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, 2015

Reading Accomplishments: 2015

It's been a big year for the book blog. I began this blog in early 2014 as an outlet for my book reviews. During this past year I watched as this blog increased in size, and surpassed my "primary blog", Ting's Mom.

As I have been planning the upcoming year for my blogs, I have realized that this book blog is now my primary blog. Yes, I will continue to post on my family site but Ting's Mom Books will have the focus of my attention in 2016.

So how did I get here? How about a look at the accomplishments for the year.

FIRST and Foremost - I read the ENTIRE Bible this year!! This has been a goal of mine for several years and I always give up. This time I stuck with it, and I so completely blessed by my accomplishment. I crave to learn more about the Bible and I'm looking for some options for specific subject and book studies in the coming year. If you have any suggestions, I'd to hear them.

According to Goodreads, I read 91 books this year. However, I only log my fiction reads on Goodreads. In the coming year, I will log each and every book so I can keep a better track of what I am reading.

The blog contained fiction and non-fiction books, plus the addition of Wee Read Wednesdays toward the end of the year. The total posts from the year ended at 123. Wow!

So where are we going in 2016? Come back early in the year as I tell you about some exciting plans I have for the book blog.

In the meantime, Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!

December 28, 2015

The Newsmakers {Lis Wiehl}

The Newsmakers {Lis Wiehl}
Television reporter Erica Sparks has just landed her dream job at Global News Network. Beautiful, talented, and ambitious, Erica grew up dirt poor, worked her way through Yale, and is carrying a terrible secret. She moves to Manhattan to join GNN, leaving Jenny, her adored 7-year-old daughter, in the custody of her ex-husband. Erica’s producer at the network, Greg Underwood, is handsome and compelling. Scarred by her divorce, Erica is wary of romance, but there’s no denying the mutual attraction.

On one of her first assignments, Erica witnesses a horrific Staten Island ferry crash. Then she lands a coveted interview with presumptive presidential nominee Kay Barrish. During the interview Barrish collapses. Erica valiantly tries to save her with CPR. The footage rivets the world—GNN’s ratings soar and Erica is now a household name.

But she’s troubled. What a strange coincidence that both events should happen on her watch. It’s almost as if they were engineered. Is that possible?

Erica’s relentless pursuit of the truth puts her life and that of her daughter in danger. Her investigation leads her into the heart of darkness—where the future of our democracy is at stake.

My Thoughts:
This was a fun, no-frills read for me. The story seemed a little unbelievable, but I feel like that contributed to the entertainment factor of the plot.

GNN is becoming the largest and most powerful news distributor in the country. Erica believes she has landed the job of a lifetime when she is hired on as the newest field reporter. It does not take long, though, for her to realize that the place she is working is holding some deep dark secrets.

First she lands a top story when she is on scene for a ferry crash. Then she is interviewing a presidential candidate on live television when the candidate dies from poisoning. Suddenly Erica finds herself more investigator than reporter. And the more she uncovers the more harm seems to come to those around her.

Like I said earlier, this story lacked believability, but I thought it was very entertaining. I appreciated the twists and turns to keep the story moving, and the characters’ abilities to provide entertainment with every move. I though the book moved along at a nice pace and was a fairly easy read.

If you are looking for a light and entertaining read, definitely check this one out.

Lis Wiehl is the author "Face of Betrayal," a New York Times Best Seller. 

She has also written "Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life" and "The 51% Minority: How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It." 

In addition to her written work, Wiehl is currently a legal analyst for Fox News. She has been with the network since 2001. 

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Wiehl is an adjunct professor at New York Law School.

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December 17, 2015

At Love's Bidding {Regina Jennings}

At Love's Bidding {Regina Jennings}
After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.

Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse. 

My Thoughts:
While I do not find myself madly in love with this book, I don’t really have any real complaints. It was just an okay story for me.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters that we met through this book. Miranda is one of those women who has lived her entire life within the rules of society. She does as she is told and is not allowed to think for herself. However, when she accompanies her grandfather to Missouri for a business trip, we get to see an entirely new personality come through. I love the woman that Miranda became during the trip. She is willing to stand up for herself and make decisions that are for the betterment of her family. She seems to become an independent woman and I truly enjoy her character.

