Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

December 12, 2016

Because You're Mine {Colleen Coble}

because you're mine colleen coble
Alanna has been plagued by tragedy. So it should come as no surprise that in the beauty that surrounds Charleston, all is not as it seems.

When her husband is killed by a car bomb while their band is on tour in Charleston, Alanna doesn’t know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but the one thing she knows for sure is that she can’t lose the last piece of Liam she has left.

Their manager offers her a marriage of convenience to gain her U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution . . . but her doubts begin almost as soon as she arrives at Barry’s family home, a decaying mansion surrounded by swamp.

To make matters worse, Liam’s best friend survived the car bomb. She’s never really liked Jesse and now she can’t seem to get away from him. When he takes Liam’s place in their band, it’s almost more than she can bear.

But then things start happening. Things that could easily cost Alanna her life—or the life of her unborn child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is there something much more sinister at work?

My Thoughts:
When you pick up a book from Colleen Coble, you can be guaranteed you will get that perfect recipe of suspense and romance.

As soon as we were introduced to Alanna and Liam, I fell in love with them. The seemingly perfect couple with love so deep. When Liam is suddenly killed, Alanna's life falls into a tailspin that she must find a way out of - and fast.

Barry seemed like a creep from the moment we met him, and I never trusted him. When he offers to help Alanna I found myself trying to tell her not to do it, but she didn't listen to me, and the result was a new life in a family of deep dark secrets. As we got to know Barry and his family, it becomes evident Alanna has gotten herself into a situation she may not be able to find a way out of.

And then there is Jess. Jess started out as a jerk, but surviving the accident apparently made him rethink his life. As he appears to be working through the issues he once had, I found myself liking the guy and hoping he would get a break in life. I wanted him to find true happiness, as well as figure out who he was deep inside.

As all these characters find themselves in danger, there is only one way they can possibly find survival - through God's grace. These characters called upon God for help, and He delivered in a way only He can.

I thought this book as well written with great characters and enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. It definitely deserves a place on your reading list.

USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

December 8, 2016

Holding Out for Love {Debra Clopton}

holding out for love debra clopton
Jillian Sinclair needs a man and she needs him now. She dreams of being a mother-but the doctor just gave her the news that if she plans to carry a baby herself then her time is running out. She also wants true love like her sisters but will she have to settle for something less than that in order to get her baby? The last thing she needs is the only man she's loved and lost coming back to town. 

Undercover cop, Ryan Locke is back in Windswept Bay but for how long? He broke her heart once when he chose his career over her. Can he be the answer to her prayers or will his dedication to justice take him away from her once more? 

My Thoughts:
The final Sinclair sister finally gets her story, and it is a good one.  Jillian is the only one of the Sinclair sisters not to find love yet, but the one who wants to fall in love and be a mother the most. When the doctor tells her babies better come fast, it completely rocks her world.

My heart hurt for Jillian as I watched her struggle with the news the doctor gave her. She tried to keep the news from her sisters to keep them from feeling guilty about their own happiness. Watching Jillian quietly deal with her heartache made me want so much happiness for her.

The moment Jillian and Ryan lock eyes, we know they are meant to be. Unfortunately, people let their heads and their emotions get in the way of what is meant to be far too often. Ryan is dealing with the struggles of his past and the undercover job he just completed. Jillian is dealing with the reality that any man she falls in love with is going to have to know the truth about her ability to have a baby. Both of them seem to be dwelling on their hurt to the point they cannot see what is right in front of them.

I loved Jillian and Ryan’s story. I appreciated the struggle these characters had to go through and how circumstances of life brought them to the place they were supposed to be. I cannot wait for this series to continue with the Sinclair brothers. I know their stories are going to be amazing.

Award-winning, Bestselling author Debra Clopton has sold over 2.5 million books and her holiday story, OPERATION: MARRIED BY CHRISTMAS has been optioned for an ABC Family Movie. Debra is known for her snappy dialogue, cowboy heroes and spunky heroines set in Texas. Her awards include: The Book Sellers Best, Romantic Times Magazine's Book of the Year. She's also a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, and a triple finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award.

A sixth generation Texan, Debra lives on a ranch in central Texas with her husband Chuck. She loves to travel and spend time with her family. She is the author of the much loved Mule Hollow Matchmakers series where you never know what the Matchmaking "Posse" is going to do next! She's written for Harlequin Love Inspired and Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins Christian and DCP Publishing. 

