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 31, 2017

Changes {They Always Happen}

I'm not saying Goodbye, but this is definitely See You Later.

I started this blog almost four years ago because of my deep love of books. I wanted to tell the world about all the great books out there. None of that has changed. What has changed has been the ages of my children and my personal health.

My kids are now five and eight. They participate in sports. They want mom to hang out with them. They are learning to help out around the house. And they are growing up faster than I can handle it.

Also, I miss the days of walking up and down the shelves of the library. Selecting a book I never heard of and the thrill of opening that first page.

No, my love of books has not wavered. And I will continue to tell the world about books I love. But the days of this book review blog are fading away.

As of today, the end of 2017, I will no longer post reviews on this blog. I will keep the blog open so the reviews can live on. And who knows, one day I may return. But in this season of my life, I plan to discover new authors, enjoy the thrill of the first paragraph, and soak up every single minute of my children.

Thank you for being here through the years. Thank you for your comments and your discussions. I will still be on social media, so I hope to stay in contact.

And I hope you each have a wonderful 2018!

November 20, 2017

You're Gonna Love Me {Robin Lee Hatcher}

you're gonna love me robin lee hatcher
Samantha Winters prefers her life to be safe and secure, and rightly so. She lost her father in a skiing accident a few years ago and has been fearful ever since. Then she fell in love with Nick Chastain, who is a brilliant professor of fisheries and wildlife studies at Oregon State University but also an adrenaline junkie.

For spring break, Nick plans a kayaking trip on the rapids in Colorado. His thrill-seeking ways don’t sit well with Samantha, and after one argument too many—and a host of harsh words exchanged— the couple of six months end their relationship. Once she cooled down a few weeks later, Samantha emailed an apology to Nick. He never replied.

Two years later, Samantha moves to Thunder Creek, Idaho, to care for her grandmother. She is shocked when Nick walks into Gran’s hospital room and even more shocked to learn he no longer teaches at the university.

As Samantha and Nick get to know one another again, Samantha decides she should use her time in Thunder Creek to evaluate her life . . . and her fears. Could Nick have changed so much in just a matter of years, or will the call for adventure lure him back to his dangerous ways? Is love worth the risk of heartbreak all over again?

My Thoughts:
This is not the greatest book I have ever read, but it was a sweet love story just the same. I was fun to return to Thunder Creek and catch up with a few characters we previously met, and to get to know Sam and Nick as well.

The description of this book is basically the background information for the story. The book picks up with Nick already in Thunder Creek and Samantha arriving soon after. As soon as they speak to each other for the first time it is obvious sparks are flying and their relationship is going to pick back up.

But each character has healing to do in their heart and with God. It was sweet to see God perform that needed healing and calm their fears so they could pursue the relationship He had for them. Both Nick and Sam grew in God and with each other during their summer together in Thunder Creek and I wanted them to end up together so badly.

I thought this was a sweet read. It is the sequel to You'll Think of Me, but can still be read as a stand-alone very easily. A great addition to your reading list.
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November 13, 2017

Brave Girls Confidential

Join Brave Girls Faith, Hope, Glory, Gracie, and Honor as they discover how much they are loved and they learn what it means to live godly lives in their homes, schools, and communities.

Faith, Hope, Glory, Gracie, and Honor are five regular girls with regular lives. They have frustrating siblings and friends who fight sometimes, even though they love each other a lot. They have strong subjects in school, but they have struggles too. They love Jesus, and sometimes they have questions about Him. They’re just like you!

Brave Girls Confidential is a collection of stories meant to encourage and inspire. Through tales of what it means to be brave, strong, and faithful in everyday life, the Brave Girls show young readers how exciting faith can be. With engaging stories, strengthening scriptures, and takeaway discussion points to encourage meaningful conversations, Tommy Nelson's Brave Girls Confidential has something for every girl who longs to live brave.

The great content and beautiful full-color design make Tommy Nelson's Brave Girls Confidentiala wonderful gift for any young girl.

My Thoughts:
We have been fans of the Brave Girls for a while now and am so excited to have this devotion book for my daughter. 