Her only weakness is Wyatt. Wyatt is a good-ole country boy who works hard to make an honest living. I liked him from the very beginning and found myself wishing for the best outcome possible for his life. It is apparent he has made a name for himself in his small community and the people there trust him completely. That fact made me like him even more.

This book had a great story line, but I felt that it stalled many times. I felt there were filler events and details to stretch the book out. Many of these events felt unnecessary and a little confusing to the story. Once Miranda arrived back in Boston, it felt even more stretched out. Finally, in the last few pages the story moves back along and we get to see an ending for these characters. An ending I like, by the way.

I typically enjoy stories from Regina Jennings and I still liked the overall story in this book. I just did not fall in love with it.

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

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December 15, 2015

Regina Jennings’ ‘At Love’s Bidding’ Cozy Winter Night Giveaway

After a cross-country trip to track down a sold painting that could ruin her family's business forever, Miranda Wimplegate forms an unlikely but charged partnership with livestock auctioneer Wyatt Ballentine in Regina Jennings' At Love's Bidding. Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn’t deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don’t know a thing about the business he’s single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count–but no mysterious painting–Miranda and Wyatt must try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Join Regina in celebrating the release of At Love's Bidding by entering to win her Cozy Winter Night giveaway and RSVPing to her January 5th author chat party!

at love's bidding - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive everything you need for a cozy winter night:
at love's bidding - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 1/5. The winner will be announced at the At Love's Bidding Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Regina and other readers, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

at love's bidding-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

December 9, 2015

Wee Read Wednesday: Grace for the Moment Devotions

Today for Wee Read Tuesday I'm bringing you a kids' devotional that also has an adult version! 

Grace is: God’s best idea . . . More than we deserve … And greater than we imagine.  But how can you plant this important message of grace into the heart of your child? 
Adapted from the bestselling devotional for adults (with more than 3 million copies sold), Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids presents the message of God’s grace in a way that children can understand. It’s perfect for families to read together or for older readers to enjoy alone. Each day offers a devotion and scripture to encourage regular time with God. And because giving grace is just as important as receiving it, a “Growing in Grace” opportunity accompanies each devotion, offering practical and easy-to-do activities to help kids apply God’s grace—every day and every moment.

For such a small book, Grace for the Moment© has had a major impact on countless lives. With more than 2,500,000 copies sold, this devotional continues to touch lives as it emphasizes the help and hope of God in everyday moments. Each daily reading features devotional writings from Max Lucado's numerous bestsellers as well as a Scripture verse selected especially for that day's reading. This new classic is available in hardcover as well as in both green and burgundy eurobond leather.

My Thoughts:
Daily devotions are one of those things that I always want to implement, but always fall short. I think one of the reasons I never follow through is I want to include my kids but it’s hard to find something I can do with my kids that is meaningful for all of us. This devotion set is the answer!

Devotions do not have to be long to be meaningful, and the adult version of this set is proof of that. A small book that can fit into your purse features a new devotion on each page. A verse and two or three short paragraphs is all it takes. The devotions are meaningful and powerful, and just right to get your day started.

And I love, love, love the kids version of this book. The verse that is featured in the adult devotion is the same verse that is featured for that day in the kid version. The devotions are written specific to kids and the trials they face each day. Again, there is one devotion per page with only a few paragraphs.

At the end of each page, the kid version features a ‘Growing for Grace’ illustration that helps kids use every day events to imagine the story being told. For example: next time you are at the lake, picture Peter in the boat.

I am very excited to implement these new devotions into our family routine beginning January 1. They are going to be the perfect addition to our day.

December 7, 2015

Whispers in the Reading Room {Shelley Gray}

Whispers in the Reading Room {Shelley Gray}
Lydia’s job at the library is her world—until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.

Just months after the closure of the Chicago World’s Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyed patron. He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person. All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.

Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks. She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.

Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn’t merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.

Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder. She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks—the man so many people fear—is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

My Thoughts:
This book simply did not do anything for me. It has received some great reviews from many readers, but it was not for me.

I felt the characters were not very well developed. I had a very hard time connecting with any of them, as it seemed their actions constantly went against the character they were supposed to be. I felt their thoughts were not portrayed through their actions, and many of the character development was rushed.

I felt the story line jumped around a little too much, but did not take the time to fully develop any of the scenes enough for me to get involved in them. It seemed we would be reading about something one paragraph, and then on to something very different the next.

I realize this is a book in the middle of a series, so perhaps I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read the previous books in the series. Please search around and see what others have to say because many people love this book. Just not me.

Since 2000, Shelley has sold over forty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire,Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Shelley also writes historical, western inspirational romances for Abingdon Press as Shelley Gray. Her first novel with Abingdon, A Texan’s Promise, was released in October 2011 and has earned glowing reviews.

In addition to her writing as Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley has written a dozen novels for Harlequin American Romance under the pseudonym Shelley Galloway. Her first novel with Harlequin, Cinderella Christmas, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list, and her second book for the American Romance line, Simple Gifts, won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin American Romance of 2006.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.
When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Shelley is a member of RWA’s Published Author chapter, ACFW, and the Faith Hope and Love Chapter of RWA.  Please visit to learn more about Shelley and her books.

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December 3, 2015

Carry Me Home {Dorothy Adamek}

Carry Me Home {Dorothy Adamek}
Finella Mayfield hates two things: liars and thieves. And she’s determined to marry a man who’s neither. Chasing her dead father’s dreams, the twenty-year-old English bride arrives in Australia in 1875 for an arranged marriage. Anticipating her future as village preacher’s wife, she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal. 

But instead of her fiancé, Finella is met by Shadrach Jones, a poor farmer sent to collect her from the busy Melbourne pier. This is not what her father planned. And it’s only the beginning of the unraveling of Finella Mayfield ~ the bride with no groom. 

All Shadrach Jones longs for is rows of mustard and chicory. He’s busy growing a farm near the Phillip Island fishing village of Cowes, and caring for Molly, his simple sister. Far from the brutal life they remember with their ex-convict father, Shadrach’s building something new. 

But he’s also made a promise to a dying friend. To collect and marry the English girl destined to never be a preacher’s wife. Can Shadrach convince Finella she has a future with a farmer? Can he convince himself, knowing his family secrets will haunt their future? 

Carry Me Home ~ Book 1 in the Blue Wren Shallows series. An Australian historical romance set in the pioneering era of the 1870s, on Victoria’s majestic Phillip Island.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel from Dorothy Adamek left me with all kinds of emotions. I laughed, smiled, cried and worried – all with some amazing characters that I had the privilege of meeting through this book.

When we first meet Finella, I have to admit I was not her biggest fan. Headed with her father to Cowes to marry her intended, she seems very high-class and a little snooty to me. But once she arrives to her new home and discovers her groom has passed away, she becomes someone that I fall in love with. Determined to figure out her new life, I see that she becomes a strong and independent woman – something that is not typical of women in the late 1800s. Throughout this story, we get to see Finella completely change as a person and I absolutely love the character we are left with at the end of this story.

Shadrach is one honorable man and my heart went out to him the minute we met him. He is a dear friend to the preacher and makes a promise knowing it is going to be difficult to keep. But he is a man who keeps his promises and he spends this entire book trying to fulfill that commitment. He is also a man who will do anything and everything to care for his sister, Molly. Molly is a child stuck in a teenager’s body and it is obvious that Shadrach is in over his head trying to care for her. But Shadrach is determined and that is a quality that I completely love about him.

As this story goes on, we see Finella and Shadrach form a relationship that will win your heart. But you also know it’s too good to be true. Sure enough, trials and obstacles suddenly hit them from every angle and I found myself crying with these characters as their hearts broke so completely.

