Thursday, July 31, 2014

When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren {Litfuse Blog Tour!}

19320758My Review:
An endearing, sweet release from Warren!

I have loved every second spent with the Christiansen family, and let me say, When I Fall in Love is really close to topping Take a Chance on Me. Honestly, Grace and Max were amazing and their story reminded me how much I love Ms. Warren's books! Not to mention most of their story unfolds on the beaches of Hawaii? And who doesn't love that idea? I admit, though, I'd react to the long plane ride much like Grace does...

But moving on, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and personality inside Max, Grace, Casper, and even Raina. Out of the characters I've named, I think Max is my favorite. His struggles and his fears came across the page and struck me. I sympathized for him more than the other characters. In a similar way, I felt like I related to Grace more. While we do not share many of the same traits, there are a few that we have in common, and it's enough to endear me to her.

I love how as Ms. Warren tells one story, she begins another. It makes the story world feel almost 3-D. While something is happening with Raina and Casper, we know that Max and Grace are having fun doing something in Hawaii. It adds a realistic touch to the whole novel and it doesn't give only two characters the spotlight.

All this said, I easily recommend this novel to fans of Ms. Warren's other work and fans of the age fifteen or older. If you're looking for a relaxing, sweet book to read during the afternoon, When I Fall in Love is an excellent choice.

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

Back Cover:
Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in paradise, she is pulled—or maybe yanked—away from her predictable, safe life and thrown headfirst into the adventure of a lifetime.

Max Sharpe may make his living on the ice as a pro hockey player, but he feels most at home in the kitchen. Which is why he lives for the three-week culinary vacation he takes each year in Hawaii. Upon being paired with Grace for a cooking competition, Max finds himself drawn to her passion, confidence, and perseverance. But just when Grace dares to dream of a future beyond her hometown, Max pulls away.

Wrestling with personal demons, Max fights against opening his heart to a love he knows he should never hope for. And as his secrets unfold, Grace is torn between the safe path in front of her and what her heart truly desires. If love means sacrificing her ideal happily ever after, Grace’s faith will face its toughest test yet.
Susan May Warren's newest book in the Christiansen Family Collection, When I Fall In Love,  has won over readers' and critics' hearts alike. With critical reviews like, ". . . an exquisite romance. Profoundly touching on the topic of facing fears, this book is a true gem," and more than 60 five-star reviews at Amazon, When I Fall in Love is sure to please.

Susan has teamed up with some amazing food bloggers for a fun food challenge and a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway!
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  One grand prize winner will receive:
Grab your aprons and wire whisks and buzz on over to the When I Fall in Love website to learn more and enter the Hawaiian Chef Showdown! Susan is challenging you to make a Hawaiian-inspired dish using coconut, mango, or one of the other ingredients mentioned in the book. You’ll get extra points for creating your own recipe—plus she might share it on the When I Fall in Love site! Or if you're not up for an adventure in the kitchen just click one of the icons below for easy entry.

Hurry, the giveaway ends on August 10th. All winners will be announced August 13th at Susan's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Susan's blog on the 13th to see if you won!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar {CFBA Blog Tour!}

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
In The Field of Grace
River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2014)
by
Tessa Afshar


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi's love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.

But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor.  Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

Based on the biblical account of Ruth, In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel's destiny and the future of the whole world.

If you would like to read the first chapter of In The Field of Grace, go HERE.

My Review: 
Oh, my! Another amazing release from Tessa Afshar!!

I have loved every book I've read by Ms. Afshar, and this one is no exception! To make things even better, she writes about Ruth and Boaz in In the Field of Grace! The story of Ruth is a long time favorite of mine. I was so thrilled to discover that's who I'd be reading about. I love how Ms. Afshar tries to stay true to the Bible while also threading in fiction where there are gaps or "loose ends" in the story. She did this in a truly amazing way.

I loved how she characterized Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. She fleshed them out, gave them dreams, gave them fears... In essence, she breathed life into them. One day when I'm in Heaven I'm going to ask Ruth to tell me her story. (As well as ask many other people, but I digress...) It wouldn't surprise me if Ruth reveals many of the same emotions that Ms. Afshar portrays in the story. It's beautifully done. This is another book that will have a permanent place on my shelf to be re-read, and lent to people who I think need the story brought to life. I'm very picky with what Biblical fiction I read, but I'm proud to say Tessa Afshar's works have made the cut. ;-) I recommend this novel to fans of Biblical fiction anywhere from adults to the teenagers of fifteen.

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

{Book Review:} Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering

18652050My Review:
Another fantastic Drew Farthering mystery by Ms. Deering!

