Friday, February 27, 2015

After A Fashion by Jen Turano

After a FashionOverview: Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can't make her fashionable. She'll never truly fit into Oliver's world, but just as she's ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

ISBN-13: 9780764212758
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 3/3/2015
Pages: 352
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: I absolutely LOVE Jen Turano. Her action packed, humorous books always have me laughing out loud and turning the pages eagerly. This book was no exception. From the very first page, I was hooked and didn't let go until I finished (in one day, I might add!). The plot was engaging, chock full of Jen's amazingly humorous situations and antics.

I was endeared to Harriet Peabody immediately. She radiated independence, love, faith, and vulnerability all at the same time. Her witty banter and quick mind was refreshing. Honestly, it took me a little while to warm up to Oliver Addleshaw. He was boorish and mean (for lack of a better word) at the beginning. However, as he got to know Harriet, he began to change and by the end of the book, I was rooting for him!

Jen has an interesting and intriguing way of getting her message across. Rather than blatantly stating it, she allows her characters lives and actions to reflect it. In this case, Harriet comes to the realization that all things work together for good according to HIS purpose and HIS timing. He can use any situation for His purposes and plans for our lives. 

Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel. I really hope we get to delve more into the lives of Lucetta, Millie, Abigail, and Archibald in the future. If you're looking for a light-hearted, laugh out loud book with a deep and well-written message, this is the book for you!

*I received a complimentary copy from the author and publisher in exchange for my honest review.*

JenTuranoAbout the Author: Jen Turano is the acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House publishers.  Her second novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013.  Her fourth book, A Match of Wits, releases in July, 2014, while a new series, A Class of Their Own, will begin hitting the shelves in early 2015. She is a member of ACFW and makes her home outside of Denver, Colorado with her husband and teenage son. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Trouble With Patience by Maggie Brendan

Trouble with Patience, The: A NovelOverview: Patience Cavanaugh has lost hope in romance. The man she yearned to marry is dead and her dreams are gone with him. Now she is consumed with the restoration of a dilapidated boarding house in order to support herself. Despite her desire for solitude, Jedediah Jones, the local sheriff with a reputation for hanging criminals, becomes an ever-looming part of her life. It seems like such a simple arrangement: Patience needs someone with a strong back to help her fix up the boardinghouse, and Jedediah needs a dependable source of food for himself and his prisoners. But Patience gets more than she bargained for as she explores the depths of the "hanging lawman"--and finds both betrayal and love.

With a keen eye to historical detail and a deft hand at romantic tension, Maggie Brendan invites readers to a Montana gold rush boomtown, where vices and virtues are on full display and love is lying in wait.

ISBN-13: 9780800722647
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 2/17/2015
Series: Virtues and Vices of the Old West , #1
Pages: 336 
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: A quaint story in a quaint town, with lovable characters. I enjoyed this story. All aspects of the plot were neatly and properly tied up and completed before the end of the story. The story flowed well and was pleasant. That being said, there wasn't a lot of action where there could have been.

We really only get to know the characters on a surface level. While I can tell they develop and change their thinking throughout the story, it's not really on a level that I got emotionally attached to the characters. I really liked Patience and Jed, Emily, Hannah, Cody, and Joe. They were sweet characters. I also felt like the romance between Patience and Jed is kind of forced. It doesn't seem a deep love develops between them. 

The message of the story is perfectly summed up in the verse at the beginning of the book. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) All through the story, the characters are working to please the Lord with their tempers and tongues. Patience is the best model for this virtue throughout the story.

Overall, this was a sweet story with likeable characters and an enjoyable plot.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Revell Reads blogging program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.*

About the Author: Maggie Brendan is a CBA bestselling author, and has sold over 300,000 books of historical romance. She is a winner of 2014 Book Buyers Best/ OCC/RWA -inspirational, 2013 Laurel Wreath Award, was a 2013 finalist for the Published Maggie Award of Excellence, a 2014 and 2013 finalist for the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, a 2012 finalist for Inspirational Reader’s Choice award and a recipient of the 2004 ACW Persistence Award in Atlanta. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), The Author’s Guild, Romance Writers of America (RWA), Faith, Hope and Love, and Georgia Romance Writers. Maggie’s series are Heart of the West and The Blue Willow Brides and Virtues and Vices of the Old West. The Trouble with Patience, book one in a new series, of Virtues and Vices of the Old West will release in February, 2015. You can follow Maggie on her website www.MaggieBrendan.com, her blog www.SouthernBelleWriter.blogspot.com,Twitter @MaggieBrendan and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MaggieBrendan?ref=hl .

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Water Your Faith Wednesday - The Power of a Praying Wife (Part 9)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
 
  Week 1, the introduction: The Power.
Week 2, His Wife.  
Week 3, His Work
Week 4, His Finances
Week 5, His Sexuality
Week 6, His Affection
Week 7, His Temptation
Week 8, His Mind.
  Week 9, His Fears.
 
