Friday, November 20, 2015

The Five Times I Met Myself

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews' once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams---where he encounters his younger self---might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn't know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it's already too late.

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About the author:
James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling novel Rooms as well as Book of Days, The Chair, Soul's Gate, Memory's Door, and Spirit Bridge. He lives with his wife and sons in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with James: website, Twitter, Facebook
The Five Times I met Myself by James L Rubart was an interesting and unique book that mixes reality with dreams in an exciting way. I found the plot to be complex and well written, and it contained a mixture of suspense, romance, danger, and unexpected twists and turns. I liked how the story jumped between the past, present, and entered into the dream world and how that changed both the past and the future.The characters, especially Brock, were interesting and well developed. Brock had very intriguing and sometimes conflict filled contacts with other characters, and it was interesting to see how his interactions changed as he went back in dreams to try to change his past mistakes. I like how the Gospel truth was interwoven into the story, and I thought that this novel was a very intriguing read. Overall, I would highly recommend this novel to those who like a good, unique novel. 
I received this novel from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry

You won’t want to miss the electrifying conclusion to Lynne Gentry’s The Carthage Chronicles, Valley of Decision. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow. Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets?

Valley of Decision by Lynne Gentry was the third novel in her Carthage Chronicles, following The Healer of Carthage and the The Return to Exile. When I received this novel, I quickly realized that there was no way I could read it without first reading the previous two books. I was intrigued by the characters and the storyline, so I quickly bought the first novel and devoured in a couple of days. After that initial dose of the Carthage fever, I borrowed the second book from the library and read that in a couple sittings as well. When I finally made it back to Valley of Decision, I was very intrigued to see how it would all end. The plot line was filled with unexpected twists and turns, and contained wonderful instances of romance, heart shattering moments of sadness and tragedy, and nail biting scenes of suspense and difficult decisions. I was so drawn into the story, I was unable to stomach reading the end chapters for awhile because of what I knew was inevitable. However, the story still did not end how I expected it to. The characters were well developed and realistic, each demonstrating their own flaws and strengths that continued to evolve throughout the three novels. I was glad there were new faces in the story in this novel, but I appreciated the inclusion of old familiar characters who continued to grow and to develop in this novel as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed this entire series, and I look forward to reading more of Lynne Gentry's novels. I received this novel for free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review. 

Learn more and purchase a copy.
Lynne Gentry
Lynne Gentry has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.
Find out more about Lynne at

To read other reviews for Valley of Decisions, visit 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Miracle Drug by Dr. Richard L. Mabry

Overcoming these odds will take more than a miracle drug---it will take a miracle.

The infection wasn't supposed to happen, but it did. The treatment was supposed to take care of it, but it didn't. Then Dr. Josh Pearson discovers why---his patients, including the former President of the United States, have been dosed with a different strain of the original virus, one that is universally fatal. The only chance for survival is treatment with an experimental drug, but the manufacturer might already have discarded its supply.

As if treating the President of the United States isn't stressful enough, the situation goes from bad to worse when Rachel Moore, a nurse Josh is falling in love with, falls ill. With the nation's eyes on him, Josh must pull off a miracle to save a man who holds a good deal of power and the woman who holds his heart.

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About the author:
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician who writes "medical suspense with heart." His novels have won multiple awards: a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers' debut novel; finalists for the Carol Award, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and Romantic Times' Reader's Choice Award; and both finalist and winner of the Selah Award. "Miracle Drug" is his ninth published novel. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas.

Find Richard online:
website, Facebook, Twitter

Miracle Drug by Dr. Mabry was an interesting medical suspense novel, though certainly not my favorite of his works. I have read several of his novels, but I felt that this was not his strongest work. The plot line had great promise, and I liked the opening chapters as the situation was laid out and the race was on to find a cure. However, the climax occurred way too early in the book, and I was left struggling to stay interested in a book where the crisis was over and all that was left was to figure out who was behind it. I did enjoy many aspects of the plot, such as the intrigue and the politics and work behind the development and production of new drugs. I just felt that the entire story could have been put together in a more streamlined fashion that was easier to read and to enjoy. I thought the writing style of this novel was not up to Dr. Mabry's writing in his other novels, and I found several grammar errors also. I think the jerkiness and short nature of the sentences also hindered me from really enjoying this novel as much as I did his other books. 

