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.

May 31, 2016

A Daughter's Dream {Shelley Shepard Gray}

a daughters dream shelley shepard gray
In Shelley Shepard Gray’s second book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a young teacher and farmer discover they have much in common, especially when it comes to healing old wounds from the past…and finding love in one another.

Rebecca Kinsinger has always dreamed of being a teacher. But when she’s given the opportunity she’s been waiting for at Charm Amish School, she’s dismayed to discover that teaching is hard work—work she’s afraid she’s not very good at. 

That is, until Lilly Yoder joins the class. A thirteen-year old who’s just lost her parents, Lilly is in need of someone like Rebecca. For the first time since starting her new job, Rebecca feels a sense of purpose. But when she meets Lilly’s uncle, Jacob, his good looks and sweet, easy-going temperament are hard to ignore. How can she even entertain romantic thoughts of Jacob when his niece is her student?

Suddenly becoming Lily’s sole caregiver, Jacob Yoder never thought he’d be a single parent—or a farmer. Having been living in Florida as a carpenter, Jacob feels more at home wielding a hammer than a backhoe. The only bright spot in his life is Rebecca Kinsinger. As Lily and Rebecca develop a bond, Jacob’s fondness for the pretty teacher grows, too. 

But when a fateful accident brings them together, Rebecca and Jacob must choose between duty and desire. Will they follow the path before them? Or set out to find true happiness…and true love?

My Thoughts:
It was so much fun to return to Charm and reconnect with the Kinsinger siblings. I enjoyed their story in the first book in this series, and this book was a great read as well.

Rebecca seems to be the Kinsinger sibling holding the family together. She acts like a guardian to her younger sister and a helper to her brother. But Rebecca dreams of becoming a school teacher and is so excited to have the opportunity to help out in the local school. However, she quickly discovers teaching is not really her calling in life. I connected with Rebecca so much with this topic. I also always wanted to be a school teacher until I actually spent time in the classroom.

The only thing keeping Rebecca interested in the school is the new student’s guardian, Jacob. We briefly met Jacob in the first book and I quickly found him to be a character I liked. I was happy to see him play such a major part in this second book, and look forward to his role in the future books in this series.

Rebecca and Jacob quickly form a friendship and find they have something in common – a dream different from the calling God has placed on their heart. Each character must choose between following their own wishes, or listening to God and following His plan for their lives. I believe this is something each of us has struggled with at least once in our lives. It is sometimes hard to give up what you want in favor of what God wants, but following God always works out in the end.

These characters have such a sweet story throughout their relationship, and it is tragedy that finally shows them what their future is going to look like. I look forward to the next book to see what the future holds for them.

Meet Shelley!

I live in southern Ohio with my husband, two teenagers, and two dogs. My days are filled with busy activities like most any other mom and housewife. But I also love to write books.

Each morning, after my kids go off to school, I sit at my desk, look out my window, and dream of other places. The hours fly by as I make up people and places and drink way too much coffee.

Writing for Avon Inspire has truly been a dream come true. Being able to spend my days in my make-believe world of the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast is a true blessing. I have enjoyed getting to know more about the Amish culture and tapping into my faith as I show each character’s progression toward a personal relationship with our Lord.

Before becoming a full time writer, I taught elementary school in Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. A job transfer to Ohio led my husband to encourage me to finally give writing a try. After all, I had notebooks full of made up stories.

I’ll never forget that first book I typed in our unfinished basement. It was exciting to make up a story, but also very scary. I was also so embarrassed, sure someone would come out of the woodwork and point out that I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer. But I persevered, and sold my third manuscript.

Things have changed a bit. Now I have a real office of my own. (think old guest bedroom!) My walls are painted pink, and more than a couple of book covers decorate my walls. But my days are still the same. I wake up, dream about other people, and do my best to type out stories.

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May 26, 2016

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun {Lynne Hinton}

sister eve and the blue nun lynne hinton
When Sister Eve returns to the monastery, the last thing she expects there is murder.

