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December 5, 2016

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill {Julie Klassen}

the innkeeper of ivy hill julie klassen
On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.

Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband's legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband's brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?

My Thoughts:
I am not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it fell flat for me. The book started with so much promise. A widow becomes the owner of her husband's inn, but she has no desire to be a part of the operations. A mother-in-law returns to the inn she once adored but is hurt by the fact she is no longer in charge. The two ladies do not care for each other, but they must find a way to save their precious inn.

I found myself torn between rooting for Jane and wishing she would just give up and move on with her life. She sometimes seemed like a woman who could do great things and make a difference in the world. At other times she came across as privileged and whiny, thinking the world should owe her something for the sacrifices she made through marriage.

I did not like Thora from the beginning. She was condescending, hateful, and downright mean. I never felt she was truly on Jane’s team until the very end of the book. Perhaps that was meant to be that way, but I wished she had proved to be a gracious person earlier in the story.

In the end, we see Jane stand up for herself and the inn, but I felt it was too little too late for me. I was bored with the story by that point and just wanting to get to the end. It was a feat I could not enjoy no matter how hard I tried.

In short, I simply did not care for this book.

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at

Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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November 28, 2016

Fatal Frost {Nancy Mehl}

fatal frost nancy mehl
Mercy Brennan followed in her father's footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she's assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis's most powerful gang. 

When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent--a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy's ex-boyfriend--to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety. 

Initially unaware of the danger she's in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy's frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn't until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive--if help is even coming at all?

My Thoughts:
This book completely captivated me from the opening chapter and held my attention with each word. What a great suspenseful read!

Mercy Brennan is one tough girl. She is a highly trained U.S. Marshal with nerves of steel and no emotions. She means business and nothing else. She is always aware of things around her and nothing surprises her. Until her father asks to meet with her – and then everything goes wrong.

Telly and Mark are good at what they do, but they also have a deep commitment to Mercy and her safety. As this book takes us through the inside world of the drug cartel and the hold they have on law enforcement, we see the dedication these three characters have to each other and to their jobs. As they find themselves alone and their lives in danger, we get to see just how deep their friendship is.

The insights this book gives us into the world of drugs, crime, and gangs scared me. I know it is parallel to real life and the inner workings of these groups. But this book also gives me hope. We get to see God put his hand of protection around these characters, even when they forget to ask Him for help. He watches over them, shows them ways out of their circumstances, and talks them through some of the toughest decisions they have to make. We see the faith of some of these characters grow stronger, and we get to see another character develop a belief in God.

This is a great book. It has all the suspense, a bit of romance, and a deep story of God’s protection. I cannot wait for the rest of this series and getting to follow these characters through the next few years of their lives.

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. First published in 2001, she has now authored nine books, including an omnibus mystery collection, Cozy in Kansas, which contains three of her previously published Ivy Towers mysteries. Book three in the series, For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Mystery Book of the Year award. Nancy's main writing interests lie in mystery although her new Harmony Series leans more toward the romantic suspense genre. Nancy runs a HUD program for the city of Wichita and is president of a volunteer organization, Wichita Homebound Outreach. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Kansas Authors Club. You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at:

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November 23, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Christmas Love Letters from God

christmas love letters from god
Written for children ages four to eight, Christmas Love Letters from God cleverly combines both prose and poetry as the story of Jesus’ birth unfolds. The book includes seven stories, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy and ending with the visit of the wise men. Following each story, the child will find his or her own letter from God, folded into a small envelope attached to the page. Each letter begins with a space in which to write the child’s name, so each one can be specially addressed to the child.

Written as if God is speaking, each personalized message gives the young reader a sense of wonder as they discover anew the Christmas holiday and the birth of Jesus. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Perfect Promise, also accompanies each story and letter as God’s personal words of love, promise, and hope.

Our Thoughts:
What a fun book! My kids have numerous Christmas books on their shelves and they all seem to run together before too long, but this book is unique in a way that has made my children ask for it over and over again in recent days.

This book takes each person associated with the Christmas story and tells a little of their background and the moment they realized they were going to be a part of something special. Isaiah learns of the coming birth, Joseph has a dream to assure him, the Wise Men bring gifts. After each story there is a quick poem to recap the story.

My daughter enjoys the story part of this book because it is written at her level (age 7), while my son (age 4) enjoys the poem portions. Both get the point of the people involved in a way they can understand. Both of my children love the letter.

After each section, there is a letter from God. It is written on a folded notecard and is addressed to the child (you write in the name). It is as if God is talking directly to the child and telling how He felt about the events taking place. My kids enjoy reading the notes and talking about them.

This is one of those books that can span many ages and still be enjoyable while teaching children about the perfect story of Jesus’ birth. This is a must-have for your kids this Christmas.

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November 21, 2016

Unblemished {Sara Ella}

unblemished sara ella
Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

My Thoughts:
This book has many amazing reviews and I have read several series in this genre and enjoyed them, so I thought I would love this book as well. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me.