She is currently working on her 38th novel surrounded by cows, dogs and even renegade donkey herds that keep her writing authentic and often find their way into her stories. She loves helping people smile with her fun, fast paced stories. 
Visit Debra's website at 
Check out her Facebook at 
Follow her on Twitter at 
Contact her at

Sign up for Debra's newsletter and contests at 

Sparks of Love {Mary L Ball}

sparks of love mary l ball
Misjudged and accused, Lynette Cunningham walks away from God and everything she loves.

Ten years later, a phone call from father offers hope when he announces he may have a clue to the unsolved crime that forced her to run. She’s scared, but encouraged. Maybe this will clear her name from slander in her small North Carolina hometown.

Before Lynette returns tragedy strikes. A fire destroys her childhood home and kills her father. While she sorts through the ruins and hopes to find the clue, Lynette meets the new pastor, Price Fletcher. She must face the two things that scare her most. The past and a man of God.

The past wants to stay buried. Will Lynette stay alive long enough to prove her innocence and accept the love that is offered?

My Thoughts:
I'm glad I said ‘yes’ to a new-to-me author and read this book. I loved the story, the romance, and the fast-paced suspense this book offers.

This book opens with Lynette leaning her father may have uncovered proof that she was not involved in a crime she was previously accused of. Lynette is excited and ready to return home to learn what her father has in store. But her father dies that night leaving Lynette hurt, confused, and alone. She returns home anyway to sort through his things and decide what to do with the rest of her life.

As Lynette finds herself spending more time in her hometown, she rekindles and the old friendship with Van. I loved how their friendship just picked back up, and they were able to share secrets and be an important part of each other's lives.

I also loved the role Pastor Price played in Lynette’s life. He was a pastor willing to help her through a traumatic event in her life, but I never expected him to fall for her. But Lynette is not looking for a relationship, and especially not from a pastor.

Of course, God does His things His way. As Lynette works through the loss of her earthly father, we get to see her rediscover her Heavenly father. Her life begins to change and things begin to fall into place. All because she was willing to listen and give her life back to God.

The suspense in this book will keep you guessing until the very end. I enjoyed the fast pace and the way the story keeps you engaged. I definitely recommend this book and will be adding more books from Ball to my reading list.

December 5, 2016

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill {Julie Klassen}

the innkeeper of ivy hill julie klassen
On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.

Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband's legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband's brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?

My Thoughts:
I am not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it fell flat for me. The book started with so much promise. A widow becomes the owner of her husband's inn, but she has no desire to be a part of the operations. A mother-in-law returns to the inn she once adored but is hurt by the fact she is no longer in charge. The two ladies do not care for each other, but they must find a way to save their precious inn.

I found myself torn between rooting for Jane and wishing she would just give up and move on with her life. She sometimes seemed like a woman who could do great things and make a difference in the world. At other times she came across as privileged and whiny, thinking the world should owe her something for the sacrifices she made through marriage.

I did not like Thora from the beginning. She was condescending, hateful, and downright mean. I never felt she was truly on Jane’s team until the very end of the book. Perhaps that was meant to be that way, but I wished she had proved to be a gracious person earlier in the story.

In the end, we see Jane stand up for herself and the inn, but I felt it was too little too late for me. I was bored with the story by that point and just wanting to get to the end. It was a feat I could not enjoy no matter how hard I tried.

In short, I simply did not care for this book.

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at

Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

November 28, 2016

Fatal Frost {Nancy Mehl}

fatal frost nancy mehl
Mercy Brennan followed in her father's footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she's assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis's most powerful gang. 

When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent--a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy's ex-boyfriend--to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety. 

Initially unaware of the danger she's in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy's frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn't until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive--if help is even coming at all?

My Thoughts:
This book completely captivated me from the opening chapter and held my attention with each word. What a great suspenseful read!

Mercy Brennan is one tough girl. She is a highly trained U.S. Marshal with nerves of steel and no emotions. She means business and nothing else. She is always aware of things around her and nothing surprises her. Until her father asks to meet with her – and then everything goes wrong.

Telly and Mark are good at what they do, but they also have a deep commitment to Mercy and her safety. As this book takes us through the inside world of the drug cartel and the hold they have on law enforcement, we see the dedication these three characters have to each other and to their jobs. As they find themselves alone and their lives in danger, we get to see just how deep their friendship is.

