Friday, February 28, 2014

True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism by Tom Gilson & Carson Weitnauer, General Editors

True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism

About the book:

With clarity of thought and precise logic, more than a dozen contemporary Christian apologists have come together to unmask the self-aggrandizing claims of the New Atheists, including Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. In sixteen, carefully constructed essays, these Christian thinkers demonstrate that "reason is the New Atheists' weakness, not their strength." They show that "Christianity is on the whole much more reasonable than atheism," and that "Christian faith as a whole supports sound reason, and Christians have applied it well." With coherence and competence these writers address the fallacies of "the party of Reason," and offer an introduction to the true reason of Christianity by making their case equally accessible to both the casual enquirer and the serious student.

My review: 

This is a fascinating book I think everyone should read!  It's so important that we know our faith is not blind and instead is rational and reasonable.  I had heard of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, but had never actually read anything they'd written.  The book starts out by clarifying what reason actually means, then looks at some of Dawkins' main points, followed by a look at history, science, the problem of evil, and slavery, to name a few topics.  The authors use plenty of quotes and examples from these atheists' works to show what they believe and the fallacies in their arguments.  Each chapter has notes that explain further or give a reference so you can research a  topic more on your own.  If you like philosophy or theology or just want a reasonable view on faith in God, you should definitely check it out!

I received a free pdf copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quilts of Love KINDLE FIRE HDX Giveaway | Review of Barbara Cameron’s SCRAPS OF EVIDENCE

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the book: Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he's been trying to get to know her better and he'd like to be seeing her during those couple nights a week she spends with her quilting guild.

Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the hospital and she acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan seems to be communicating a message to them about Tess's uncle. There's a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?

My review: I found parts of this story enjoyable, but found something lacking in the criminal aspect to it.  I loved the characters, the romantic relationship, and the setting.  St. Augustine sounds like a wonderful historic town in Florida that I would love to visit.  However, there wasn't much to the suspenseful side of the story.  We don't get a whole lot of information about the serial killer's crimes and it's pretty obvious right from the outset who it is.  In fact, it was so obvious I thought he was a red herring, but no.  Then there isn't really any wrap-up.  We don't get a reason or explanation for the crimes.  I did like the story overall and am glad I read it.  Just be aware there isn't much to the suspense.

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

More reviews here!

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: Barbara Cameron is the CBD, CBA, and  ECPA bestselling author of 24 books including the new Stitches in Times series for Abingdon Press. Barbara has written fiction and non-fiction books for Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, Harlequin, and other publishers. She sold three films to HBO/Cinemax and is the first winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara's first two novellas won the 2nd and 3rd place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest from the Faith, Love, and Hope chapter of  RWA. Both were finalists for the novella category of the Carol Award of the American Christian Writers Award (ACFW). 

Learn more about Barbara at:

Barbara Cameron's Scraps of Evidence is the newest book in the Quilts of Love line, and Barbara is celebrating with an "intriguing" Kindle HDX giveaway!
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • Tempest's Course by Lynette Sowell
  • Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 8th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog on March 10th.

Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tomorrow! $200 Visa Cash Card Giveaway & “Amish Roads” Facebook Party with Barbara Cameron & Review

A Road Unknown

About the book:

Book 1 in the new Amish Roads series
Elizabeth is at a crossroad. She’s been given the chance to experience life outside of her community, away from the responsibility to care for her eight younger siblings, but Elizabeth Bontrager can’t decide which road to take. Goshen has its charms and pressures, but Paradise, Pennsylvania, sounds . . . well, like paradise. And it’s also home to her Englisch friend, Paula. Decision made. Elizabeth is Paradise bound.
But will the small town live up to its name? When Elizabeth meets Paula’s friend, Bruce, she quickly learns he wants more than a friendship. And the same might be true of Saul Miller, her new boss at the country story that sells Amish products to the Englisch community. As the two compete for her attention, Elizabeth is surprised to realize she misses her family and becomes even more uncertain about where she belongs. She has a choice to make: return home or embrace this new life and possibly a new love?

My review: I really enjoyed this story about an Amish girl trying to figure out her place in the world.  I liked the characters and their relationships with each other.  I loved getting the guy's and girl's perspectives and what they're thinking.  Sometimes it felt like Elizabeth didn't think things through that well and I thought the relationship progressed too quickly.  It was fun to see some of the characters in Cameron's previous books pop up. I really liked the message about God having a plan and that He will take care of us since He takes care of the sparrows and we are so much more important to Him.  If you like Amish or romance, you should check it out!

I received a copy of this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

More reviews here!

Purchase a copy here.

Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the "Everything Weddings on a Budget Book" and "Her Restless Heart: A Woman’s Longing for Love and Acceptance." Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.
Find out more at Barbara’s website.

Barbara Cameron is celebrating the release of A Road Unknown with a $200 Visa cash card giveaway and a fun "Amish Roads" Facebook party.
One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card
  • A Road Unknown by Barbara Cameron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 27th. Winner will be announced at Barbara's "Amish Roads" Facebook Party on February 27th. Connect with Barbara for an evening of book chat, Amish trivia, laughter, prizes, and more!

So grab your copy of A Road Unknown and join Barbara and friends on the evening of February 27th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The A-Z of C.S. Lewis: An encyclopedia of his life, thought and writings by Colin Duriez

                                                             About the book: 

A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.
C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man-written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"-to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.

My review: This is a fascinating book that combines such a wide range of topics related to Lewis, from characters he wrote to places he visited to ideas he held.  I especially like the asterisks that mark words in a description and that you can then look up those words if you want to find out more about that topic.  I enjoy cross-references; they can lead you down many an interesting bunny trail!  Most topics are about a paragraph, but some are quite a bit longer, such as the section on Tolkien, which is about four pages.  He also lists other books for further reading on Tolkien, which he does for some other topics.  There's a handy list of Lewis's writings in the back, along with a select list of books about Lewis.  I highly recommend this book if you're fascinated by Lewis as I am or just want to learn more about him!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

More reviews here!

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: 

Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge).

SMITTEN BOOK CLUB by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt

Smitten Book Club

About the book: 

The century-old Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!
The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.
Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends’ romantic exploits.
When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.
What’s more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold—exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?
In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman’s Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

My review: I really enjoyed this collection that takes us back to Smitten, Vermont.  I liked one story a lot and the other three pretty well.  The romance was cute in all the stories.  This is more of a light-hearted book, but it still dealt with Christian themes of forgiveness and not judging others.  The quotes from the Gentlewoman's Guide were interesting and amusing and I liked the way it linked the stories together.  I would love to visit this cozy town and meet the wonderful townspeople.  I really hope they write more of these, even though Diann Hunt is no longer with us.  If you like romance, you should check it out!

I received a free kindle copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase a copy here.

More reviews here!

About the Authors

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind — usually a dog — always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit, where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.
Denise Hunter writes women’s fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.
Diann Hunt was a writer of romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She lost her courageous battle with cancer in last fall. A Hallmark Channel adaptation of her novel For Better or For Worse will air fall 2014.

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Only $1.99 for kindle!  I loved this book!

Friday, February 21, 2014

John Faubion’s FRIEND ME Kindle HDX Giveaway & Review!

About the book: When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind their virtual creations, threatening their marriage---and their lives.
Scott and Rachel's marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there's a much larger problem looming . . .
Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant---and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all---Scott, his family, and Rachel's life.
As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it's a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it's too late.
In today's digital age, the Internet presents all kinds of opportunities to test our personal boundaries, and this exciting and suspenseful story raises important questions about the ethics of virtual relationships. Friend Me will open your eyes to a new---and terrifying---moral dimensions and how they play out in the real world.

My review: This is an interesting and timely story that really makes you think about our interactions with technology.  How far is too far?  What is infidelity? I was surprised how easily this Christian couple turned to fake online friends rather than to each other.  It especially bothered me how Scott kept justifying to himself that he wasn't cheating since it wasn't a real woman, though it shows how we as humans can justify an awful lot so we won't have to change our ways.  I also thought Rachel trying to recreate a dead friend was creepy, though I could understand where she was coming from.  The relationship deterioration in real life was shown well as the online relationships progressed.  The couple's relationship seemed realistic, with misunderstandings and anger escalating so easily instead of them putting their spouse first.  I wished for suspense throughout more of the book; it mostly felt like it was at the beginning and the end.  I liked the glimpses we got into Melissa's mind.  I sympathized with Melissa and Rachel, but had a harder time with Scott.  If you like unique stories that will challenge you, check it out!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Read an excerpt and purchase a copy: 

WelcomeAbout the author: John Faubion has spent many years in Asia as a missionary with his family. Since returning to the United States, John has worked as a senior software developer for a large appliance chain. He teaches an adult Sunday school class and enjoys writing and driving his 1949 Packard automobile. John lives near Indianapolis with his wife, Beth, and their daughter.

Learn more about John at:

John Faubion is celebrating his debut novel, Friend Me, with a Kindle HDX giveaway!