Today, we are continuing our devotions with the 9th chapter in The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian: His Purpose
 
"Each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that." - 1 Corinthians 7:7
 
My Thoughts: Everyone has a purpose. God created each one of us with a purpose in mind. Your husband, according to Stormie, needs to know his purpose because it helps him to know why he exists (pg. 87). Our husbands are "predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11-12) and our job is to pray that he finds the will of Him and hears God's call on his life (pg. 87). Once he figures out God's plan for his life, he can be confident, happy, and fulfilled. That ultimately affects you (pg. 88).  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up (Feb. 20)

 
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!
 
Wow. It's been a wild week here in the Carolina's! We just don't know what to do when it snows/ices. I was so busy at work, I didn't get a lot of reading done, but I did manage to read a 3-in-1 novel, so I guess I read three books! :D
 
Current Giveaway:

What I've Read
Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada's House Trilogy, includes The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace 
 
Reviews Posted
Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall 
Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

What I'm Currently Reading
The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West, #1) 

What's Up Next
After a Fashion22574070A Heart's DisguiseThe Inn at Ocean's EdgeThe Wood's Edge: A NovelHere it is! The cover for  'Robin's Reward', Book One of the Bonita Creek Trilogy. 
 
Challenge Updates
"It's A Love Story" Reading Challenge: 3 book toward my goal of 4 - ALMOST DONE! :D

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall - Review & Giveaway!

Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada's House Trilogy, includes The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of GraceOverview: Hope Crossing…where Ada’s House stands as a haven for weary souls looking for kindness, faith, and second chances.

The Hope of Refuge
Two very different women are pulled by their strongest desires. Deborah Mast joined the Amish church and longs to marry her fiancĂ©, but he is changing. Cara Moore is forced to look into a life that was meant to be hers. Will Ada’s House help them realize their hearts’ desires or will it force them to accept what life has done to each of them? Read an excerpt.

The Bridge of Peace
Living out her passion for teaching, Lena Kauffman’s work is suddenly interrupted by a series of pranks and accidents targeted toward her and her students. When tragedy strikes her dear friend Grey Graber’s family on school property, the school board begins to blame her for the trouble. As grief and confusion take their toll on Grey and Lena’s friendship, they are both forced to face a new reality that may offer the peace and love they each long for. Read an excerpt.

The Harvest of Grace
Fleeing a terrible mistake, Sylvia Fisher dedicates herself to saving the failing Blank farm. When prodigal son Aaron returns, he is surprised by this unusual farmhand who opposes all his plans. Will Aaron and Sylvia’s unflinching efforts toward opposite futures mask the bigger picture—a path to forgiveness, grace, and the promise of love? Read an excerpt.

ISBN-13: 9781601427670
Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/4/2014
Series: Ada's House Series
Pages: 1040
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

The Hope of Refuge (Ada's House Series #1)My Review: The Hope of Refuge - I loved this story, until the end. Now, don't get me wrong. The end is exactly what I had hoped for. However, I found it to be very anti-climatic. I won't say why, because I don't want to give away the plot. The characters are truly amazing and well-written. I loved watching Cara learn to accept God in her life and the strength and faith of Ephriam when a long way in helping her. Deborah's heartache and feelings of abandonment tore me up, but I loved how the community rallied around her and Ada. As for the Amish community, this is the first time I've ever encountered an Amish district that I didn't immediately love. As the story progressed, I began to understand why they were the way they were, and I loved watching them change. Overall, this was a great story and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The Bridge of PeaceThe Bridge of Peace - As I began this story, I was hoping to see more of Deborah, Cara, and Ada. I wasn't disappointed! It really made up for my earlier disappointment. As with the first book in the series, the characters and plot are amazingly written and well-developed. Lena is a true role model for women. Even with her blemishes, she acts with grace, compassion, and quickly extends forgiveness and accepts corrections with grace. Grey is a godly man struggling with grief and acceptance. The adversary of the story made for an interesting take and really showed how a negative influence can taint a whole community. It was great watching the community "bridge" the peace they crave in God's time.

The Harvest of Grace (Ada's House Series #3)The Harvest of Grace -This was such a heartwarming and satisfying conclusion to a wonderful series. I loved Aaron and Sylvia's characters. Each character was dealing with some form of addiction and working to overcome it. That being said, the author does an excellent job of getting inside the mind of a former alcoholic and showcasing this terrible disease. I loved both of their determinations to find what God had for them, even when they struggled to embrace it. The author also provides satisfying conclusions to every story line started, and that I appreciate! The Amish community in Dry Lake came together in a heartwarming way to support their members and really endeared themselves to me.  I really enjoyed this entire series, but I think this story was my favorite.