While I am far too busy to have a lazy afternoon to spend reading, during my available my spare time you had to fight me to get this book out of my hands. The depth of the mystery and the pacing of the overall story were about on par. Not to mention the many twists and curves to keep you guessing along the way! I went into the novel eager for a fresh mystery, and Ms. Deering came through.

Something I look for particularly in mystery novels is a shocking reveal. Let me say, I have never read a book where the culprit was... Oh, wait. I can't tell you. ;-) Read the book for yourself!! I was pleasantly shocked I had not figured it out. But, moving past the whodunit excitement, I loved a couple of the new characters we met, particularly Peter. I'm a sucker for adorable, fictional kids. Maybe it's because they represent their real-life counterparts well.

Well, to wrap up this review, I must say I've become so attached to Drew, Nick, and Madeline over the course of these books, that I dearly hope this is not the end of their adventures! It's safe to say that if you have read and enjoyed the previous books, Murder at the Mikado, will definitely suit your fancy. Whether you're a fan of the 1930s, or the mystery genre, or both, you should enjoy this new release. I recommend to readers at least fifteen or older for readability.

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

Back Cover:
Just as Drew Farthering thinks his life has found smooth waters, Fleur Landis, an old flame, reappears in his life. She's married now, no longer an actress, and he expects she'll soon disappear--until she comes to him in dire need. The lead actor in her old troupe's production of The Mikado has been murdered, and Fleur is the police's number one suspect.

Drew would love nothing more than to just focus on his fiance, Madeline, and their upcoming wedding, but he can't leave Fleur in the lurch--even if she did break his heart once. As Drew, Nick, and Madeline dive into the murder, they discover more going on behind the scenes of the theater troupe than could ever have been imagined. Nearly everyone had a motive, and alibis are few and far between. It's Drew's most complicated case yet.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Death Takes a Ride by Lorena McCourtney {Revell Blog Tour!}

18637156My Review:
Another great addition to the Cate Kinkaid Files!!

After loving the previous books spent with Cate, Mitch, and Octavia, I couldn't help myself when the opportunity arose to review Death Takes a Ride. Once again, Ms. McCourtney exceeds expectations as she rises above the common cliches associated with murder-mysteries. Nothing comes easily to Cate. Some might shrug at this, but this truly is what makes this series, particularly Cate, stand out over the ones where the main character always has that convenient friend.

Cate grows a little bit more in each book and I'm always excited to spend some time with the tomato-red head. Her quirks and her cat, Octavia really grow on you. Cate comes through so clearly that, though the book is written in third person, there were times I had to remind myself it wasn't first person! I really hope this isn't the last we see of Cate and Mitch (especially after that ending!!), because I would love to read another book.

When I sit down to read a mystery, my biggest concern is whether or not I'll be surprised with the ending. This time, I was not surprised but that didn't detract at all from the experience for me. Instead, I felt more of a "I knew it!" avalanche of excitement rather than a "Drat. I was right." disappointment. As I stated earlier in the review, I hope there's another book!!

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a more relaxed mystery novel over the common suspense/thriller. Things to know: a character is killed by being impaled in the head. I think readers should be at least fifteen or sixteen before diving into this novel.

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

Back Cover:
Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Classic Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense. Owner Matt Halliday wants to hire her, but not for this case. Instead, Cate is charged with finding a man who owns a particular motorcycle Matt would like to buy. As her search progresses, she begins to suspect that the shooting in Matt's office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Saturday!! {Winner!}

Hey all! Summer is in full swing and I can't believe Fall is already on the horizon. Unfortunately, college has kept this girl pretty busy and that won't change until my Graduation next spring. Bear with me, friends. Starting in October, I simply will not have time anymore to read and review books. This saddens me a great deal as I will miss the blog, the books, and most importantly, the people, a whole lot. The positive side to this is that I know when I'll be back. If all goes well, I shall be back from my seven-month hiatus May 2015. Thankfully, October is still two an a half months away! ;-D

Now that we're past that little update let's uncover who won my INSPY giveaway!

*drumroll*

Jillian H.!

I have already been in contact with Jillian and will be mailing her book to her within a week or so. Thanks to all who entered and promoted the giveaway! Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

{Book Review:} Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

18652058My Review:
A cute, funny, new release from Witemeyer!

I can't say that Full Steam Ahead is a new favorite, BUT I extremely enjoyed Nicole and Darius. Their chemistry drew me deeper into the story, and I loved their banter. Together, they were great. I liked watching Darius come out of his shell, and Nicole learning to let others into her heart. The story and the plot itself is well developed, but I struggled with accepting it. For me, I wasn't convinced how realistic it was, but it is fiction so I will give the author that. In all other areas, the research was evident.

