Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it



For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn't trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to her brokenness so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but always falls short. So she keeps her passion for her secret art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn't get another job soon, she ll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancee in a car crash. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town s old theater, and is shocked to learn former flame Stella is the designer for the project.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and their pasts as they struggle to compromise and come together on a vision for the theater. Chase doesn't understand why Stella is such a subdued version of herself, while Stella doesn't get Chase's constant need for productivity and speed. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness and their unresolved feelings for each other until Chase breaks through Stella's walls and convinces her to enter her mosaic tile art in a contest.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.

My Review

I had mixed feelings about this book. It's definitely well-written, but it was hard for me to relate to and feel the chemistry between the main characters. In the beginning the history between Stella and Chase was alluded to as scandalous, but details were not shared which kept me guessing... and then later in the book it was only ever referred to vaguely, leaving me unsatisfied. Stella is recovering from anxiety and still experiencing some symptoms which she attributes to her dysfunctional marriage and divorce, but again, the details of her history are vague and it made it more difficult for me to fully connect with her. Perhaps it would have slowed the pacing down to include too much, but for me it was not enough.

My favorite thing about the book is Stella's secret talent as an artist and how she relates her emotions to this outlet. When she isn't a falling apart mess she and Chase do have some fun banter and friendship, but both allow the past and the animosity of Stella's family to prevent a romance from developing again. The project of renovating the movie theater was a great setting- it provided a unique backdrop and challenges for the characters to deal with. I loved the insights of Dixie, a local homeless woman in tune with some spiritual realm, who shares little nuggets of wisdom with Stella.

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

E-book sale: $2.99 each for All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes, The House That Love Built, Betting on Hope, and Seaside Letters

(Be sure to check the price since e-book sales are for a limited time)

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes Betsy St. Amant

$2.99 for the e-book of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant



At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself her is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

 The House that Love Built by Beth Wiseman

$2.99 for the e-book of The House That Love Built by Beth Wiseman



In the small town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising six-year-old Meghan and ten-year-old Spencer on her own two years after her husband's death. Being a single-mom and running the family's local hardware store keep her busy.

While Meghan longs for a daddy, Spencer has threatened to run away if Brooke even goes out on a date. But the last thing on Brooke's mind is falling in love. When a stranger moves to town and buys a house with a mysterious past, Brooke can't contain her curiosity. As she spends time with the new owner, she wonders if maybe God is giving her another chance at happiness.

Owen Saunders fled the big city to start over in a small, rural town famous for baking the world's largest gingerbread man. Then he bought an old house to restore-for all the wrong reasons. If anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart in the aftermath of his failed marriage. With little hope and lost faith, Owen is tempted by happiness when he meets Brooke, but his heart remains sealed shut.
As they learn more about Owen's house, one thing becomes obvious to both of them: God has put them together for a reason.

 Betting on Hope (A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance Book 1) by Debra Clopton

$2.99 for the e-book of Betting on Hope by Debra Clopton



Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it's beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie's bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career--and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.

Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he'd like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru's fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do--for her own good.

In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart's desires.

 Seaside Letters (A Nantucket Love Story) by Denise Hunter

$2.99 for the e-book of Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter



Sabrina never intended to fall in love with Tucker McCabe, the man she serves coffee to every morning at a Nantucket cafe--especially since he's unwittingly tied to a past she deeply regrets. But she's fallen hard, though she's kept her feelings a secret.

When Tucker learns Sabrina is the research assistant for a local mystery writer, he asks Sabrina to help him with a little sleuthing of his own...locating an elusive woman he's fallen for online.

If Sabrina accepts the job, she'll spend her evenings in close proximity to a man who can never be hers. If she turns him down, he'll hire someone else--and that would be a disaster. Because if someone else sifts through all those letters and finds out the truth, Tucker will discover her secret...
That the person he's trying to find is her.