The characters of this novel were very two-dimensional and had little development throughout the novel. None of their reactions and changes in character were very realistic, and I finished the book feeling like I still did not know anything about the main characters. I could not connect to the characters, and I had trouble identfying with anything they experienced. Overall, I thought the plot line and suspense of Miracle Drug had promise, but the character development and writing style hindered me from truly enjoying this novel. I would recommend Dr. Mabry's older novels before I would this one. 

I received this novel for free from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

A Love Like Ours is the third novel in Becky Wade's Porter Family series, and it involves Jake Porter and his childhood best friend Lyndi James. I really enjoyed this novel; its plot line was intriguing and filled with mystery, romance, and humor. Jake Porter is definitely one of my favorite of the Porter brothers, partly because of the vulnerability and hurt he hides behind an impenetrable wall. He refuses to trust in God again, nor to let his guard down around his family or his closest friends. I really enjoyed watching Jake's heart change and seeing how Lyndie and he reconnected and grew as characters throughout the novel. Overall, I heartily liked the characters, the storyline, and the character growth, and I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes a good Western style romance.

I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Taken by Dee Henderson

An investigator who knows tragic loss firsthand,  and his new client, missing far too long...

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She might have enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator Matthew Dane, a former cop, to help her navigate her reentry into society, he quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn't mean her troubles are over. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they'll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon's life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her--even if it means stirring up a hornet's nest of secrets.

Taken is the is the fourth novel in a series of novels that Dee Henderson has written since completing her O'Malley series. While these four novels are not actually a series, they do contain characters that carry across the novels. For example Paul and Anne Falcon from Full Disclosure, Charlotte and Bryce Bishop and other minor characters from Unspoken, and even Rachel and Cole from the O'Malley series are all featured in this novel as Matthew and Shannon work together to pick up the scattered trail of Shannon's kidnappers. This novel, like the other three post-O'Malley books, is very slow paced and thorough. This story takes place over just three weeks, and it left me rather disappointed when it ended. There was very little resolution to the overall plot, especially with regard to the main characters. However, despite that, I did enjoy learning more about Shannon's past life as her story unfurled and how Matthew dealt with everything as it happened. It was definitely a whirlwind of a three weeks, but it still made for a very slow and exacting read. I love all of Dee Henderson's detail in her more recent novels, and her ability as a storyteller is fantastic, but Taken was certainly not my favorite of her novels, particularly as the story is very close to that of Charlotte in Unspoken. However, I would definitely recommend all of Dee Henderson's novels to those who love a good romance (all of her novels) or a great suspense thriller (O'Malley series).

I received this book from Netgalley and Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.  

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray

The World's Fair is nearing its end, but the danger in Chicago lingers.
It's mid-September of 1893 and Eloisa Carstairs is the reigning beauty of Gilded Age Chicago society. To outsiders she appears to have it all. But Eloisa is living with a dark secret. Several months ago, she endured a horrible assault at the hands of Douglass Sloane, heir to one of Chicago's wealthiest families. Fearing the loss of her reputation, Eloisa confided in only one friend. That is, until she meets Detective Sean Ryan at a high-society ball.
Sean is on the outskirts of the wealthy Chicago lifestyle. Born into a poor Irish family, becoming a policeman was his best opportunity to ensure his future security. Despite society's restrictions, he is enamored with Eloisa Carstairs. Sean seethes inside at what he knows happened to her, and he will do anything to keep her safe-even if he can never earn her affections. .
Eloisa longs to feel normal again in the midst of the danger surrounding the Chicago World's Fair, but a killer is on the loose. In the last month, three debutants have been accosted in the city by an assailant wielding a stiletto. As the danger in the city increases, and as Eloisa's and Sean's romance blossoms, they both realize they want to be seen as more than how the world views them. But will they catch the killer before all their hopes come tumbling down?

Deception on Sable Hill is the second novel in Shelley Gray's Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series. Following a few months after the death of Douglass Sloane and his actions against Eloisa, which occurred at the end of the Secrets of Sloane House, Eloisa finds herself despising the parties, the conversation, and she still has not allowed herself to process, to grieve over what happened. Not only that, but as one of society's most eligible debutantes, she is also in the sights of a serial killer intent on maiming or killing the most beautiful and rich young women in Chicago. That is when Sean Ryan makes his appearance, and there is an instant connection between the two. I enjoyed watching their relationship play out as the killer continues his rampage and as both Eloisa and Sean race to figure out who the killer is before it is too late. I found the storyline interesting and full of unexpected twists, mystery, and romance. The other minor characters were well developed and added greatly to the complexity of the story. I especially liked both Sean's younger sister and his fellow detective and partner, and I really enjoyed what they added to the story. I liked both Eloisa and Sean, but I did think their relationship was rushed at times. But I did appreciate the issues that both brought to the table and how they were able to work through those together. I also found Eloisa's breakthroughs near the end as she wrestled with her thoughts and her relationship with God to be compelling as well. Overall, I found this novel to be well written and very interesting, especially in the consideration of what it really means to help others for the correct reasons and how easy it can be to hide darkness behind the mask of a friendly face. I would highly recommend this novel and the previous one to any reader looking for a compelling and thought provoking mystery.