As this book comes to a sweet end, Adamek sets these characters up for a highly anticipated book two in this series. I totally and completely loved this book and I cannot wait to see what the next installment has in store for these characters and this community.

Australian author, Dorothy Adamek, writes Displacement Fiction ~ the stories of people upended by tragedy and trauma, and their struggle to belong in their new world. Couched in romance, her fiction is set in the late Victorian era. She is the author of Carry Me Home, the first book in the Blue Wren Shallows trilogy, and resides with her family in the world’s most liveable city, Melbourne.

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December 2, 2015

Wee Read Wednesday: My Christmas Stocking

Wee Read Wednesday: My Christmas Stocking
What happens on Christmas Eve while children sleep? "Their stockings are filled up with candy and toys, and happy surprises for good girls and boys." A kindhearted man hid a gift in a stocking, long ago. He did it to "remind everyone of the Gift that God sent." Christmas stockings help us remember God's love.

My Thoughts:
So where did Christmas stockings get started? I have no idea, but this is such a fun story for your little ones to tell about their Christmas stocking.

Stockings are one of my favorite parts of Christmas morning. We always put fun things like fingernail polish, bath soaps, fun socks and such into the stockings. Our kids also love to pick up little goodies and slip them into our stockings when they think we are not looking. But I’ve never actually considered where the stocking tradition may have started.

In this sweet little book, the stocking tradition is attributed back to Saint Nicholas. It tells that he wanted to do something nice for people to remind them that God loves them. Sometimes he would leave presents out in the open. But other times he would hid them deep into their socks!

With easy to read rhyming sentences, this story is a lot of fun for kids to read and to listen. The illustrations are very simple and eye-catching, and something that my kids really enjoy. I also love the stocking shape of this sturdy board book.

This would make a great pre-Christmas gift for the young child in your life.

About the Author
Crystal Bowman loves writing books for kids. Her books come in all shapes and sizes and many of them have become best sellers. Whether her stories are written in playful rhythm and rhyme, or short sentences for beginning readers, she tries to make them so enjoyable that kids will want to read them over and over again. "But the most important part," she says, "is to teach children that God loves them and cares about them very much."

About the Illustrator
You can find Claudine diving the oceans with Technicolor fish, camel riding in the Sahara, trekking in a jungle populated with wild monkeys, or exploring the African savanna in search of huge elephants. Although adventurous, she sometimes gets scared when coming upon a giant spider or other scary beasts. At that time she heads back to the comfort of her studio, where she draws all the wonderful things she saw and dreams of her next visit to faraway lands.

November 23, 2015

Rising Darkness {Nancy Mehl}

Rising Darkness {Nancy Mehl}
Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. After a rough childhood, her teenage poor choices harmed others, leaving her with no choice but to change her life. Her entry-level writing job at a newspaper puts her in the right place at the right time to overhear office gossip about a prisoner who has information on a decades-old unsolved crime. While the other reporters write off the tip as the ravings of an angry criminal, Sophie can't ignore it because she knows the name of this prisoner from her old life. 

Upon learning from the man that one of the other suspects is hiding out in the Missouri town of Sanctuary, she takes on a false identity to investigate and meets the young pastor of a local church--the very man she'd loved as a troubled teenager. As she gets closer to finding the suspect, will the truth of her own past come out before she discovers the identity of the criminal--or the very person she's seeking puts a fatal stop to her investigation?

My Thoughts:
For some reason the Mennonite community always fascinates me, so I knew this book had potential to be a great story. Although it is not set in a full fledged Mennonite community, there was still enough of the lifestyle and traditions to make it a great read.

We get to meet Sophie, who has suddenly become Emily so she can visit the community of Sanctuary under the pretense of finding more about her birth mother. Truth is she is on the hunt for a long-lost criminal. The only thing she has on her mind is finding the criminal and making a name for herself – and it does not matter who goes down in the process.