The Brave Girls bring to life the example of the kind of girl I want my daughter to look up to.

My daughter loves having her own devotion book she can read through, and I appreciate the Brave Girls brand for the example they set for young girls.

November 7, 2017

Vanishing Point {Lisa Harris}

vanishing point lisa harris
During Garrett Addison's first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She's the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common--a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies--number six--Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn't have what it takes to be an agent. What he'll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him--or Jordan.

My Thoughts:
We finally get the conclusion to what has been one of the best series I have ever read!

This series began two years ago and I immediately fell in love with Nikki Boyd. With each book, we followed Nikki and her team as they investigated missing girls and more taunts from the Angel Abductor. With each installment, I hoped beyond hope we would finally discover the identity of the killer and learn the truth behind Nikki's sister's disappearance. And with each closing chapter, we were left with another cliff-hanger and more questions to be answered.

The wait is over.

Vanishing Point takes us back to when it all began. When the TBI and the FBI first realized they had a serial killer on their hands, and they began their journey to stop the man responsible for the death of so many girls. We get to witness the moment Sarah Boyd goes missing and the events that led to Nikki joining the police academy. We get to follow the team through the highlights of the past ten years and see the effects of the unsolved case in their lives.

But finally, we learn the identity of the Angel Abductor. We learn what really happened to Sarah Boyd. Of course, it doesn't come without challenges and broken hearts, but I can place this last book on my shelf knowing these characters are okay.

If you haven't read this series I suggest you start at the beginning. You can read this book as a stand-alone but you will enjoy it so much more if you start from book one.

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October 23, 2017

In This Moment {Karen Kingsbury}

in this moment karen kingsbury
Hamilton High Principal Wendell Quinn is tired of the violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancies, and low expectations at his Indianapolis school. A single father of four, Quinn is a Christian and a family man. He wants to see change in his community, so he starts a voluntary after-school Bible Study and prayer program. He knows he is risking his job by leading the program, but the high turnout at every meeting encourages him.

A year later, violence and gang activity are down, test scores are up, and drug use and teen pregnancy have plummeted. The program is clearly working—until one parent calls the press. Now Quinn faces a lawsuit that could ruin everything.

With a storm of national attention and criticism, Quinn is at a crossroads—he must choose whether to cave in and shut down the program or stand up for himself and his students. The battle comes with a high cost, and Quinn wants just one attorney on his side for this fight: Luke Baxter. In This Moment is an inspiring, relevant story about the nuances of religious freedom and how a group of determined people just might restore the meaning of faith in today’s culture.

My Thoughts:
I have to be honest - I did not enjoy this book. I've read through the entire Baxter series this year and was really looking forward to continuing to catch up with the family. However, this book is hardly about the Baxters at all. And Wendell Quinn just never hooked me.

Yes, this book has a current storyline, and clearly, Luke Baxter has become a legal success. But I wanted more Baxters. More of the family I have fallen in love with. More of their time together and their lives. I just feel this one felt forced and fell flat. Such a disappointment for me.

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October 16, 2017

KJV Know the Word Study Bible

Diving deeper into God's Word can be easy and rewarding if you break it down book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic with the new KJV Know The Word Study Bible by Thomas Nelson. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God's Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

My Thoughts:
For years I have wanted to study the Bible - like REALLY study it. But I honestly did not know where to start. The thought of just picking it up and trying to break down verses was intimidating to me, but I have not been able to get my hands on a KJV resource. This Bible is the answer to my prayers - literally!

Within this Bible are so many resources to help kick off an in-depth study of God's word. Words and phrases are broken down with simple explanations or background information linked to each. Verses are cross-referenced to help in the study as well. I have found great use of my Bible highlighters with these pages as I match words with their definitions, verses with their related texts, and meanings I would have never figured out on my own.

If you are looking to really dig into the Bible - and especially if you are a fan of the KJV - then this Bible is a resource you cannot afford not to have in your hands. You will love how this Bible can guide you in your walk to really know God's word. I am so thankful for the opportunity to receive this Bible and will cherish it for years to come.