The insights this book gives us into the world of drugs, crime, and gangs scared me. I know it is parallel to real life and the inner workings of these groups. But this book also gives me hope. We get to see God put his hand of protection around these characters, even when they forget to ask Him for help. He watches over them, shows them ways out of their circumstances, and talks them through some of the toughest decisions they have to make. We see the faith of some of these characters grow stronger, and we get to see another character develop a belief in God.

This is a great book. It has all the suspense, a bit of romance, and a deep story of God’s protection. I cannot wait for the rest of this series and getting to follow these characters through the next few years of their lives.

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. First published in 2001, she has now authored nine books, including an omnibus mystery collection, Cozy in Kansas, which contains three of her previously published Ivy Towers mysteries. Book three in the series, For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Mystery Book of the Year award. Nancy's main writing interests lie in mystery although her new Harmony Series leans more toward the romantic suspense genre. Nancy runs a HUD program for the city of Wichita and is president of a volunteer organization, Wichita Homebound Outreach. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Kansas Authors Club. You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at:

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

November 23, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Christmas Love Letters from God

christmas love letters from god
Written for children ages four to eight, Christmas Love Letters from God cleverly combines both prose and poetry as the story of Jesus’ birth unfolds. The book includes seven stories, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy and ending with the visit of the wise men. Following each story, the child will find his or her own letter from God, folded into a small envelope attached to the page. Each letter begins with a space in which to write the child’s name, so each one can be specially addressed to the child.

Written as if God is speaking, each personalized message gives the young reader a sense of wonder as they discover anew the Christmas holiday and the birth of Jesus. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Perfect Promise, also accompanies each story and letter as God’s personal words of love, promise, and hope.

Our Thoughts:
What a fun book! My kids have numerous Christmas books on their shelves and they all seem to run together before too long, but this book is unique in a way that has made my children ask for it over and over again in recent days.

This book takes each person associated with the Christmas story and tells a little of their background and the moment they realized they were going to be a part of something special. Isaiah learns of the coming birth, Joseph has a dream to assure him, the Wise Men bring gifts. After each story there is a quick poem to recap the story.

My daughter enjoys the story part of this book because it is written at her level (age 7), while my son (age 4) enjoys the poem portions. Both get the point of the people involved in a way they can understand. Both of my children love the letter.

After each section, there is a letter from God. It is written on a folded notecard and is addressed to the child (you write in the name). It is as if God is talking directly to the child and telling how He felt about the events taking place. My kids enjoy reading the notes and talking about them.

This is one of those books that can span many ages and still be enjoyable while teaching children about the perfect story of Jesus’ birth. This is a must-have for your kids this Christmas.

Amazon  |  Nook  | Zondervan

November 21, 2016

Unblemished {Sara Ella}

unblemished sara ella
Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

My Thoughts:
This book has many amazing reviews and I have read several series in this genre and enjoyed them, so I thought I would love this book as well. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me.

I had such a difficult time getting into this story. The characters seemed distant to me and I never felt that connection to them that I enjoy so much from a book. I felt the story moved along at much too quickly of a pace and was told with little regard to the characters’ thoughts and feelings. I found myself lost and confused through much of the books, and even re-read parts to see if I had missed something.

While this was not the book for me, there are still many people out there who have enjoyed it. If it sounds like your kind of book, pick it up and give it a try.

November 16, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Where Jesus Slept

where jesus slept
“This is the bed where Jesus slept. This is the straw that lined the bed where Jesus slept.” From here, the story builds with each spread, adding a new element and explaining the relationships among the participants and witnesses to the first Christmas. From Jesus sleeping sweetly to the wise men bringing gifts, this charming book reminds readers young and not-so-young of the joyous event we celebrate at Christmastime. Children will love the delightful illustrations and the engaging repetition in this cumulative tale.

Our Thoughts:
I love children's books that tell of the Christmas story, and this book is a perfect addition to our home library.

In this book, children are introduced to the people, places and things surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth. The story builds upon itself through the pages as each aspect is introduced to the reader. The illustrations are breath-taking and will capture your attention as well as your child's.

My younger child enjoyed the simplicity of how the story is told, while my older child was excited it was a book she could read on her own. Both kids have read this book over and over again, and could probably recite it by now!

I think this is a great book to add to your Christmas collection, and one your kids will enjoy for many years.