Until Sophie arrives in Sanctuary and all things change. Although Sophie was raised in a strict Mennonite community, she soon discovers that Sanctuary is different – in a very good way. The people she meets are friendly and helpful, outgoing and full of Christ. They go out of their way to make her time in Sanctuary a positive experience, and everyone seems on board to help her find her birth mother’s information. It is not until she runs into the one love she could never let go of that her story begins to fall apart.

Sophie’s relationship with Jonathan is full of so much love – but Sophie must deal with the hurt she has in her life that she believes was cause because God ignored her. As this story twists and turns, the plot becomes very intense. The hunt for an old criminal leaves the entire town in danger, and Sophie must make a decision between her career and the new community she has fallen in love with.

In addition to the suspense of finding out who is behind the threats and the destruction, Sophie also begins to see that God really is on her side. God never left her, and God only wants what is best for her. As she discovers his true love and support, we get to see Sophie become such a different person. I love the character she becomes, and really hope we get to see more of her in future books.

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

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November 19, 2015

Deadlock {DiAnn Mills}

Deadlock {DiAnn Mills}
Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?

That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.

When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.

My Thoughts:
This book started pretty slow for me. I had a hard time keeping up with the characters and trying to keep straight exactly what was going on. But once it got going, it was impossible to put it down. This is one intense story.

Bethany is the newest member of the FBI violent crimes division. She is partnered with Thatcher Graves. Thatcher is unaware exactly who Bethany is, but Bethany is well aware in their history and how it could strain their partnership. Bethany has a horrible background with her family, and basically has no one in her life. She relies on her faith in God, but at times questions if God is really someone who would let all the violence that she sees continue to happen. She is down-to-earth, and intends to work her cases by the book – no emotions involved. Although she has moments of question about God and His intentions, she found herself relying on her faith as tragedy came to her life.

Thatcher has a reputation of the typical bachelor in the FBI, but he has a secret he has yet to share with anyone – he has recently accepted God into his heart and he’s learning the ropes of the Christian life. As soon as he figures out who Bethany has ties to he is concerned about their ability to work together. He gets so frustrated with Bethany’s investigation tactics, but he soon realizes that his heart has a mind of its own and he is in trouble. Thatcher comes from a home where religion is considered a bad thing and anyone willing to believe in God must be crazy. But my favorite part of this story is when he tells his mom that he has accepted God and that his life is on track.

Thatcher and Bethany quickly form a relationship that walks a very fine line between FBI partners and something more than friendly. Watching the two of them get to know each other and learn to rely on each other made for a great side story to this very intense story line. As they work to track down a serial killer, their instincts quickly take over and we see them protecting each other to the very end.

I enjoyed this book so much. Although it is the third in a series, it is easily a stand-alone (I haven’t read the first two), and worth a place on your reading list.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. 

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at 

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November 16, 2015

An Endless Christmas {Cynthia Ruchti}

An Endless Christmas Cynthia Ruchti book review
Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined. Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.

My Thoughts:
This is such an inspiring story with a lesson that every person can learn from. It was one of those books that once you get into it, you can’t put it down.

The Binder family is truly one-of-a-kind. They love each other like there is no one else on earth. They support each other to the end. They treat each other as if it is their last day on earth. They have so much Jesus in them there entire way of life is transformed. They are loving and accepting, forgiving and welcoming. They are almost too good to be true, but the Binder family has learned from their past and show how a family should really be.

To an outsider like Katie, the Binder family is just plain odd. But the more time she spends with them, the more she realizes that this family has something she would dearly love to have. Except she already said “no” to it. She fully expects this family to treat her harshly after saying no to Micah’s proposal, but the love and acceptance she receives leaves her confused – and eventually completely loved.

As Katie and Micah spend their Christmas stuck in a tiny house with the entire Binder family for Christmas their lives are changed in several ways. They get to witness the true meaning of “no regrets” through a near-tragedy in the family. They see what unconditional love looks like, and experience the support of an entire family. They realize that their future is something to look forward to, and Katie knows she wants to be a part of something this special.

This story touched me on so many levels, and made me really think about the way I live my life and how I treat the other people that are in my life. This is a must-read for your Christmas reading list.

