Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CFBA - Dating, Dining, and Desperation by Melody Carlson




This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dating, Dining, and Desperation

B&H Books (March 1, 2014)

by

Melody Carlson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 




Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

ABOUT THE BOOK



Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child -- whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dating, Dining, and Desperation, go HERE.


My Thoughts:

Having previously read Lock, Stock and Over a Barrel, the first book in Melody Carlson's "Dear Daphne" series, I jumped at the chance to read the second book in the series, Dating, Dining, and Desperation. I loved it just as much as the first book in the series. However, I was discouraged early on that Daphne would find someone other than Jake to aid her in fulfilling her inheritance requirements, but I must say as I read the last page and closed the cover I let out a big sigh. Ms. Carlson didn't disappoint me, although the story isn't over and things can change.  Will Daphne and Jake live happily ever after or will someone else appear on the scene to steal Ms. Daphne's heart. Stay tuned as I'm sure Ms. Carlson has more twists and turns going on in Daphne's life and we can only find out what happens when the next book is released. In fact, the next book in the series, Home, Hearth, and Holidays, will come out as an ebook very soon. Followed by the fourth and final book (in ebook format) in which Ms. Carlson promises us a wedding. 

I would highly recommend Dating, Dining, and Deperation, to anyone who loves to read good clean fiction and loves to read purely for enjoyment.

I would like to thank Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B & H Books for my review copy of Dating, Dining, and Desperation. I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,


Monday, February 24, 2014

to Patty, Kandra and Martha

with the help of Random.org
they were selected the winners of a copy of 

Shades of Mercy 



by Anita Lustrea & Caryn Rivadeneira

Smiles & Blessings,

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Butterfly Palace by Colleen Coble - a review

As a huge fan of Colleen Coble, I always jump at the chance to review one of her books. I have to say that when I first began reading Butterfly Palace it seemed to move slower than most novels by Ms. Coble. In fact, I wasn't so sure I was going to like it and almost gave up on it. But, I told myself I couldn't give up because after all it was written by Colleen Coble and it was worth the read. I was so glad I continued reading as once it grabbed me and pulled me into the story I was in for a wonderful suspenseful and somewhat dark ride.

The story begins in Larson, Texas in 1900 when Lily Donaldson and Andy Hawkins are in love and find they have to sneak around in order to spend time together. One fateful night they are together while their fathers are doing business in the livery stable which is connected to Lily's house. When they smell smoke they run out to see that the livery stable is on fire and there is nothing they can do to save the lives of their fathers. Andy leaves that day never to return and without telling Lily goodbye. 

Four years later, after Lily's mother passes away, she finds herself in need of work and journeys to Austin, Texas where she was hired in as a servant at the Butterfly Palace. During her first night, while serving dinner, she sees Andy dining with the guests as if he were of their stature. When he spies Lily he knows he owes her answers so he looks for the chance to take her aside to talk with her. He tells her he goes by Drew Hawkes now and begs her to keep his secret. What he eventually tells her is that he is working undercover as part of the Secret Service.

There are several suspenseful threads woven within Butterfly Palace. There is a serial killer on the loose killing blond servant girls within the city, there is a counterfeit ring that Drew it working on bringing down and there is a conspiracy to assassinate the new Senator Elect and possibly the President of the United States. Ms. Coble does an outstanding job of creating twists and turns and then tying everything up quite nicely. I must admit she had me guessing until the very end.

I have always found that Ms. Coble creates such believable characters that they stay with you long after you finish reading the last page. I will admit that one character grabbed me from the first moment we met on the page, that would be Belle Castle.  I loved seeing this 'somewhat of a brat' grow within the covers of the book. Watching her transformation was like watching a butterfly emerge from a caterpillar's cocoon. Simply beautiful.

I would highly recommend Butterfly Palace to mature readers who love a great suspense novel.