Darius struggles with something I believe many new Christians can relate to, such as forgiving yourself for whatever mistakes you've made in your past. I LOVED how Witemeyer handled this. I'd say more, but you need to read it for yourself. All in all, Darius felt very real, given his past and circumstances.

Nicole too, seemed to come alive off the page. She's determined, intelligent, and compassionate all in one. Her greatest fault is her determination to keep her loved ones safe. This normally wouldn't be a bad thing, but Nicole does make some mistakes, like anyone. Ultimately, she wasn't my favorite character but I really loved reading about her time spent with Darius.

This is the kind of book historical fiction lovers will appreciate and adore. I easily recommend it to fans of the genre and fans of Mrs. Witemeyer. I recommend readers be fifteen or older for readability and some scenes.

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

Back Cover:
Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Mini-Reviews {INSPYs}

Hey, everyone!

As you probably noticed, this past weekend the winners of the INSPY awards were announced! I was very blessed to be a part of the General Fiction judging panel this year and I'm already looking forward to next year! ;-D Anyway, now that the winners have been announced I thought I would write up some quick mini-reviews of the five nominated books, including the winner. Stick around, there's a surprise at the bottom!

I'm going to start off with the other books and save the winner for last. Sound good? Great, here we go.

15770312
Iscariot by Tosca Lee
Personally, I LOVED Iscariot! It shows that Ms. Lee did her research on Jewish customs and traditions. She doesn't give us too much information and keeps the balance right. Having done some study on Jewish feasts, this book was fascinating for me. However, I recommend this book with caution. I suggest readers to be sixteen-seventeen or older due to some minor content in the novel.

16100916
Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green
Widow of Gettysburg was probably my favorite novel out of the five. I connected with Liberty off the bat. I also really enjoyed the historical setting/fresh look at the war and those impacted. I studied the Civil War in depth for school last year and it was nice to see such accuracy and care taken. I highly recommend this novel to historical fiction lovers out there. 

17657646
To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel
I struggled with To Know You. While the theme and underlying message were great, I didn't connect with the characters easily. This book is written for an age group above me, and this contributed to my struggle. It also took me time to adjust to the head-jumping/many points of view. Nonetheless, I believe that women anywhere from their early-to-mid-twenties and up will enjoy this book and get a lot out of it. 

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When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell
Unfortunately, I have not read the first in this series. If I had, reading this book might have been easier on me. Cantrell's characters are well formed and the story is well developed but overall, the book fell short due to some confusion at the start. That being said, I plan on going back and reading the first book to hopefully get a better grasp on Millie and her past. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy reading historical fiction, particularly the late 1930s and early 1940s. 

Last, but not least, the INSPY winner! 
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Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes
Wings of Glass is written as the main character telling a story. Ms. Holmes truly made Penny and her friends come alive off the page. It probably wasn't easy penning a story about spousal abuse. For me, this book was hard to read at times, due to some of Penny's idiotic decisions. However, I'm sure that any woman under Penny's circumstances might have done the same thing. I do not recommend this book lightly, the topic is a hard one to swallow at times but if you're up for it then by all means read it! 

To celebrate Wings of Glass receiving the INSPY award, I'm giving away a copy of the book! Enter using the Rafflecopter below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received all the books for the INSPYs from their publishers, thanks!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

{Book Review:} Purple Moon by Tessa Hall

18877747My Review:
Wow!!

I intentionally went into Purple Moon blind. I mean, I'd read the synopsis a couple weeks ago, but when I actually sat down to read it I went in with no pre-conceived notions. Purple Moon is amazing, people! Ms. Hall's writing style is easy to follow and holds your attention. Selena comes right off the page with a strong voice and just like any teenage girl, she has her quirks. There were times I had to remind myself Selena is fictional, Ms. Hall does that great a job. :-)

The story and the characters overall really impressed me. Written in first person, I feel like we're given an accurate point of view of a non-believer. Selena's interactions with Austin really made me rethink how I interact with my non-believer friends. Far too often we as Christians come off judgmental or holier-than-thou and that is not how Jesus told us to treat others. I'm not saying Austin did sound this way, but he could have expressed himself better. After all, if Austin was perfect, would I like him half as much as I do now? Nope. Austin was the right friend for Selena at the right time. Jumping back on track, Selena's journey, her struggles, and her baggage were written so well. So realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and could hardly put it down.

There you have it, folks. If you're looking for a thoughtful, realistic look at Christianity through a non-Christian's eyes you ought to look into Purple Moon. Or maybe, you just like YA (Young Adult) Christian fiction. If so, this is also the book for you as well.

Many thanks to the author, Tessa Hall, for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of Purple Moon for free in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. Thanks again! My apologies for being a day late in getting this up. 

Back Cover:
Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid.

That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?