie, Gideon’s heart was torn when a woman from his past claimed to be his true and rightful wife, forcing him away from his family. God’s merciful hand saw Gideon through the heartache, and with Cassie’s blessing, he is able to return home. Though his journey back through the Blue Ridge Mountains will hold a trial he never anticipated.
 Meanwhile, Lonnie determines to seal off her heart from Gideon, convinced he is lost to her forever. Strengthening her resolve to move on is the fondness she has for the handsome Scotsman, Toby McKee—the young reverend she has come to care deeply for. His proposal of marriage offers a bright future for her and her young son.
 Yearning to allow joy back into her life, Lonnie must put aside the broken pieces of her heart that still love Gideon. When he returns to find her betrothed to another, he has to place his hope in God, trusting that the One who redeemed their love once can do it again.

Release Date: October 2013
Why I'm Excited: Oh, my. This series is positively amazing and I hate to see it come to an end. Nonetheless, I can't wait to read it!

That's all I have to share right now, but I'm sure I'll do this again. :-D What new releases are you anticipating this fall?