On a 5-Star Scale = 5 Stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers (formerly BookSneeze) for my review copy of Butterfly Palace. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Monday, February 10, 2014

CFBA - Once Upon a Winter's Heart by Melody Carlson




This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Once Upon a Winter's Heart

Center Street (January 7, 2014)


by

Melody Carlson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 







Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.


ABOUT THE BOOK



Emma Burcelli has suffered over a decade of dating disasters. But she concludes that love is officially dead when her grandfather Poppi suddenly passes, leaving her grandmother Nona devastated. To help out, Emma works in the family bookstore, which Nona insists must be decked out in sweetheart d├ęcor as Poppi would have done for Valentine's Day. Although she feels like a V-Day Scrooge, Emma quickly learns to enjoy the task with the help of a handsome family friend, Lane Forester, who shows her that hanging hearts is much more fun when done to the tune of Dean Martin. As Emma and Lane share time and memories of Poppi, she reconsiders the notion that romance is alive.




If you would like to read the first chapter of Once Upon a Winter's Heart, go HERE.




My Thoughts:

When I began reading Once Upon a Winter's Heart I was a bit concerned as the reader isn't introduced to the male lead until page 28. I usually like to make 'his' acquaintance earlier than later, but in this book it worked. Once I met Lane Forester, I was smitten.

The story is centered around Valentine's Day. Emma Burcelli has come home to help her grandmother out after her grandfather passes away.  Her grandfather loved decorating their book store for every holiday and with Valentines Day quickly approaching, Emma tells her grandmother that she will do the decorating. Emma is a scrooge and would rather toss the decorations in the trash, but in walks a friend of her family, Lane Forester who soon has her believing romance can be real. 


I loved this simple little book by Melody Carlson.  It is only 155 pages and I completed reading it in just a few hours.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like a quick clean romance. 


I would like to thank Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Center Street for my copy of Once Upon a Winter's Heart. I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.


On a 5 Star Scale - 4 1/2 Stars!!!!



Smiles & Blessings,




Saturday, February 8, 2014

Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter

Smitten Book Club is a romantic anthology written by best friends Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter.  It is the third book in the "Smitten" series and was just as wonderful to read as the first two books in the series, Smitten, and Secretly Smitten (read my review here.

Colleen Coble started the book out with Love by the Book. This is the story of Heather DeMerritt and Paul Mansfield but all four stories involve Molly Moore who has just lost her husband in a tragic fire. The town of Smitten has come together to show Molly support and the Smitten book club has come together at the Smitten library to go through boxes of donated books to sale to help Molly during her time of need. 

Heather began digging into one box and found a large tome entitled The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship which just happened to be written by the deceased local author, Pearl Chambers. Rumor has it she discovered gold on her property. Rumor or fact?  Her book may have the answers to that question. In fact, Heather believes she has found some clues to it's location. She also knows it has helped her in the love department when it comes to Paul.

The second helping in this delicious book is Shelved Under Romance by Kristin Billerbeck. This is the story of Abby Gray and Wyatt Tanner, Heather has passed Pearl's book on to Abby to see if she can find any clues to the lost treasure of gold. The third helping, A New Chapter was written by the late Diann Hunt. It was the story of Elliana Burton, who goes by Lia, and her childhood friend Joey Oliver. Abby has passed Pearl's book to Lia to see if she can discover any clues. The fourth and last helping, is Happily Ever After by Denise Hunter and it tells the story of Molly Moore and Gage Turner. Molly is now the recipient of Pearl's book and it takes her on an adventure.

All four novellas were written so well that together they read as one voice, as if they had been written by one author. These talented authors worked together to weave a wonderful story of sisterhood, love, hope and forever afters.  I thoroughly loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a fun, feel-good, reading experience.

By the way, about the gold... Oh, no. You can't make me tell you if they find it or not.  This is a fun read that has a bit a mystery that will keep you wanting to read more to see if there really is a treasure to be found.

On a 5-Star scale - 5 Stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Litfuse Publishing and Thomas Nelson for my review copy.  I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.