November 14, 2016

Home on the Range {Ruth Logan Herne}

home on the range ruth logan herne
Nick Stafford stayed in central Washington, working his family s large ranch after his brothers left to pursue other passions but his toughest job is being a single dad. As a child he watched his father fail at marriage and parenting, so Nick was determined to show him up. He’d be a better husband, father, and ranch manager than Sam Stafford ever was. Despite that commitment, three years after Nick s wife left him, he has a daughter in trouble at school and both of his girls are facing issues that force him to rethink his stubborn plans. 

For Dr. Elsa Andreas, life fell apart when tragedy caused her to abandon her family therapy practice and retreat to the backwoods of Gray’s Glen. Her school principal sister believes Elsa can guide the Stafford girls and that working with kids will draw Elsa out of her protective bubble. 

Summer on the Double S teems with life and adventure. Amid the bounty of God and land, will Nick and Elsa find the courage to build futures based on faith rather than fear?

My Thoughts:
This series. It is not too often a book makes me cry actual tears, but I have cried them with both books in this series so far.

We met Colt, Nick, and Trey in the first book in this series and had the privilege of getting to know Colt. This second book features Nick. Nick is a single father to two girls after his wife left. Years later the oldest daughter, Chayanne is still not doing well with accepting her mother’s abandonment. Both of these girls pulled at my heart strings. I cannot imagine leaving my kids so thinking of these two girls without their mother made me feel so much for them.

Nick is on his last effort and enlists Elsa to meet with the girls and help with several aspects of their life. Elsa is an odd woman, and our first impression of her is completely wacky. However, the more we get to know her, the more we realize Elsa is also suffering from the fallout of a traumatic event in her life. As we learn more about the events surrounding her trauma, we realize she has taken on a huge responsibility that was not really hers to take.

Elsa and Nick’s relationship is swoon-worthy! These two are absolutely perfect for each other, and I just wanted them to get married already. However, of course real-life gets in the way, and these two must overcome personal setbacks as well as ghosts from their past that continue to haunt them.

This book can easily be read as a stand-alone, but you will enjoy it much more if you read the entire series and get the background on many of these characters. Trey’s story will be next, and I cannot wait!

Ruth Logan Herne loves Charlie Brown Christmas trees, rooting for the underdog and people who go the distance while others see the path as too long or broken! She loves God, chocolate, writing, dogs and is blessed by a sprawling family, oodles of grandkids and a sweet old farmhouse in constant need of work. She's sure that clean rooms are over-rated, snakes and possums should mind their own business and buy their own farm and puppies and kittens and babies are about the cutest things on Earth. A "pull-up-your-big-girl-panties-and-move-on" kind of gal, she is blessed to be married to her high school sweetheart (although it wasn't as if THEY WERE KNOCKING DOWN THE DOOR to challenge him for her!!!), work with young families who allow her to exploit their sweet children on blogs, and rock babies on a regular basis. An author for Love Inspired Books and Summerside Press, she lives in upstate New York.

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

November 10, 2016

Trust my Heart {Carol J Post}

trust my heart carol j post
Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

My Thoughts:
This was my first book from this author, but one book and I have become a fan.

Grant is such a complex character. Warm and loving one minute, harsh and cold the next. We begin the book feeling bad for him because of the way his grandparents treated him. But soon we learn the truth and my heart completely melted for him. Such a sad situation and missing so much in life, I was hopeful he would find a way to make it all alright in his heart.

Jami is a girl easy to like. She has returned to a town that obviously knows her well and has been accepted right back into life. She had heartache growing up but she found the love of God and seems to be doing well despite her childhood. I wanted so badly for her and Grant to become a couple, and each time things got messed up I was so disappointed.

These characters have a common thread in God. Although it takes one of them a little longer to get there, we see God work in their lives to erase years of pain and bring them a future of joy. The way they encourage one another and continue to turn to God was amazing. I loved these characters, this town, and their story.

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol's resume reads as if she doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund. 

Amazon  |  Nook 

November 7, 2016

Hello, Forever {Krista Noorman}

hello forever krista noorman
Maggie James spent years all-consumed by her wedding photography business, hiding out from love after a painful breakup. When fellow photographer and consummate rogue Simon Walker came into her life, she held him at arms length to protect her fragile heart from being broken again. But after discovering how he selflessly helped her business in a very big way and admitting her mistaken assumptions about him, she is finally ready to give him a chance. Will fear keep her from truly opening her heart to him? Or will secrets tear them apart?

From small town Michigan to the sunny shores of Malibu, California, Maggie and Simon must navigate their budding relationship, survive family drama, and come face to face with the past to see if their faith and ever growing love are enough to get them to forever.

My Thoughts:
I love all these characters so much, I was excited to find out Maggie and Simon were getting their story told. We watched as Maggie and Simon struggled to find their way to each other, and we have already had the privilege of seeing how their lives turn out. But to get this short glimpse into the first few weeks of their relationship was perfection.

We know enough about Maggie’s past to know she has been deeply hurt by her former fiancĂ©. To expect her to fully trust any guy at this point in her life would be asking a lot. But we also know how much she truly loves Simon. She has loved him for a while and wants their relationship to work in every way. It hurt my heart to see her struggle with her love for Simon and her hurt from Ben.

Simon was one of those characters I really disliked when we first met him. He was both arrogant and persistent and I wished he would disappear. At the same time, I really wanted him to win Maggie over. He is cautious, but knows what he wants. In this book we learn a lot about his background and the life he comes from. It’s not all ponies and roses, and getting a glimpse into that reality made me fall in love with him.

I am so glad we got this book and a further glimpse into Maggie and Simon’s story. This is a wonderful story and you definitely need to add it to your reading list.

Krista Noorman is the author of the young adult novel, The Truth About Drew , and the Cornerstone contemporary Christian romance series. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, while documenting her every day life, but it wasn't until she took part in National Novel Writing Month that she found her true calling and turned her pen to fiction.

Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband and their two children. She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at

November 5, 2016

Bible Belles: Abigail

abigail the belle of bravery
With the help of her angel Mari, Rooney has learned that she has two real superpowers: Prayer and Patience. The adventure continues in Book Three of the Bible Belles series, as Rooney faces her toughest challenge yet.

After a tough afternoon with her brother and some neighborhood kids, Rooney is faced with a difficult choice: can she be brave enough to do the right thing? 

Through the story of Abigail, Rooney learns that she can call upon the courage of God to boldly face any problem with the confidence that He will see her through it.

Join Rooney and Mari on another exciting adventure to becoming the best kind of superhero—a Bible Belle!

Our Thoughts:
The Bible Belles are back, and this time the story is about Abigail. I have to admit I was not sure I knew Abigail’s story when we first received this book. I was looking forward to learning more as much as my daughter.

Abigail was married to a mean man who treated others unfairly. Through her bravery and willingness to reach out on her own, Abigail was able to stop the noble men from acting out of anger. Through Abigail’s story, we learn how being brave can work to the good in any situation.

Rooney learns first hand how bravery can pay off after her brother is mean to the new neighbors. It is through her acts of being brave like Abigail that Rooney is able to make things alright with the neighbors and apologize on behalf of her brother.

Just like the previous books in the Bible Belles series, Rooney earns a bell at the end of the story. This bell is for bravery. As the series builds Rooney’s bells are beginning to spell something. We can’t wait for the remaining books in this series to see what Rooney will discover at the end.

A Spanish-slinging wife and mama of two kids (one with paws), Erin is committed to changing the world’s current definition of beauty. Founder and CEO of Bible Belles and award winning author of “The Adventures of Rooney Cruz” series, Erin encourages her audience to come alongside the next generation of girls to discover God’s love and their unique purpose.

A five-time cancer survivor, Erin lives in San Diego, CA, and speaks at events, conferences, churches, and schools. She is pumped about sharing what she’s learned over the last eight years as a former sassy pants know-it-all who found her way back to God after looking for herself in all the wrong places. Funny and real, Erin is the host of the Heroes For Her podcast, interviewing celebrities, actors, musicians, and other women who are living out their passions in line with their personal values.

November 2, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: The Beginner's Bible KJV

the beginners bible kjv
Ready for your first “real” Bible? Great! The print is easy to read and The Beginner’s Bible art is fun and will help you better understand the stories in the Bible.

Features include:
Presentation page so you can make this Bible your own. Complete text of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Large print (11.5-point) type is easy to read. 20 full-color pages of The Beginner’s Bible illustrations help you better understand the stories. 66 book introductions and outlines explain who wrote each book of the Bible and what you will discover as you read. Concordance will help you when you come to a word you don’t know. Words of Christ in red to easily see where in the Bible Jesus speaks Brand new vibrant, three-dimensional art.