Taking multi-tasking to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), Cynthia Ruchti is the award-winning author of recent releases "All My Belongings" (novel), "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (novel), and "Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices" (nonfiction). She makes potato corn chowder for her husband of 42 years, loves on her three kids and five grandchildren, recently retired from 33 years of writing and producing a daily radio broadcast called THE HEARTBEAT OF THE HOME, is past president of the 2,700-member American Christian Fiction Writers and now serves as ACFW's Professional Relations Liaison, all while working on more book projects in addition to the eight already on the shelves. The year 2010 saw the release of her debut novel--"They Almost Always Come Home" by Abingdon Press (a Carol Award finalist)--and a Christmas collection novella, "The Heart's Harbor" in A Door County Christmas, a Family Fiction Reader's Choice, by Barbour Publishing. "His Grace is Sufficient...Decaf is Not," released Nov 1, 2011. Another novella collection--"Cedar Creek Seasons" (Barbour) released in spring of 2012. "When the Morning Glory Blooms" (April 2013) was followed by "All My Belongings" (2014, also from Abingdon Press). Her books have recently been honored with two Selah Awards, two Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and awards from CAN Golden Scrolls and AWSA Golden Scrolls. She tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through writing and speaking, but she gave up knitting, counted cross-stitch, sewing her own clothes, naps, and dusting baseboards a long time ago. You can find her at, at, or in the kitchen, brewing herself another cup of tea.

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November 12, 2015

The Five Times I Met Myself {James L. Rubart}

the five times i met myself james rubart review
What if you met your twenty-three year old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go of . . . and his greatest fear is it’s already too late.

My Thoughts:
How many times in your life do you look back and think you could change just one thing? Have you considered that changing that one thing could completely change the course of your entire life? That’s the basis of this book, and the message is powerful.

Brock only wants to change one little thing about his life, and he discovers that he can change things by visiting his younger self using lucid dreams. What he doesn’t realize is that changing one thing eventually changes everything. As soon as he starts making the changes in his past, he constantly changes the present – and he quickly realizes he doesn’t like the results.

Brock’s story teaches so many powerful lessons that we all need in our lives. We see the realization of trying to change the past. We see the sorrow of not being content with the life you have. We see the results of not appreciating those around you. And we learn the lesson of putting our success above our faith and our family.

This book seemed to be all over the place at times, but the story as a whole is very powerful and full of lessons we all need to learn.

James L. Rubart is a 28 year old trapped in an older man's body, who loves to water ski and dirt bike with his two grown sons. He's the bestselling, award winning author of seven novels, including his latest, The Five Times I Met Myself. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.

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November 11, 2015

Wee Read Wednesday: Goodnight, Manger

Wee Read Wednesday: Goodnight, Manger
Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth. It's bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels' joyful hosannas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it's just too loud. Finally, Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd baby Jesus into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars.

With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and Goodnight, Ark, Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the nativity story.

My Thoughts:
Have you ever tried to get your baby to sleep in a crowded environment when all the sounds and movements keep them awake? Can you imagine trying to do that in a stable with all the animals and the visitors that must have come to visit baby Jesus?

This book puts a fun spin on bedtime for Mary and Joseph trying to get their precious baby to sleep. Animals are bumping into things, angels are singing, and the Wiseman are knocking on the door. Of course, baby Jesus finally falls to sleep and everyone is there to see it.

This is a fun book to read with small children. It helps introduce the story of Jesus in the manger, and provides a good bedtime book to help them fall asleep each night. The ‘Goodnight’ series is one that we really enjoy at our house, and this book is a great addition to our collection.

About the Author
Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in rhyme. She writes daily from her century-old home in New Jersey where she lives with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.

About the Illustrator
Jane Chapman is a multi award-winning artist who has illustrated over one hundred books including five New York Times bestsellers. She lives in Southern England with her husband, Tim Warnes, two children and five chickens. Visit Jane Chapman at

November 9, 2015

Another Way Home {Deborah Raney}

another way home deborah raney
Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.
Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.