I received this novel from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places
Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge is the second novel in the Two Blue Doors trilogy, and it is just as enjoyable as the first. Picking up where the first novel left off, we find Juliette in Italy and France as she visits extended family and digs deeper into the mysteries left behind by her grandmother. Stumbling across her grandmother's letters during the 1940's while in Italy, the rest of the novel alternates between her grandmother life when she was young and Juliette's current circumstances. The novel also includes the wonderful recipes that Juliette and her family use at the end of every few chapters. I enjoyed seeing Italy and France through Juliette's eyes and through the eyes of a chef. One of my favorite parts of the book were the letters, which were interesting and ended in an ultimate cliffhanger. The characters of the novel were mostly the same as those seen in the first novel, and they continued to develop in Reservations for Two as well. I liked Adrian a whole lot more in this book than the other, and my feelings of affection for Juliette and Neil faded slightly in this book, but that is all I can reveal. I do hope that Juliette comes to trust more in God than she does in this novel, especially considering everything happening in her life. I also was not a huge fan of how the last few chapters played, so I am very interested to see how the final book resolves the issues raised at the end. Overall, I enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to the next installment!

I received this novel from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

7 Family Ministry Essentials by Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman

With decades of ministry experience, Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman capture the guiding essentials of life-changing family ministry. These seven essentials for children and student leaders emphasize:

1. Empowering families to take spiritual leadership in the home
2. Forming lifetime faith that transcends childhood beliefs
3. Teaching Scripture as the ultimate authority of truth
4. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit to teach and transform
5. Engaging every generation in the gospel of God’s redemptive story
6. Making God central in every biblical narrative and daily living
7. Participating in community with like-minded ministry leaders

7 Family Ministry Essentials will energize and equip you with the practical steps, inspirational stories, and biblical foundation you need as you lead those in your ministry.

I thought that 7 Family Ministry Essentials was an excellent resource for those who are involved in a student or young teen ministry, or simply for parents in the home with young children or teens. There were great applications points at the end of each chapter to help incorporate the principles into ministry at home or elsewhere. There are nine chapters in this book. The first chapter discusses the intricacies of the family ministry movement and how to become involved. The second through eighth chapter go through the seven essentials listed above. The ninth chapter goes over how to be spiritually healthy leader in this current generation. I liked how this book puts together important aspects of family ministry into one concise collection, using essential topics, some of which are pretty 'simple' in theory, but are certainly important to use and to keep in mind. Overall, I thought this book was a great resource and highly useful in a home or greater student ministry setting.

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

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily's mother she'd keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily's legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he's been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he's ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte's heart.

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer was a sweet and well paced novel that kept me glued to its pages. The plot was well written and contained a fascinating mixture of romance, danger, suspense, and comic relief. I was drawn in from the first chapter, and the alternating third person perspectives of Stone and Charlotte. The characters in this novel were very well developed and realistic. I really liked all the minor, supporting characters, especially the young children Charlotte is caring for. I also thought that Charlotte and Stone were great characters, full of their own individual strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed seeing them learn more about one another and experiencing their revelations right along with them. I liked how they both grew in their faith and trust in God and learned to trust one another as well. Overall, this was another great novel by Karen Witemeyer, and I would highly recommend it to those who love a good historical romance with a splash of danger.

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Picture Perfect Love by Melissa McClone


Photographer Jenna Harrison wants every bride and groom to look picture perfect on their special day, putting her heart into every wedding to give the couple memorable images of their love. But her own heart is still broken, the unworn wedding dress hanging in her closet a reminder that relationships aren't always as perfect as they look through her camera lens. But Jenna has faith that she will find true love. Until then, she must be patient and trust in God's plan and His perfect timing.

Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away. When an embarrassing Photoshopped picture put an end to his political aspirations, he blamed Jenna. So what if the photo led to his being offered a dream job and changing his life for the better? Jenna betrayed his trust, and two years later, Ashton's heart still hasn't recovered.