My Thoughts:
I think the Bible is the most important book you can give your child. At our house, we only use the King James Version, and I have been so disappointed in how hard it is to find a great KJV Bible for kids.

We found a nice KJV for our daughter when she was ready for her first Bible, but it is an adult Bible. We just began searching for a first Bible for our son, and I was so excited to see this beginner Bible in KJV. The format of this Bible reminds me of the first Bible I received as a child and I still have that Bible on my bookshelf today.

The Bible itself is hardcover (perfect for little boys like mine) and feels very sturdy. The inside features easy to read print, with the chapters and verses laid out in a way that is very easy to show kids how to look up scripture. There are even color pictures included.

This is exactly what I had in mind when I thought about the first Bibles we would get for our kids and I am so excited to be able to give this one to my son. He has been asking for a Bible and he will be thrilled when he gets this one that is perfect for him.

November 1, 2016

A Portrait of Emily Price {Katherine Reay}

a portrait of emily price katherine reay
Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

My Thoughts:
What a joy it has been to be on the launch team for this book. Emily is one special character and it has been an honor to get a glimpse into her life before the rest of the world.

Emily Price is one of those girls who always has it together. She has the details of her life all worked out and everything is churning along according to her plans. If something goes wrong around her, she makes it her mission to fix it. She fixes things, she fixes people, and she fixes situations.

Emily meets Ben, and his brother Joseph, on an assignment she has been given for work. Her attraction to Ben is immediate and so out of character for her. As she and Ben begin to work together on a restaurant project, we get to see just how vulnerable Emily can be. But we also see the depth of her heart and how much her work means to her.

When Emily's life is turned upside down, she makes a decision I never saw coming. A decision so out of character for her that I truly doubted it was going to turn out okay. And just like that we see Emily headed to Italy to start a life she never planned for.

It is in Italy where we see Emily come unraveled and her life begins to fall apart. She tries to take control and fix situations that do not need to be fixed, and it ends up almost costing her everything.

This is a story of Emily learning she cannot fix everything, but it also a story of vulnerability and letting God take control of the situation. A story of letting go and forgiving those around you. A story of love. And it is a beautiful story.

Katherine Reay has lived all across the country and Europe and has just moved with her family to Chicago. She is a writer, wife, mom, runner, and, most randomly, a tae kwon do black belt. Her debut novel, "Dear Mr. Knightley," is a contemporary story with a dash of Jane Austen and other nineteenth century writers thrown in for the fun of it. Her subsequent novels, "Lizzy & Jane" and "The Bronte Plot," feature stories of hope, reconciliation, family, some seriously good food and travel.

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

October 31, 2016

An Amish Family Christmas {Shelley Shepard Gray}

an amish family christmas shelley shepard gray
In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love.  

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

My Thoughts:
We finally get Levi’s story! When Levi came home in the third book I was so excited he had rejoined his family, and I could not wait to get his story.

Levi has moved out of his family home and lives in a small rental in town. He meets his neighbor, Julia, and I felt like sparks immediately began to fly. But, as usual, it took the characters longer to figure out their feelings. Julia has a past that does not quite add up, but Levi seems to be falling for her anyway.

To watch the relationship between Levi and Julia grow was exciting, but once the secrets began to come out, the suspense heated up in this one. We learn about Julia’s past long before Levi does, and I was so disappointed at Levi’s reaction to the admission. I felt his love for Julia had not been real, and I was heartbroken.

At the risk of spoiling the ending, the level of drama rises and it seems truth and consequences come to a head just in time for Levi to figure out how he really feels. It had me turning the pages quickly because I had to know how it would all turn out.

The ending of this story brought a smile to my face. To finally know all four siblings and see how their lives turned out after such tragedy was a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

A Sister's Wish {Shelley Shepard Gray}

a sister's wish shelley shepard gray
In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy. 

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

My Thoughts:
As the youngest sibling of the Kinsinger clan, I was a bit worried Amelia’s story was going to be boring. I was so wrong!

We learn in the very first chapter just how much Simon has always loved Amelia. But they were kids and Simon has been through so much since then. He has returned to Charm, and this book is as much about him as it is Amelia.

Simon knows that he loves Amelia so much, but he has so many secrets from his past that he is ashamed of. He is also under the belief that if everyone knew his secrets, he would no longer be welcome in Charm. We seem his struggle with this throughout most of this story. It breaks my heart that he went through so much, and then feels he must hid it all from those who seem to care the most about him.

Amelia is young, but not so young she does not know what she wants in life. More than anything in the world, she is annoyed that her siblings think they can boss her around and treat her like a child. It is when Amelia suffers a serious injury we see this family finally sort out their differences and realize that Amelia needs to be allowed to be an adult and make her own decisions.

As we watch the relationship between Simon and Amelia grow, I could not wait for them to get together. But it appears life is getting in the way of their happiness. I was so annoyed at both of them for the way they handled some of the situations, but was happy when they both came to their senses and figured things out.

This turned out to be a great book, and I am so glad I had the fourth book already in my possession because I could not wait to see how this series is going to end.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Amazon  |  Nook  | CBD

October 27, 2016

Restoring Christmas {Cynthia Ruchti}

restoring christmas cynthia ruchti
Ariana Blake has one chance to land her own show on the Home Project Network and nothing—not an uncooperative client, a job site without indoor plumbing, or a challenging videographer—is going to stand in her way. Elsie, at seventy-plus, is far from the ideal client, but she knows exactly what she wants her fieldstone house to look like, and no designer can tell her otherwise. Gabe Langley, the man with the camera, is caught in the middle and it is his wisdom and warmth that just may be the bridge that will bring these two women together. Can they restore more than just a house and bring about special, almost lost forever Christmas memories? 

My Thoughts:
This is my first Christmas book of the year, and it has set the stage for some very exciting holiday reading!

We meet Ariana and immediately believe she is very unsure of herself. She is a talented designer, but her confidence seems to be wavering and she comes across as such a timid character. We quickly learn, however, her timidness and lack of confidence comes from a broken childhood and a grief that seems to consume her heart.

Gabe comes across as very cocky and annoying, but his personality very quickly changes and I found myself liking him more with each chapter. He also has a background that could consume his life, but he has found healing in his faith and he is not afraid to show it off.

As Ariana and Gabe begin to work together on Elsie’s home, we also see them begin working on a relationship they don’t even realize is forming. Their relationship becomes the pillar that holds each of them together through some trying times during the few weeks together.

Gabe loves Christmas and he is determined to bring Ariana into the Christmas spirit with him. But before she can fully get on board, she must get her heart right with God. It is through her restoration through God that she fully lets go of her past and allows herself to be the person I was hoping she would become.

I enjoyed watching Ariana and Gabe build their relationship, but even more I enjoyed watching God build Ariana’s heart back to a place full of life. God is truly our restorer, and this sweet story brings that home in the most wonderful Christmas setting.

Drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and speaking for women's and writers' events. Her books have been recognized by Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, Selah Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers' Choice Award. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in Pittsville, Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

October 26, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Cold-Case Christianity for Kids

cold case christianity for kids j warner wallace
Between the ages of 8 and 12, kids often start to wonder if Christianity is true.

In Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, detective J. Warner Wallace draws readers into the thrill of high-stakes investigation by showing them how to think rather than telling them what to think. In this children's companion to the bestselling Cold-Case Christianity, detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity. Includes author illustrations and links to a website where kids can download activities, fill in case notes, and earn a certificate of merit.

Detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity.

Our Thoughts:
If you have older kids who are interested in detective shows or books, they will love this book.

In this book we follow three kids through detective school as they learn the basics of uncovering the truth. As one of their investigations, they examine the truth behind Jesus’ existence. I admit, at first I was worried how this book would line up with our family beliefs but I was pleasantly surprised to find I appreciated the way the detective work was done in regards to Jesus.

By walking through many of the stories of Jesus’ life, the detectives in training are able to sift through questions, answers, and facts to determine if they believe what they have always been taught. Thankfully, they all discover that they do believe in Jesus and the stories in the Bible.

This is a fun way for children to really understand how to stand up for their faith and be able to tell others about the Jesus they believe in. Although this book is a little advanced for my kids, we will hold on to it until they are ready. I think they will both enjoy it very much.

J. Warner and Susie Wallace have been training young people in the church setting for over a decade. J. Warner is a cold-case homicide detective who has been featured on Dateline, FOX News, Court TV and other crime-related television shows. A former atheist, he is the author of Cold-Case Christianity God's Crime Scene and Forensic Faith. He has a master's degree in theology and is the founder of Susie has a master's degree in speech pathology and co-writes (and edits) all the kids books in this series. J. Warner and Susie have four children and live in southern California.