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.

January 29, 2015

The Dandelion Field {Kathryn Springer}

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


the dandelion field
This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn't need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that s compromised when Raine reveals she s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend's son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: The baby is mine.

Knowing gossip of Raine's pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin's reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin's feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.


My Thoughts:
I actually thought this book was going to be more about the adults that fall in love, but it was mostly about the teenagers. However, it still turned out to be a great book.

My heart immediately went out to Evie and Gin, the mothers struggling to do the right things for their kids. I found myself either nodding in agreement, or trying to talk them out of decisions that they made and words that they said. I hope I never have to experience this struggle in our own life, but watching it play out in the book was very moving.

The relationship between Dan and Gin was almost awkward. I felt like everyone knew they were supposed to fall in love, but they just kept having a hard time getting there. I really just wanted to yell at Gin and tell her to get over it and let her heart lead her!

This was my first Kathryn Springer read, and she does an amazing job with descriptions. I could actually visualize this town and all the houses and people in it. I kept thinking I was looking down onto a map when she would talk about driving down roads and through neighborhoods.

In the end, everyone in this story landed exactly where God intended for them to land. Though it took a lot of trust and faith to get there, it was nice to see all the characters get the endings that were planned for them. I thought the message of trusting God really came through towards the end of this story, and this book could be great read for someone struggling with really listening to God.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to my next read from Springer.


Kathryn Springer, winner of the 2009 ACFW Carol Award (Family Treasures), grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child, she spent many hours sitting at her mother’s typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books – which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own. After a number of busy years, when she married her college sweetheart and became a stay-at-home mom, Kathryn rediscovered her love for writing. An unexpected snow day from school became the inspiration for a short story, which she submitted to Brio magazine. She went on to publish over a dozen more short stories for Brio, but it wasn’t until her youngest child started school that she decided to pursue her dream to write a novel. In August 2004, her Love Inspired® debut novel, Tested by Fire, was published. Encouraging women in their faith journey is the reason Kathryn loves to write inspirational fiction. She hosts a women’s Bible study in her home and volunteers in a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ministry. When she isn’t at the computer, you’ll find her curled up with a good book, spending time with family and friends or walking on the trails near her country home.





January 26, 2015

At Home in Last Chance {Cathleen Armstrong}

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


at home in last chance
Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going--out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over. Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier. Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don't even trust themselves?

My Thoughts:
I missed the first book in this series, but I loved the second book and was so excited to get my hands on this third book.

At Home in Last Chance picks up where One More Last Chance left off. Kaitlyn has returned to Last Chance, and to her brother, Chris, and her daughter, Olivia. She is working at Chris' diner and hating her life in Last Chance. She hates the diner, hates her living situation, and hates having everyone in Last Chance look at her as the mother who abandoned her daughter. Only, she has willed herself to stay and to stay by her daughter's side.

We also get to see more of Steven, the black sheep of his family and the playboy that the entire town has warned Kaitlyn about. But Kaitlyn gives Steven a much deserved chance and I was so happy to see their relationship blossom.

Anyone who has read this series has to love Ms. Elizabeth, and I was so happy to see her play a big role in this story as well. I love how Elizabeth is constantly encouraging those around her, and always reminding everyone that it is God who is in control and God can make things happen.

One of my favorite parts of this book was when Kaitlyn and Steven spent the afternoon together. It was an afternoon of such raw emotion, and probably the turning point in the entire story. It is hard to tell just what came of that without giving spoilers, but I loved the ending.

This story had some exciting moments, and I really hope their is a fourth book coming in this series. I feel like there is still some story to be told her and I really hope to get to see it unfold.


Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series “A Place to Call Home.” She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.


January 22, 2015

On the Loose {Jenny B Jones}

I'm continuing my way through this "older" series to lead up to some newer books that have been published.


On the Loose by Jenny B Jones
Life is looking up for Katie. After being placed in a new home, she’s finally adjusting to her foster family. But tragedy shakes her fragile world as a tornado rips through town and her foster mother is diagnosed with cancer.


My Thoughts:
This book opened with a tornado ripping through town. Seeing how Katie and her new family interacted with each other through the storm really showed how comfortable Katie has gotten with her new life in In Between.

This book had its share of tragedy from the tornado to Millie being diagnosed with cancer. But the real story here was watching Katie learn to trust God completely. Through each trial and with every event in Katie's life, we see her question if she can really trust God the way everyone around her seems to trust him. She sees the examples of her foster parents and her friends, and she wonders if she can have that same level of trust.

It is at the end that Katie finally realizes that God is there for her, no matter what. He's there in the good and he's there in the bad. I had a smile on my face as Katie finally released herself to this truth.

And then another obstacle lands right in front of her. I can't wait to get into the third book of this series to see how Katie deals with life that includes her mother again.


Four-time Carol Award winner Jenny B. Jones writes contemporary romance with wit, sass, and Southern charm. Since writing for both women and teens leaves her with very little free time, she believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits, such as watching E!, going to the movies and inhaling large buckets of popcorn, and writing her name in the dust on her furniture.