This fall, become a regular student of the Bible and enter to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of the KJV Know The Word Study Bible
  • A Kindle Fire 7
  • A Kindle Fire case (winner's choice)
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 31. The winner will be announced November 1 on the Litfuse blog.

October 9, 2017

Blue Ridge Sunrise {Denise Hunter}

blue ridge sunrise denise hunter
Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe--a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

My Thoughts:
I must admit I have very conflicting feelings about this book. Parts of my loved it, while parts of me wanted to put it down. But after much thought about this book, I feel I was mostly just not used to Hunter bringing such real characters to life on the pages of her books. This book has pre-marital sex, unwed mothers. divorce, abuse, and so very much heartache.

Zoe has lived her life far from God. When she found herself young and pregnant, she ran off with with a singer and began living the life of a performer on the road - and participating in all that comes with that. She has returned home and inherited her grandmother's peach orchard and begins trying to put her life back together. However, I felt Zoe's change of heart from Kyle to Cruz happened so quickly and gave a false hope of how easy it is to get out of an abusive relationship. These things don't typically happen overnight.

I loved Cruz so much. I feel his heart has always been in the right place when it comes to Zoe and her family. However, he has made mistakes in the way he has tried to express his love and affection for the family. This has brought about so much paid for himself and the ones he loves. I appreciated him taking up for Zoe even though she was pushing him away. And his patience in entering back into her life was endearing.

In the end, I was disappointed with parts of this book. But I still enjoyed the start of this new series from one of my favorite authors. We also were introduced to several characters who I feel have stories coming during this series and I definitely do not want to miss those. So, I would recommend this book for Hunter fans, and those who enjoy a good turned-life-around story. However, if you are easily offended by mention of situations not always found in Christian fiction, I recommend you give this one a pass.

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September 4, 2017

When Parenting Isn't Perfect {Jim Daly}

when parenting isn't perfect jim daly
Perfection is the enemy of parenting. Jim Daly sees and hears from mothers and fathers trying hard to pursue perfection. They listen to the best experts and read all the right books. When someone gives them a “World’s Best Mom” or “No. 1 Dad” coffee mug, they want it to be true. And they want their children to pursue perfection, too.

It’s admirable for parents to be the very best moms and dads they can be for their children. But sometimes in so doing, they leave grace behind—both for themselves and their children. Jim believes that our quest for perfection, a quest that he believes is particularly strong among Christians, runs counter to God’s own boundless gift of grace. We can become Pharisaical parents, quoting endless rules and holding everyone to impossible standards. But God doesn’t want us, and our kids don’t need us, to be perfect. As parents, we’re called to simply do our best. And when we fail—which we will—we’re called to try again tomorrow.

Though he’s the President of Focus on the Family, Jim does not promise that his book will be a catalyst for a perfect family. But it can help point the way toward a good family—one that feels safe and warm; one filled with love and laughter. This book will encourage mothers and fathers to embrace the messiness of parenthood and show grace to their own less-than-ideal children. Jim, through his own experiences, expertise, and array of stories, will lead both moms and dads to a better understanding of what being a good family is all about.

My Thoughts:
I love listening to Jim Daly on the Focus on the Family podcast each week, and I looked forward to getting my hands on this book when he started talking about it on air. From listening to Daly, I knew I would enjoy his book. Truth? It has been a long time since I enjoyed a parenting book as much as I loved this one.

Daly brings real life to pages of this book, often bringing his own struggles and family to use as examples of just how un-perfect we all are. This parenting gig is hard and I enjoyed the tidbits of information, references to scripture, quotes from experts, and real language used throughout this entire book.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the entire section on marriage. It is not often a parenting book takes a timeout to discuss the importance of marriage, but this book does just that. It goes without saying that having a strong and faithful marriage can go a long way in easing the burden of parenting, but not many authors take the time to point that out.

I also appreciate the Daly family for allowing their lives to be exposed through this book. Knowing the struggles they go through simply enhances the effectiveness of the message in this book.

There is a lot of highlighting and notes in my copy of this book and I plan on pulling it out often as a reference and encouragement as my husband and I journey on this parenting gig. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for real-life parenting advice with encouragement and the truth of Jesus' love.

