Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up (May 29) - Month in Review & Friday Memes

This is 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!

*Winner has been notified. Name chosen using
Winner has 1 week to claim prize. If no response is received, a new winner will be chosen.

What I've Read
A May Bride 

Reviews Posted
Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas
A May Bride by Meg Moseley
In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

What I'm Currently Reading

Looking Forward to June

May Wrap Up
A May BrideAs Love Blooms: A Novel12127810From the StartUndeniably Yours: a novelMeant to Be Mine (Porter Family Series #2)

The Question: Can you read in a room with noise or do you have to have total quiet?

My Answer: Since I do most of my reading at work, and I work in a call center where there is always someone on the phone or people up walking around and socializing, I would say that I can read in a room with noise. 

Hosted by: Rose City Reader
"Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name."

"The nurse rolled me down a hallway and through a door where my husband waited on a chair pushed into one corner of the small recovery room. He stood as soon as we entered." - The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

I love Katie Ganshert's books. They are though-provoking and powerful. I expect this one to be much the same!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

Overview: Marisa St. George is devastated when she is a victim of downsizing and has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it's a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining is Blake Kendall, a new guest who is making her believe in love at first sight. But will her dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers who he really is?

Romance readers will love this warm and witty story of mistaken identity and second chances from bestselling author Amanda Cabot.

Revell Books 
ISBN 978-08007-3435-0
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD
Read an Excerpt

My Review: Amanda Cabot writes a compelling story of "what-ifs" in her latest novel, In Firefly Valley. From the first page, I was enraptured. I took my time reading it because I didn't want it to end. The story was well through out and the pace was nice and even. Returning to Dupree, Texas and Rainbow's End was enjoyable and I loved catching up with Greg and Kate and getting a glimpse at how their lives were progressing from the end of the first book, At Bluebonnet Lake.

Marisa St. George and Blake Kendall are extremely complex characters. Each has their own set of struggles to hash out throughout the story. Marisa's struggles were very personal to me. Growing up in a similar situation, I can sympathize with her feelings of anger and need for control. Her journey touched me the most. Blake's was a little less dramatic. I loved his character none-the-less. Their romance, though almost love at first sight, had it's ups and downs that made it more life-like than fairy tale, which I appreciated.

The message of the story is about second chances. Each character faces a point in their lives where they need to allow God to work in their lives and let them overcome their past issues. This involves forgiveness and letting go of anger and bitterness. The author is conveying how much bitterness and anger can control your life without you even realizing it. It's a powerful message.

Overall, I really related to this story and I loved it. From reading the exerpt of the next book in the Texas Crossroads series, On Lone Star Trail, it's going to be another exciting book!

*I recieved a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Revell Reads blogging program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the Author: Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers Best. She lives in Wyoming.

Connect with Amanda: Facebook | Blog | Twitter | Website

A May Bride by Meg Moseley

A May BrideOverview: She’s prepared for her wedding all her life … but she forgot a few things.Ellie Martin, a country girl in Atlanta, often de-stresses from city life by tending the flower beds of a church near her apartment. She has dreamed of a traditional wedding all her life, a wedding like the one her younger sister is planning back in their hometown. Their single mom will pay for Alexa’s wedding, but Ellie started her own wedding fund years ago. She only needs to find a groom.

She bumps into a man who’s a guest at a wedding on the church grounds. She’s noticed him around the neighborhood, but today he introduces himself as Gray Whitby. They embark on a whirlwind romance, but her mother doesn’t trust freewheeling men like him. Standing up to Mom leads Ellie to stick up for Alexa too. When Ellie risks her own plans for her sister’s sake, Gray feels betrayed. Will he always play second fiddle?

Will Ellie and Gray reconcile their differences so her dream wedding can come true, or will the romance they’ve begun come crashing down?

ISBN-13: 9780310338703
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 4/22/2014
Sold by: Zondervan Publishing
Format: eBook
Pages: 140
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: Having not read any of Meg Moseley's previous works, I didn't know what to expect from this author. I was not disappointed. This story of love at first sight was funny, happy, sad, and exciting all at the same time. I got caught up in the romance from the beginning. I sympathized with Ellie and her family dilemmas (I mean, who doesn't have family drama!) and I sympathized with Gray's issues with the family dilemmas (been there, done that!). Each character has a strong devotion to their faith and family. Watching them learn the balance of faith, family, and each other was so much fun! It reminds me of my own life and my own relationship struggles. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more by this fantastic author!

About the Author: Meg Moseley is a Californian transplanted to the South. For four years, she wrote human interest columns for a suburban section of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and she home-schooled for over twenty years. Mom to three grown children, she enjoys books, motorcycle rides with her husband, and gardening.