It was me. His younger sister's three words turn Ashton's world upside down. He must ask Jenna's forgiveness, but can he risk his heart a second time? Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love?

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About the author:
Melissa McClone has published more than thirty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group. She has also been nominated for Romance Writers of America's RITA® award. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.

Picture Perfect Love by Melissa McClone is the June novella in the Year of Weddings novella collection. Short and sweet, I enjoyed the idea of the novel but had trouble staying connected. The plot moved too quickly in parts, particularly with Jenna and Ashton (I cannot say more without spoilers), while the overall storyline almost seemed to drag until it was finally over. It can be difficult to develop characters that are complex yet allow the reader to connect with them in a novella, and with this novella I did have trouble connecting with the main characters. I liked Jenna, but I never could understand or come to like Ashton. His sister was even worse and did not change at all throughout the book but continued to get her way even when her selfishness had ruined Jenna and Ashton's happiness earlier. The structure of the novella was also difficult to read. The sentences started out very short, choppy, and incorrectly punctuated. I think part of this was eBook conversion issues, but it did make it hard to get involved in the story. There was not a lot of variation in sentence structure and little description even as the punctuation of the novella improved. Overall, this was not my favorite of the Year of Weddings novellas, but I do think it is a pleasant enough easy summer read. 

I received this novella from Litfuse and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker is an intriguing and spell-binding novel that is the first in her Seer Novel series. Rachelle Dekker is the oldest of Ted Dekker's children, and her writing style demonstrates a similar flair to his novels but with her own unique twists. The Choosing is set in a dystopian future where man-made vaccine turns into a Cancer that decimates society and leads to the formation of a new Authority, religion, and way of life. The plot follows the main character Carrington as she becomes a Lint and has to choose if she will obey the rules or find freedom in the truth. I love how the character that is supposed to represent Jesus turns Carrington's beliefs upside down as he reveals what it means to be truly chosen and loved for who you are, not your societal position. This novel is full of analogies like this, suspense, mystery, danger and forbidden romance. Rachelle alternated between chapters early on in the novel that discussed the history of the new society, Carrington's point of view, Remko's (one of the guards) perspective, and the unknown killer's thoughts and actions. All of these different perspectives are related from the third person.

The characters in this novel are well developed and highly intriguing. I enjoyed seeing Remko and Carrington interact with each other and others as they attempted to understand what true freedom and love are. Other minor characters added to the storyline tremendously and helped weave together a truly enjoyable story. I would highly recommend this novel to those readers who enjoyed Ted Dekker's fantasy-style novels, and I look forward to reading the next Seer novel.

I received this novel from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Perfect Egg by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park

A cookbook all about eggs, with 70 diverse recipes for meals, snacks, and desserts, from the team behind the beloved food blog Spoon Fork Bacon.

Eggs are one of the world’s superstar foods: inexpensive, protein-rich, versatile, and easily renewable. Every culture has its own take on eggs—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and The Perfect Egg features a dazzling, delicious variety of globally-influenced dishes. From Blackberry-Stuffed Croissant French Toast to Hot and Sour Soup, and from Poached Yolk-Stuffed Ravioli to Creamy Lemon Curd Tart, the more than seventy recipes in The Perfect Egg offer a fresh, unique, and modern take on the most humble of foods.

This book is an excellent resource for cooking with eggs, understanding the differences between types of eggs, and the best techniques when using eggs for different dishes, such as meringues or particular breads. The first part of the book goes over choosing eggs, understanding the information on egg cartons, and then the basic anatomy of an egg. The next section goes over the basics of using eggs, such as cooking, handling, storing, and making sauces, pastas, and breads with eggs. After that the recipes are divided into sections: Morning, Lunch, Snacks (afternoon), Dinner, and Sweets. These recipes are illustrated beautifully with pictures, and they contain very descriptive but concise directions. I have been satisfied with all of the recipes I have tried so far, and I have really enjoyed all the variations listed for quiches and pancakes. I cannot wait to try some of the sweeter options, such as the Blackberry Stuffed Croissant French Toast or the different Custard variations. Overall, I was very pleased with this cookbook, and I look forward to using it for years to come. 

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review.