My Thoughts:
I have been looking forward to this book for a few months, and it was so good. Danae's story was one I was hoping we would get soon and I was thrilled that we got to get into her and Dallas' lives.

Danae and Dallas have been struggling with infertility for years. I struggled with infertility myself for a few years before becoming pregnant with my daughter, so I felt like I can relate with Danae on several levels. The obsession has with getting pregnant, the disappointment in her husband's actions, and the sadness over her sisters' kids all hit very close to home.

Danae finally makes the decision to put the baby-making on the back burner for a while and decides to consume herself with volunteering at the domestic violence shelter. This story gets SO good and the suspense totally wrapped me up in the lives of these characters.

Dallas is such a supportive and protective husband, and I adore the way he dotes on Danae and watches his words to not hurt her feelings. I felt like he is completely torn on the inside, but doing all he can to hold it together for his outside appearance. He worries so much about his wife and their future together.

When Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, this story takes a turn and becomes an amazing suspense love story. I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but I found myself crying with both pain and joy as these characters work through a rough couple of touchy months.

Although this is book three in a five-book series, it can be read as a stand alone. But I do encourage you to pick up the other books as well as get the full story of this fun Whitman family.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. THE FACE OF THE EARTH released in May 2013 from Howard/Simon & Schuster, and SILVER BELLS released from Guideposts in October. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four children and a growing quiver of grandchildren, all of whom live much too far away.

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November 5, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride {Melody Carlson}

christmas joy ride melody carlson revell
Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

My Thoughts:
This whole book just made me smile. I fell in love with Joy the moment we were introduced to her. She is an older lady who is moving to Phoenix to live near her children. What she fails to tell her neighbor, Miranda, is that she has some health issues that are prompting the move. Instead she “guilts” Miranda into joining her on an RV adventure across the country.

Personally, I think a few weeks in a motorhome on the open road sounds amazing, so this story really spoke to me and made me a little jealous of the characters and their freedom to simply move across the country on their own timeline.

Miranda has been through some tough years in her life, but I love how she cares for Joy and treats her like family. It is obvious that the bond between the two ladies is very close and so heart-warming.

As the Christmas Joy Ride gets underway, it becomes very obvious that Joy has a very specific plan in mind. Miranda is simply along for the ride. But we also quickly learn that Joy is very aware of things that could take place along the trip and has made provisions for such events. Her detailed planning and motives are some of the sweetest I’ve seen in so long.

I love these characters. I love this setting. I love this story. And I especially love the perfectly happy ending that we get at the close of this book. This is a must-read for your Christmas season.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. 

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. 

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

November 4, 2015

Wee Read Wednesday: A Very Merry Christmas Prayer

Wee Read Wednesday: A Very Merry Christmas Prayer
This month I have a sweet Christmas book for your little one! In A Very Merry Christmas Prayer we get to follow the critters of the woods as they roam around their lives thanking God for every aspect of the Christmas season. From lights to beds, to songs and snow, the woodland animals are thankful for the life they have around them. They are also thankful to God for sending Jesus to be born - the whole reason we have Christmas in the first place.
The book is a sturdy board book with fun illustrations that will catch the attention of your kids. It also has a fun Christmas tree cutout shape to the book, making it fun for the kids to hold.
Both my kids have enjoyed this book and Ting loves that she can read it to her little brother. It's a winner at our house.
So scroll on down and get entered to win your own copy from my friends at Tommy Nelson. Good luck!
About the book:
Enjoy the wonder of Christmas with a thankful heart.
These little woodland animals are full of joy over so many blessings, from twinkling lights and sparkling snowflakes to family fun and the gift of God’s love. Join the celebration with gratitude and make this your own very merry Christmas prayer!
About the author:
Bonnie Rickner Jensen has been encouraging hearts around the world for over twenty years. Along with her career in greeting cards she's written bestselling and award-winning books for children. Her favorite inspirations are her grandchildren, running, and sunshine. She lives and works from her home in Cleveland, Ohio.

The giveaway: