Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher

Howdy folks! I'm writing my first review from my brand new MacBook Pro! It's taking some getting used to. It is DEFINITELY not anything like my old Windows computer. I am excited to announce that I was accepted into the BookSneeze blogging program! This is my first book from the program, and I couldn't have picked a better one. I was a little leery as the first Robin Lee Hatcher book I read, I don't remember particularly caring for. I was not disappointed with this one. This is the third book in the Where the Heart Belongs series, but I did not need to read the first two books to get into the story.

Overview: A most unwelcome guest surprises Diana at her engagement party---the husband she thought was dead! Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took o for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him in years, Diana is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.
He agrees with one condition---she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

My Review: This was a fantastic book. I loved the characters. Tyson Applegate knows he messed up. He knows he made a lot of mistakes in his past, including deserting his wife, Diana. Seven years after leaving, Tyson shows back up a changed man. Diana Applegate thought she'd gotten over Tyson after he was declared dead three years ago. So, imagine her shock when he shows up alive and well on the night of her impeding engagement. Diana is skeptical of Tyson, as any woman who had undergone what she had would be. What will it take for Tyson to prove himself a changed man to Diana?

The story is interesting. It was easy to follow and intriguing. I loved watching the change in Diana and Tyson's relationship. I loved how easily Tyson fell back in love with his wife and tried everything he could to win her affection and trust. I also like how the author provided the flashback scenes. It helped put everything into perspective. It allowed me to understand what the characters were feeling and why they acted the way they did.

The characters learn several lessons throughout the book about pride, letting go of control and giving it to God, and learning to trust that God has them in His hands. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone to read! I will definitely want to read the first two books in this series, and I want to go back and re-read the other book I read in the past. I have a new respect for Robin Lee Hatcher and can't wait to immerse myself in more of her books!

More fun, with links!

**I received this book for free from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.**

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week End Wrap-Up (September 28)

Sorry for the delay, folks! I wanted to make sure I finished My Hope is Found before I posted this week's addition of the Week End Wrap-Up! This is the seventh addition of the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

Current Giveaway:
Stranded (Alaskan Courage, #3)$50 Amazon Giftcard! Enter today!
Stranded by Dani Pettrey BookBlast! hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer.

What I've Read This Week:
Shades of MercyStranded (Alaskan Courage, #3)My Hope Is Found: The Cadence of Grace, Book 3 (The Cadence of Grace, #3)(Whew, I've been busy this week!)

Reviews posted:

What I'm Currently Reading:

What I Plan to Read Next Week:
Cape Refuge (Cape Refuge, #1)
October is looking to be a light reading month for me, so I might go back and read some of the fun books I missed  I apparently had a lot going on this month :)

And that about wraps it up, folks!

Friday, September 27, 2013

My Hope is Found by Joanne Bischof

Happy Friday everyone! I'm so happy it's Friday! I was even MORE excited to receive this book from the Blogging for Books program to review. As you all know, I absolutely LOVED the first two books, Be Still My Soul and Though My Heart is Torn. I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this book! Now I've received it, read it, and I'm sad the series is over! There was a little hint that a new series might continue the story of one of the characters, and that makes me happy! :)

Overview: Gideon O’Riley has been given another chance at a life with Lonnie. But will the fight for her heart risk it all over again?

After finally finding love with his sweet bride Lonnie, Gideon’s heart was torn when a woman from his past claimed to be his true and rightful wife, forcing him away from his family. God’s merciful hand saw Gideon through the heartache, and with Cassie’s blessing, he is able to return home. But his journey back through the Blue Ridge Mountains will hold a trial he never anticipated.

Meanwhile, Lonnie determines to seal off her heart from Gideon, convinced he is lost to her forever. Strengthening her resolve to move on is her growing fondness for the handsome Scotsman, Toby McKee—the young reverend she has come to care for deeply. His proposal of marriage offers a bright future for her and her young son.

Yearning to allow joy back into her life, Lonnie must put aside the broken pieces of her heart that still love Gideon. When he returns to find her betrothed to another, he has to place his hope in God, trusting that the One who redeemed their love once can do it again.

