7.17.2017

Bless Our Gramps and Gran by Mike Berenstain ~ Review

The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran (Berenstain Bears/Living Lights)
My Review:

In this delightful new addition to the Living Lights series, Brother, Sister, and Honey want to start honoring their grandparents by celebrating Grandparents day, so they make something special as a gift and learn about an ancient pair of grandparents and imagine what their grandchildren might have been like.

Reading the Berenstain Bears always brings back good memories of my childhood and this is charming new release is no different. Adorably humorous and with a great story this is a wonderful story to share. I love how the author uses to the story of Noah and his family to talk about the blessing of grandchildren.

Overall, a delightful classic, that would be a lovely book to share with grandchildren and grandparents. A lovely read that is sure to be enjoyed thoroughly!



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

7.13.2017

With You Always by Jody Hedlund ~ Review

With You Always (Orphan Train, #1)
My Review:

Elise Neumann and her sisters, along with their young charges, have taken refuge in the Seventh Street Mission run by the kindly and industrious Miss Pendleton. Elise and her sister Marianne sew in the sewing shop, but as the factories are laying off workers, the mission too must lay off workers. Elise is the eldest, so she gets a job with the Children’s Aid Society along the Illinois railway line that sends her miles away from her family with little hope of making a living.

Thornton Quincy and his twin brother Bradford are competing for the ownership of their father’s railroad empire in a deathbed challenge. Thornton has 6 months to develop a town along the Illinois railroad, as well as marry for love. Thornton has never felt that he could make his father proud the way that his brother Bradford did, but he determined to make his father proud before he passes.  But he never counted on falling for a strong willed, passionate, and beautiful German woman who challenges him to take a stand and fight for his dream.

Elise is a hard working young woman, who isn't afraid to stand up for herself. I love her unconditional love for her sisters, and that way that she challenges Thornton to be a better man, and give him encouragement and confidence. She brings out the best in Thornton. She is kind and compassionate, even to those who don't always treat her well. 

Thornton is a good man, he has more confidence than he thinks and even though life hasn't been perfect, he's had it relatively easy despite being in is brother shadow. Elise know how to encourage him and challenges him to think about things in a different way. He is drawn to her like a magnet, and they just "click" in a way he never has with anyone else.

Reinhold is a wholesome young man, sturdy and strong, he is a gentleman to the core of his being. I love is honesty and selfless love wanting the best of others. I hope he finds happiness someday! I think he was one of my favorite characters in this book.

This book had my favorite characters by Jody Hedlund ever. Elise is a sensible heroine, compassionate, and vulnerable. While Thornton has a healthy ambition to prove himself to his father, when he is with Elise he sees himself as the man that he wants to be. I also really loved the townspeople like that Grays, Fanny, and Reinhold.

Well written and fast-paced it makes for a hard book to put down, and I instantly liked the characters and could help but cheer for them all the way through. The ending came together well, with surprise twists of suspense for a thrilling climax. I liked how this book showed a different side of the Orphan Train and Children's Aid Society, it was well researched and I loved every minute of it. I'm excited to read about Elise's sisters as they make their own way in the world in the coming installments of the series. Highly recommend!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

7.09.2017

The Cowboy's Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner ~ Review

The Cowboy's Baby Blessing (Cowboy Country)
Lucie's Review:

At Serendipity, TX’s 1st Annual Bachelor and Basket’s Auction Rachel Perez the owner of a local daycare is looking for a handyman, not a date. 

Rachel would never have bid on Seth Howell, even though he recently designed and built the new play equipment for the park, he’s flashy and just returned from a tour of duty in the Army, but her 16 year old daughter has other ideas.

Seth has big plans and isn’t looking to settle down, but he comes to Rachel when he unexpectedly becomes the guardian of 2 year old Caden, the son of a close friend who died serving beside him in the Army, as well as the guardian of the ranch that will one day be Caden’s. Seth is understandably overwhelmed, and Rachel suggests that he bring Caden to her daycare while he sorts things out.

Though they seem unlikely, will Rachel and Seth be just what the other needs?

I like that Rachel is strong, she’s had to be. She got pregnant with Zooey at 16, and had to learn to lean on her faith to build a stable life for herself and her daughter.

Seth admires Rachel for everything that she’s overcome, and her strong faith makes him want to rethink his writing off of God. He likes her honesty and how stable she seems, while he’s always been unsettled and adventurous. I like how he encourages Rachel to try new things and to be more adventurous.