January 19, 2015

Hidden Agenda {Lisa Harris}

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris
Michael Hunt is alive--and on the run. Presumed dead by friends and family, the undercover assignment he's been working for the past eight months has just been blown. With a hit out on his life and corruption inside the Atlanta police department, Michael finds himself hunted by both the cartel and the law. His only hope is the daughter of the man who wants him dead.

This nonstop chase from taut suspense writer Lisa Harris will leave readers breathless as they race to connect the dots before it's too late.

My Thoughts:

This book started a little slow for me. The first few chapters were mostly character development, and at times I got confused between the flashbacks and the actual story.

But then the story really started going and I wasn't able to put this book down until I finished the last page. Once Olivia and Ian had Michael in their company and actually began running, things started unfolding quickly. Every time I thought they were safe, something would happen.


At one point I was sure I had the "link" figured out, but then was actually relieved that I was wrong. As the truth started being revealed about all the characters, the connection between everyone was amazing. The relationships, both old and new, grew throughout this book and I enjoyed seeing how Michael's family interacted with Olivia.


The trust that these characters have in God was so great to watch as well. With every little thing that went wrong, God was ever present and watching over everyone. He kept them all safe when they needed it the most, and they were constantly putting their full trust in Him. Each character was such a testament to what God can do for us if we just trust him and ask for his help.


I did enjoy this book very much. It was an edge-of-your-seat-page-turner, and I loved watching everything unfold. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a little action and suspense.



Lisa Harris is the award-winning author of ore than twenty books, including two Christy Award winners. Harris has spent over ten years living with her family as missionaries in Mozambique, where she leads a women's group and runs a nonprofit organization that works alongside their church-planting ministry.









January 16, 2015

Steadfast Heart {Tracie Peterson}

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.


steadfast heart tracie peterson
Lenore Fulcher isn't pretentious despite her spoiled upbringing. Her deepest desire at the age of twenty is to find true love. However, her father believes she's wasted enough time searching for a suitable husband, and he wants to marry her off to one of his business partners--thirty-seven-year-old James Rybus. But the idea of marriage to a man so much older is out of the question for Lenore.

Kolbein Booth, a lawyer from Chicago, arrives in Seattle looking for his headstrong sister who he believes may have answered an advertisement for mail-order brides. Sick with worry, he storms the Madison Bridal School, demanding to see his sister, only to learn she isn't there. But Lenore Fulcher is, and something about her captures his attention.

Is this the man Lenore has been searching for? She may not have long to find out...

My Thoughts:

This book started out pretty interesting. Lenore and her best friend, Abrianna, seem to be characters that were going to be fun to get to know, and the book summary had me eager to get into this story. However, most of this book is about Abrianna (who doesn't even appear in the summary at all). 

About a third the way through, this book just fell flat for me. The characters seemed to just go on and on, without anything interesting being said or done. Abrianna began to grate on my nerves and I just wanted her to quit talking. Wade drove me nuts because he won't just admit he loves Abrianna (if you've read it, you know I'm right).


By the time Lenore finally proclaimed her love, I was so bored I was just skimming through the pages trying to get to the end. The book had a very predictable happy ending, and I was pretty glad it was over.


This story has the potential to be a great story, and maybe the follow-ups in this series will be better. But this book just wasn't for me.



Tracie Peterson is a bestselling author who writes in both historical and contemporary genres. Her novels reveal her love for research as well as her strong desire to develop emotionally meaningful characters and stories for her readers. Tracie and her family live in Montana.










January 12, 2015

In Between {Jenny B Jones}

So, I realize this is an "old" book by book blog standards, but I have my reasons...

I read my first Jenny B Jones book right before Christmas and absolutely fell in love with her story telling and writing style. I see quite a bit of hype about the upcoming fourth book in this Kate.. series and I wanted to start at the beginning. So here I am.

in between book cover
Unlike most kids, teenage Katie Parker never got a fair shot at a normal life. With a mother in jail and a missing-in-action dad, she's never known what it's like to truly be loved. Low on options and family members, she's soon shipped off to a foster home. Now in an unfamiliar town, Katie's rebellious attitude is at odds with her new family, school, and classmates. And after falling in with all the wrong people at school, things go from bad to really bad after she takes the blame for vandalizing the local performing arts theater.

But in the midst of a dark situation, Katie finds light in the most unexpected places: through her new friendship with an eccentric senior, the commitment of her foster family, and a tragic secret that changed them forever. And as she inches closer to acceptance and forgiveness, she finds that God has been there all along.
 

Poor little Katie caught my interest from the very first sentence. I love how Jones created this character and gave her so much sass and attitude, yet she made her just transparent enough to realize that she is just a scared teenager.

Once Katie arrived at her new foster home, I couldn't help but laugh at the mom. She just seemed like she was one of those everything-is-always-perfect people who is desperately hiding a deep dark secret. And her determination to make Katie feel welcome was so over the top, it just got funny to me.