My Review: Where do I even begin? Lonnie is such a strong woman. Who could endure all that she's had to endure and still keep their faith and their hope in the Lord? I certainly had a hard time doing that. Lonnie's struggles are believable and real. We get to know Toby's character better. He is exceptionally down to earth and "real" for a preacher. He is kind-hearted and flawed. He loves Lonnie, but he continues to pray for God's will instead of giving in to his selfish desires. Gideon, oh Gideon! There are times I would like to grab him by the shoulders and shake him! Everything he wants is right in front of him! All he has to do is reach out and take what God is giving him. I like that the author didn't do just that. His internal struggle to accept all that God offers is commendable and very, very real.

This story is so authentic. I don't believe I've read any book that comes close to it. Joanne Bischof is masterful at pulling your emotions in every direction and keeping you entrenched in the story. The depth of emotions these characters go through is poignant and real. Lonnie, Gideon, and Toby go through so much and their characters are developed extremely well. The story is bittersweet. It kept me guessing at the ending until I reached it. I had hopes, but I was uncertain as to how it would end. I'm very satisfied with how it ends.

Overall, the story is a very satisfying conclusion to the Cadence of Grace series. Lessons learned in the book are different for each character, but clear. Be patient. Wait on the Lord. He will make all things right in your life, if you allow Him to. Keep your head up and keep going. The Lord will be there with you every step of the way. I loved this book!

"Letting go can be a harder way to love than holding on."

 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

More fun, with links!
**I received an ARC copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.**

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira

Happy Saturday everybody! I have had an excellent day so far. We had our third annual "Run with the Cows" 5K, 10K, Fun Run/Walk fundraiser for New Sterling A.R.P Church's missions. I did not run the 5 or 10K, but had a great time walking with my sister, my soon-to-be cousin (in law?) and their babies! It was nice to come home, relax, and read a great book.

OverviewIt's 1954 and the world-even the far Northwoods of Maine-is about to change. But that change can't happen soon enough for fourteen-year-old Mercy Millar. Long tired of being the "son" her father never had, Mercy's ready for the world to embrace her as the young woman she is-as well as embrace the forbidden love she feels.
 When childhood playmates grow up and fall in love, the whole community celebrates. But in the case of Mercy and Mick, there would be no celebration. Instead their relationship must stay hidden. Good girls do not date young men from the Maliseet tribe. At least, not in Watsonville, Maine. When racial tensions escalate and Mick is thrown in jail under suspicion of murder, Mercy nearly loses all hope-in love, in her father, and in God himself.

My Review: I am so glad I read this book. Mercy is a naive fifteen year old girl who you can't help but love. She is smart, passionate, tough, and caring all rolled into one. Mick is tough, determined, and has been through more than any 15 year old boy should have to go through in his short life. It makes him seem kind of jaded, except when he's with Mercy. Their love has to remain hidden because Mercy is white and Mick is a Maliseet Indian. I loved all the characters in this book. Mercy, Mick, Mother, Mr. Pop (so cute!), and all of the workers and secondary characters. They were very well written and developed.
The year is 1954. Race issues are just beginning to surface and fester with the passing of Brown vs. Board of Education. Mick and Mercy are just two teenagers, in love, trying to find their place in their dramatically changing world. This is a sweet story, with dark, hard issues. I love how this book was written! Most books focus on the negative of the circumstances surrounding racial relationships. This book, in my opinion, took a different approach. It gave me hope that one day, everything would work out for Mick and Mercy. When dealing with hate, disillusionment, and other deep seeded issues, books can tend to take on a very dark tone. These authors did a great job of finding the light in the dark.
Overall, I thought this was a quick, easy read. I understood the title about halfway into the story. As the book states: "That's where the grace--where all those shades of mercy show up in life," when you realize your mistakes, ask for forgiveness and try to live like Jesus wants as much as possible. I would recommend this to everyone!
More fun! with links:
**I received this complimentary copy of Shades of Mercy from River North Fiction from Moody Publishers. I was not required to provide a review. All opinions expressed are my own.**

Friday, September 20, 2013

Week End Wrap-Up (September 20)

Hello everyone! We've come to the end of another great week :)! This is the seventh addition of the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

Fall is rapidly approaching (fall begins on Sunday), and I don't know how I feel about it. We didn't really have a summer here in North Carolina. It rained. A lot. After my very eventful week last week (see that post here), I decided to take it easy this week and didn't do much.