A great tale of an unlikely couple, I like how they get to know each other through Rachel watching Caden and Seth working on the new play equipment. The both are opposites, but help each other be better and more well-rounded people. I like how both of them are different and settled into their own ways and how meeting each other forces them to open their eyes to more possibilities. Great characters and enjoyable story.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

Protective Measures by Maggie K. Black ~ Review

Protective Measures (True North Bodyguards #3)
Lucie's Review:

Leo has spent his life in the Navy and his hard work has seen him rise through the ranks at the cost of his family. He has a new assignment looking for a leak of Navy intelligence.

Zoe is a former gymnast and a member of Ash Security, she and her team are running security for a party when Leo sees her up on the rooftop. When an explosion disrupts the party Leo and Zoe are forced to jump from the building and he wonders if he could have been the target. So he hires Ash Security to watch his back and protect his daughters.
As the threats continue Leo and Zoe must work together to stop a radical group from doing more harm.

Action packed and full of mystery, non-stop suspense as the radical blackmailers, who trade in secrets, always seem to be one step ahead of them.

Leo hasn’t always been there for his family, a career in the Navy was always taking him away, and he and his wife tended to do better when they were apart. But he feels like he missed out on a lot of time with his daughters. He is dedicated to his job and proud of his career in the Navy.

Zoe is great with Leo’s girls, Eve and Ivy. Zoe has spent her life feeling like she’s always had to prove herself. She used to be a world class gymnast and one unfortunate incident got her kicked off the team. She has a great relationship with her brother, and he is supportive of her.

A great story from beginning to end, with non-stop action, great characters and dialog. Leo is an honorable hero, haunted by his bad marriage and the promise he made to his late wife on her deathbed. I liked the interaction between the characters, and how Zoe was able to help Leo reconnect with his daughters. An intense read, hard to put down with great tension and chemistry between the heroes. Definitely recommend!



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin ~ Review

The Two of Us
Lucie's Review:

When Mia Robinson and Jake Turner meet at a diner in Vegas little do they know how much they have in common and the things they will share, until they see other again at a wedding chapel.

Mia is at the wedding to support her little sister, Lucy, who is pregnant and marrying Sam. Sam is the son of Jake’s partner who died in a bomb blast that took part of Jake’s hearing and cost him his career. Jake has tried to help Sam by teaching him how to fix up cars, and also lessons of faith. Jake is proud of Sam for wanting to do the right thing and marry Lucy. Jakes also finds work for Lucy taking care of his mother Claire who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Mia is a nurse practitioner with a passion for international medical missions, during the interviews the agency is quick to point that her experience is largely in big city hospital settings.  She knows that the doctor in Echo Falls wants to retire soon, so she takes the job so that she can also be close to Lucy. I liked her determination to reach her goals. And I related to her struggle with giving up control.

Jake is supportive of Mia’s dreams to pursue a career with Mission Medical, and he accepts that maybe friends is all that Mia is ready for right now. Jake is an observant and patient man, and a good friend to Sam. He lives his faith and has passion for helping other young people like Sam. Jake hasn’t let his hearing loss get him down and he has a great dog Pirate that helps to alert him of things that he can’t hear. I really admired him and his patient friendship with Mia and mentorship of Sam.

Jake’s dad, Frank, is a really great guy, he  love his wife and wants to keep her at home as long as they can until they can go to a special home together.

I also really liked how the book follows Sam and Lucy too. Sam is a great guy he wants to do the best he can by Lucy and their child, and he is going to school and is in the ROTC. Lucy really learns to trust God with her worries, and she grows a lot in her faith over the course of the book.

I really liked the way that this book brings together multiple generations within a family, with great dialog and well-rounded characters. There are many surprises along the way as well. I liked the realness of the characters all in their different walks of life, and how they all came together for each other. I would definitely recommend this well done read.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi ~ Review

A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen, #2)
My Review:


Vikram, The Fox Prince, is a prince in name but not in power. Adopted by the Emperor of Ujijain when he was a small boy, the counsel does not see him as worthy of the throne. He wishes to rule Ujijain. Vikram receives a magical invitation to the Tournament of Wishes, a contest that promises to grant the winner their heart’s desire. But in order to play, he needs a partner.

Princess Gauri, Jewel of Bharata, wishes to overthrow her tyrant of a brother and lay claim to the throne. She has been exiled and imprisoned, forced to betray her best friend. Her brother sends her to Ujijain to be executed by Prince Vikram as a show of loyalty to Gauri’s brother, Skanda of Bharata. But her escape comes unexpectedly when Prince Vikram invites her to be his partner in the Other Realm’s Tournament of Wishes.

Will they find what their hearts desire within Alaka’s gates?

Vikram is a clever thinker, he is good at coming up with fair solutions, and his wits are his weapon. He is cool and collected in the face of danger, and a patient scholar. I really admired his inquisitive mind, wisdom, and sense of adventure.