Join Ada and her friends at Ada's House as they journey to find a hope of refuge, a bridge of peace, and an abundant harvest of grace!

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

About the Author: Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family. - See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author-spotlight.php?authorid=72213#sthash.9oEUEhVN.dpuf
Connect with Cindy:  - Facebook  - Twitter  - Goodreads Follow Me on Pinterest - Pinterest  - RSS Feed 

Giveaway time!

The publisher was nice enough to provide me with two copies of this fantastic series. So, I'm giving one of my copies to you, one of my lucky readers! To enter, simply comment on the post below: Do you enjoy Amish novels? If so, who is your favorite author?
Ends 2/27
*U.S. Entries only please. Leave email in non-spam format (youremail(at)domain(dot)com). 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up (Feb. 13)

 
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!

What I've Read
A Woodland Miracle (The Amish Wonders Series)A February BrideSabotaged (Alaskan Courage #5) 

Reviews Posted
A Woodland Miracle by Ruth Reid
A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

What I'm Currently Reading
Hope Crossing: The Complete Ada's House Trilogy, includes The Hope of Refuge, The Bridge of Peace, and The Harvest of Grace 

What's Next
The Trouble with Patience (Virtues and Vices of the Old West, #1)After a Fashion  22574070A Heart's Disguise

Challenge Updates:
"It's A Love Story" Reading Challenge: 2 book toward my goal of 4
Finish the Series Reading Challenge1 series completed. 1 book toward the Year of Wedding Novallas Series (2 of 12 read). Total: 2 Series Completed - My goal: 10 Series
 

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Sabotaged (Alaskan Courage Series #5)Overview: Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena
Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat


Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.

ISBN-13: 9780764211966
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 2/3/2015
Series: Alaskan Courage Series , #5
Pages: 336
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: I absolutely loved this book. I hated putting it down for even a minute! Action-packed from the very beginning, Dani Pettrey captures the adventurous spirit of our hero, Reef, perfectly. The Iditarod race provided the perfect background for the story and brought to light the amazing setting that is Alaska. The plot was fast-moving, well-developed, and amazing. I love that Dani incorporates all of the McKenna clan in each book, but this can definitely be read as a stand-alone.

The characters are fantastic. This book focuses on Reef, the wayward, wild, crazy brother (who makes his first appearance in Shattered). We get to see a new side to him, and it makes me love him so much more. Kirra is the perfect girl for Reef. She is adventerous, strong, and stubborn enough to test him, but vulnerable and sweet enough to make Reef better. I loved their story and who they became together.

The message of the story focuses on letting go of your past and focusing on the future. Dwelling on our past isn't what God wants us to do, even if our pasts are difficult. With His help, we can face the past, and move on. "Love in the difficult parts of life. God in them - in the sorrow and the pain." God knows the plans He has for our future, and that can give us hope!

Overall, this book was the perfect ending to a fantastic series. I was SO excited to receive my copy and a little sad at the same time. Our time with the  McKenna's has ended, but I can't wait to see what else Dani Pettrey has in store for us!

**Thank you Bethany House for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**
View my reviews of the other books in the Alaskan Courage Series

http://authordanipettrey.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/dpettrey1sm1.jpgAbout the Author: Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, and her latest release, Silenced. 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 her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their daughters, son-in-law, and super adorable grandson. Find Dani on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

A February BrideOverview: Allie left the love of her life at the altar—to save him from a lifetime of heartbreak. When a Valentine’s Day wedding brings them back together, she struggles against her family’s destructive history. Can Allie ever realize that a marriage is so much more than a wedding dress?

History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—in the same dress passed down for generations and worn by all the women in her family—women with a long history of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus but fears she’s destined to repeat her family’s mistakes. She can’t bear to hurt Marcus worse.

Marcus Hall never stopped loving Allie and can only think of one reason she left him at the altar—him. When the two are thrown together for his sister’s Valentine’s Day wedding, he discovers the truth and realizes their story might be far from over. Can Allie shuck expectation and discover who she is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she ever walks down the aisle, what dress will she wear?

ISBN-13: 9780310338291
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 1/28/2014
Series: A Year of Weddings Novella , #2
Sold by: Zondervan Publishing
Format: eBook
Pages: 116
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

 My Review: This was such a cute story. Oh my soul - Marcus is a man of gold. There are not many men who would not harbor resentment and anger toward their betrothed if they were left standing at the alter! I really enjoyed watching Allie and Marcus fight their attraction for one another throughout the story and I just KNEW they would get back together. Allie's belief in her cursed dress and family failings is relatable. A lot of people think because generation after generation does one thing, they are destined to do it as well. The cycle can be broken with God and faith! Overall, I enjoyed this sweet story! I look forward to reading more by Betsy.

