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.

February 20, 2017

Home at Last {Deborah Raney}

home at last deborah raney
Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he's stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters' efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite--well, in any company. Her father's family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry's incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl's aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee's On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society's view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

My Thoughts:
The Whitman family is back in this final book in the Chicory Inn series. We finally get Link's love story, and it is not lacking in conflict, suspense, and true love.

Link is the Whitman child who hasn't quite gotten it together yet. He's living in a run down apartment, driving an unreliable truck, and working a dead-end job. His family teases him about his lack of a love life, but he seems fairly content to continue life as it is. Although he wants a better life for himself, we never really see him doing anything about it.

Until he meets Shayla. Shayla also feels very stuck in life. She's living with her dad above the family's bakery, taking full responsibility of a niece who's parents clearly had other priorities. Her family has seen the reality of how black people are treated by some people in the world, and as a result, her father has become jaded and bitter. Shayla just wants to be happy in life but knows she will never go any further than she is right now.

As Link and Shayla begin to spend time together, the story turns very much to the struggles of the inter-racial couple in today's world. Seeing these couples has become so common in our society we often overlook the simple things they must overcome to make their relationships work.

Although Link's story was not my favorite in this series, it was a good read with a lot of insight into a world I really don't know a lot about. If you have been a fan of this series, you will want to add this book to your reading list so you can find some closure with the Whitman family.

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February 13, 2017

Snow Country {Kristin Neva}

snow country kristin neva
Shame desperately depends on secrecy for its survival in this multi-generational story of love and loss. 

JILTED THREE WEEKS BEFORE HER WEDDING, Beth Dawson escapes sunny California for the snowy Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a young State Trooper challenges her to let go of her rules for Christian courtship. Her domineering mother chides her to stay single and wants her to talk her ailing grandmother into moving to Los Angeles. 

COPPER ISLAND averages over 200 inches of snow annually. The fictional towns of Douglass and Quincy mirror the actual towns of Houghton and Hancock, and although the names of businesses and persons are imaginary, the history, landmarks, and spirit of the region described in the novel are real. 

My Thoughts:
Kristin Neva is a new-to-me author who I "met" on Instagram through another book blogger. I believe this is her first work of published fiction, and a good story to kick off this new series.

We meet Beth as she is being dumped by her fiance just a few weeks before their planned wedding. She quickly hops in the car and drives across the country to visit her grandmother in Michigan. Although she has visited her grandparents in the past, this is the first time Beth has really spent any extended time in the area.

We realize pretty quickly Beth is one who plays by the rules others set for her. Although she is an adult, she seems pretty tied to the opinions of her mother and has always followed the guidelines her mother has placed on her life. Because of this Beth had a hard time making logical decisions on her own when she first arrives in Michigan. This trait annoyed me about Beth, but I liked her more as she learned to think for herself.

My first impression of Danny was that he was a cocky law enforcement officer. I felt he was pushy and too willing to pursue Beth even after she told him she was not interested. However, as the story moves along I being to like Danny for his unwillingness to give up on his pursuit of Beth. I thought he was a little dorky, but appreciated the way he cared for Beth and her grandmother.

Although I enjoyed this story and these characters, I felt this book moved a little fast. I would have appreciated a little more insight into the thoughts and feelings of the characters as they worked through different obstacles in their lives. I felt the dialog was a little choppy at times, but overall I thought it was a great book for a new author. 

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February 6, 2017

In the Shadow of Denali {Tracie Peterson | Kimberley Woodhouse}

in the shadow of denali tracie peterson kimberley woodhouse
Cassidy Ivanoff and her father John, a wilderness guide, work at a prestigious new hotel outside Mt. McKinley. John's new apprentice, Allan Brennan, finds a friend in Cassidy, but the real reason he's here--to learn the truth about his father's death--is far more dangerous than he knows.

My Thoughts:
I wanted to love this book. Based on the description is sounded like it was going to be a suspenseful read with surprises in each chapter. Unfortunately, that was not at all what this was.

I enjoyed the characters in this book but did not feel any real connection to them. John and his daughter, Cassidy, are hard workers with an outstanding faith in God. They work in the hotel within the new national state park and live their lives as any other person does.

Allan was an interesting character with great potential, but he fell flat for me once he arrived in Alaska. His turmoil, his walk towards faith, and his journey to forgiveness felt very forced and predictable.