Gauri is calculated, yet anxious, she has been raised as a warrior to trust no one. Her heart hurts for the pain that her brother Skanda has caused his subjects, but she wonders if her patience is another form of cowardice. She is quick thinking and always ready to fight. On the outside she appears hard and seamless, but I like how her friendship with Nalini showed her softer side as well as her growing friendship with Vikram.

Aasha is an other-worldly creature, she and her Vishakanya sisters feed on the desires of others but their touch is toxic. Aasha longs for the world beyond the Other Realm, she has questions about taste, touch, and the human world. She befriends Vikram and Guari, helping them navigate Alaka in return for information about the human world. Though a century old, she is youthful and brimming with questions and longing, she is a faithful friend, honest and true.

I was initially drawn to this book because I have read very little about Indian folklore and was intrigued by how their culture was expressed in their stories. It was interesting to see how different themes were played up compared to our western fairy tales, and I was completely enchanted by this spellbinding adventure of love, courage, desire, hope, vengeance, and forgiveness.

Vikram and Gauri are opposites, yet unknowingly the perfect complement to each other. Sparks fly, and there is great chemistry between them. I like how their grudging partnership warms to friendship as they face the trials of fear and love. Full of twists, humor, adventure, all with an Indian flare, it is an enchanting tale of desire and destiny. Highly recommend for fans of folklore and fantasy.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble ~ Review

Beneath Copper Falls (Rock Harbor #6)
Lucie's Review:

911 operator Dana Newell returns to Rock Harbor after her abusive boyfriend tries to drown her. Dana grew up in Rock Harbor, and finds a place to stay with her cousin Chris, meanwhile she and her friend Bree are training a puppy for search and rescue.

Boone Carter is a former smoke jumper who is now an outfitter who rents out cabins. He is a good friend of Chris and willingly goes to check on Dana while Chris is gone. He defensive around women because of a scar on his face, previously his fiance broke it off with him when she saw it.

When Dana's friend, Allyson, who also happens to be Boone's cousin, frantically calls Dana, with a haunting message before the line goes dead, soon after Allyson's body is found and ruled an accident, but Dana wonders if Garret, her ex could be involved. She knows that Allyson was investigating a new story, could she have gotten too close to the truth?

Dana is a brave and clever heroine, and her is determined to do everything that she can to find out hat happened to Allyson and prevent it from happening to others.

I really liked Boone, he is slow to trust Dana, but comes to see that he can be himself when he is with and her and that her questions are out of concerned kindness, and he admires her bravery and how she cares for people on and off the clock.

This is a fast-paced and suspenseful read, with a tension filled mystery that brings Dana and Boone together. Boone is very supportive of Dana, and a very good friend. I really liked seeing Bree, Kade and Sampson again, along with Bree and Kade's 4 year old twins! There are many surprises along with twists, and plenty of tense moments. Definitely a great read for fans of Colleen Coble's Rck Harbor Series!




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

7.06.2017

An Outlaw and a Lady by Jessi Colter and David Ritz ~ Review

An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith that Brought Me HomeMy Review:


Jessi Colter famous singer, song-writer, child of God, and love of Waylon Jenning’s life, tell her story in this autobiography that tells of her childhood, meeting and loving Waylon, and rediscovering her faith in God.

Born Mirriam Johnson, to a Pentecostal preacher and a racecar driver, she sang in church and her family knew that she was something special. At 17 with her family’s blessing she recorded her first record and met Duane Eddy whom she later married. Those were troubled years, though she seemed to have everything she could have wanted a supportive husband, daughter, and a song-writing career, something was missing. She explored the New Age worldview, liking the self-empowering messages, but finding them oddly empty, soon after her marriage failed and she was divorcee at 24. It was then that she met Waylon Jennings the enigmatic country rocker, who didn’t like to play by the rules. He was a hard living, woman loving man, with a pill problem, just coming out of his third divorce at 31. But when they met they were smitten.


Uncertain years of up and downs followed, Mirriam took the professional name Jessi Colter and had many successes of her own, touring with Waylon on and off, and going to the top of the charts with her song “I’m Not Lisa” as well as with a few other songs that she sang herself, or that were cut by other artists. And even though she lived for loving Waylon, something was still missing.

I've been a long time fan of country music, so this book caught my eye when I saw that it was about the woman who new Waylon best. I realized as I read how little I knew about Jessi beyond her songs. Jessi was a strong woman, and though success came and went through the years her love was always with her family. I liked her honesty as she told her story, she didn't sugar coat Waylon's past and the hurt that he had caused her, despite being the love of her life. 