BetsyAbout the Author: Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things – chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance via Love Inspired and Harper Collins (Zondervan). When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing. Betsy is proud to be represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Visit www.tamelahancockmurray.com & www.stevelaube.com

Visit Betsy: http://www.betsystamant.com/bio/ 

Here are my reviews from the A Year of Wedding Novellas series.

Water Your Faith Wednesday - The Power of a Praying Wife (Part 8)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
 
  Week 1, the introduction: The Power.
Week 2, His Wife.  
Week 3, His Work
Week 4, His Finances
Week 5, His Sexuality
Week 6, His Affection
Week 7, His Temptation
Week 8, His Mind.
 
Today, we are continuing our devotions with the 8th chapter in The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian: His Fears
   
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" - Psalm 27:1
 
My ThoughtsIt was really hard for me to pick just one of the "Power Tools" verses Stormie provides because they were all so familiar and good! Fear attacks men and women differently. Women's fears, in my opinion, stem from our feelings of not measuring up or not being good enough. Men, on the other hand, fear the "what if's" (pg. 81). Reminding him that he has been "adopted by God" and that we're in the presence of a strong and loving Heavenly Father can go a long way in assuaging a man's fear (pg. 82).  Sometimes the Holy Spirit will prompt you to pray for something out of fear, but destructive fear is something we should help our husbands overcome (pg. 82). To sum it up, I will leave with this quote from Stormie's book (pg. 82-83): 
 
"The only kind of fear we are supposed to have is the fear of the Lord. When you have fear of the Lord, God promises to deliver you from your enemies (2 Kings 17:39), protect you from evil (Proverbs 16:6), keep His eye on you (Psalm 33:18), show you His mercy (Luke 1:50), give you riches and honor (Proverbs 22:4), supply everything you need (Psalm 34:9), reveal all you need to know (Psalm 25:14), bless your children and grandchildren (Psalm 103:17), give you confidence (Proverbs 14:26), a satisfying life (Proverbs 19:23), longevity (Proverbs 10:27), and the desires of your heart (Psalm 145:19)."
 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Like/Dislike about Romance

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!
 
This week's topics: Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books
 
 DISLIKES
1. Instant love stories: Some authors do this very well. Most don't. There is just nothing truly believable to me about love at first sight. Sure, you can instantly fall in love with someone, but you still have to take time to build a relationship!
 
2. Controlling hero/heroine: There is nothing AT ALL romantic about being controlled or manipulated. Which brings me to my #3...
 
3. Hero/Heroine with NO back bone: Come on, stand up for yourself every now and then. There is no need to let your significant other tromp all over you all the time.

4. "Steamy" romances: Let's face it. It's not real life. I feel like reading them sets unrealistic expectations on your spouse and if he/she doesn't read, then they don't even know it! Also, there is more to love than physical attraction.
 
5. Rushed/Forced Romances: This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I do not like it when the romance seems forced or rushed.  Don't put romance where there is none. Period.

LIKES
6. Friends turned "lovers": (I don't mean lovers in the physical sense). I love it when the hero and heroine start out as friends. It always provides for an interesting story and deep love.

7. Second Chance Love: There is nothing more encouraging or special than a couple who blew it the first time, giving love another try and succeeding. 

8. Enemies turned "lovers": (ok, so maybe lovers isn't the best word, but you get my point!). The banter and sometimes friction between a hero and herione who are fighting their attraction for one another because they are supposed to be "enemies" is so exciting. I love it!

9. Comedic Romance: This is one of my favorite types of movies, so it stands to reason that "rom-coms" would be great books too! 

10. Christ-Centered Romance: I don't always read Christian Fiction, and I understand secular novels aren't going to have a "godly" romance, but I love reading a good romance where Christ is the center of their lives. In a secular book, I just look for a clean romance, where their feelings run deeper than their physical connection/attraction.

That's it for me. What about you?!

February Book Photo Challenge - Week 1

As I was scrolling through my blog roll the other day, I came across a post from Kate @ Too Read or Not Too Read. She had participated in a January Book Photo Challenge. I thought "what a fun idea!" So, I've decided to participate in the #feb15bookchallenge on Instagram! Each week in the month of February, I will post the pictures for the challenge. (You can follow me on Instagram @ sdmauney14) If you want to participate, look up #feb15bookchallenge on Instagram for the list, and to see what others have posted! Have fun!

Day 1: TBR - These are just my paperback books on my TBR shelf!
 
Day 2: Heartbreaker - Though the ending of this book is happy, it broke my heart watching Ivy go through what she did. God is good!

Day 3: Steamy Read - We all know what probably got chosen the most...

Day 4: Cover Buy - I assume this means books we bought simply because of the cover...

 Day 5: Red Books - I didn't know I had so many!

Day 6: LOVE this book.. Of course I couldn't pick just one...




This was so much fun! I look forward to continuing this challenge the rest of the month!