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August 14, 2017

The Beloved Hope Chest {Amy Clipston}

the beloved hope chest amy clipston
Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it's a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it's past time to share it.

My Thoughts:
This is one Amish Fiction unlike most of those I have read in the past. Instead of being the picture of happiness and life together, this book tackles death, heartache, and marriages that do not look like the perfect picture of love.

I have not read the first three books in this series, but I immediately felt a connection with Mattie and all the pain that came her way as quickly as this book began. This book opens with the death of her beloved husband and her challenge to create a life for herself and her unborn child. I honestly thought she entered into another marriage much too quickly, but understood her reasoning and the pressure of her culture to have a husband.

Leroy is a man any reader can admire. He went through a rough childhood but came out a hard-working man determined to find love and happiness for himself. His love for Mattie comes through in everything he does and I wanted nothing more than for him and Mattie to find a way to make their marriage work.

This book may be about Mattie and Leroy, but it highlights the problems so many people have in their marriages today. One suffers a loss or goes through tremendous grief and their response is to close themselves off and run. So many people give up on their marriages because they do not feel they can talk to their spouse about the personal things in their lives. Although Mattie and Leroy live in the Amish community and try to abide by their beliefs, their problems are the same so many have today.

I will not tell you how this book ends, but I will tell you faith in God became a part in Mattie and Leroy finding their own happiness in life. It takes a lot of faith in yourself, your spouse, and God to make things work and I appreciated both characters working through those things both alone and together.

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August 10, 2017

Chasing Secrets {Lynette Eason}

chasing secrets lynette eason
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she's made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her--and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he's not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.

In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories--and the depths of the heart--Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley's past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won't quit.

My Thoughts:
I think this might be my favorite book in this series - and this has been a series I have enjoyed a lot!

This book focuses on Haley, and she has all kinds of drama going on in her life. Several people are on a mission to end her life, and she has just found out her past is completely different than what she has been told her entire life. All this would be enough to send anyone into hiding, but Haley stands her ground and turns to God with each new thing that creeps up on her.

I enjoyed meeting Steven. He has returned to town, joined the police force, and immediately becomes intertwined in Haley and the investigations she is running. The sparks that fly between them are hot and heavy, and I could not wait for them to admit their attraction to each other.

This book is full of surprises I never saw coming, and characters I immediately fell in love with. I loved this plot, and the ending is just amazing.

You can read this as a stand-alone, but do yourself a favor and read the entire series. It is that good.

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August 3, 2017

The Two of Us {Victoria Bylin}

the two of us victoria bylin
After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans. 

Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding. 

Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

My Thoughts:
I liked Mia. Almost immediately. I liked her determination to do what she felt God was leading her to do and her willingness to give up everything else in her life to follow that calling. I thought Mia could teach many of so many things about listening to God and following his instructions through our lives.

I felt the love that formed between Mia and Jake was beautiful. Both were willing to listen to God and change their lives in order to serve Him, regardless of where it left their relationship.

I thought this was a beautiful story of love, friendship, and following God’s directions in life. A book worth putting on your reading list for sure.

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July 27, 2017

Secret Sisters {Joy Callaway}

secret sisters joy callaway
Illinois, 1881: Whitsitt College sophomore Beth Carrington has two goals to fulfill by the time she graduates: obtain a medical degree, and establish a women’s fraternity, Beta Xi Beta, that will help young women like herself to connect with and support one another while attending the male-dominated Whitsitt.

Neither is an easy task. The sole female student in the physicians’ program, Beth is constantly called out by her professors and peers for having the audacity not to concentrate on a more “fitting” subject like secretarial studies. Meanwhile, secret organizations are off-limits, and simply by crowding together in a dank basement room and creating a sense of camaraderie, she and her small group of fraternity sisters risk expulsion.