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Friend Me by John Faubion
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 22nd. Winner will be announced February 24th on John Faubion's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by John's blog on the 24th to see if you won.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Match Made in Texas - A Novella Collection - by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, & Carol Cox

Cover Art

About the book: 

There's a secret matchmaker at work in frontier Texas!
In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can't keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she's also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?
A Cowboy Unmatched
Neill isn't sure who hired him to repair Clara's roof--he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?

An Unforeseen Match
Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace's doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though--and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on.

No Match for Love
Andrew can't fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?

Meeting Her Match
When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker's son how much she cares for him?

My review:

I did not want to put this book down!  These are four wonderfully amusing novellas!  I thoroughly enjoyed each story and loved the characters in every one.  I loved that someone was secretly matchmaking and that the tables got turned on her.  All of the stories are light-hearted romance, but there are still Christian themes, such as the need to forgive.  I loved that Karen's story tells the tale of another Archer brother.  The romance in each was very sweet and I loved that some of the characters aren't the perfect, beautiful people found in so many love stories.   I couldn't help reading this with a smile on my face!  These are some of the best-known women in historical romance and this collection did not disappoint!  Run out and buy it today!

I received this book  free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

 The Authors

  1. Karen Witemeyer
    Photo courtesy of Amber Gilbert

    Karen Witemeyer

    Two-time RITA finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance because she believes that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer,...
    Continue reading about Karen Witemeyer
  2. Mary Connealy
    Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

    Mary Connealy

    Mary Connealy is an award-winning, bestselling author known for her fun and lively historical romances. An author, teacher, and journalist, Mary lives on an eastern Nebraska ranch with her cowboy husband and has four daughters and two grandchildren. Learn more...
    Continue reading about Mary Connealy
  3. Regina Jennings
    Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

    Regina Jennings

    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...
    Continue reading about Regina Jennings
  4. Carol Cox
    Photo courtesy of A Portrait Park by J

    Carol Cox

    Native Arizonan Carol Cox has an abiding love for history, mystery, and romance. The author of more than 25 books, she believes in the power of story to convey spiritual truths. Carol lives with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona, where deer and...
    Continue reading about Carol Cox 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review of HOPEFUL - Return to Sugarcreek 1 - by Shelley Shepard Gray | Win a copy!

About the book: Return to Sugarcreek, Book One

In the Amish town of Sugarcreek, love comes in many forms. But will it come at all for Miriam?

Miriam Zehr has worked at the Sugarcreek Inn longer than she cares to admit. The restaurant is a favorite of town residents as well as the many tourists who come to taste the famous Amish fare. Though she always tries to have a smile for every customer, deep down Miriam knows something's missing: a family of her own.
Miriam has never felt particularly beautiful, especially because she's always been a bit heavier than other girls her age. When Junior, the man she's pined for all her life, suddenly seeks her out, she's thrilled to be noticed . . . until she realizes he's only asking her to help get the attention of Mary Kathryn Hershberger, her pretty friend.
If Miriam helps Junior court Mary Kathryn, she'll get to spend a lot of time with him, but she might lose him in the process. Are these few stolen moments worth a lifetime of sacrifice? Is Miriam right to even hope for the life she dreams of?

My review: I really enjoyed this story because I really liked the characters and the plot.  I could relate to Miriam and really felt for her when she realized Junior didn't like her romantically.  Even though Junior was a bit dense sometimes, he really was a good guy and I loved the way he watched out for his siblings.  We get to know what each of the characters are thinking and I loved seeing their relationship progress.  There were some interesting sub-plots about Mary Kathryn and another character who suffered a miscarriage that both brought in more serious issues, but the romance was very sweet.  This is my first introduction to Sugarcreek and it's a cozy town I'd like to visit again!  If you like Amish or romance stories, you should check it out!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase a copy:

About the Author: Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Learn more about Shelley at:

Welcome to the blog tour for Hopeful, the first book in Shelley Shepard Gray's new series, Return to Sugarcreek. Critics have already given their thumbs up for Hopeful: “Lovable characters and a good story, full of romance and suspense . . . a must read." (Library Journal)

Enter to win one of FIVE copies of the book. 
Five winners will receive:
  • Hopeful by Shelley Shepard Gray
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 23rd. All winners will be announced February 24th at Shelley's blog.

Enter today and be sure to visit Shelley's blog on the 24th to see if YOU won one of the books!

Monday, February 17, 2014

William Sirls’ THE SINNERS’ GARDEN iPad Mini Giveaway & Review!

About the book: In the small Lake Erie township of Benning, someone is at work cultivating a supernatural garden . . .

Andy Kemp's young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.

As Andy's mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy's pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.

Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.
As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive "Summer Santa," Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.

Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.