Connect with Meg: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

About the Book: Take This Journey of Broken Souls Restored
and Tentative Hearts Brought Fully to Life

When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother's helper, she's always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn't care about his troubles.

Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.

ISBN-13: 9780764212260
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: 5/5/2015
Pages: 304
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: Sarah Loudin Thomas is an excellent writer. She takes an ordinary story and makes it extraordinary. Until The Harvest is a story about Casewell and Perla's son, Henry. This is a story about healing in the midst of great tragedy. It is well thought out and written. I loved reading from both Margaret and Henry's point of view. I was intrigued by the story from beginning to end.

Henry's character resonated deeply with me. When tragedy happens in life, who do you turn to? Henry struggles to come to terms with his grief, making poor choices and hurting those he loves until he realizes that God is still in control and turns to Him for help and counsel. Margaret is dealing with a life time of hurt brought on by her family. Both Henry and Margaret struggle to figure out what true and lasting love is. With the help of Margaret's sister, Mayfair, the story does have a happy ending.

The message of the story, I think, is rooted in love. God's love for us is everlasting and eternal. He wants what's best for us, even when we don't know what that is and try to turn away or not trust Him. Mayfair helps each of the characters in the story realize that what they need is love. Not just love of each other, but eternal love that will last "until the harvest."

Overall, I enjoyed this book. If you haven't read Sarah Loudin Thomas before, I highly recommend her other two books, Appalachian Serenade and Miracle In A Dry Season

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Bethany House Blogging program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the AuthorSarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014 through Bethany House. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

Connect with Sarah: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That I Plan to Have in my Beach Bag

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This week's topic: Top Ten Books for the Beach
I figured this was a seriously appropriate topic since I will be at the beach in less than a month! I'm so excited to get away with family and just sit on the beach and READ. So, here's what I plan on reading while I'm at the beach (this list is subject to change lol):

Beach Reads:
It Had to Be You (Christiansen Family, #2)When I Fall in Love (Christiansen Family, #3)Always on My Mind (Christiansen Family, #4)Dockside (Lakeshore Chronicles, #3)

The Christiansen Family Series by Susan May Warren: I read the first book in the series, Take a Chance on Me, and absolutely loved it. I've also signed up to read the fifth book in the series, The Wonder of You, come July. So it stands to reason that I need to read the rest of the books in between before then!

I always read a Susan Wiggs book at the beach, and Dockside is the next book in the Lakeshore Chronicles Series

Nook Reads
I don't like to take my Nook out to the beach, so I will read different books on my Nook in the evening and paperback books on the beach during the day. I'll also read on the way to and from the beach. (Two years ago, I think I read about 10 books in the week I was at the beach LOL)

Married 'til Monday (Chapel Springs, #4)Murder Freshly BakedThe Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5) 
Married Til Monday by Denise Hunter is the 4th book in the Chapel Springs Romance Series. I've loved the two books I've read in the series so far. I can't wait to read this one!

Murder Freshly Baked by Vanette Chapman (An Amish Village Mystery Novel): I've read so many reviews of this series. I plan on reading the first two in the beginning of June, so I'll probably get to this one while I'm at the beach.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan is the last book in the Heros of Olympus series. I love these books. 

That's all I've got on the agenda for that week. I might add or change a few between now and then, but you never know! What about you?!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up (May 22) - Friday Memes

This is 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!

I love Kim Vogel Sawyer. Her books are always heartfelt and amazing. I just finished reading the second book in the Zimmerman Restoration trilogy. In honor of that, and thanks to Blogging for Books, I have a copy of the first book, When Mercy Rains to give away! Simply comment on this post by Thursday, May 28! Winner will be announced next Friday!

What I've Read
As Love Blooms: A Novel12127810

Reviews Posted
As Love Blooms by Lorna Seilstad
When Grace Sings by Kim Vogel Sawyer
A Heart's Danger by Colleen Coble

What I'm Currently Reading:

What's Next in May:

The Question: Why would you stop reading a book? Too long, wrong genre, bad language, not what you expected, or something totally different?

My Answer: I have only stopped reading one book because it was just not what I expected. The cover and description made it sound so intriguing, but I was bored to tears. I made it halfway through before I finally just gave up. Other than that, I feel like if I start a book, I have to finish it.

Hosted by: Rose City Reader
"Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name."

"Henry Phillips slices into the venison steak on his plate and savored the rich meatiness of it. Mom always cooked his favorites when he came home from college, and this Christmas break was no different." - Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

I've read the first book in the Appalachian Blessings series, Miracle in a Dry Season, and loved it. I've also read the free e-novella, Appalachian Serenade, and loved it! So it stands to reason, I'll love this book too!