Remnants: Season of Fire by Lisa Tawn Bergren

After tackling her first mission and coming to terms with her power of empathy, Andriana discovers her first battles were only a taste of what is to come. She and her knight, Ronan, have admitted their feelings for each other, but their bonds are tested when Dri is captured by their mortal and spiritual enemy—Sethos—and his master, Keallach, emperor of Pacifica. Andriana is certain Keallach can be convinced to follow the Maker's plan and join the other Remnants … but in time, she must decide whether she really can pull him back to the Way, or if Sethos's web of darkness has slowly and thoroughly trapped them both … forever.

Remnants: Season of Fire is the second novel in Lisa T. Bergren's Remnants series. Set in a future dystopian age, Dri, her knight Ronan, and the other Remnants are still working to free Kapriel from his brother Keallach's prison while avoiding capture from Sethos and the Sheolites. I also appreciated how the Remnants were not afraid to go back into dangerous places in order to tell the people the truth about the Maker. I liked this novel even better than the first one, and I was left even more intrigued by both Niero and Keallach as this novel drew to a close. The book was jammed packed with intrigue, mystery, suspense, danger, and romance. Ronan and Dri are forced to endure both physical and emotional separation, and for the first time we are allowed to experience Ronan's thoughts and feelings from his point of view instead of only seeing events from Dri's perspectives. The characters become even more complex in this novel, and Keallach may not be as evil as he seems, or he may be worse... I also enjoyed how the author wove in biblical truths, such as trusting God and relying on His strength instead of our own. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to reading Season of Glory when it comes out.

I received this novel from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

 Read first chapter excerpt here

Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across the baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. Thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.

Luke Callahan was one of the nation's most powerful congressmen before his promising career was shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship. Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglements with members of Congress.

From the gilded halls of the Capitol where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation's finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they've ever dreamed for their futures?

Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden was an interesting and well written novel that kept me glued to the pages. While slow to start at first, this novel was extremely well researched and contains very interesting information about the Library of Congress and politics during the late 1800's that is portrayed in a most fascinating way. The plot was well crafted and included elements of mystery, suspense, betrayal, loss, and romance. The characters were extremely realistic and complex, and they continued to grow and to change as the novel went on. Anna was a fascinating character who had experienced much pain and loss as a child, but she continued to pursue her dreams to work with books and to find out what happened to her father. Her job was very intriguing as well. Luke was a complex individual who also had experienced hurt and pain as a small child and was still showing the repercussions of it. I highly enjoyed watching the relationship between these two characters grow and deepen slowly as it seemed very realistic and not at all rushed like in many books. I also liked how these two characters helped sharpen and refine one another and how each in turn found God and began to trust him with their lives and hearts. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I thought it was a wonderful mix of history, suspense, and believable romance. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good historical romance.

I received this novel from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble

A vacation to Sunset Cove was her way of celebrating and thanking her parents. After all, Claire Dellamore's childhood was like a fairytale. But with the help of Luke Elwell, Claire discovers that fairytale was really an elaborate lie . . .

The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean's Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. She feels it in her bones. Her ensuing panic attack causes a scene, upsetting her parents. Claire attempts to quiet her nerves with a walk on the beach, to no avail. She's at too great a distance to make out details, but she believes she witnesses a murder on a nearby cliff. When local police find no evidence of foul play, they quickly write off the "nervous" woman's testimony as less than credible.
But Luke Elwell, home on leave from the Coast Guard, has reason to believe Claire. Years ago when his mother went missing, Luke's father suspected she'd been murdered. He died never having convinced the police to investigate. So when an employee of the grand hotel doesn't show up for work, Luke steps in to help Claire track down the missing woman.
As Claire and Luke put together the pieces of a decades-old mystery, they discover that some family secrets refuse to stay buried. And some passions are worth killing for.

 The Inn at Ocean's Edge by Colleen Coble was an intriguing novel that kept me enthralled as I tried to figure out the secret of Claire's past. The plot line of this novel was expertly woven with mystery, suspense, danger, and even a little romance. The mystery in this novel was fantastic as I was just as in the dark to what had happened as the main characters. The main characters, Claire and Luke, were interesting and fairly well developed. I thought they grew as characters as they began to unravel what had happened so many years before. Claire especially had much to deal with as she sought to understand who she was. There were several minor characters who turned out not to be so minor after all as more secrets were uncovered. The only two things I did not like as much about this novel were that the romance between Luke and Claire seemed very sudden and almost contrived, and I wish there had been a few more Christian elements, especially during Claire's personal struggles. There was some, but there easily could have been more without it being overwhelming. Overall, I enjoyed The Inn at Ocean's Edge, and I would highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a good mystery with a little romance thrown in.