Current Giveaway:
Stranded (Alaskan Courage, #3)$50 Amazon Giftcard! Enter today!
Stranded by Dani Pettrey BookBlast! hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer.

What I've Read this week:
Born of Persuasion (Price of Privilege #1)A Heart Deceived
View the review for A Heart Deceived here. Click on the pictures to be taken to the reviews of Tattler's Branch and Born of Persuasion.

What I'm Currently Reading:
Shades of Mercy

What I plan on reading next:
Stranded (Alaskan Courage, #3)My Hope Is Found: The Cadence of Grace, Book 3 (The Cadence of Grace, #3)

Well, that about wraps it up folks! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Heart Deceived by Michelle Griep

Howdy folks! I hope this Tuesday morning finds you well! I am exhausted. I was up entirely too late finishing this fantastic gem of a book! This is the first book I've read by Michelle Griep and I was not disappointed! I read the book in 2 days after all (well three if you consider I was up until 2 a.m. finishing it!). So let's get on with the review!

A Heart DeceivedOverview: Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

My Review: I loved this book. As it states in the description, Miriall (Miri) Brayden walks a fine line between keeping the peace and her sanity. The author does a very good job of showing us the roiling emotions in Miri's life and you can't help but feel for her circumstances. You are afraid when she is; you are angry when she is; you are happy when she is. Ethan's character is charming in a roguish way. He is enough of a gentleman to hint at his past upbringing, but his appearance and mannerisms speak of a life on the streets. The only complaint I have about Ethan is his "change" was a bit rushed. I felt like I needed more of his background to understand that he could just believe so quickly after the life he had been living.

This book is what some might consider "preachy." However, I think that fits the setting. Ethan comes to know God from a Reverend. I would expect a Reverend to preach the gospel and speak a lot about it. Miri lives in a rectory with a Bishop and her brother, a former minister of God. I would also expect to hear a lot about God from their characters. I didn't think it was over-done as some novels tend to be, though, so I was ok with it.

Overall, Michelle does a great job of conveying her message: to trust in God, no matter what. Her characters are written in a way that the reader can relate to. The descriptions of the asylum and the people in it makes the reader both disgusted for the place they live in and sympathetic with their plight.

Here are a couple of quotes that really stuck out with me:
"Seems to me that if you knew the answer, if you could see and know the every movement of GOd, then I daresay you would have no need of faith. Perhaps the real question is...Do you trust him? Do you trust in God alone?"

"Sometimes faith is a moment-by-moment thing."

More fun! with links:
**DON'T FORGET! Enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card during the Stranded Book Blast Giveaway!**

Monday, September 16, 2013

Stranded by Dani Pettrey: Book Blast + $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Stranded (Alaskan Courage #3)

When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn't satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn't lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby's position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn't the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.

Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock for a few days of sightseeing. He's surprised to find Darcy working aboard one of the ships, investigating a troubling report. Something sinister is going on and the deeper they dig the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

Author Dani Pettrey

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.


BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/6/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Hello everyone! I know I just posted a review for Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson, but I couldn't wait for this one. I've been following the book release party for Born of Persuasion since the beginning of August and was delighted to receive a free copy from Net Galley for my honest review. The ONLY reason it took me all week to read it is I was SUPER busy this week and work and after work. I didn't have a lot of time to read. I can't wait even one more minute to write this review, so here it goes!

OverviewThe year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.
With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly. 
My Review: Where to begin! There is so much I want to say about this book, I can't even think of where to start! Let's start with the meat of the story: the characters. BOY, are there some good ones! Julia Elliston is intriguing. She seems so human to me because she is vulnerable, strong-willed, and determined all at once. She just wants what anyone wants: to be loved. Mr. Macy, oh Mr. Macy. I am determined to not like him, but Jessica Dotta wrote his character in a way that you almost can't help but like him: if not like him, then be drawn into his character and entranced by his ways as Julia was. Mr. Greenham and Lady Foxmore are interesting characters, as well as Elizabeth and Henry. I cannot wait to read the next book in series to see how their characters progress!

Now, onto the story. There are SO many twists, turns, and surprises. The book is definitely written in the Gothic style. Everything is dark and menacing. Everything is not as it seems. At this point in the story, I'm not sure how I feel about some of the characters, but I know I want Edward and Julia to end up together! What really happened to Julia's mother? How is Mr. Macy connected? What is going to happen to Julia and Edward? All of these questions beg to be answered (hopefully in the next book?!)!!! Jessica Dotta has the uncanny ability to pull you into the story from the very beginning. I had a hard time not reading this book late into the night, and had to force myself to put it down several times.

To date, I've never read a book where the main character was an atheist. Jessica Dotta masterfully weaves the Christian theme without being unrealistic. I am very impressed with the way Jessica handled the Christian aspect of the story. I don't think a lot of authors could have made it so realistic. I can't wait to see how she handles the next story and the rest of the series.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Jessica Dotta did a fantastic job with this Edwardian Gothic style book and I will be waiting in agony for the next book in the Price of Privilege series!

More fun - with links!

I would love to hear what everyone thinks of this book! Comment below! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson Blog Tour: Interview & Review

Hello everyone! It's time for another enjoyable book review! Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson was provided to me in exchange for my honest review from Tyndale Fiction Publisher through their blogging program. Onto the review!

OverviewLilly Corbett Still has grown to love her life as the small-town doctor of Skip Rock, a tiny coal community in the Kentucky mountains. Though her husband, Tern, is away for a few months at a mining job, Lilly has her hands full with her patients and her younger sister visiting for the summer.
Lilly turns to her good friend and neighbor, Armina, to help keep things in order—until a mysterious chain of events leaves Armina bedridden and an abandoned baby on her doorstep. Lilly works to uncover the truth, unaware of what a mess she’s found herself in until a break-in at her clinic puts her on high alert. As she struggles between what is right and what is safe, Lilly must discover the strength of her resilient country neighbors, her God, and herself. 
Author Q & A:
1. What was your inspiration for this book, Tattler’s Branch?
I wrote this book because the people from Skip Rock Shallows had more stories to tell. I was reading my local paper one morning and came upon a story concerning something dramatic that had happened on a creek called Tattler’s. I could see Armina there.
2. Tell me about your main character Lilly Corbett Still. Was this character based on anyone in particular?
No, Lilly Gray Corbett Still is totally a figment of my imagination. Lilly is one smart and courageous young woman. I do love anything medical, so Lilly allowed me to indulge a bit in the medical practice of the time. If I were to live any of my characters’ lives, I would choose Lilly’s. She is so strong and determined. And kind—Lilly is very kind.
3. What lessons or truths will your reader find in the pages of this story?
A central truth in each of my books is that everyone is important and unique. Every person has a story to tell and that story is worth hearing.
4. How do you expect Lilly’s story to resonate with your readers?
I believe my readers will appreciate Lilly’s strength in the face of adversity.
5. As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I especially enjoyed the relationship between Lilly and Armina. Armina is naturally funny and Lilly handles her prickly humor with aplomb. I also liked exploring the character of Shade Harmon. I learned a lot from Shade (including some things I didn’t need to know). The relationship he had with his first wife is especially telling.
The way he loved his baby girl touched my heart. Not to give anything away, but there’s a line in the book where Lilly says, “The ground at the foot of the cross is even.” I just love that she said that.
6. What is your hope for this novel? How would you like it to impact readers?
I want my readers to be entertained with wholesome, faith-affirming, thought provoking fiction.
7. What big questions will this novel get your readers thinking about?
I hope this humble story will inspire readers to look beyond a person’s earthly circumstance and ask themselves who that being really is and what lesson God sent them here to teach.

My Review: This is a new author for me. I don't think I've read any other books by Jan Watson. It will not be the last. The characters in the book are primarily female and they are all strong-willed and independent women! Lilly Corbett Still is a doctor, which is unusual for that time period. She is kind, empathetic, and independent. The other characters are equally loveable and intriguing. 

I have never read a book that does not have a strong male lead character. I've also never read one that was not a romance. This was a fresh surprise for me. It did not make the book any less enjoyable. The book was well written and intriguing. I wanted to read more about these characters lives and the faith that Lilly has is what I wish I could be like. 

Overall, this book was enjoyable. This is the seventh novel written by Jan Watson and it continues on the storyline of her first six books. This did not take away from the enjoyment of the book, nor do I recommend reading the other books first (although I really want to read the other books now!). They do not have to be read in the order they were written for them to be understood. I can't wait to read more by this author.

More link fun!
**I received this book from Tyndale Fiction in exchange for my honest review**

Friday, September 13, 2013

Week End Wrap-Up (September 13th)

Welcome to the sixth addition of Week End Wrap-Up, inspired by Christian Bookshelf Reviews Blog. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

Oh my, I've had a very busy week. I haven't had NEARLY as much time to read as I would like, but I have done some pretty fun things this week. Since I'm transitioning to my new role at work, I don't have any free time there, which means I don't have time to read! Here was my schedule for the week:
  • Monday: Work, School (6-9pm)
  • Tuesday: Work, Mary Kay Party, packing
  • Wednesday: Work, Maroon 5 / Kelly Clarkson Concert: Honda Civic Tour
  • Thursday: Work, Jason Aldean Concert: Night Train Tour
So as you can tell, it's been a long week for me!

What I've Read This Week:

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

What I'm Currently Reading:

What I Plan on Reading Next:

And that about wraps it up!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

I sat down to do this review, and ended up writing a little memorial for my hero, PFC James Fleet McClamrock. I didn't feel like the review should go on the same post, so here I am! I finished Blue Moon Promise in a weekend. It was that good. I won't keep you in suspense any longer! Here's my review:

A love like Lucy and Nate’s only comes along once in a blue moon . . .

Lucy Marsh has lost everything but her determination to provide for her brother and sister. When she realizes her father’s death was no accident, she decides to accept a proxy marriage in order to get her siblings out of harm’s way. But trouble follows her to Wichita Falls, Texas, and nothing there is as she expected. Not the man she came to marry nor the family ties she’d hoped to find. Can it be true that real security is in letting go of her own strength and trusting in the One who is far stronger than she?

Nate Stanton always knew he’d marry someday, but he planned to find his own wife. The woman his father deposits on his doorstep is not the kind of wife he had in mind. She knows nothing about ranching, and she brings two siblings with her in the bargain. He moves her into a tiny cabin and expects her to run back to Chicago, but Lucy is made of sterner stuff than he imagined. And when danger moves in, he realizes he’d give anything to protect her and the children he has grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.

My Review: "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps." Proverbs 16:9
Colleen Coble is a fantastic writer. Her stories have a way of pulling you in. They don't let you go until the very end. This book is no different. While the mystery and romance are not as prominent as some of her stories, the book is still fantastic. Lucy is beautiful, strong-willed, independent, and likes to have everything under control. She is a "control freak" to a fault. When she's left caring for her two younger siblings, she'll do whatever it takes to keep them together. Even if if means marrying a man, sight unseen. Nate does not want a wife. He wants to ranch, grow his cattle business, and be left alone. That is, until Lucy comes to Stars Above Ranch. Everything changes.

The story progresses in a way that allows the author time to develop the characters we've met, while still keeping the mystery and intrigue alive.We see their struggle to let go of control and let love in. We see Lucy's strong desire to be loved. We see Nate's denial of his loneliness. We also see them both try to deny, then control the sparks that fly between them. There are still parts of the mystery that come into play. It's never far from either character's mind that trouble is coming. Little things happen that make your skin crawl! It's what Colleen Coble does best.