After solving several mysteries with her father at the Divine Private Detective Agency, Sister Eve finds herself torn between her calling as a nun and the thrill that comes with detecting. She knows she’s been using her father’s health as an excuse to extend her leave of absence from the monastery, but that excuse is running thin. She prays that a return visit to the monastery for a conference on the Blue Nun will help bring clarity to her calling, but when the conference speaker is murdered, Sister Eve’s two worlds collide.

Sister Eve knows the number one suspect, the victim’s brother and monk in residence, couldn’t possibly have committed the crime, and she’s determined to find the real killer. To do so means she must track down some mysterious newly discovered writings from the Blue Nun, said to date from the 17th Century, when the sister bi-located to the New Mexico region from her home in Spain. Could these texts from long ago be the key to today’s mystery? And will they offer any guidance to Sister Eve as she chooses which calling to follow?

My Thoughts:
This book falls somewhere between cozy mystery and Catholic Indian history book. Unfortunately, it does not pull either of those off well.

Sister Eve is a nun who may or may not continue to be a nun. Upon learning of the death of one of her dear friends, she heads straight to the scene and completely contaminates the evidence. From there, the story just gets wackier.

Through a series of uneventful twists and turns, we watch as Sister Eve attempts to solve the mystery of who killed Sister Kelley, and where is her brother, Anthony. It does not take much for us to figure out who the killer is, yet the author continues to try to keep our interest with many other possibilities.

Between the story of the characters and the investigation is a very lengthy history of the Catholic Indians native to New Mexico. While the inner workings of the Catholic faith can be interesting, those of the historic Catholic Indians not so much.

So basically, this was not the book for me.

Lynne Hinton is the pastor of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The author of numerous novels including Friendship Cake, Hope Springs, Forever Friends, Christmas Cake, and Wedding Cake, she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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May 25, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Epic! App

This post is part of a partnership with Epic! books. I became a customer first and loved the app so much I asked if they would partner with me to tell you all about it. Be sure to read the whole thing because there is a little something-something for you at the end :)

I'm doing something a little different today. Instead of bringing you a review of a children's book, I'm bringing you countless children's books!

thousands of kids books

I want to tell you all about the Epic! app. I discovered the Epic! app almost by accident one day while I was browsing the Play store for a reading app for my daughter. Epic! looked interesting so I downloaded it to give it a try. Best decision ever!

Back up a minute. What is Epic!? I'm glad you asked :)

The Epic! app brings more than 10,000 children's book right to your child's device (or computer). I like to compare it to some of the book subscription services out there for adults, but it is only kid books. And they have so many titles. 

I quickly created a profile for my daughter, and from the parent account, I could set email preferences and such. Then I helped my daughter log in from her tablet. She was able to pick a profile picture, and we selected the general genres of books she typically enjoys. From there, she was off!

She has been so excited to be able to pick up her tablet and read pretty much anything she wants. After reading several books, the app begins to know what types of books the child enjoys and suggestions appear to help them decide on new books to read. My daughter has quickly become a fan of The Boxcar Children - oh the memories!

epic app screenshot

As a parent, I also love the reading log emails I get. I open my email and have a list of each book she has read, how many pages she read, and how long she spent reading the particular book. At the end of the month, I also received a printable certificate for her to keep up with how many books she read that month. Plus, she earns badges and awards within the app for reading challenge completions.

epic app

Another feature I really enjoy about this app is if we are going to be traveling, we can download a couple of books for her to have access to without an internet connection. I also like that we can set her age and it recommends age-appropriate books.

The Epic! app does cost $4.99 per month, but I believe it is well worth it for my children to have access to the more than 10,000 books available. I encourage you to check out Epic! from either the Play Store or the iTunes store and give it a try.

To make it even easier, Epic! is offering my readers TWO MONTHS FREE to try the Epic! app. But hurry, this offer is only good until the end of day May 27th. Just visit this link, and use promo code EPICTINGSMOM.

I'd love for you to come back and let me know what you think!

May 24, 2016

Until Then {Krista Noorman}

until then krista noorman
Growing up with a distant mother and absentee father, Michelle's childhood has been far from idyllic. Her only attention comes from her partying friends and the guys who are more than happy to give her the affection she longs for. But when one party goes wrong, Michelle's family hatches a plan to get her out of Chicago and away from her so-called friends.

College plans are low on Michelle's priority list, especially with no money to pay for it, until her grandparents offer to foot the bill for her entire tuition. There's just one catch. Michelle must choose between three schools - all hours away from Chicago and all Christian colleges.

Michelle's reluctant choice leads her to an unfamiliar place, where she's faced with new relationships and unexpected decisions that could change her life and her heart forever.

My Thoughts:
We met Michelle in Goodbye, Magnolia, and I admit I did not like her very much. She seemed to be a source of trouble between Maggie and Simon and someone I did not like in their lives. However, this book gives us Michelle’s story, and completely changed the way I feel about her.

We get to go back to freshman year of college for Michelle, Maggie, and Simon. Michelle grew up in an unstable home with her mom. Her dad was absent in her life, and she coped by doing what many teen girls do these days – she turned to parties, alcohol, and sex. By the time Michelle landed at Cornerstone College, she was deep into the life considered unacceptable at her new Christian college.

This book moved me in so many ways. Michelle struggled to find her way when she first arrived at Cornerstone. She quickly made friends with Maggie, Simon, and Sean.  After dating Sean for a bit, they make a mistake that changes their lives completely. Changes everything.

As the book progresses, we get to see the friendship between Michelle, Maggie, and Simon and get such an understanding of why their relationships with each other are the way they are. We see each of them make so many mistakes in their lives. We are fortunate to follow their friendship for 15 years and get a deep look into their lives.

We also get to see the amazing transformation Michelle goes through during her time at Cornerstone. She learns all about God and His desire to love His children. She accepts God into her life and watching her grow in her relationship with him is so moving. However, just like so many Christians today, Michelle finds herself right back into sin and not as close to God as she was in the beginning of her Christian walk.

It is the moment when Michelle really “gets” just how much God loves her when this book is so moving. Reading as Michelle fell to her floor and wept brought big tears to my eyes as well. God is so good and all we have to do is let Him into our lives and let Him guide our paths. If we trust in Him, He will not leave us, and He will provide so many wonderful things for us in our lives.

This book has everything – love, betrayal, friendships, fights, and God’s amazing love. I left this book with completely different opinions of Maggie and Simon, and especially Michelle. She is a character I have grown to love, and I hope we get a glimpse into the amazing future I see for her.

*Note: This book does have pre-marital sex in it, which is unusual for a Christian genre book. However, I felt the author handled the scenes very tastefully and completely necessary in building the character for Michelle. You will see much worse on prime time TV.*

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 .

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Check out the author's launch day giveaway!!!

May 23, 2016

Anchor in the Storm {Sarah Sundin}

anchor in the storm sarah sundinFor plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy--even if he "is" her brother's best friend. 

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves--and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection? 

My Thoughts:
I was so excited to see Lillian as the main character in this second installment in this series. Lillian is the sister of Jim, whom we met in the first book, and I knew she was going to have a great story. Not only is she a female pharmacist in the 1940s, she also sports a wooden leg after a childhood injury.

Lillian has been deeply hurt by a previous boyfriend. She feels she is unworthy to be loved, but also feels incapable of loving and trusting anyone. She is determined, though, to prover herself as a female pharmacist.

When Arch enters the picture, it is obvious he and Lillian are attracted to each other. However, Lillian’s determination to not love, and Arch’s loyalty to his best friend, Jim, prevent the two of them from forming a relationship. What they do form, though, is a desire to crack the drug ring that appears to be affecting the Navy during the war.

As Lillian and Arch work together to get to the center of the ring, they find themselves falling in love and falling deeper into danger. Each area of their lives has outsiders working against them and trying so hard to deter them in the efforts.

Both their love and their investigation comes to a screeching halt when Lillian and Arch find themselves in near-death, yet separate, events. It is through these events we get to see both of them really turn to God to ask for guidance for the reminder of their lives.