In order to have the fraternity recognized, she knows she needs help. She turns to the most powerful student on campus: senior Grant Richardson, Iota Gamma fraternity president and the scion of a Whitsitt family—a man she’s only acquainted with because of her longstanding friendship with his fraternity brother Will Buchannan. Staunchly traditional, Grant doesn’t see the purpose of this women’s organization, but captivated by Beth, he agrees to give her a helping hand. What she doesn’t know is how many will stop at nothing to keep her burgeoning organization out of the record books—and who she can actually trust along the way.

As Beth fights for her beloved Beta Xi Beta to be recognized, she will uncover deep secrets about the college and those who surround her, and will have to put both love and friendship on the line so that history can be made.

My Thoughts:
Occasionally a book will come along that is not in the Christian genre but will sound too good to pass up. That happened with this book. Being a sorority girl myself (Sigma Sigma Sigma) I was intrigued by a book based on the first women's fraternity.

I fell in love with these characters immediately and found myself completely engrossed in the work they were doing at Whitsitt college. I felt for them each time a staff or faculty member put them down for being a woman. I cheered them on when they stood up for themselves in ways women today could not imagine necessary. And I suddenly found myself reciting the knock, pledge, and intricacies of Beta Xi Beta. Oh, the sorority life just draws me in.

The women who founded the first fraternity were truly pioneers of their day. They saw what men had and they fought and sacrificed to create a sisterhood for themselves. They worked hard, had to be creative, and were the utmost in risky in order to achieve their dreams. All greek women today should be proud of those first sisters and the way they made for each of us today.

This story is both entertaining and beautifully written. It touches on Greek life, college life for women, and throws enough romance in to make your heart melt. I loved every minute I spent in these pages and am so glad I gave a chance to a book not typically in my reading pile.

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July 24, 2017

Hiding from the Kids in My Prayer Closet {Jessica Kastner}

hiding from the kids in my prayer closet jessica kastner
Soon after Jessica Kastner became a mother, she wondered if she was the only mom who found pretend play more boring than watching playdough harden and who dreaded yet another friend s Instagram post of homemade deliciousness. 

In Hiding from My Kids in the Prayer Closet, Kastner shares her experience as an unmom a mom who loves her kids more than she loves the daily experience of mothering. She helps readers laugh at the ridiculous, delight in the unpredictable, and enjoy being the mothers God made them to be.

My Thoughts:
Wow! I'm not the helicopter, lovey-dovey, play-in-the-floor mom that many of my peers are, but at least I can find something great to say about being a mom each and every day.

I honestly thought this book was going to be a self-help type book full of advice on how to cope as an unmom, and tips for praying for our kids. Instead, it is a collection of essays complaining about motherhood. Being a mom is tough, I get it. But this is just over kill about all the horrible things about being a parent. I hope these poor kids never read this book when they are older because they are going to be so disappointed in finding out how their mom thought of them.

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July 20, 2017

Ghost Heart {Lisa Harris, Lynne Gentry}

ghost heart lisa harris lynne gentry
A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline. 

My Thoughts:
This book. I admit this book started a little slow for me and I was concerned it was not going to hold my attention. But I am so glad I kept with it because it turned out to be one of the best books I have read in a long time.

The first many chapters of this book are used to introduce us to characters and their settings. Much of this book is set in Africa, but several chapters are set in America as the Taylor family struggles to keep their daughter alive. Once Charlotte and Kelsey arrive in Africa for Kelsey's heart transplant, we get to see this book come to life.

Scandle is taking place at every turn, and more than a handful of characters find themselves fighting for the right to live. Secrets are revealed, relationships are tested, and several surprises come to light as Mia fights to discover the truth behind the Africa transplant patients. I found myself completely intrigued by the story line and saddened to remember that human sacrifice for profit has been a reality in some parts of our world.

Harris and Gentry to an amazing job with this story and it is worth a spot on your reading list.

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July 17, 2017

His Guilt {Shelley Shepard Gray}

his guilt shelley shepard gray
Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay...

Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.

Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty.  But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?

My Thoughts:
I loved the first book in this series, and this second book was just as good - maybe even better. This series is doing a great job at bringing the traditional Amish culture, suspense, and romance and wrapping them up in the perfect little bow.