Overall, the story was a satisfying read. The message of the story is summed up in the "Dear Reader" note by Colleen at the beginning of the book. Who has control of your life? Let go, and let God. I absolutely loved it, and look forward to reading the next book in the Under Texas Stars series, Safe in His Arms.

More fun! with links:
Have a great week! I hope you enjoyed this review!
Upcoming review: Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Honoring A Life: PFC James Fleet McClamrock

Hello everybody! This weekend was quite eventful and emotional. Yesterday, I honored and remembered my hero, PFJ James F. McClamrock. Who is that, you ask? James was my husband. He was killed September 7, 2010 in Iraq. Every year on the anniversary of his death (or as close to it as possible) I get away to the mountains with my in-laws for the weekend. We play games, laugh, support each other, and most of all share our memories of our time together with James. 
I tell you this, not because I want sympathy, but because I want everyone to realize the price of freedom. It's not free. People make sacrifices every day for you and I, and if you haven't thanked them lately, you should! God took James from me and I'll never understand why, but through his death I've had the unique opportunity to share his (and my) faith to many people who might never have heard of Jesus' love and grace. God has blessed me with yet another family, the men in James' Army unit. My "battle buddies." 

I've also grown closer to God in my spiritual life through this event. No one can prepare themselves for the loss of a husband. It's not something I would wish on even my worst enemy. I stumbled blindly through at least the entire month of September. You know who never left my side? Our precious Lord. For a while there, I think he was carrying me. He surrounded me with his love and strength and helped me put one foot in front of the other. He's given me wonderful friends and a great family. He's also taught me to love again. I don't know where I would be without my fiance, he's been such a huge support and source of strength to me. And I love that he loves me, despite my "baggage." He has never once asked me to denounce my relationship with my in-laws. In fact, he encourages me to keep in touch with them. He is a strong man, and he will never know how much he truly means to me.

Well, I sat down to write a book review and ended up writing a journal entry instead. I guess God had other plans for me tonight. I felt this on my heart, so I'm going to share it. Never let anyone tell you God isn't real. If he wasn't real, I never would have made it through such a tragic loss. 

"He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Joshua 1:9

Friday, September 6, 2013

Week End Wrap-Up (September 6)

Welcome to the fifth addition of Week End Wrap-Up, inspired by Christian Bookshelf Reviews Blog. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

This is my "slow" reading season, I guess you'd say. I've got a lot going on with a new job, school, and just life. Unfortunately, that means I can't read as much as I would like to. However, I've still managed to finish two books, start a third, and get my school work done (GO ME!)

I was also tagged in two different, unique posts:

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award!
How Different... A Tag

What I've read this week:

Prairie Song by Mona Hodgson
Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

What I'm currently reading:

What I plan on reading next week:

I will probably read another book, I just can't decide which one to read after Born of Persuasion! Here are my thoughts: you pick for me!

Well folks, that is my week in review! Do you have your own version of a Week End Wrap-Up? I'd love to read it! Leave a comment with the link below and I'll check it out! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

 Hello everyone! I cannot believe I finished this book in literally three days! I think it only took me that long because I've been in training classes all day at work and haven't had any time to read (I know, how sad!). Anyway, I didn't realize when I picked this book up that it was set in Asheville, North Carolina. This automatically endeared me to the story because I live a couple hours from Asheville and have been to visit several times. This is also not my first go-round with one of Deeanne Gist's books. She is a very talented author and I've read several of her books including: Beguiled, The Measure of a Lady, and A Bride Most Begrudging. Now, onto the review!

 OverviewFalling in Love Could Cost Her Everything

From the day she arrives at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled--by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid. After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.
But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangled in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations ...and their hearts.

My Review: This book is set at one of my favorite places on earth: the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. Having been there several times, I can attest to the accuracy of Mrs. Gist's description. She is not lying about the opulence and grandeur of the family's living quarters. She is not lying about the servants quarters either. Each room was furnished with a wrought iron framed bed. Their servants looked to be treated very well. The descriptions used throughout the book really make you feel like you're standing in the house or the mountains of Asheville.

