Books reviewed on this site have been provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. All reviews are my honest opinions.

May 26, 2016

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun {Lynne Hinton}

sister eve and the blue nun lynne hinton
When Sister Eve returns to the monastery, the last thing she expects there is murder.

After solving several mysteries with her father at the Divine Private Detective Agency, Sister Eve finds herself torn between her calling as a nun and the thrill that comes with detecting. She knows she’s been using her father’s health as an excuse to extend her leave of absence from the monastery, but that excuse is running thin. She prays that a return visit to the monastery for a conference on the Blue Nun will help bring clarity to her calling, but when the conference speaker is murdered, Sister Eve’s two worlds collide.

Sister Eve knows the number one suspect, the victim’s brother and monk in residence, couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, and she’s determined to find the real killer. To do so means she must track down some mysterious newly discovered writings from the Blue Nun, said to date from the 17th Century, when the sister bi-located to the New Mexico region from her home in Spain. Could these texts from long ago be the key to today’s mystery? And will they offer any guidance to Sister Eve as she chooses which calling to follow?

My Thoughts:
This book falls somewhere between cozy mystery and Catholic Indian history book. Unfortunately, it does not pull either of those off well.

Sister Eve is a nun who may or may not continue to be a nun. Upon learning of the death of one of her dear friends, she heads straight to the scene and completely contaminates the evidence. From there, the story just gets wackier.

Through a series of uneventful twists and turns, we watch as Sister Eve attempts to solve the mystery of who killed Sister Kelley, and where is her brother, Anthony. It does not take much for us to figure out who the killer is, yet the author continues to try to keep our interest with many other possibilities.

Between the story of the characters and the investigation is a very lengthy history of the Catholic Indians native to New Mexico. While the inner workings of the Catholic faith can be interesting, those of the historic Catholic Indians not so much.

So basically, this was not the book for me.

Lynne Hinton is the pastor of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The author of numerous novels including Friendship Cake, Hope Springs, Forever Friends, Christmas Cake, and Wedding Cake, she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Amazon  |  Nook  | FCS | CBD

May 25, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Epic! App

This post is part of a partnership with Epic! books. I became a customer first and loved the app so much I asked if they would partner with me to tell you all about it. Be sure to read the whole thing because there is a little something-something for you at the end :)

I'm doing something a little different today. Instead of bringing you a review of a children's book, I'm bringing you countless children's books!

thousands of kids books

I want to tell you all about the Epic! app. I discovered the Epic! app almost by accident one day while I was browsing the Play store for a reading app for my daughter. Epic! looked interesting so I downloaded it to give it a try. Best decision ever!

Back up a minute. What is Epic!? I'm glad you asked :)

The Epic! app brings more than 10,000 children's book right to your child's device (or computer). I like to compare it to some of the book subscription services out there for adults, but it is only kid books. And they have so many titles. 

I quickly created a profile for my daughter, and from the parent account, I could set email preferences and such. Then I helped my daughter log in from her tablet. She was able to pick a profile picture, and we selected the general genres of books she typically enjoys. From there, she was off!

She has been so excited to be able to pick up her tablet and read pretty much anything she wants. After reading several books, the app begins to know what types of books the child enjoys and suggestions appear to help them decide on new books to read. My daughter has quickly become a fan of The Boxcar Children - oh the memories!

epic app screenshot

As a parent, I also love the reading log emails I get. I open my email and have a list of each book she has read, how many pages she read, and how long she spent reading the particular book. At the end of the month, I also received a printable certificate for her to keep up with how many books she read that month. Plus, she earns badges and awards within the app for reading challenge completions.

epic app

Another feature I really enjoy about this app is if we are going to be traveling, we can download a couple of books for her to have access to without an internet connection. I also like that we can set her age and it recommends age-appropriate books.

The Epic! app does cost $4.99 per month, but I believe it is well worth it for my children to have access to the more than 10,000 books available. I encourage you to check out Epic! from either the Play Store or the iTunes store and give it a try.

To make it even easier, Epic! is offering my readers TWO MONTHS FREE to try the Epic! app. But hurry, this offer is only good until the end of day May 27th. Just visit this link, and use promo code EPICTINGSMOM.

I'd love for you to come back and let me know what you think!

May 24, 2016

Until Then {Krista Noorman}

until then krista noorman
Growing up with a distant mother and absentee father, Michelle's childhood has been far from idyllic. Her only attention comes from her partying friends and the guys who are more than happy to give her the affection she longs for. But when one party goes wrong, Michelle's family hatches a plan to get her out of Chicago and away from her so-called friends.

College plans are low on Michelle's priority list, especially with no money to pay for it, until her grandparents offer to foot the bill for her entire tuition. There's just one catch. Michelle must choose between three schools - all hours away from Chicago and all Christian colleges.

Michelle's reluctant choice leads her to an unfamiliar place, where she's faced with new relationships and unexpected decisions that could change her life and her heart forever.

My Thoughts:
We met Michelle in Goodbye, Magnolia, and I admit I did not like her very much. She seemed to be a source of trouble between Maggie and Simon and someone I did not like in their lives. However, this book gives us Michelle’s story, and completely changed the way I feel about her.

We get to go back to freshman year of college for Michelle, Maggie, and Simon. Michelle grew up in an unstable home with her mom. Her dad was absent in her life, and she coped by doing what many teen girls do these days – she turned to parties, alcohol, and sex. By the time Michelle landed at Cornerstone College, she was deep into the life considered unacceptable at her new Christian college.

This book moved me in so many ways. Michelle struggled to find her way when she first arrived at Cornerstone. She quickly made friends with Maggie, Simon, and Sean.  After dating Sean for a bit, they make a mistake that changes their lives completely. Changes everything.

As the book progresses, we get to see the friendship between Michelle, Maggie, and Simon and get such an understanding of why their relationships with each other are the way they are. We see each of them make so many mistakes in their lives. We are fortunate to follow their friendship for 15 years and get a deep look into their lives.

We also get to see the amazing transformation Michelle goes through during her time at Cornerstone. She learns all about God and His desire to love His children. She accepts God into her life and watching her grow in her relationship with him is so moving. However, just like so many Christians today, Michelle finds herself right back into sin and not as close to God as she was in the beginning of her Christian walk.

It is the moment when Michelle really “gets” just how much God loves her when this book is so moving. Reading as Michelle fell to her floor and wept brought big tears to my eyes as well. God is so good and all we have to do is let Him into our lives and let Him guide our paths. If we trust in Him, He will not leave us, and He will provide so many wonderful things for us in our lives.

This book has everything – love, betrayal, friendships, fights, and God’s amazing love. I left this book with completely different opinions of Maggie and Simon, and especially Michelle. She is a character I have grown to love, and I hope we get a glimpse into the amazing future I see for her.

*Note: This book does have pre-marital sex in it, which is unusual for a Christian genre book. However, I felt the author handled the scenes very tastefully and completely necessary in building the character for Michelle. You will see much worse on prime time TV.*

Krista Noorman is the author of the young adult novel, The Truth About Drew, and the Cornerstone contemporary Christian romance series. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, while documenting her every day life, but it wasn't until she took part in National Novel Writing Month that she found her true calling and turned her pen to fiction.

Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband and their two children. She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at .

Amazon  |  Nook

Check out the author's launch day giveaway!!!

May 23, 2016

Anchor in the Storm {Sarah Sundin}

anchor in the storm sarah sundinFor plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he "is" her brother's best friend. 

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection? 

My Thoughts:
I was so excited to see Lillian as the main character in this second installment in this series. Lillian is the sister of Jim, whom we met in the first book, and I knew she was going to have a great story. Not only is she a female pharmacist in the 1940s, she also sports a wooden leg after a childhood injury.

Lillian has been deeply hurt by a previous boyfriend. She feels she is unworthy to be loved, but also feels incapable of loving and trusting anyone. She is determined, though, to prover herself as a female pharmacist.

When Arch enters the picture, it is obvious he and Lillian are attracted to each other. However, Lillian’s determination to not love, and Arch’s loyalty to his best friend, Jim, prevent the two of them from forming a relationship. What they do form, though, is a desire to crack the drug ring that appears to be affecting the Navy during the war.

As Lillian and Arch work together to get to the center of the ring, they find themselves falling in love and falling deeper into danger. Each area of their lives has outsiders working against them and trying so hard to deter them in the efforts.

Both their love and their investigation comes to a screeching halt when Lillian and Arch find themselves in near-death, yet separate, events. It is through these events we get to see both of them really turn to God to ask for guidance for the reminder of their lives.

This is a captivating story. These characters will win your heart and will have you on the edge of their seat as they work to discover the guilty, who to love, and how to trust in God.

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of the Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep, 2015, Anchor in the Storm, coming May 2016, When Tides Turn, coming March 2017), the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every Letter, 2012, On Distant Shores, 2013, and In Perfect Time, 2014), and the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). She also has a novella in the WWII Christmas collection Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook, 2014). 

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women's Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers' groups. 

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

May 18, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Puppy Pals Bailey

puppy pals bailey susan hughes
Meet Bailey, a playful yellow lab puppy!

It's a new school year and things haven't been great for Kat so far. She's being teased, and her best friend Maya is in a different class. But things start to look up when her Aunt Jenn opens a kennel and dog-grooming salon, and the girls are allowed to help out with a puppy named Bailey! But is the responsibility of watching someone else's pup too much for Kat and Maya to handle?

Our Thoughts:
This is such a cute book. Maya and Kat are best friends, and they love puppies more than anything in the world. They are so excited when they land a job in Aunt Jenn’s grooming business. They are assigned to Bailey, a yellow lab puppy.

The girls spend every afternoon playing with Bailey and having the time of their lives. On the last day they are sad it is their last day, and they are also tempted to break Aunt Jenn’s rules for Bailey. They finally decided to follow the rules.

They are rewarded greatly for following the rules!

Not only is this book very entertaining for young readers, it also teaches the important lesson of following the rules – no matter what. We are looking forward to additional books in this series.

Susan Hughes is a writer and editor, and has been writing children's books and articles for nearly twenty years. Susan has always loved writing. When she was in grade five and six, she and several friends had a writing club. They would gather with their poems and stories and read them aloud to one another. It was hard to wait for the responses! The group members always tried to say one thing that was positive, along with a constructive comment.

After finishing high school, Susan studied English literature at the University of Toronto. One summer, before her last year, she went to the job posting board and saw an ad: A children’s publishing house was looking for summer help from students. She answered the ad and was hired. She learned a lot that summer about writing, researching, editing, proof-reading, and working as a team. When she graduated, she worked for a year with the children’s publishing house – then began freelancing, working on her own to find editing and writing work. Soon she was getting calls asking her to do jobs such as write short articles for educational books. While she was doing this paid work, she was also working on her own ideas for books.

Susan writes both fiction and non-fiction. She is often asked to write a book on a topic she knows little about! So she does lots of research and briefly becomes an expert on that subject. Sometimes she works with experts, for example when she wrote about the Megalodon, the prehistoric shark, or Titanic. She often has to do research for her fictional works as well, for example, the Wild Paws series. Susan had to learn a lot about how to care for injured or motherless wild baby animals so that she could make the books realistic and factual, as well as entertaining.

Susan lives in Toronto in a tall house with a red door. She works in her living room at home. She opens the windows wide -- and sometimes the front door too! -- and sits where she can see the trees and the sunlight.

She lives with her three children, her boyfriend, and his two children. One of her favourite parts of the day is when all the kids come home after school and she gets to visit with them and hear stories about their day. 

May 17, 2016

INSPY Awards

Have you heard? I've been selected as a judge for the Mystery/Suspense category of the INSPY Awards! I am so honored and excited to read the fabulous books chosen for the short list in this category.

But what does that mean for the blog? It means you will not see the typical two reviews per week for a few weeks. While I am reading the nominees for the INSPY Awards, I will not be reviewing them on the blog. To accommodate the addition to my reading schedule, I am cutting back on reviews through the end of June.

I will still have reviews, so don't leave me forever! Just know I am still reading, and look forward to telling you all about the award winners very soon.

May 12, 2016

Sister Dear {Laura McNeill}

sister dear laura mcneill
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

My Thoughts:
This book started so strong for me. Allie is out of prison and determined to prove her innocence after all these years. All she wants is for her daughter to accept her and to get her life back. I immediately felt drawn to Allie’s character and rallied behind her as she began her investigation into the crime that put her behind bars.

From the moment Emma (Allie’s sister) was introduced, I had a bad feeling about her. Almost immediately we see her pull some suspicious moves in an attempt to sway Allie’s daughter away from her mother. Emma’s constant conniving made me feel sorry for Allie and Caroline, and I looked forward to seeing Emma’s true colors come out.

As events begin to take place through the book, I quickly figured out who was responsible for the crime that landed Allie behind bars. Giving away the suspense seemed to make the book fall flat too early for me. The final revelation intended to give readers the shock value did little for me, and I felt the author could have developed the ending much more.

Overall this was a great book; the ending just did not get me very excited.

Laura McNeill is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she's not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.