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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman

Lilies in Moonlight is a beautiful story full of healing, forgiveness, and true love.

After a long night on the town, fun loving flapper Lilly Margolis finds herself with an injured ankle in the backyard of a wealthy family. A family where the effects of the Great War still exist even after over five years. Inside the walls of the Burnside mansion, Cullen Burnside, a disillusioned and disfigured veteran, and his widowed mother, Betty Ruth, who lives in a state of dementia and forgetfulness, live a lonely existence...until Lilly lands in their backyard. Whimsical, lighthearted, and beautiful, she rejuvenates their sad, disconnected lives and blossoms in the light of their attention.

However, Lilly is hiding from a painful past just like Cullen. When Cullen insists on taking Lilly back to her home, their new found attraction to one another seems destined to wither away. The resulting road trip becomes a journey of self discovery -but will Cullen and Lilly find love, peace, and healing at the journey's end?
This story was excellently set up and wonderfully written. I enjoyed the snappy dialogue of the characters, their growth throughout the story, and the unexpected in the twist in the plot. Lilies in Moonlight is not just a typical romance; it has mystery, suspense, and deep spiritual conversations. Cullen and Betty Ruth alike share the forgiving love of God with Lilly, and the contrast of it with the hypocritical, legalistic views of Lilly's mother are provoking. What is also convicting is the acceptance which Lilly offers to Cullen despite his disfiguring and frightening injuries.
The novel also had its sad moments, but these were overshadowed by Lilly's growth and Cullen and Lilly's relationship
Overall, I truly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to more of Allison Pittman's novels.

I received this temporary eBook for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.

First Date by Krista McGee

First Date was a cute story that related the growth of a young girl in confidence and a better relationship with God.

Abby Davidson never wanted to be on a reality TV show. Especially one where the prize is a date with the President's son.

She is focused on her schoolwork in order that she can receive a scholarship to an Ivy league school. She has never been on a date, never comfortable in the spotlight. Furthermore, Abby did not even audition to be on the show.
But she got selected anyway.

So Abby does her very best to be eliminated on the very first show. However, she soon realizes that the President's son is probably the most attractive, nicest guy she has ever meant. He also is completely uninterested by the other 99 girls who are throwing themselves at him.

Abby is completely out of her comfort zone, but that might be right where God decides to show her all that she could be and do for Him.

This novel was a really sweet story that I did not want to put down. The main characters were very sweet. I really liked the President's son and Abby's roommate/friend who was on the show with her. Abby starts out as a shy, withdrawn girl who does not have the confidence to tell anyone she is a Christian nor even act in a friendly manner to those who are around her.

However, as the story progresses, Abby grows in her faith, and she begins to have the confidence to speak out about her faith. First Date was an excellent read that was loosely based off the story of Esther, and I really enjoyed it.

I received this book for free from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall

When the Soul Mends is the third and final book in the Sisters of the Quilt Trilogy.
After Hannah Lawson, previously Hannah Lapp, receives a desperate call from her sister Sarah, she reluctantly drops everything and returns to the Amish community where she grew up.

In the two years since she left Owl's Perch, Hannah has finally settled into a satisfying place in the Englischer world. She has found love and a new family with Martin Palmer and his niece and nephew. Hannah has also realized her dream of working within the medical community. But almost immediately upon her arrival at home, the disapproval she receives from those who abandoned two years previously causes her the wounds of her heart to reopen.

As Hannah is forced to work with her former fiance Paul Waddell to help her sister Sarah recover from mental issues, hidden truths come to light about events that occurred before and after Hannah's first departure to Ohio to live with her aunt. Hannah now faces a heart-wrenching decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she return to the Plain life and perhaps to her first love?

When the Soul Mends was by far my favorite installment of the Sisters of the Quilt Trilogy. The other two books ended on a sad note, leaving the reader anxious to read the next book only to resolve the sadness and the storyline. However, When the Soul Mends had an incredibly fulfilling ending. As the book progressed, I was able to guess at how the book would end, but I did not think that I would like that ending because I favored the opposite choice for Hannah. However, Cindy Woodsmall built up the story so that by the end the story could only end one way.

The plotline of When the Soul Mends takes the themes of the other two books in the Trilogy and fulfils them. This novel brings to fruition all the love, hopes, and dreams of the other two through forgiveness. This novel is full of forgiveness, and it is what drives the story forward and leaves a warm feeling in the readers' hearts.

The characters of this novel are also incredible. I refell in love with several of them and was intrigued by the growth and development that many experienced. There were also a few new characters which fit in the story perfectly and enhanced the overall story.

Overall, I found When the Soul Mends to be a wonderful read for a quiet afternoon, and I was happy to see the characters that I had grown so close to through the first two Sisters of the Quilt novels finally find true love and happiness.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

The Accidental Bride was a sweet, romantic read which I really enjoyed.

When a wedding reenactment turns real, Shay suddenly finds she’s an accidental bride.

Shay Brandenberger has been raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. In spite of all her work, Shay cannot seem to keep the ranch afloat, and now the bank is threatening to foreclose.  Desperate, Shay prays for a miracle, but what she receives is anything but one.