Tillie Reese is in the running for the coveted lady's maid position. She gives her all to her job. After all, she's been training for it her whole life. She is kind, compassionate, and a little (ok, a lot) stubborn. She is a Christian, as well, and believes she is following God's will for her life. That is, until Mack Danver shows up. Mack is a ruggedly handsome mountain of a man (hehe) who falls in love with Tillie the moment he sees her. He is a smart, well-educated, God fearing (and did I say handsome) man. So, of course, Tillie is also attracted to him. But does he jeopardize the very thing Tillie wants the most?

The plot, along with the romance, is expertly written. Deeanne Gist knows how to build a story that sucks the reader in from the beginning and doesn't let them go until the end. In the midst of the romance (there are some "steamy" PG scenes), is a well-thought out and developed plot about the town orphanage. Her description of the orphanage makes you cringe along with Mack and Tillie. The Sloop's attitudes and actions make you angry, right along with Mack and Tillie. The story is not preachy; Mrs. Gist weaves in the spiritual element seamlessly and effortlessly. You root for Mack and Tillie in their struggles to do discern God's will for their lives and overcome their own desires and dreams.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about this book! I absolutely loved it! FIVE out of FIVE stars! Go read it!!!
More fun! with links:

**Note, the pictures scattered throughout the review are from my visits to Biltmore!**

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How Different... A Tag

I was tagged by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Reviews. Thanks!

What To Do: This is a "make you think" tag. List three to five things that would be different in your life without fictional books, or fictional characters. When you're through, tag three other people.

Without fictional books, I...

1. Would not have a blog. I never thought of writing a blog until I decided I needed to share my opinion of the great books I'v read with the world!

2. Would never be able to escape the realities of life in the pages of a book! I love a book that draws me into their world, even if it's just for a moment!

3. Would watch a lot more television. Reading is my "relax and rewind" time. Without it, I would probably watch T.V.

I tag:

Miranda from To Be a Person
Rebekah from Backing Books
Britt from Britt Reads Fiction

Have fun ladies!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Prairie Song by Mona Hodgson

Hello everyone! It's been quite a relaxing weekend for me! I've finished two books and I plan on starting two more this week! I received the book Prairie Song by Mona Hodgson from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing through their Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review, so here it goes!

OverviewThe first step in a challenging journey is often the one that means the most. 
Though it means saying goodbye to the beloved friends and spiritual mentors of her St. Charles, Missouri quilting circle, Anna Goben is certain that she needs to enlist her family in the Boones Lick Company wagon train. The loss of her beloved brother in the Civil War has paralyzed her mother and grandfather in a malaise of grief and depression and Anna is convinced that only a fresh start in the Promised Land of California can bring her family back to her. Although the unknown perils of the trail west loom, Anna’s commitment to caring for her loved ones leaves no room for fear—or even loving someone new.

During the five-month journey, trail hand Caleb Reger plans to keep a low profile as he watches over the band of travelers. Guarding secrets about his past and avoiding God’s calling on his life, Caleb wants to steer as far from Anna as she does him, but she proves to be just as he assessed her from the beginning— independent, beautiful trouble.

Led by a pillar of hope, the group faces rough terrain that begins to take a toll on their spirits. Will the wilderness of suffering lead them astray, or will the gentle song of love that echoes across the prairie turn their hearts toward God’s grace and the promise of a new home? 

My Review: This is the first book I've read by this author. I love when I read books by new authors and they are intriguing and well-written! I believe I've found a fantastic author. Mona Hodgson has a way of bringing problems many people face to life in a fiction book. The issues that each character is dealing with are real issues and are written in such a way that everyone who reads the book can relate to them. Anna Goben is a strong, stubborn, and independent woman. Circumstances have forced her to put her life "on hold" and care for her grieving family. Her emotions have been pushed to the side so she can be strong for everyone else. Caleb Reger thinks his sin is unforgivable. Since the war ended, he's been searching for a way to ease his guilt and find God's grace, but it's just out of reach. 