We know from the beginning how Allan's father died, so trying to turn that storyline into something of suspense just did not work. It was hard to be surprised by any of the revelations from the characters or their events.

Although this story lacked the suspense and surprise I was hoping for, it was still a decent read. It moved at a steady pace, and the characters were okay.

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February 4, 2017

Series Saturday: The Firstborn Series {Karen Kingsbury}

Note: This year I am reading some "older" series from some of my favorite authors. Rather than do reviews of these individual books, I will be reviewing the series as a whole. You can look for these Series Saturday posts through the year.

firstborn series karen kingsbury

I'm continuing my way through the Baxter Family series, so naturally, my next books are the Firstborn Series. This series also contains five books, Fame, Forgiven, Found, Family, and Forever.

We learned in the first series that Elizabeth and John had a baby, a son before they were married and were forced to give it up for adoption. Although they rarely discussed the boy, and never once mentioned the child to their five children they raised, Elizabeth and John thought of the boy often. They had once tried to find him but met dead ends. We also know that Elizabeth's dying wish was to find and meet, her firstborn son. Right before Elizabeth passes away, she gets to meet her son, and learns he is none other than the most famous movie star in the country, Dayne Matthews.

Where The Redemption series focused on the Baxter children and their very real-life issues with marriage and life, The Firstborn series focuses on Dayne and his life as one of the most famous people alive. Dayne obviously knows the Baxters are his biological family, but his desire to protect them from the paparazzi keeps him from coming forward as their son. However, John Baxter decides to fulfill his wife's last wishes and hires his own investigator to find his firstborn son.

Soon John learns Dayne's identity and must tell the other five children of their missing brother. Although he keeps Dayne's identity a secret, the children now know all about the secret their parents shared all throughout their marriage. The children all have various reactions and must process this information in their own way.

Another key character in this series is Katy Hart. Katy is the children's theater director in Bloomington, and best friend to Ashley Baxter. Through a series of only-God-can-do-this events, she and Dayne have met, and Dayne has fallen head-over-hills in love. But the obstacles of his status, Hollywood, the tabloids, and distance make it difficult for their relationship to go anywhere.

As this series progresses through the five books, we see God work in relationships in ways only he can. We see love, heartache, tragedy, and hurt. But most of all, we see God at work in the lives of is children. This series seemed to start fairly slow for me. I though the first two books spent more time building characters than necessary, but when the story really started moving it was impossible to put these books down.

By the final book, I was up all night just waiting to see if everyone was going to get the happy ending I hoped for them. When the final book was over, I could look back and say I really enjoyed the series as a whole. I cannot wait to dive into the next series!

February 2, 2017

Moving Target {Lynette Eason}

moving target lynette eason
When Maddy McKay and Quinn Holcombe don't show up for Quinn's surprise birthday party, his friends know that something is very wrong. Their search turns up little beyond evidence that Quinn and Maddy just decided to take off for a long overdue vacation. But it soon becomes apparent that they did not leave of their own accord.

Maddy awakens in a cement room with no idea where she is. But it's not long before she realizes she's in the clutches of a madman exacting revenge by hunting. His prey of choice? Humans. Now Maddy and Quinn must run for their lives, hoping to find their killer before the next game begins. Because if they don't win this game, they die.

My Thoughts:
This series just continues to get better and better! The Elite Guardians are back, but this time it is their own that needs all the protection she can get.

Maddy and Quinn have found themselves the target of a serial killer and their lives quickly land in the kind of danger usually reserved for the movies. He has kidnapped them and put them on an island with little to no chance of survival. We know Maddy and Quinn are pretty quick thinkers and skilled at survival, but the scenario they land in - even I was not sure they would ever make it out alive.

As the entire Elite Guardian team steps in to provide rescue and assistance in catching the killer, we get to see all of their skills and personalities come together. I love watching them all bounce ideas off each other and work to get things accomplished.

This book is full of face-paced suspense that will keep you reading until the very end. But it also full of love and God's grace and forgiveness. Both Maddy and Quinn have family baggage they have been dealing with, and we get to see each of them work through that in their own way while still working to capture a killer. We also get to see the relationship between the two of them grow in such a sweet way.

Just when I thought this book was over and everything was figured out, Maddy lands in trouble again. Watching the team work through this last piece of information was exciting and heart-pounding.

I loved this book, maybe my favorite in the series so far. Such a great series and I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a good action story.

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