When Shay agrees to play the bride for the Founder's Day wedding reenactment, she is horrified to meet Travis McCoy, her high school sweetheart, at the end of the aisle. Suddenly, the unthinkable happens. A busy body and an absent minded preacher cause the wedding reenactment to result in a legal marriage. However, before Shay can yell for divorce, Travis comes up with a crazy idea. If Shay refuses, then she will lose her home. But if she accepts, she may lose her heart.

Shay isn't sure if the events are God's will or simply a preacher's blunder. Can she trust her heart to a man who once shattered it? Will it be the worst mistake of her life, or could their marriage be the best accident ever?

The Accidental Bride was an enjoyable tale. The plotline was sweet, and the characters were lovable. However, I found the plotline to also be fairly predictable and its structure left me wanting more development.  From the first chapter to the last I felt that the entire story could have been summed up in less than two chapters. I just recently discovered Denise Hunter when reading Smitten, so I was pleased to read more of her works. However, while I enjoyed Denise Hunter's writing for the short story of Smitten, her longer novel of Accidental Bride left much to be desired in content.


I received this book for free from BookSneeze with Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Christmas Singing

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall is an excellent book which I highly recommend.

Here's the link to my review of the book: http://hearttoheartbooks.blogspot.com/2011/11/christmas-singing-by-cindy-woodsmall.html

You can read the first chapter of the book here http://scr.bi/uJkucX, and the video promo of the book can be found here http://bit.ly/vvg9mc.

Check it out!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Smitten

Smitten was a wonderful collection of novellas written through the collaboration of Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter.

The storyline of Smitten is as follows. In the small working town of Smitten, Vermont, four friends are convinced they are going to save the town -through love. The lumber mill of Smitten is closing. As the major employer of the townspeople, how will the town ever survive without it? A close group of women- Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese - think they have the perfect plan to save Smitten. They will use the name of the town and make the place the go-to romantic location for honeymooners and tourists. The women envision sweet shops, a spa, romantic music, and cabins outfitted with all the necessities.

However, is this logging, manly town ready for the invasion of lovers and ....love?

Country music star Sawyer Smitten decides to help by holding his own wedding in Smitten on Valentine's Day. And little Mia's lavender wreaths decorate the town, reminding all that faith can work miracles. As Smitten transforms, the four women leading the way - energetic Natalie, sophisticated Julia, graceful Shelby, and athletic Reese - find that they too are being changed by love.

I really enjoyed Smitten. The format what was not what I was expecting, but I truly liked it. Smitten is a collection of four novellas. Each novella is written by one of the four authors, and each novella focuses on one of the four women who are the primary characters of the collection (Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese). All four of the novellas are also connected, and each one flows into the next. For example, the first novella is written by Colleen Coble, tells the story of Natalie, and sets the stage for the transformation of Smitten, Vermont. The final story is written by Denise Hunter relates the story of Reese.  It occurs almost a full year after the first story, concluding on the Valentine's Day of the wedding of Sawyer Smitten and the real beginning of the town's new direction. One particular reason why I liked the format of the book was that each author got to put their flavor into the story and make their character have some of their characteristics. The authors really capitalized on their friendship and used it to develop the friendship of their characters and to make the book truly believable.

I also fell in love with the overall plot line and each individual story of Smitten. The love lives of the four women in the story were each different and each very enjoyable to read. I read the entire book in one day because I just could not put it down. I will definitely be reading the second installment of life in Smitten, Vermont when it comes out next winter.

If anyone wants to check out some of the background behind the book and see other cool extras, you can go to SmittenVermont.com .

I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

Seventeen year old Hannah Lapp has been raised in an Old Order Amish family her entire life. However, she still desires to marry outside the community even if it means breaking the Amish rules. She has been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and when he asks her to marry him once he finishes his last year of college, she accepts.

However, on the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes Hannah, and life the way she knows it is utterly destroyed. As Hannah finds herself with questions her people cannot answer, she has to face the possibility of losing her place in her family, her community, and in the heart of the man she loves.

When the Heart Cries is a novel filled with the importance of love, forgiveness, and family. However, throughout the novel many times these themes are shown through the lack of love, forgiveness, and family bonds shown to Hannah. Hannah is constantly treated wrongly even when her situation was not her fault. There are only two to three people in the entire novel who treat Hannah with respect, honor, and love despite what is going on.

I really enjoyed the storyline of When the Heart Cries. There were several instances where the plot line shifts that were quite surprising to me. Other portions of the story brought me to tears, others to laughter. Overall I felt the plot was well written and very realistic, and the ending was a cliff hanger that left me eager to read the next book.

The characters development in When the Heart Cries was extremely well done. Hannah's thoughts, feelings, and growth were well laid out for the reader. The supporting characters also were portrayed well and evoked the correct emotions in the reader. Some of the characters made me angry, and others I fell in love with immediately.

As a whole, I particularly enjoyed this novel. I loved the characters, and while the plot line had an overall sad tone, it did not deter me from reading the novel or enjoying it. I will definitely be picking up the second book in this series, Sisters of the Quilt Book 2:  When the Morning Comes.

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.