This journey is supposed to be a fresh start for all the members on it, and the author does a great job of portraying the hardships and enjoyments of trail life. The plot and storyline gives you a look into what life might have been like on the long journey west to a new life. The hardships and trials faced by those on the trail are intriguing. The romances between characters in the books developed in a realistic manner. They didn't fall in love in a day as some authors are prone to make you believe. 

This book touched my heart in ways that some books don't even begin to do - I guess because I've lost a loved one in the war and I can relate to grief and wanting to start fresh. I found the book sweet and interesting. Overall, this book was wonderful and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the Hearts Seeking Home series! 

Read an excerpt from this book here.
Buy it here:
You can learn more about the author by clicking on her name and more about the book by clicking on the title in the first paragraph. I hope you enjoyed this review!!

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award!

This is the first time I've ever been nominated for a blogging award, and I can't tell you how honored I am! I never, in a million years, thought my humble little blog would attract so much attention! Thank you, Miranda at To Be A Person for nominating me for this award!

There are a few rules to be followed upon accepting this award and they include:
- Link back the blogger that tagged you.
- Nominate ten others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you.
- Ask ten questions for the bloggers you nominate.
- Let your nominees know of their awards and tag backs.

Without much further ado, here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

1. If you had to choose one author to have a face-to-face chat with, who would it be and why? This is such a hard question! There are so many great authors out there, but I think I would have to choose Colleen Coble or Tracie Peterson because their books are some of the first Christian books I read that really sparked my interest in reading.

2. Describe your ideal leisure day. My ideal leisure day would be one where I could read for most of the day and spend the evening with my fiance, friends, and family.

3. If you were offered any vacation spot in the world free of charge, where would you go? Well, I would say Hawaii but I've been there (4 times!). I think I would like to go to Germany. I've always wanted to see the remains of the Berlin Wall.

4. What day would you say was the happiest in your life? This is also a hard question! I have experienced so many happy days in my life, but I think the happiest day of my life was the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I haven't been the same since! :)

5. If you were asked to pick one book you believe should be adapted into a movie, which would it be? Oh boy! This is a tough one! There are so many books I've read that I would LOVE to see as a movie. Picking one that a movie would do justice to is hard! I think I'll go with... Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

6. Describe your ideal Christmas, or any other holiday. My ideal holiday in general is one spent relaxing with my family and friends! I love spending time with my sister and her twin babies, my cousins and their families, and my fiance's family, along with all of my friends!

7. Which book (or movie) have you read that you wish you wrote? I don't really have an answer to this question. I am in no way, shape, or form a writer. I don't think I could write a book any better than the authors do. As for movies, there are some that I would like to re-write to make it better fit the book! Twilight comes to mind...

8. What good cause do you believe God has laid upon your heart to impact positively ( if it is not personal)? It's not a cause really. Through tragedy, God has brought many people into my life. I have the unique opportunity to witness to those people through the way I live my life. They know I'm not perfect, but they know in whom I believe, and that gives me the "power" to impact their lives in a positive way.

9. Coffee or tea—what’s your preference? Coffee! I'm definitely not a hot tea drinker.

10. Name one blogger that inspires you. One of the first blogs I ever came across was Melanie's blog, Christian Bookshelf Reviews. She has been such a great help to me while I worked to build my blog, followers, and refine my reviews. (Thanks Melanie!)

My nominations:

Christian Bookshelf Reviews
Thoughts on Books
Backing Books
Christian Book Review Blog
Too Read or Not Too Read
The Indigo Quill
Billie's Pink Reviews!
For the love of books
Seasons of Humility
The Power of Words...

My Questions:
1. Who is your favorite author and why?
2. What made you want to become a blogger?
3. What is your favorite book and why?
4. What would be your ideal vacation spot?
5. If you  had to choose, what would you do: Read or Write?
6. What is your favorite spot to read?
7. Which blogger has been your biggest inspiration?
8. If you could choose any person in the world to spend the day with, who would it be?
9. What are your other hobbies (besides reading)?
10. What inspires you daily?

I hope you all had as much fun as I did answering these questions and I can't wait to read the answers from the other bloggers!