I received this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dauntless by Dina Sleiman

Read first chapter excerpt here:

Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman was an interesting novel that was both interesting and compelling. The storyline was well written, if a bit slow at first, and it contained a good mixture of mystery, romance, danger, tragedy, and suspense. The book was written in third person, but it alternated between Merry, Timothy, Allen, and an unknown enemy. I liked how the author kept the enemy in the dark from the reader while still giving the reader glimpses into his thoughts, his hatred, and his plans.

I also thought the author did an excellent job portraying how harsh circumstances can cause people to doubt their faith and also how it is possible to return to faith and trust in God even when all hope seems lost. I thought Merry and Timothy were both intriguing characters, each with their own doubts, flaws, and strengths. I really liked Merry. She basically represented a female Robin Hood, and she was a very strong character with a great love for her band of children and intense desire to protect them at all costs. Timothy was a character that I had trouble connecting with initially. I thought at first that he was weak and easily persuaded by others, but he grew as a character as he found Merry and had to rethink what he believed about the king and about serving God. Another important character who was also a part of Merry's band was Allen. I really liked him, and while I felt really bad for him at times, I do hope he has a more major part in the next novel so I can learn more about him and what his future entails.

Overall I enjoyed Dauntless and I am very interested to see what the second novel in the Valiant Hearts series brings to the story, especially as this novel ended very well.

I received this novel from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Moosewood Cookbook 40th edition by Mollie Katzen

The Moosewood Cookbook has inspired generations to cook simple, healthy, and seasonal food. A classic listed as one of the top ten best-selling cookbooks of all time by the NeYork Times, this 40th anniversary edition of Mollie Katzen's seminal book will be a treasured addition to the cookbook libraries of fans young and old.

In 1974, Mollie Katzen hand-wrote, illustrated, and locally published a spiral-bound notebook of recipes for vegetarian dishes inspired by those she and fellow cooks served at their small restaurant co-op in Ithaca, NY. Several iterations and millions of copies later, the Moosewood Cookbook has become one of the most influential and beloved cookbooks of all time—listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbooks in history, inducted into the James Beard Award Cookbook Hall of Fame, and coined a Cookbook Classic by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Mollie’s Moosewood Cookbook has inspired generations to fall in love with plant-based home cooking, and, on the fortieth anniversary of that initial booklet, continues to be a seminal, timely, and wholly personal work. With a new introduction by Mollie, this commemorative edition will be a cornerstone for any cookbook collection that long-time fans and those just discovering Moosewood will treasure.

This is a fantastic cookbook that is both beautifully illustrated and contains excellent recipes of all types that I am anxious to continue to explore. My mother has one of the original cookbooks, and I was happy to share this 40th edition version with her. There a good number of additional recipes that are included in this edition, and the recipes themselves are simplified and reorganized to make for easier reading and for following the directions. We made brownies from this cookbook that were absolutely to die for, as well as some other delicious breads, cakes, and salads. I look forward to trying more recipes from this cookbook in the near future. Would highly recommend this cookbook to vegetarians and meat lovers alike as there are some truly delicious recipes of all types to try in this book!

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Old Fashioned Girl by Rene Gutteridge

Former frat boy Clay Walsh has given up his reckless lifestyle and settled down to run an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town. Determined to put his partying ways behind him, Clay has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance. But when Amber Hewson, a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can’t help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.

New to the area, Amber finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay and his noble ideas, but her own fears and deep wounds are difficult to overcome. Can they move beyond their differences and their pasts to attempt an “old-fashioned” courtship?

Old Fashioned Girl by Rene Gutteridge was an interesting novel, but I had trouble connecting to both the characters and the storyline. I could tell it was based on a screenplay because there was little character development and the storyline progressed so quickly that it seemed unrealistic and the romance seemed impossible. The courtship process was way too short to be considered a courtship and seemed more like awkward dating than anything else. Then they had issues in their very short relationship and when they reconciled, things went even faster. I do not know how the movie would be, probably better than this book, but this novel was very disconnected with little character development and unrealistic story timeline.

I received this novel from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he’d kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.

Just when Julia thinks she’s managed to untangle herself from Macy’s clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy’s lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson’s daughter—and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.

Though Julia knows Macy’s version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet.

