Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review: Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman

Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the district attorney's office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a kid sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

My Review

Like the other books in this series, the premise sounded fun but some things prevented me from fully enjoying the novel. Megan is an intelligent and dynamic character, but it bothered me that the unspoken message was that her confidence and self-worth came because of her physical transformation, and the reactions of the other characters reinforced the notion that a person must fit society's ideal of beauty to be able make a difference in the world. She is compassionate and forgiving, but also naively trusts in a relationships with red flags all over it. Bram's personal history was interesting to learn, but the way it prevented him from accepting his attraction for Megan was frustrating since he seemed smarter than that. There is also finally a conclusion to the three-book long angst-fest between Megan's mother and Uncle Logan, thank goodness.

(Thank you to Revell Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

Keeping Kate by Lauren Winder Farnsworth

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Orphan Kate Evans is determined to make a life for herself on a Utah ranch, taking care of a little girl named Addie. But when she meets her irritable employer, Kate is forced to confront the past she's been running from—and face a future she never dreamed possible. This latter-day twist on the classic Jane Eyre is a romantic and gripping read.

My Review

While it took some time for me to get into the book (I think because Kate spends the first chapter recounting her personal history in a detached manner) once the "irritable employer" Tyler makes his appearance, things started to get really interesting! Kate morphs from dry to feisty as she has a cause to champion- the little girl Addie that she's come to love and Tyler's treatment of her. The chemistry between Kate and Tyler is great as they spar and banter, fight then eventually give in to the mutual attraction.

I enjoyed seeing the story lines match up with those from Jane Eyre, but there are also twists that bring some surprises. For a character that started out so unemotional, Kate becomes an emotional mess as she navigates for the first time the drama and heartbreak of romantic relationships. The friends she makes that support her through these turbulent times are quirky and likeable, and add more depth to Kate's new experience of friendship and loyalty.

This book can be enjoyed by any lover of Christian fiction, however there are references to the Mormon faith since Kate is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Review: 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages by Nicole Carpenter

 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages by Nicole Carpenter

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Each morning, around the breakfast table or cuddled on the couch, open your scriptures and read the verse. Discuss it as long as your children will let you. Talk about how it affects their lives or builds on the scripture from the morning before. If you like, add a quote, insightful question and finish with a prayer. It just may be the most important three minutes you offer your children each day.

My Review

The author shares the purpose of this book in the preface and it made me recognize how vitally important it is for families to implement some kind of daily scripture study routine to armor ourselves and our children against Satan's continual temptations and opposition.

The four sections (value lessons, life lessons, gospel lessons, and holiday lessons) each cover several principles, one per week. They can be read in order or you can jump around based on what topic will resonate with your family. Each week's lesson includes daily scripture references, a relevant quote, thoughtful questions to prompt discussion, and a supporting  address from General Conference. Some also have information to access a bonus video available online.

I appreciate that the author encourages reading the daily scripture from the actual scriptures, even though the whole reference is included in the book, so your children experience reading from the scriptures.

Each daily scripture builds upon the one from the previous day, so those should be read in order. Reading the scripture alone wouldn't take 5 minutes, but a thoughtful question and short discussion could take about that much time and also ensure comprehension.

My older daughter just turned eight years old and I am looking forward to developing a habit of daily scripture study with her. Some topics that I'm especially interested in starting with are Gratitude, Courage, Principles of Prayer, and the Light of Christ. I'd definitely recommend this resource to families and individuals who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as many other Christian faiths.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The manor behind Julie Klassen's The Secret of Pembrooke Park

I was so excited to see this "behind the scenes" look at Chalfield Manor which inspired the setting for The Secret of Pembrooke Park! Adding it to my bucket list...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Giveaway Hop! Win The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller!

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

It's giveaway time!!! Enter below for a chance to win a copy of The Brickmaker's Bride by Judith Miller! Then follow the hop to enter more giveaways...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quote-worthy: The Secret of Pembrooke Park

I recently read this fabulous book (review coming soon!) and found a line in it that resonated with me since I find it to be so true in my own life. It reminds me that in times of trial there is always something good that can come when we turn to the Lord.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Rainy Day Dreams by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

Rainy Day Dreams by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

My rating: 2 stars / It was okay


When the Burgert family moves to Seattle in 1852, Kathryn is convinced her father has destroyed her life. The backwoods settlement offers none of the comforts and culture she loves in San Francisco. She cares nothing for the new sawmill the townsfolk are so excited about. That is, until she meets Jason, a lumberjack with dreams for a bright future. As she comes to know Jason, Kathryn can't help catching his vision.