E-book sale: 99 cents each for Five Days in Skye and An Honest Heart

(Be sure to check the price since e-book sales are for a limited time)

Five Days in Skye

99 cents for the e-book of Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano



Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

An Honest Heart (A Great Exhibition Novel Book 2) by Kaye Dacus

99 cents for the e-book of An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus



Dr. Neal Stradbroke has a secret past that could destroy everything he’s worked since childhood to build. But when he falls in love with the daughter of one of his patients, he must choose between revealing his past and risk losing everything or keeping his secret and watching her marry another man.

Cadence “Caddy” Bainbridge has worked hard as a seamstress since her vicar father died, and for a while, things went well. But then her mother fell ill. Now, most of Caddy’s earnings go for doctors, medicines, and trips to the seaside trying to get her mother better. The last thing she needs is a romantic entanglement—but she finds herself torn between two men: Oliver Carmichael, whose wealth could give Caddy’s mother the life of ease she deserves; and Neal Stradbroke, for whom her heart yearns.

Oliver Carmichael has always drawn the eye of all the girls with no exertion on his part—all the girls, that is, except seamstress Caddy Bainbridge. So, even though he has plans to marry Edith Buchanan, he places a bet with his friends that he can make Caddy fall in love with him before the opening day of the Great Exhibition. Edith Buchanan has been disappointed in marriage prospects already, so she is not about to lose another suitor to a woman of lower social status—especially not her own dressmaker!—so she spreads rumors about Caddy that could not only ruin Caddy’s business but cause Caddy’s mother to have a fatal relapse.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Free e-book! With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

Download the e-book of With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin for free!
(Be sure to check the price since e-book sales are for a limited time)



Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she's never met--even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence--he's been trying to escape his infamous name for years.

As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other's true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?

Combining a flair for romance with excellent research and attention to detail, Sarah Sundin vividly brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing--and true love.

Friday, June 26, 2015

E-book sale: 99 cents for Eve: In the Beginning by H.B. Moore

Eve: In the Beginning by H.B. Moore

Get the e-book of Eve: In the Beginning by H.B. Moore for only 99 cents! 
This is a fascinating perspective and I gave it 5 stars. 
You can read my review here.
(Be sure to check the price since e-book sales are for a limited time)



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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

E-book sale: $1.99 for Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden


Only $1.99 for the e-book of Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden! 
I loved this book and gave it 5 stars- read my review here.
(Be sure to check the price since e-book sales are for a limited time)



Anna O'Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but 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 until his promising career became 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 entanglement with a member 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 themselves?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Review: A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Heidi Reads... A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

My rating: 2 stars / It was okay



Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her huge Greek family–especially her father–has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant location on the Strand– directly across the street from the Rossis’ popular pizza place–and they want Cassia’s full participation.
To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into Bella’s good graces!
Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop...

My Review

This was a cute and funny story, but waaaay too chick-lit for me. Written in first person perspective from Cassia's POV, her love interest Alex played second string to a host of other characters, mainly her gruff and stubborn father who alienates his family and neighbors. Definitely reminded me of the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. By the end of the book the story was focused 100% on Cassia's father and the family's passive-aggressive attempts at changing his competitive mindset. I ended up doing quite a bit of skimming, trying to find a continuation of the storylines involving the flower shop and romance, but they were only referenced briefly. The ending was incredibly cheesy but I suppose it would work in a romantic comedy. I guess this author's style just isn't for me.

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

Review: A Brush With Love by Rachel Hauck

Heidi Reads... A Brush With Love by Rachel Hauck

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it



Revealing the beauty in other women might be Ginger Winters’s specialty—but it will take an unexpected kind of love to help Ginger see the beauty in herself.
Ginger Winters drapes her hair over her right shoulder and adjusts the scarf around her neck to cover her scarred, withered skin. She’s had the scars since she was twelve, but she’ll never get used to the ugliness.
The fire changed Ginger’s life, but out of the pain and humiliation of her own disfigurement, one quality unexpectedly emerged: a gift for bringing out the beauty in other women. In a twelve-year ascent from top salon jobs in New York, Atlanta, and Nashville, Ginger traveled the world as personal stylist to country music sensation Tracie Blue. The success was almost enough to make her forget her own appearance.
Almost. Now that she’s opened her own salon in Rosebud after a dozen years away, the truth is staring Ginger in the face again: she’s still that girl, ugly and scarred, forever on the outside looking in. And this weekend she’ll be looking in as “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.
But when high-school crush Tom Wells shows up looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her from love once again . . . despite Tom’s best efforts. Can this professional beauty-maker manage to recognize the beauty in herself, or are some scars too deep to powder over?