This is a captivating story. These characters will win your heart and will have you on the edge of their seat as they work to discover the guilty, who to love, and how to trust in God.

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of the Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep, 2015, Anchor in the Storm, coming May 2016, When Tides Turn, coming March 2017), the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every Letter, 2012, On Distant Shores, 2013, and In Perfect Time, 2014), and the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). She also has a novella in the WWII Christmas collection Where Treetops Glisten (WaterBrook, 2014). 

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women's Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers' groups. 

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May 18, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: Puppy Pals Bailey

puppy pals bailey susan hughes
Meet Bailey, a playful yellow lab puppy!

It's a new school year and things haven't been great for Kat so far. She's being teased, and her best friend Maya is in a different class. But things start to look up when her Aunt Jenn opens a kennel and dog-grooming salon, and the girls are allowed to help out with a puppy named Bailey! But is the responsibility of watching someone else's pup too much for Kat and Maya to handle?

Our Thoughts:
This is such a cute book. Maya and Kat are best friends, and they love puppies more than anything in the world. They are so excited when they land a job in Aunt Jenn’s grooming business. They are assigned to Bailey, a yellow lab puppy.

The girls spend every afternoon playing with Bailey and having the time of their lives. On the last day they are sad it is their last day, and they are also tempted to break Aunt Jenn’s rules for Bailey. They finally decided to follow the rules.

They are rewarded greatly for following the rules!

Not only is this book very entertaining for young readers, it also teaches the important lesson of following the rules – no matter what. We are looking forward to additional books in this series.

Susan Hughes is a writer and editor, and has been writing children's books and articles for nearly twenty years. Susan has always loved writing. When she was in grade five and six, she and several friends had a writing club. They would gather with their poems and stories and read them aloud to one another. It was hard to wait for the responses! The group members always tried to say one thing that was positive, along with a constructive comment.

After finishing high school, Susan studied English literature at the University of Toronto. One summer, before her last year, she went to the job posting board and saw an ad: A children’s publishing house was looking for summer help from students. She answered the ad and was hired. She learned a lot that summer about writing, researching, editing, proof-reading, and working as a team. When she graduated, she worked for a year with the children’s publishing house – then began freelancing, working on her own to find editing and writing work. Soon she was getting calls asking her to do jobs such as write short articles for educational books. While she was doing this paid work, she was also working on her own ideas for books.

Susan writes both fiction and non-fiction. She is often asked to write a book on a topic she knows little about! So she does lots of research and briefly becomes an expert on that subject. Sometimes she works with experts, for example when she wrote about the Megalodon, the prehistoric shark, or Titanic. She often has to do research for her fictional works as well, for example, the Wild Paws series. Susan had to learn a lot about how to care for injured or motherless wild baby animals so that she could make the books realistic and factual, as well as entertaining.

Susan lives in Toronto in a tall house with a red door. She works in her living room at home. She opens the windows wide -- and sometimes the front door too! -- and sits where she can see the trees and the sunlight.

She lives with her three children, her boyfriend, and his two children. One of her favourite parts of the day is when all the kids come home after school and she gets to visit with them and hear stories about their day. 

May 17, 2016

INSPY Awards

Have you heard? I've been selected as a judge for the Mystery/Suspense category of the INSPY Awards! I am so honored and excited to read the fabulous books chosen for the short list in this category.

But what does that mean for the blog? It means you will not see the typical two reviews per week for a few weeks. While I am reading the nominees for the INSPY Awards, I will not be reviewing them on the blog. To accommodate the addition to my reading schedule, I am cutting back on reviews through the end of June.

I will still have reviews, so don't leave me forever! Just know I am still reading, and look forward to telling you all about the award winners very soon.

May 12, 2016

Sister Dear {Laura McNeill}

sister dear laura mcneill
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

My Thoughts:
This book started so strong for me. Allie is out of prison and determined to prove her innocence after all these years. All she wants is for her daughter to accept her and to get her life back. I immediately felt drawn to Allie’s character and rallied behind her as she began her investigation into the crime that put her behind bars.