I was so hurt for Katie when she got into trouble, but then I found myself smiling as she made friends with Frances and started going to church. And the actions of the church friends became a literal answer to prayer and just made me all warm inside.

This book is about more than just a foster girl trying to fit in with her new home and town. It's about God's love for us, no matter what. It's about what God will do for us if we just take a minute to put our trust in him and ask.

I'm in love with these characters. I'm definitely going to get the rest of the books in this series. I said it before and I'll say it again - Jenny B Jones might just be near the top of my favorite author list.

Four-time Carol Award winner Jenny B. Jones writes contemporary romance with wit, sass, and Southern charm. Since writing for both women and teens leaves her with very little free time, she believes in spending her spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits, such as watching E!, going to the movies and inhaling large buckets of popcorn, and writing her name in the dust on her furniture.

January 7, 2015

Meet Your Baker {Ellie Alexander}

I received an advanced copy of this book as part of the book tour stop. All opinions are my own.


meet your baker book tour
Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that, sometimes, it’s criminal…


After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte’s customers turns up dead, there’s much ado about murder…

My Thoughts:
This was a fun read with two very different story lines going on.

On the surface, this is a mystery read. Ashland's theater district has a new board member and it seems everyone in town wants to see her go down. When she is found murdered, it becomes a twisty, turny case of who-dun-it until the very end. Every character you think was involved wasn't. And those who you least expect turn out the be the real killer.

But there is also a story of broken hearts and self discovery going on here. Jules has left her husband and her life on the cruise ship. She has returned home and isn't getting in any hurry to tell her mom the reason she's home. She finds herself falling back into her normal routine at the bakery and everything seems to naturally come together.

I love a good mystery, and I love a good self-discovery story. This book brought both of these worlds and put them into the same story. It was an entertaining read for me and one that I would definitely recommend to someone looking for an interesting and fun read.

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.


Giveaway:

2 winners will get a paperback copy of Meet Your Baker, Chai Tea, designer baking liners and a Starbucks gift card. Ends Jan. 21, 2015

January 5, 2015

A Brush With Love {Rachel Hauck}

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


A Brush With Love {Rachel Hauck} | #yearofweddings2 #bookbloggers #amreading #bookreview #netgalley
They've helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

This hair stylist has adorned many a bride with the perfect bridal tresses. Now, she must overcome her past in order to realize that she, too, can find true love this January.


My Thoughts:
I love Rachel Hauck, and I was so excited to see that she had the second book in this Year of Weddings series.

This story is a love story, but it is about so much more than the love between a girl and a boy. Ginger Winters sees herself as an ugly outsider who no one will ever love. Her passion is to make others beautiful at her beauty salon, but deep down she longs for that unconditional love that she sees others have.

Tom Wells is the new pastor in town. He lived in in town as a kid, but left town with his family under the suspicions of a scandalous story involving his (pastor) father. He immediately has feelings for Ginger, but can't find a way to make her give him a chance.

Then Tom begins telling Ginger about Jesus, and this becomes such a beautiful love story about the unconditional love that God has for each and every one of us. We all have our back stories, our fears and doubts, and our scars. But God loves us in a way that no one on earth will ever be able to love us. God sees each of us as perfect and beautiful.


Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince.
She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.
A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.
She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

January 2, 2015

The Wishing Season {Denise Hunter}

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 


The Wishing Season {Denise Hunter} | #bookreview #bookbloggers #amreading
She has the touch when it comes to food, but PJ McKinley's dream of opening her own restaurant is one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home as prize to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes she was meant to win. Contractor 

Cole Evans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy - but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that a not-for-profit enterprise will be good for the community. 

When the eccentric philanthropist weights the proposals, she proposes an outlandish tie-breaker: PJ and Cole will share the house for a year to see which idea works best. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into an out-and-out rivalry - with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. But could their magnetic attraction cost them everything they've ever wanted?

My Thoughts:
This was my second book in the Chapel Springs series. I love this series that focuses on the McKinley family, yet each book can read as a stand-alone book.

PJ is the baby in the McKinley family and her family treats her as such. They always second guess her and give her a hard time, shattering her confidence with each step they take into her life. She sees opening her own restaurant and B&B as the only way to prove to her family that she is grown up and able to make it on her own.

Cole, on the other hand, is a former foster kid carrying around a big secret about his life. He has a passion for foster kids who have aged out the system and he feels like owning his own halfway-type home for them is the best idea for the available house.

It was apparent from the very beginning of this book that PJ and Cole were going to fall for each other. What made this book so great was watching the tension between them and cheering them on that they would finally discover what we, the reader, already know - they are meant to be together.

Even more than a wonderful love story, the book is about God's plan for our lives and what you must sometimes go through in order to follow that plan. Once PJ and Cole both relinquish the planning of their lives and let God get back in control, things just seem to work themselves out for the best.

I was actually pretty bummed when this book ended, and I really hope there are more books coming from this family. I would love to see what everyone is up to.

Denise Hunter is the bestselling author of many novels, including The Trouble with Cowboys and Barefoot Summer. She lives in Indiana with her husband, Kevin, and their three sons