I had such a difficult time getting into this story. The characters seemed distant to me and I never felt that connection to them that I enjoy so much from a book. I felt the story moved along at much too quickly of a pace and was told with little regard to the characters’ thoughts and feelings. I found myself lost and confused through much of the books, and even re-read parts to see if I had missed something.

While this was not the book for me, there are still many people out there who have enjoyed it. If it sounds like your kind of book, pick it up and give it a try.

November 16, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Where Jesus Slept

where jesus slept
“This is the bed where Jesus slept. This is the straw that lined the bed where Jesus slept.” From here, the story builds with each spread, adding a new element and explaining the relationships among the participants and witnesses to the first Christmas. From Jesus sleeping sweetly to the wise men bringing gifts, this charming book reminds readers young and not-so-young of the joyous event we celebrate at Christmastime. Children will love the delightful illustrations and the engaging repetition in this cumulative tale.

Our Thoughts:
I love children's books that tell of the Christmas story, and this book is a perfect addition to our home library.

In this book, children are introduced to the people, places and things surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth. The story builds upon itself through the pages as each aspect is introduced to the reader. The illustrations are breath-taking and will capture your attention as well as your child's.

My younger child enjoyed the simplicity of how the story is told, while my older child was excited it was a book she could read on her own. Both kids have read this book over and over again, and could probably recite it by now!

I think this is a great book to add to your Christmas collection, and one your kids will enjoy for many years.

November 14, 2016

Home on the Range {Ruth Logan Herne}

home on the range ruth logan herne
Nick Stafford stayed in central Washington, working his family s large ranch after his brothers left to pursue other passions but his toughest job is being a single dad. As a child he watched his father fail at marriage and parenting, so Nick was determined to show him up. He’d be a better husband, father, and ranch manager than Sam Stafford ever was. Despite that commitment, three years after Nick s wife left him, he has a daughter in trouble at school and both of his girls are facing issues that force him to rethink his stubborn plans. 

For Dr. Elsa Andreas, life fell apart when tragedy caused her to abandon her family therapy practice and retreat to the backwoods of Gray’s Glen. Her school principal sister believes Elsa can guide the Stafford girls and that working with kids will draw Elsa out of her protective bubble. 

Summer on the Double S teems with life and adventure. Amid the bounty of God and land, will Nick and Elsa find the courage to build futures based on faith rather than fear?

My Thoughts:
This series. It is not too often a book makes me cry actual tears, but I have cried them with both books in this series so far.

We met Colt, Nick, and Trey in the first book in this series and had the privilege of getting to know Colt. This second book features Nick. Nick is a single father to two girls after his wife left. Years later the oldest daughter, Chayanne is still not doing well with accepting her mother’s abandonment. Both of these girls pulled at my heart strings. I cannot imagine leaving my kids so thinking of these two girls without their mother made me feel so much for them.

Nick is on his last effort and enlists Elsa to meet with the girls and help with several aspects of their life. Elsa is an odd woman, and our first impression of her is completely wacky. However, the more we get to know her, the more we realize Elsa is also suffering from the fallout of a traumatic event in her life. As we learn more about the events surrounding her trauma, we realize she has taken on a huge responsibility that was not really hers to take.

Elsa and Nick’s relationship is swoon-worthy! These two are absolutely perfect for each other, and I just wanted them to get married already. However, of course real-life gets in the way, and these two must overcome personal setbacks as well as ghosts from their past that continue to haunt them.

This book can easily be read as a stand-alone, but you will enjoy it much more if you read the entire series and get the background on many of these characters. Trey’s story will be next, and I cannot wait!

Ruth Logan Herne loves Charlie Brown Christmas trees, rooting for the underdog and people who go the distance while others see the path as too long or broken! She loves God, chocolate, writing, dogs and is blessed by a sprawling family, oodles of grandkids and a sweet old farmhouse in constant need of work. She's sure that clean rooms are over-rated, snakes and possums should mind their own business and buy their own farm and puppies and kittens and babies are about the cutest things on Earth. A "pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-and-move-on" kind of gal, she is blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart (although it wasn't as if THEY WERE KNOCKING DOWN THE DOOR to challenge him for her!!!), work with young families who allow her to exploit their sweet children on blogs, and rock babies on a regular basis. An author for Love Inspired Books and Summerside Press, she lives in upstate New York.

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November 10, 2016

Trust my Heart {Carol J Post}

trust my heart carol j post
Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

My Thoughts:
This was my first book from this author, but one book and I have become a fan.

Grant is such a complex character. Warm and loving one minute, harsh and cold the next. We begin the book feeling bad for him because of the way his grandparents treated him. But soon we learn the truth and my heart completely melted for him. Such a sad situation and missing so much in life, I was hopeful he would find a way to make it all alright in his heart.

Jami is a girl easy to like. She has returned to a town that obviously knows her well and has been accepted right back into life. She had heartache growing up but she found the love of God and seems to be doing well despite her childhood. I wanted so badly for her and Grant to become a couple, and each time things got messed up I was so disappointed.

These characters have a common thread in God. Although it takes one of them a little longer to get there, we see God work in their lives to erase years of pain and bring them a future of joy. The way they encourage one another and continue to turn to God was amazing. I loved these characters, this town, and their story.

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund. 

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