I loved meeting these characters. Although this book is not the traditional follow-up to the first one, it does briefly mention the assault and characters from the first book. However, this book focuses on Mark, the man who was originally blamed for the previous assault.

Mark has returned home and is dealing with the aftermath of everyone thinking he is guilty. He befriends Neeta and I loved watching their relationship grow. It is such an unlikely relationship with opposition coming from every direction. But the way they continue to hold tight to what they believe about each other is heartwarming, to say the least.

This book is about forgiveness and redemption, and about listening to what God is telling you when it is hard to do the right thing. These characters are some I hope we see again in the remainder of this series and I look forward to the coming books.

July 13, 2017

A Letter from Lancaster County {Kate Lloyd}

a letter from lancaster county kate lloyd
When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit Aunt Silvia, their mother's Mennonite sister, in the heart of Amish country. This vacation could provide the opportunity both sisters need to sort out their issues. And yet instead of finding a new way of connecting with each other, Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose's romance with a new beau.

Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their hearts and relationship as only He can.

My Thoughts:
I'm sorry to admit I did not like this book - at all. The entire book is written in first-person and keeps changing from Angela to Rose and back. I spent most of the book having to go back and see who was talking to figure out who's story I was reading.

These sisters do not like each other and they were constantly complaining, arguing, talking about each other, and simply being miserable. After a few chapters, it was more than on my nerves. I skimmed through the second half of this book because I just wanted to get to the end. I found myself completely uninterested in the entire story and did not care how it ended.

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A Letter from Lancaster County Kate Lloyd

July 10, 2017

Portrait of Vengeance {Carrie Stuart Parks}

portrait of vengeance carrie stuart parks
Gwen Marcey has done a good job of keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here?

No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, her ex-husband back home is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter.

As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

My Thoughts:
Everything we thought we knew about Gwen Marcey and her past has just been shattered. When she requests an assignment that seems so familiar to her, she steps right into a trap to bring her "home" and to a man who was hurt by her so many years ago.

In this installment in the Gwen Marcey series, we really get to see deep into Gwen's soul. Her relationship with her ex-husband is toxic, her daughter is mostly out of the picture, she has given Blake the cold-shoulder, and she needs the support of her best friend more than ever. She is in a situation that only God can get her out of and we get to see her piece together the past and the present to find out who she really is.

While this was not my favorite book in this series, it is still a great read with twists and turns in every chapter. Every time I would think Gwen was close to discovering the truth something horrible would happen that would change my way of thinking. When the real Jacob was revealed I was shocked and terrified for Gwen's life.

This book can be read as a stand-alone but would be better enjoyed as part of the series it is intended to be read in.

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July 6, 2017

Healing Love {Jennifer Slattery}

healing love jennifer slattery
A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn't on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of "missional tourists" full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

My Thoughts:

I have read so many great reviews of Slattery’s books and was thrilled when she contacted me about Healing Love. I admit this book started a little slow for me. Character and setting development seemed to take several chapters. We meet Brook and her family and friends, get to meet many of those she works with, and learn much about her dreams and insecurities. We also travel to El Salvador to meet the people there and many locations of poverty and despair.

Then Brooke heads on a mission trip to El Salvador, and this story really picks up and becomes one of those you cannot put down. As Brooke is exposed to the orphan children, we see her heart completely break for every single one. She changes her attitude about the trip and immerses herself in the people she meets.

As the story continues on we also see the relationship between Brooke and Ubaldo intensify into the kind of romance that makes you weak in the knees. Moreover, when Brooke boards the plane and heads home, I felt so sad for everyone involved.

However, our God always knows what he is doing and can orchestrate anything he wants. I will not spoil this for you but the decisions that happen in the lives of Brooke, Ubaldo and their families will show just what love and a heart for God's people can do.

I enjoyed this book so much. The story, the people, and the mission spoke to God's love and goodness. While this was my first read from.Slattery, it certainly will not be my last.

June 26, 2017

The Writing Desk {Rachel Hauck}

the writing desk rachel hauck
Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

My Thoughts:
Every time I pick up a Rachel Hauck book I know I am going to get a beautiful cover and an even more beautiful story on the inside. In this book, Hauck continues her beloved storytelling by combining the past with the present and bringing the two to an anticipated collision.