My review: I really enjoyed this unique story!  I liked the characters a lot, especially Rip.  He was funny and I loved how he was trying to make a difference in his nephew's life.  There was a lot of wisdom and Biblical truth in this book that not only the different characters needed to hear, but that we all need to hear, such as God never leaves us and that we should be thankful for what we have.  I thought I had everything figured out in the story, but there was a twist, which was a nice surprise.  This reminded me a little of the Shack, which I really liked.  If you're looking for an interesting story a little out of the ordinary, then check it out!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

More reviews here!

Purchase a copy:

Meet the author: Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows---some born of chance, some born of choice. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners' Garden is his second novel. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. William makes his home in southern Michigan.

Learn more about William at:

Meet William Sirls: Once a senior vice president in a large investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners’ Garden is his second novel. William is celebrating the book's release with an iPad giveaway.

  One winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 1st. Winner will be announced March 3rd on William Sirls' blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by William’s blog on the 3rd to see if you won.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Love's Sweet Beginning - Sisters at Heart 3 - by Ann Shorey

Cover Art

About the book: 

What will it take for a once-privileged young woman to make her way in the world?
It isn't Cassie Haddon's fault that she has reached the age of twenty-five without possessing any useful skills. Until the War Between the States, she always had servants. Since then, she and her mother have been forced to rely on family to care for them. But now the well of human kindness has run dry--and Cassie must find work to support them.

Unfortunately, leaving the past behind is easier said than done, and Cassie must summon all of her courage and wits to convince local restaurateur and grocer Jacob West that she's exactly what his business needs.

With her signature sweet romance, Ann Shorey weaves a tale of two people from different backgrounds finding common ground and the hope of a bright future together.

My review:

This was an interesting story about a girl determined to try, no matter the obstacles or a difficult mother.  I admired her attitude toward her mother, that she was determined to honor her no matter how her mother acted toward her or her attitude toward others.  I also liked that she was willing to learn cooking and baking even though she had no idea what to do instead of trying to find a rich husband or someone else to take care of them.  I was very frustrated with her mom's attitude and with another character who was determined to marry Cassie.  I thought the story lagged toward the middle and end; it just didn't seem to have enough happening and one of the bigger issues seemed to get resolved too easily.  This works well as a stand-alone, even though I read about these characters when I read book two and I liked seeing the difference in Cassie in this book.  If you like historical romance, you might want to check it out.

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

It Had To Be You - a Christiansen Family Novel 2 - by Susan May Warren is a wonderful story about Eden Christiansen, obituary writer who really wants to be a reporter and sister to up-and-coming hockey player, Owen.  She tries to take care of him, yet worries that she'll fail.  She also feels like life is passing her by.  She clashes with Jace Jacobsen, the team captain who she worries her brother is trying to emulate, on and off the rink.  Not only does he get into fights on the court, but has a reputation with the ladies.  As she gets to know him, however, she realizes she may have judged him too quickly.  Jace feels like the only thing going for him is hockey.  After too many concussions, he faces serious repercussions if he gets hurt again, but he doesn't know what else he could do.  When Owen is hurt, will they work together to help him?  Will Eden open his eyes to new possibilities?

I absolutely love this book!  It's well-written and I did not want to put it down!  I love the Christiansen family and that we get to know each of the siblings in this series.  Each book works as a stand-alone, but you won't want to miss either of them.  I really like the sub-plot about Jace's friend, Sam and his daughter, Maddy, as she has serious health problems and he struggles to understand how God can allow her suffering.  There's also a great bonus of a novella included in the back that tells the story of the Christiansen parents!  The characters are wonderful and they just leap off the page. I like that they're not perfect; they struggle with their faith and figuring out what they want out of life.  I love the romance! Can he really trust a "reporter" and can she trust a famous hockey player known for his way with the ladies?  You'll have to read this to find out and I highly recommend you do!

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Author Q & A
Susan May Warren
It Had to
Be You
This is the second installment in a
new six book series. Can you give us a bit of
background on this series?
The Christiansen
Family series is a spin
-off of the bestselling Deep Haven
collection, stories about the townspeople of Deep Haven, Minnesota, a
tiny resort town on the north shore of Lake Superior. The original series
started with a book titled  Happily Ever After and grew to include six titles.
However, one family began to stand out, and we decided their story
needed to be told. We wanted a series about a family with adult children
learning what it meant to carry on the legacy of faith into their lives. And I
wanted to write a series that would really let readers dig into the family,
feel like they were a part of their journey.
This Christiansen Family series is set in Deep Haven, Minnesota. Tell us about this
It’s a gorgeous place to set a story
on the rocky shores of Lake Superior,
in a tiny town where everyone knows your name. It’s
a town with rich heritage, strong ties, and a place where people want to escape
in fiction and in real life (as it is modeled after my town of Grand Marais,
Minnesota). You’ll find people from all walks of life here and most
importantly, Evergreen Resort, run by the Christiansen family for four
What is your hope for this series?

