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.

March 27, 2017

The Memory of You {Catherine West}

the memory of you catherine west
Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

My Thoughts:
This is only my second book by Catherine West, but she is quickly becoming one of those authors I can count on to always deliver a good read. I loved her first book I read (The Things We Knew), and this one was equally wonderful.

Natalie has been suffering from her past her entire life. Feeling responsible for the death of her sister, Natalie has always done exactly what her parents tell her to do and has lived her life trying to hide the struggles going on in her head each day.  When her parents send her away to her grandpa's vineyard, I felt pretty sure it was going to end very badly for Natalie.

As soon as Natalie arrives, she runs into Tanner, the boy she crushed hard on as a young girl. Tanner is initially very rude and condescending to Natalie, but we eventually see a side of Tanner it is easy to fall in love with. Tanner is also struggling with trauma in his family, and he finds it difficult to fully trust Natalie to not pull his job out from under him.

As Natalie and Tanner both begin to share with each other the struggles they are going through they grow closer, and Natalie begins to once again find herself with a crush on Tanner. But so many obstacles, and so many people stand in their way.

This book is beautifully written. It has heartache and healing, fleeing and returning home, hurting and falling in love. I found myself invested in these characters and their stories and hoped beyond hope for a happy ending for them all. This is one book you must read this year.

Christian Book  |  Family Christian  |  Amazon
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March 20, 2017

If I'm Found {Terri Blackstock}

if i'm found terri blackstock
Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

My Thoughts:
If this series does not end up on the big screen, I am going to be so disappointed!

This book picks up right where IF I RUN left off and the suspense continues to build with each chapter in this series. After Dylan lets Casey escape, she heads half way across the country and re-groups her identity and her story. She then heads to Houston. It is Houston where Casey comes so close to getting captured - and her death.

As Dylan tries to find a way to protect Casey while still capturing her, he also digs further into the corruption happening in the Shreveport police department. As he struggles between protecting Casey and fulfilling his obligation to bring her in, Dylan finds himself in almost as much danger as Casey herself.

Casey once again finds herself risking everything to help a family in need, while also doing her own investigative work on her case. She comes dangerously close to being caught but somehow ends up right back in the company of Dylan. But does Dylan turn her in or let her go??

This is one of those books that I simply could not put down. I picked it up after putting the kids to bed one night and read every single page. I had to know if Casey would be captured. Would Dylan expose the Shreveport police? What would happen to the family in danger?

If you are going to read this book, you need to read IF I RUN first. Without reading the first book, you will be completely lost in this one. This one also ends on another cliffhanger, so I am on the edge of my seat waiting for book three!

Christian Book  |  Family Christian  |  Amazon
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March 16, 2017

Her Secret {Shelley Shepard Gray}

her secret shelley shepard gray
After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

My Thoughts:
I have immediately fallen in love with this new series from my favorite Amish author. As soon as we began meeting the members of the Hilty family, I knew I was hooked.

Hannah and her family have moved to Hart County to run from the stalker terrorizing Hannah's life. Or have they? Hannah feels completely responsible for her family's misery, and my heart went out to her. She is terrified to go outside and finds herself trapped in her house with a family who acts like they don't like her at all.

Hannah finally finds a friend in Isaac Troyer, and this story really took off for me. I loved watching Hannah and Isaac become friends and the way he included her in all the activities of Hart County. As Hannah's secret begins to be revealed to her new friends, her family's secrets soon become known to Hannas as well. Hannah realizes things may not have been exactly as she believes and her entire world changes.

I found this book very entertaining and a great start to this new series. I am looking forward to the remainder of this series and encourage you to pick it up as well if you enjoy Amish Fiction.

Christian Book  |  Family Christian  |  Amazon
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March 13, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison {Carolyn Miller}

the elusive miss ellison carolyn miller
Hampton Hall's new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter--all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend's daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously, or even darken the door of the church, leave her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother--his brother who stole the most important person in Lavinia's world.

Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother's, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn't supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison's fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible--he begins to care. But Lavinia's aloof manner, society's opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating, until scandal forces them to get along. 

Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future? And what will happen when Lavinia learns a family secret that alters everything she's ever known? 

My Thoughts:
I must be honest, I could not get into this book. The premise of the story seems very enticing and I wanted to like it so much. 

I had a difficult time feeling anything but frustration with these characters through most of this book and could not get past my frustration with them to enjoy the story they were a part of. The writing was difficult for me to follow and just could not capture my attention.

Again, I wanted so badly to love this book. It sounds amazing, but I simply could not find enough interest in the story to get any enjoyment out of it.

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The Elusive Miss Ellison Carolyn Miller

March 6, 2017

Zip It: The Keep It Shut 40-Day Challenge {Karen Ehman}

zip it karen ehman
Zip It empowers readers to put into action the advice and commands of Scripture concerning the tongue. The New York Times bestselling book Keep It Shut covered many topics, including anger, truth-telling, people-pleasing, our digital tongues online, and gossip. Because there are more than 3,500 verses in the Bible that relate to our words and our silence, Keep It Shut only scratched the surface of these issues. Karen Ehman now takes a deeper look and offers practical how-to’s that will inspire you to use your words to build, to bless, to encourage, and to praise. 

Each of the forty interactive entries includes a Scripture verse focus for the day, a story or teaching point, and reflection questions with space for readers to write their answers and thoughts. Each entry ends with both a challenge that will help you carry out the directive in the verse and a prayer prompt. Rather than a traditional devotional, the entries in Zip It build upon each other, equipping you with new habits in how to, or not to, use words.

My Thoughts:
Let's be honest - there is not a single person out there who can say they don't occasionally have trouble keeping their mouth shut sometimes. I'll be the first to admit the things that come out of my mouth sometimes come before my brain works them over. And they are not always the most Christian thing I could say.

The Zip It challenge takes a good look at how our words can affect our lives and the lives of those around us. It points out how our words can make someone's day, or completely tear them down. Our words can show others the love of Jesus or can ruin our testimony to his love and kindness. Our words are so powerful.

I enjoyed this book and think it would be a great resource to use for a women's group study. It would be fun to go through these exercises with friends and other women in the church group or a circle of friends. Although I read this book pretty quickly to do my review, I am looking forward to taking the time to spread it out over 40 days and really process each of the passages and the daily thoughts.

I recommend this book for women of all ages and think it would be a great resource for churches as well. 

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