But the future they hope for is anything but secure. There are some who see Seattle as a threat and will stop at nothing to make sure the sawmill fails. With the harsh and rugged weather, at times it seems even the land itself is determined to thwart Seattle's very existence. Kathryn and Jason's plans for a happy future become entwined with Seattle's struggle to survive in the midst of adversity, both manmade and natural.

My Review

Boy did I have a hard time getting into this book. In fact, I was never able to connect with the characters or care about the plot. I wasn't exactly sure what the point of the story was until well past the halfway point. Kathryn is self-centered and entitled, while Jason is prejudiced and surly. There was never any chemistry between the two. The best characters in the story are Evie and Noah from the first book in the series. I did enjoy the setting of a newly settled Seattle.

(Thank you to Harvest House Publishers for an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Review: Eve: In the Beginning by Heather B. Moore

Eve: In the Beginning by Heather B. Moore

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


The first love story on earth... Haunting... Lyrical... Unforgettable...

In a world where everything is perfect, yet the same day after day, Eve must decide if she wants to live forever in the garden with Adam and never know what lies beyond the walls. When she makes a choice with terrible consequences, the pain of mortality is swift. As she and Adam explore their new world, and her body changes, Eve discovers the sweetness of first love with the man who has always been at her side.

My Review

I loved reading this perspective on Eve and the choices she made in the Garden of Eden. It shows what her her thought process might have been as she desires further knowledge and to multiply and replenish the earth. The author chose to write Eve's perspective from the first person point of view, and Adam's from third person, which I thought was very effective in showing his perspective while still allowing the story to belong to Eve. The thing that stood out to me the most was how the Garden of Eden began as a peaceful place, but when Satan makes his appearance and begins tempting Adam and Eve, the anxiety becomes palpable until Eve finally makes the choice to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Their experiences outside of the garden are fascinating as they battle the elements and learn to fend for themselves in a harsh world. The love and affection they show for each other as man and wife in the garden is portrayed as innocent, and when they become mortal they become aware of each other in a more physical and romantic manner. The author does a tasteful job of depicting this awareness with its range of emotions, including shyness, hesitance, anticipation, fear of rejection, and devotion.

(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review: Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


She's a sassy socialite burned by love. He's a jaded cop burned by the upper class. When sparks fly...will love catch fire again?

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast, she quickly discovers she's no match for the unsavory characters that haunt the dark streets.

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite self-defense, but it seems he has little choice. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But is he just a fraud like all the rest of the men Allison's cared for? Or is he the one who will let her dare to love again?

My Review

I have mixed feelings about Julie Lessman's books so far. I enjoyed the plot of Dare to Love Again, but the characters are rather dramatic in their actions and feelings with larger-than-life personalities. While I wouldn't say Allison is spoiled, as a wealthy socialite she behaves in an entitled and naive manner. Her eyes become opened as she makes reckless decisions, and fortunately the hero Nick is there to save her bacon. I was surprised that the idea of teaching jiu jitsu as a self-defense strategy existed in the early 1900's and it was a fun part of the novel as Nick enables Allison to protect herself. The characters are full of puns and quips throughout the book and seem to find themselves quite clever.

(Thank you to Revell Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Free e-book! Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

Download Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden for free! I just finished her latest novel Beyond All Dreams and like her other books- amazing! 5 star review coming soon...
(Be sure to check the price before purchasing since e-book sales are for a limited time)


After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: A November Bride by Beth K. Vogt

A November Bride

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Sadie McAllister’s clients know how lucky they are to have her: an ultra-fastidious personal chef who leaves behind a spotless kitchen and a week’s worth of mouth-watering meals.

Erik Davis, her best friend since middle school, is content to enjoy Sadie’s culinary skills too while maintaining their “friends only” status. Most of his energy is focused on his just-launched freelance business and casual dates that never come close to a commitment.

But when Sadie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime cooking job across country, Erik realizes maybe he’s taken his best friend for granted. Even more, he’s about to lose his only chance for lasting love.

How can Erik convince Sadie that the well-known adage “Marry your best friend” just might apply to them? With God’s help, can they both move past their assumptions about each other and their future? Should Sadie and Erik risk taking their relationship to the romantic point of no return? If they do, their decades-long friendship is as a good as done . . . unless it ends at the altar.

My Review

The friendship and banter between the main characters in this novella was fun to read. It was interesting to see how complicated it can be moving from a platonic to romantic relationship- the missteps and miscommunication, the hesitance and apprehension. Even though Sadie and Erik aren't always on the same page, they eventually get there and sparks fly!

(Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Free e-book: Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade

Freebie alert! Download Undeniably Yours by Becky Wade for free TODAY ONLY!
(be sure to double-check the price before purchasing since e-book sales are for a limited time)


When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted–more interested in art than in oil–she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father’s empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo’s determined to resent the woman who’s decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them–her wealth, his unworthiness, her family’s outrage–and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their love–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?