Of course, I hope people fall as much in love with the
Christiansens as I have. They’re a great bunch
all led by John and Ingrid Christiansen,
who have tried to in still their values into their children. But each child has their
own path to walk, and part of the series is just watching as they walk that
paththrough the good and the bad, trying to figure out where their faith
and their parents’ legacy fit into their lives. It’s a contemporary epic family 
series set in the wilds of northern Minnesota with romance, suspense,and lots of great family drama

4. What was your inspiration for this particular book and the main character Eden Christiansen
Eden Christiansen came from a number of places. Watching the siblings of movie stars 
and athletes, watching my own daughter cheer her athlete brothers, 
even watching my friends, parents who feel on the side lines of their children’s lives
maybe even a little left behind as they leave for college. I began to wonder 
what if you had an amazing sibling, and your entire family focused on his or 
her successes, and you felt left behind, void of your own amazingness? This is Eden
who feels like she hasn’t accomplished anything and is sitting on the sidelines of her life. 
She feels like she needs to “get into the game” but doesn’t know how or where to start. 
And she feels like she really has nothing spectacular to offerBut God has different plans.

I wanted Jace to have the opposite problem from Edenhe is only good
at one thing. In fact, he’s spectacular at it, but he believes if he walks away
from it, he will be nothing. So same problem, different perspective. It
gave me a good opportunity as an author to examine our “worth.”
Of course, adding the John Doe element only rounded that theme out with
yet another perspective. I loved how these three angles came together.

5.Did you base the character of Jace Jacobsen on anyone in particular?
Jace was loosely modeled after famed Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard, 
who died, in part, due to the many concussions he suffered as a hockey player. 
The problem of concussions with today’s athletes, especially in hockey and footballcan be life-
threatening for athletes, and although hockey (and football!) is played much differently today, 
it’s still an issue.

What lessons or truths will your readers find in the pages of this novel?
I think we all need to see our worth not in relationship to our external
successes but in how we work out the task God has for us. How we love
one another, how we use our gifts and talents. How we abide with God in
our daily lives. Hopefully readers will begin seeing their worth in a new way.

How do you expect this new series to resonate with your audience?
How do you want your books to make them feel?

I am hoping readers walk away from this bookand this serieswith hope.
The sense that they belong to somethingto God, to family
and the feeling that our lives are not chaotic or out of control, but that
God has unique and amazing journey for each of us, and it’s lived out with
in our relationships.I want them to feel as if they’d found a new set of friends.
Have you received any feedback from your fans on this series? What are they
People fell immediately in love with Darek and his sweet son, Tiger, in
Take a Chance on Me, and I think readers will really enjoy Jace and Eden’s
romance in this story. I’m thankful that people enjoy the work I put into
developing my characteranthe romance, and I have loved diving into
these multilayered stories about people with realistic, everyday struggles.
As a writer, what did you particularly enjoy about crafting this story?
I loved writing about Minnesota in the winter. And I loved the story of John
Doe and uncovering who he might be. (I plotted it like a mystery, so it was
fun to revisit my mystery-plotting techniques). I especially loved the layers of
Jace, the hero, and how, with every turn, he became more intriguing.
What is the best advice or encouragement that you have received?
Try to up your writing game with each book, and just keep writing.
Not every story appeals to every reader, but I try to write a story I would
enjoyand then hopefully my readers will also.
In your writing career, what are you most proud of?
I think I’ve stayed true to who I am and the kind of story I’m
supposed to be writing. I’m very blessed by my reader friends and
their constant encouragement. I am very blessed to spend my days
with the Christiansen family!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Candle Bedtime Bible by Karen Williamson, Illustrated by Christine Tappin

This is a cute storybook with a unique concept.  Each story has a time at the beginning so you know how long it will take to read it.  There are three, five, and ten minute stories. The book starts with creation and ends with Jesus being taken into heaven.  It has colorful artwork and a nice hard cover.  I really like that it has the Scripture references so you can find the story in a regular Bible.

There is a little bit of embellishment in some of the stories, like the story of the Good Samaritan says it was getting dark when the Bible doesn't actually say that, but overall it sticks pretty close to the Bible.  It also adds in how people might have been feeling, which will help children with understanding the story and identifying with it.  I would recommend this if you read aloud to children or for a child who reads chapter books.

I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.