From the moment Emma (Allie’s sister) was introduced, I had a bad feeling about her. Almost immediately we see her pull some suspicious moves in an attempt to sway Allie’s daughter away from her mother. Emma’s constant conniving made me feel sorry for Allie and Caroline, and I looked forward to seeing Emma’s true colors come out.

As events begin to take place through the book, I quickly figured out who was responsible for the crime that landed Allie behind bars. Giving away the suspense seemed to make the book fall flat too early for me. The final revelation intended to give readers the shock value did little for me, and I felt the author could have developed the ending much more.

Overall this was a great book; the ending just did not get me very excited.

Laura McNeill is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master's degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she's not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

May 11, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: God Bless Our Country

god bless our country hannah hall
Get ready for picnics and parades! Hannah C. Hall writes sweet and silly rhymes to show children American values and observe patriotism. Enjoy the Fourth of July and other holidays with fireworks, parades, picnics, and all the fun things families do together to honor America.

Our Thoughts:
Regardless of what is going on in the world, pride for our country is something we should be teaching our children from a young age. We are fortunate to live in America – land of the free – and this book is a great way to introduce that conversation to your little ones.

With the familiar rhyming we have grown to love from the “God Bless Our” series, my kids get to walk through a summer of swimming, picnics, fireworks, and love for our country. My daughter can read this to my son, and they have used it as a starting point for fun imaginative play as well.

I appreciate the animals throughout the story who have so much fun during their summer but remember to thank God for allowing them to live in a free country. Something we all need to do each and every day.

May 9, 2016

Silence in the Dark {Patricia Bradley}

silence in the dark patricia bradley
Two years ago, Bailey Adams broke off her engagement to Danny Maxwell and fled Logan Point for the mission field in Chihuahua, Mexico. Now she's about to return home to the States, but there's just one problem. After Bailey meets with the uncle of one of the mission children in the city, she barely escapes a sudden danger.

Now she's on the run--she just doesn't know from whom. To make matters worse, people who help her along the way find themselves in danger too--including Danny. Who is after her? Will they ever let up? And in the midst of the chaos, can Bailey keep herself from falling in love with her rescuer all over again?

My Thoughts:
Wow!! This was a heart-stopping, page-turner from the beginning to the end.

Bailey has found her life in Mexico but seems to have made a few enemies in the process. She knows it is dangerous, but she has no idea just how series the danger is until she becomes the target of an attack and kidnapping. The problem is, she is also caring for Maria – the niece of one of the most powerful men in Mexico. As Bailey works to save herself and Maria, God sends the last person she expected to see back into her life.

Danny just happens to be in the same restaurant as Bailey with the attack happens. We are quickly reminded just how much Danny still loves Bailey and how much he is willing to risk just to save her life. He immediately appoints himself as protector of Bailey and Maria, and we get to see his true character come through in the multiple crisis that appear as this book moves along.

Bailey, her family, and friends find themselves in a situation only God can save them from. It is at this time both Bailey and Danny must reconnect with their faith and put their trust in God. It is hard for both of them in different ways, but watching them find their way back to God was such an amazing experience.

I thought this book was well written and very entertaining. A must read for your reading list.

Meet Patricia
Honoring God through my writing is top priority for this Mississippi Writer.

I am a Romantic Suspense writer living in the Deep South. My short-stories have been published in Woman’s World, and I am releasing my fourth book this summer. Gone Without a Trace is book three in the Logan Point Series which is set in Memphis and the surrounding area. Click here to find out more about the Logan Point Series.

Book one in the Logan Point Series, Shadows from the Past, has won several awards…the 2008 Maggie (Inspirational Category)…1st Place in the 2012 Touched By Love and Daphne du Maurier contests… finaled in the 2012 Genesis…bronzed in the Frasier.

I’ve also done the unthinkable–written a straight romance–who would’ve thought it’d be such fun? You can read more about it here.

I’m also an abstinence/healthy relationship speaker and have spoken to many students…and adults. I would love to have the opportunity to speak to your group. If you are would like to invite me to speak, feel free to contact me here.