I both loved and was annoyed with Tenley throughout this entire book. She is a one-hit wonder novelist and has won a prestigious award for her effort. Her live-in boyfriend seems like a loser, her father has passed away, and her mother abandoned her when she was a young child. Tenley is full of self-doubt and has a tendency to annoy me with her constant put-downs of herself.

But my heart went out to her when she finally agreed to head to Florida to care for her sick mother. It is in Florida where I finally began to like Tenley and the life she was making for herself.

The story of Birdie's life moved a bit slow to me, but when it finally picked up the pace it was so beautifully written. Everyone deserves a love like Birdie finds and I fell in love with her story.

Birdie and Tenley's lives come together at a time when I least expected. I was surprised and so excited how Tenley chose to honor Birdie and her gift of writing.

This is a must-read for your list. I know you will love it.

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June 19, 2017

Peace in the Valley {Ruth Logan Herne}

peace in the valley ruth logan herne
In spite of their differences, Trey Walker Stafford knows he owes his life to cowboy and legendary rancher Sam Stafford--the uncle who rescued him after his parents' death. Trey had left the Double S Ranch to pursue music against Sam's wishes, but returns to central Washington when he learns he's the best match for a procedure that could save Sam's life. Although Trey's found country music fame and success, he's also endured the tragic loss of his wife. He croons about love, but struggles with a yawning emptiness he can't explain. 

Overwhelmed by a growing list of challenges, but mistrustful of Stafford men, single mother Lucy Carlton reluctantly accepts Trey's help to revive her crumbling farm when Sam instructs him to repay the overdue debt to her family. 

As the two grow closer, Trey slowly begins to open his heart to this beautiful woman and strives to let go of the grief he's held for years. Lucy has a complicated history of her own. Can Trey accept her as she is, learn to forgive the past, and find the elusive peace he's sought for so long?

My Thoughts:
My love for the Stafford family runs deep and I have been looking forward to finding out if Trey would ever find his way back home. In the first two books in this series, we watched Nick and Colt find their peace in life and with their family, and find the woman to make their lives complete, but I wondered if Trey would ever really give that kind of life a chance.

It is his father's failing health that finally brings Trey home as he commits to a life-threatening surgery that will give Sam a better quality of life. Once home Trey quickly runs into Lucy, the neighbor with the failing ranch, and he makes up his mind to help her get her life back in order.

It was beautiful to see both Trey and Lucy work through the darkness from their past and trust God to bring them through to a place they could really find peace. Seeing that transformation is an example of how big God's love and kindness really is.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but it is so much greater to meet the family in earlier books in this series and get to follow them through the years this series covers.

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June 15, 2017

A Matter of Trust {Susan May Warren}

a matter of trust susan may warren
Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to find his footing--or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him. 

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret--one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track. 

When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn't so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain. 

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder--and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella's secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other--even when disaster happens again?

The stories of the members of the PEAK Rescue team seem to better and better. I have loved this team from the beginning and look forward to each new book released.

We finally get to hang out with Gage in this one. Gage has been living in despair after his days of fame and it has seemed nothing would pull him out of the funk that has permanently taken over his life. He has been quite in past books and I was excited to get a glimpse into the man he really is.

We quickly learn he has a thing for Ella but refuses to be in love with her because of the way their relationship ended those years ago. When Ella comes back into his life, we know it is going to make for an interesting scenario.

These two find themselves stuck on a snow-covered mountain and forced to face the relationship they once had. As they spend their days searching for Ella's brother, they also dig into the details of everything that happened in the past and how they feel about the lives they have made for themselves since.

I can't tell you how this one ends, but I will tell you I didn't exactly expect the ending we got. This rescue went wrong on so many levels, but the drama unfolding back at headquarters went wrong pretty quickly as well. Not everyone got their happy ending we are all used to, and the door is wide open for the next installment in this series.

I can't wait!