My Review

I loved how this book started out- such an interesting plot with dynamic characters, but as Ginger keeps on angsting and playing the victim, as well as not giving Tom a chance, the flow stalled for me since there was not much progression happening. Tom's religious and preachy conversations with a mentor also slowed the pacing down. Tom and Ginger had some nice moments together, but Ginger retreats back into her defensive shell so quickly that it was hard to savor. She didn't allow herself to believe that she was worthy of his attention, and her never-ending doubts put a real damper on things. Her perspective on beauty and confidence is skewed by her past trauma but also the tactless and shallow comments by her mother from the time of the accident to present day. It's only once Ginger finds happiness that her mother is able to see the true beauty in her daughter. I was disappointed that the full romance between Tom and Ginger was left out at the end of the story and the epilogue jumped forward to the "happily ever after."

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

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: The Healthy Family Slow Cooker Cookbook by Christina Dymock

 Heidi Reads... The Healthy Family Slow Cooker Cookbook by Christina Dymock

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



Feed your family the foods they love—with a healthy twist.
Everyone knows slow cookers are a busy mom’s best friend, but it can be a struggle to find healthy Crock Pot recipes your kids will actually eat. Not anymore.
These delicious family-sized meals are perfect for parents and kids alike.
  • Chicken and Artichoke Fettucini
  • Teriyaki Pulled Pork
  • Cajun Rice with Shrimp
  • Butternut Squash Soup
  • Chicken Quesadillas
You’ll even find some tasty ideas for sugar-free desserts, like the Blueberry Pudding Cake. And every single recipe can be made in the morning and ready to eat by dinnertime. With a little prep and planning, you’ll soon be enjoying nutritious, healthy, home-cooked meals every night of the week!

My Review

I really need to use my slow cooker more, especially now that we are in the hot summer months and turning on the oven seems like a crime :) I was super excited to read this book since a few months ago I started "eating clean" and I'm loving the benefits of a healthy diet. The author starts out with a few pages of the health benefits of slow cooking, slow cooker basics, and how to care for your slow cooker. The recipes are them divided up into six sections: Poultry, Pork, Beef, Soup & Salad, Sides, and Sweet Endings. The recipes are right up my alley- basic, easy, with no fussy ingredients (you know, those hard to find gourmet ingredients that I often have to look up on the internet just to figure out what they are...) There is a definite use of spices and seasonings which I appreciate since I'm not great at knowing which ones to use (or how much) so my food doesn't taste bland. Every single recipe in this book is one that I would feel comfortable making and feeding to my family. Not kidding. I've never experienced that before with a cookbook. I highly recommend it for individuals and families alike! My only complaint is the quality of the images. It's obvious that a professional food photographer was not used since the color, lighting, and sometimes even the focus was off. Of course, as a photographer that's just me being nit-picky. Don't let that prevent you from buying this book!

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

About the author

Christina Dymock is a graduate of the University of Utah. She has had careers as an editor at an advertising agency, an adjunct instructor at Salt Lake Community College, and author.
An avid cook, Christina divides her time between the kitchen, her computer, and books and her family of six. (Naturally, the family gets the biggest share.) Because she reads everything, she also feels compelled to write in several genres. Her latest book, Blue Christmas, reached the Amazon top seller list in 7 categories as part of the Christmas anthology, Christmas in Snow Valley.

Christina attends multiple writer’s conferences each year, is a part of several critique groups, and enjoys learning about writing. She has been featured during the cooking segment of several local morning shows, published in Woman’s World Magazine and the Deseret News, quoted in Womans’ World Magazine and Parents’ Magazine, published in seven Chicken Soup books, and has published clean romantic fiction under the name Lucy McConnell.

“The Healthy Family Slow Cooker Cookbook” blog tour