Price of Privilege is the third novel in Jessica Dotta's Price of Privilege Trilogy, and it is one of the most heart wrenching novels I have read in awhile. I have found this entire trilogy absolutely fascinating (you must read these books in order) and spell binding, and it certainly a series that will leave you holding onto the end of your seat, especially with the cliffhangers found in the first two books. This last book starts right where the second novel, Mark of Distinction, ends, but I cannot tell you more than that without ruining the second novel. The plot in Price of Privilege is filled with unexpected twists, betrayal, sacrifice, and the overwhelming power of love. I loved how Julia learned further how much God loved her as her Heavenly Father and how she can show that love to others. The end of this novel is utterly shocking and left me in a daze for a couple of hours. I would highly recommend this series, but be is a mix of Bronte and Austen and Dotta's own flair that altogether leaves you highly invested with the storyline and emotionally attached to the characters and their dilemmas.

I received from this Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Lethal Beauty by Lis Wiehl

Mia Quinn discovers that a series of seemingly unrelated murders are linked. How far up are the strings being pulled-and what happens when one of her own is at risk?

The murder Mia is prosecuting seems like an open and shut case-until the accused claims he was the real victim and that the dead girl attacked him first. The tabloids dub her a "lethal beauty." Still, a conviction seems imminent. Then a key witness goes missing. Just when it looks like the killer could walk free, the dead woman's mother takes matters into her own hands.

Meanwhile, Charlie Carlson, a Seattle homicide detective, is investigating the murder of a man whose body washed up on the beach of Puget Sound, but he's got little to go on. He has no dental work, fingerprints aren't on file, and he doesn't match any missing person reports. Then a church pianist is senselessly gunned down before horrified parishioners.

All three cases seem unrelated-but are they? Together, Mia and Charlie race to find the answer before another crime hits too close to home.

Lethal Beauty is the third Mia Quinn mystery by Lis Wiehl, and it does not disappoint. The novel is filled with danger, mystery, murder, and secrets. It starts with the court case for the killing of a prostitute, and the book slowly builds from there to the real culprits behind the murder and the organization responsible for seemingly unlinked circumstances. I found Lethal Beauty to be a little slow and hard to get engaged in initially because there was a lot of hopping from one perspective to another as the background to the story was being built. However, once more events began to unfold, the story became intensely more interesting. There was less court action in this novel than in the previous Mia Quinn mysteries, which was disappointing but appropriate for the storyline. There was also less focus on the Eli-Mia-Charlie interactions as Eli was only in the first few chapters of the book, which was something I missed.

The characters in this novel were decently well developed. I learned more about Gabe, Mia's son, as well as her late husband. I thought both Mia and Charlie could have had more development in this novel as this was the third novel, and yet I still do not feel like I know them any better. There is also still a missing link between Mia's husband and everything else that has been happening in the books, and I am very intrigued to discover what that is in future books.

Overall, I enjoyed Lethal Beauty. I found the mystery plot to be exciting and eventually very engaging, but I did wish there was more character development since this is a series. However, I also really appreciated the careful research and message that the author portrayed about the horrors of illegal immigrant smuggling, forced prostitution/sex trafficking, and the forced labor many immigrants face when they reach the United States through the 'good graces' of labor/trafficking rings. I thought it was a great reminder that not everything is as it seems and that many people are still suffering in slavery even today.

I received this novel from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Jesus, Continued by J.D. Greear

Jesus promised his disciples that it was better if he returned to heaven because then the Holy Spirit could live inside them. Yet how many Christians consider their connection to the Holy Spirit so strong that they would call his presence in them better than Jesus beside them?

J. D. Greear asked that question because he knew a lot about God but was missing the vibrancy of true relationship. Only when he began to embrace the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life did he move from feeling burned out to being on fire.

In Jesus, Continued… J. D. explores questions such as, What does it mean to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit? How do the Bible and God’s Spirit work together?

Jesus, Continued shows readers that when they see their mission as something to do for God, they get overwhelmed. When they see it as something to do with God, their work becomes exhilarating. The difference is in knowing that the Holy Spirit is ready to fight their battles, use their gifts, and offer to them the peace of his presence.

Jesus, Continued by J.D. Greear is a thoughtful and very insightful book that delves into what it really means to be filled with the Holy Spirit as a believer. J.D. Greear is a pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and he has expertly woven truths from Scripture, commentary from other pastors, and his own and others' experiences to clearly demonstrate the importance of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life and walk with God. Understanding how to live joyfully, filled with the Holy Spirit, and eager to share the Gospel have been areas that I have personally struggled with recently, and I found this book to be very convicting and helpful in both understanding these concepts and applying them to my own life.