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June 12, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls {Colleen Coble}

beneath copper falls colleen coble
Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff's dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams "He's going to kill me too" before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it's too late. Allyson's death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn't believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson's cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana's ex-fiance locates her, she's caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.

My Thoughts:
Colleen Coble is back with all our friends from Rock Harbor, plus their beloved pets!

This is one of those amazing books that holds you to the edge of your seat and has you second guessing every move each character makes. I fell in love with Dana immediately and felt so sorry for the situation she was in with Garrett. I thought running to Rock Harbor was the best decision for her, but the events that followed turned her life even more upside down.

I was suspicious of Boone when he and Dana first met, but I quickly realized I had misjudged him and liked him so much. I was excited about his and Dana's relationship that seemed to be forming very quickly.

The outcome of this book shocked me. I honestly never saw it coming. That is all I am really going to say about that because anything else would be a spoiler :)

If you love Colleen Coble, Rock Harbor, or any suspense book then this is the book you need to put next on your reading list.

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June 5, 2017

Love Story {Karen Kingsbury}

love story karen kingsbury
From the day they met, John and Elizabeth were destined to fall in love. Their whirlwind romance started when they were young college students and lasted nearly thirty years—until Elizabeth died of cancer.

So when John Baxter is asked to relive his long-ago love story with Elizabeth for his grandson Cole’s heritage project, he’s not sure he can do it. The sadness might simply be too great. But he agrees and allows his heart and soul to go places they haven’t gone in decades. Back to the breathless first moments, but also to the secret heartbreak that brought John and Elizabeth together.

At the same time, Baxter family friend Cody Coleman is working through the breakup of his complicated relationship with Andi Ellison. He is determined to move on when a chance sighting changes his plans—and heart. Can Cody convince Andi to give their love another try, or is it time for them to say goodbye, for good?

As school comes to an end, Cole presents his report on the love story between his grandparents John and Elizabeth Baxter. It is a tale that touches the hearts of the entire family, and one that causes Cole to better understand his own beginning.

My Thoughts:
Oh, I love the Baxters. I've read the first two series in the Baxter family books, but you do not have to be familiar with this family to love LOVE STORY.

In this book, we get to go back in time to when John and Elizabeth met and married. We know John and Elizabeth as the parents of the Baxter clan, and the loss of Elizabeth in the first series ripped my heart into pieces. I think missing her so much (can you miss a fictional character that much?!) made this story so much sweeter because it brought her back into our lives.

It was also so much fun to catch up with Ashley and Landon, and oh how big Cole has gotten! We also got back into Bailey's life. So great to see where all our favorite people have ended up.

I am truly so happy Karen Kingsbury has brought the Baxters back into our lives and I cannot wait to see what will continue to come from this family. In the meantime, I'm headed to the library to get Baxter books from the past. I just can't get enough of this family!

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June 1, 2017

With You Always {Jody Hedlund}

with you always jody hedlund
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She's had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children's Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn't want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance. 

The son of one of New York City's wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother's shadow and is determined to win his father's challenge. He doesn't plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Thoughts:
When Jody Hedlund writes a book you know two things: it is going to have a beautiful cover, and the story inside is going to match that beauty. It is a constant with her, and this book is certainly no exception.

I had never heard of the Orphan Trains before this book, but the thought of our country tearing apart families and putting children on trains to unknown breaks my heart. When we meet Elise and her sisters it is clear this is their destiny unless some type of miracle occurs first. Unfortunately, that miracle does not come before Elise finds herself on a train, alone and headed to an unknown city and an unknown job.

Elise meets Thornton on that train, and we already know his is wealthy and looking to best his brother in a competition for the family business. I was skeptical of Thornton at first but quickly realized he was one of the good guys and deserved all the happiness he could find in life.

As Thornton struggles to build his town, and Elise worries about her family she left behind, we see them build an amazing relationship based on friendship and mutual admiration. But Thornton has a competition to win and Elise is not included in his plans.

We see God show up and work to find a way to happiness for both Elise and Thornton. God works that miracle only he can do and the ending is simply perfect. 

This is a great start to a new series based on the orphan trains and I know you will want to add it to your reading list.

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