It's so cool to see looking back how God was working in her life even when she seemed to be running away from Him. Through everything she stayed true to her husband and to the God that gave her strength to keep going and inspired her music. I learned so much about the rich history of outlaw country and the woman beside one of country music's greatest legends and rule breakers. 

Overall all it was a wonderful read and a great intimate look at the life of Jessi Colter and her famous husband Waylon Jennings, and the life that they found together. Highly recommend for fans of Jessi and Waylon, or anyone who enjoys reading about a real life love story. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

The Engagement Charade by Karen Kirst ~ Review

The Engagement Charade (Smoky Mountain Matches #11)Lucie's Review:


Ellie Jameson lost her husband and lives with her controlling in-laws, she is pregnant and doesn’t want to think about what their plans for her child might be. So she takes a chance at a job, and finds a place to board in town. Ellie won the cooking contest to become the new cook at Plum Café, but she struggles to communicate with the restaurant owner about the menu and other concerns because he spends his days hiding in his office.

Alexander Copeland just wants to be left alone. He came to Gatlinburg to escape the memories of his late wife and son, and in his grief has turned his back on God. Despite everything that Ellie has been through, she comes to work every day with a smile, and tries to coax Alex into the world of the living by cooking him special dishes, encouraging him to catch fish for the restaurant and has ideas for sprucing up the place. One night Ellie stays to work late so Alex offers to bring her home, and gets a picture of how oppressive her in-laws are, so to protect her he tells them that he is Ellie’s fiancé.

But as the charade grows and pushes him out of his solitude, could he be the answer to Ellie’s prayers?

Ellie is a bright and optimistic woman, she doesn’t sit and feel sad for herself when she rightfully could do just that, but she puts her energy towards helping others, especially Alex. She isn’t scared off by his gruff demeanor, and she doesn’t like lying to people even though she knows that he did it for her. She is my favorite person in this story because of her hopeful and encouraging spirit.

There is great interaction between the characters, and I like how Ellie speaks freely about her faith. Ellie sees Alex for the man that he could be again, and I like how together they find hope for a future in an unconventional charade. Engaging from start to finish, I love revisiting Gatlinburg and its wonderful residents. Wonderful story, definitely recommend!




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

The Shock of the Night by Patrick W. Carr ~ Review

The Shock of Night (The Darkwater Saga, #1)
My Review:

Willet Dura is King Ladir’s trusted reeve, the lowest of the titled, and engaged to marry his beloved Gael, yet he is still haunted by the war. He has a mysterious gift for knowing when someone will be murdered and is always the first on the scene, he fears that his involvement may be more than simply coincidental, yet he has a strange fixation with death and the live after.

The death of an elderly priest changes his life forever when he receives a rare gift, hidden for ages, that puts his well-planned future in jeopardy, but also brings responsibility and greater thing than Willet could have ever imagined.

Though this is the first book in the series, I highly recommend reading the free e-book novella By Divine Right, first. The reason is because while typically you could ignore the prequel novella, I found that while I was reading Shock of the Night, that there were many references to how Willet had earned the esteem and disgust of his acquaintances, and I felt like I was reading the second book in a series even though it was the first. After I finished this book, I went back and read By Divine Right and found that it filled in a lot of things, and answered many questions that I had, as well as giving more insight into Willet’s relationship with Gael, and helped me understand more of how Aer’s gifts were given and worked within the realm of this book.

This book jumps right into the story, and though it did take me a bit to figure out who everyone was and what was going on, (reading the prequel first will help with this), I felt that it was an engaging read from the start. Willet is a compelling and intriguing hero, mysterious in ways even to himself; he is a seeker, survivor, clever, loyal, and at times reckless. I liked how even though he has his secrets, he is a natural leader even if he doesn’t see it in himself, his demeanor commands respect despite his at times rash decisions. He treats others with respect as well, like the urchins who live off the streets and his warm friendship with the librarian, Custos. Though I wish there had been a bit more dialog with Gael so that we could see more of their relationship in real life beyond Willet’s high regard for her when he dreams of his future with her.

Bolt is another of my favorites, honor and duty bound he smart and observant, willing to go against the grain and trust his gut when he needs to, and a faithful friend. Even though Willet put him to the test, he in turn respects Willet for it, and in fact they are men of a similar bent.

It is interesting how much of this book is told from Willet’s point of view in first person narrative, while a few short chapters are told in third person about Pellin the uneasy new Eldest of the Vigil.  I felt that the style worked well for the story. Mr. Carr does an excellent job of creating a fantastic world, well balanced with blessings and consequence. Intricate, and captivating, I love how it makes you think about things, and as the reader you aren’t just along for the ride. I would definitely recommend this book for fans of fantasy and speculative fiction, I’m very excited to see where this series goes.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."