Jesus, Continued is divided into three parts: The Missing Spirit, Experiencing the Holy Spirit, Seeking the Holy Spirit. The first part details why the Spirit is important, what it means to be missing the Spirit, and why experiencing and seeking the Holy Spirit are important. One statement that I found particularly convicting from this part was, "You won't know the Spirit any more than you know the Word of God. So if you want to walk with the Spirit of God, get on your knees and open your Bible." The second part of the book discusses how we can experience the Holy Spirit, such as through the Gospel, our spiritual gifts, the church, etc. I found the idea that we can learn more about what God wants for us by getting to know our giftings better to be an interesting and applicable thought. The last part examines seeking the Holy Spirit, particularly when you have trouble sensing his guidance within you. This part also discussing the importance of asking for the power of the Spirit and what revival is and why it is important.

Overall, I found Jesus, Continued to be very powerful and an important addition to my daily devotions. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are struggling to understand how to follow the Spirit's guidance and how to experience the Spirit more in your life.

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 12, 2015

An October Bride by Katie Ganshert

She wants to make her father's dream come true. She doesn't realize her own dream has been in front of her the whole time.

Emma Tate isn't a risk taker, so everyone in her small Midwest town is surprised when she suddenly becomes engaged to lifelong friend Jake Sawyer. No one but Jake and Emma know the true reason they're getting married-so Emma's dying father can walk her down the aisle.

While Jake and Emma plan an autumn wedding together, it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications-the biggest being their true feelings for each other.
This was a sweet and enjoyable novella. I love Katie Ganshert's books, and this novellas was no exception. The characters were quirky and interesting, and the ridiculous situation that the main characters got themselves into was very amusing, especially as new complications kept arising. The characters had strong relationships with their family and friends, and they soon rediscovered their feelings for one another as well. It was sweet to see how they worked through their differences and discovered what really mattered.

I received this novella from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.

When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.

Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky was an interesting read, but it did not appeal to me nearly as much as the first novel, The Governess of Highland Hall. The plot of Daughter of Highland Hall was less riveting and did not contain as much suspense nor romantic intrigue. I still connected to the characters, but not as much as I did in the first novel. However, I did appreciate the interactions between Katherine and her relatives as well as with Jonathan. Despite the less compelling plot, I did find the characters to be well developed and interested. Katherine grew significantly as a character between the first and second novel, and she continued to grow and to find a relationship with God in this novel. I also enjoyed learning more about Julia's brother Jonathan and about his struggle to choose between being a missionary abroad and a doctor for the less fortunate in England. Both of these main characters were interesting, but I was disappointed that Julia and William seemed to be less developed in this novel. Obviously they were only minor characters in this novel, but I did wish they had had more development in this novel instead of being ignored and considered only as parent figures for Katherine. Overall, I thought Daughter of Highland Hall was good but not as nearly as intriguing as the first novel. I would definitely recommend reading these novels in order.

I received this novel from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray

One woman’s search for the truth of her sister’s disappearance leads her to deceit and danger in 1893 Chicago.

Rosalind Perry has left her family’s rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family—she’s at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister’s mysterious disappearance.
Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago’s elite because their wealth comes from “new money” obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family’s position in society—the lifelong dream of his ailing father.
When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind’s life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he’s not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price.

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray was an intriguing and exciting novel that explored both the lure of the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and the dark secrets that the elite of society try to hide. The plot line was well written and contained moments of mystery, suspense, danger, romance, and tragedy. I liked how the plot started out slightly sinister and mysterious, but by the end the danger had increased significantly and actually ended in sadness for one of the characters. While I was saddened by the course of events, I did appreciate the complexity of the plot development. I also enjoyed the plot setting of 1893 Chicago and the author's descriptions of the exhibits and flavor of the World Fair as well as the poverty stricken areas and the homes of the rich that surrounded it. The contrasts between the three locations were masterfully explored, and the themes that she developed from these contrasts were also well developed. Some of these themes included trusting others, honesty, not abusing one's position in society, and respecting people regardless of their societal position. Many characters in this novel were disrespected and mistreated because of their low position in society, and it was only by showing and accepting God's love that some of their characters changed their views about the importance of societal position.

The characters were also well developed and interesting. I liked both Reid and Rosalind, and I enjoyed their interactions with one another as they tried to understand one another. Both were strong characters who had to face difficulties and to move past their differing social positions. They also had to interact with other minor characters, which also added to the depth and the intrigue of the story as they tried to discover who was behind the mysterious disappearance of Rosalind's sister. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to reading Shelley Gray's next Chicago novel.

I received this novel from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.