When I’m not writing or speaking, I throw mud on a wheel and try to make something beautiful.

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May 5, 2016

On Lone Star Trail {Amanda Cabot}

on lone star trail amanda cabot
If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow's End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He's spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor.

Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?

My Thoughts:
I just love the people of Rainbow’s End and Dupree. I fell in love with Kate and Greg in the first book and have enjoyed this series so much. I am going to miss all these new friends.

We briefly met Gillian in book two and knew she had a career-ending accident. In this third and final book, Gillian has come to Rainbow’s End to get away and clear her head as she tries to determine what her future will look like.

On her way to the resort, she stumbles upon TJ. TJ stands for everything she hates in life right now, but she helps him make his way to Rainbow’s End for a temporary stay of his own. Once they both arrive at the resort, we get to watch so many things begin to take place in their lives.

Gillian and TJ both seem to be people who have a giving personality, and both have struggled with how their past is going to fit into their future. They both feel compelled to give to the people of Dupree and become a part of their community.

As the story unfolds, we learn TJ is struggling in his faith, but watching him find his way back to God was so refreshing. A true testament to what God can do for His children who wander off.

Of course, Gillian falls in love in this book (but you will be surprised who that someone is), but we also get to watch her truly follow her faith to make the biggest decisions impacting her future.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I do encourage you to read all three books as all these characters will find a place in your heart.

With both parents avid readers, it's no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than thirty novels under a variety of pseudonyms. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading.

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May 4, 2016

Wee Read Wednesday: I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur

i wanna be a great big dinosaur heath mckenzie
More than anything in the world, one little boy wants to be a great big dinosaur! And he’s in luck! A great big T.rex shows up to teach him how to stomp and roar – just like a dinosaur. But dinosaurs aren’t’ so great at fun things like reading or video games…

A playful story with a surprise twist about being whoever – or whatever – you want.

Our Thoughts:
This is such a fun book. My son loves dinosaurs, so I knew he would love this book as well – I was right.

The little boy in this book wants so badly to be a dinosaur. To his surprise, a big dinosaur shows up and shows him how to roar, stomp, and eat just like a dinosaur. But then the boy discovers all the things he enjoys doing that dinosaurs don’t do – pizza, soccer, video games, and more.

As it turns out, being a little boy is just as exciting as being a big dinosaur. The two of them figure out they can have fun just being themselves.

I loved that my son loved this book so much. I also appreciate the message of being happy with being exactly who you are. A lesson all kids need to learn.

Health McKenzie is a bestselling author and illustrator living in Melbourne, Australia with his wife, Emily, little daughter Ava, and son Oscar. After writing My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess, Health decided it was time to spend some time being a great big dinosaur… only to discover along the way that being himself was pretty great too! Who says you can’t be both – and even more?! You can find Heath online at

May 2, 2016

Song of Silence {Cynthia Ruchti}

song of silence cynthia ruchti
Lucy and Charlie Tuttle agree on one thing: they're committed to each other for life. Trouble is, neither of them expected life to look like this. While Charlie retired early, Lucy is devoted to a long-term career . . . until the day she has no choice. 

Forced to retire from her position as music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school, Lucy can only watch helplessly as the program her father started years ago disintegrates before her eyes. As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, Lucy wonders if her faith's song has gone silent, too. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes. 
When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees--and hears--everything.

My Thoughts:
I have always been a fan of Ruchti, but this book did nothing for me.

Lucy’s character got on my last nerves. When she found out her job had been eliminated, she acted like the world had ended. Pretty much the entire book includes Lucy moping around with no desire to find something else to make her happy. Her willingness to let this one event dictate her entire life grated on my nerves in this most annoying way.

Poor Charlie does everything he can think of to cheer Lucy up, but she refused to let him do anything for her. Lucy is rude to Charlie and simply adds him to her list of things to be sad about. Again, Lucy just annoyed me.

Again, I have always been a fan of Ruchti, so I am not going to let this one book change the way I think of her. Her writing is always fantastic and her characters usually very enjoyable.

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.

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