Smiles & Blessings,






Shadowed by GRACE by Cara C. Putnam

Set during World War II, Cara C. Putnam's newest novel Shadowed by GRACE is a sure winner! She has masterfully used her research and talent to paint a picture of what it was like for the Monuments Men, in Italy, during World War II.

To be honest, I don't recall ever hearing anything about the Monuments Men before reading Ms. Putnam's book, so I thoroughly enjoyed learning about what these men were charged to do during the war.  It was their task to locate and protect great monuments and works of art so the German's of the Third Reich could not get them and destroy the heritage of Italy.

The story begins with Rachel Justice, a young photojournalist who leaves her ailing mother to go into war torn Italy.  She hopes to find her father and secure finances from him to pay for the much needed treatment for her mother. Having never met her father, all she has to go on is a sketch pad her mother had hidden away. Within the sketch pad are pictures of what appears to be the Italian countryside and a woman that Rachel believes could be her mother. The artist signed one sketch with the initials, RMA. Not much to go on but Rachel is a determined young woman.

Once she arrives in Italy, she is assigned to the care of Lt. Scott Lindstrom, one of the Monuments Men. In time, what seemed to be a burden to both of them, becomes a chance for them to grow to know each other and fall in love.

Does Rachel find her father? Does her mother survive? Can Scott save the priceless art from the Third Reich? Is there someone else trying to rob the Italians of their priceless treasures? All these questions are answered within the covers of this wonderful book.

I would highly recommend Shadowed by GRACE to anyone who loves to read a good clean book. If you are a lover of history, especially the period of WWII, then this book is for you. Ms. Putnam is an artist much like her character Rachel. Where Rachel painted a picture with her photographs, Ms. Putnam has painted a wonderful story with her words. Masterfully done!

On a 5-Star Scale - 5 HUGE Stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Litfuse Publishing and B & H Publishing Group for my review copy of Shadowed by GRACE. I received my copy for free to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea & Caryn Rivadeneira - Review with 3 Books to Give away

Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira is a coming of age story set in Northern Maine in the year 1954. It is a story filled with young love, sadness, happiness, racial tension and many other feelings that the authors stir up within the reader.

The story begins in what the reader can only presume is modern day. Mercy's granddaughter, Laurel, is on her way to New York to see her.  But mostly she wants to see New York the way her grandfather knew New York before he passed away.  Mercy thinks to herself that it would be better to take her to Maine where Laurel's grandfather came to be the man that he was. Knowing they don't have the time to do that, Mercy decides to tell Laurel their story. The story of 15 year old Mercy and 16 year old Mick, a Maliseet Indian. The story of their forbidden love. And that is where the real story begins.

Mercy and Mick are always talking about "someday". Someday, Mercy's dad will finally realize she isn't the son he never had but a young beautiful daughter. Someday, Mercy and Mick can finally be together without hiding their relationship. Someday, they will leave Maine and see more of the world. Will their someday come?

One thing I enjoy when I read historical novels is when I can learn something. In Shades of Mercy the reader learns of the prejudices people of Maine had against the Maliseet tribe. It's really sad that because their skin was a different color they were made to live in a garbage dump. Yes, you read that right. They lived in the Flats which were nothing more than shacks built over the dump. My heart went out to them. Reading about them made me want to find out more about the tribe to find out how things got better for them.

The authors of Shades of Mercy are new to me. At first, I didn't know whether I would enjoy reading a book in first person, but I found that the character of Mercy pulled me in and made me feel as if I was right there with her. I grew to love the character of Mercy.  I grew to love Mick as well and found myself continually rooting for them. I wanted them together. I wanted their world to change for the better.

Shades of Mercy  is a heartwarming story of young love during a time of racial prejudice. It is a story that shows the real meaning of grace. It also shows the ugly side of racism. It is filled with love, friendship and hope. All in all this book touched me deeply.

I would highly recommend Shades of Mercy to anyone who enjoys reading historical novels. Be prepared though as the authors did an excellent job of showing us what it must have been like in Northern Maine during this time in our Nation's history.

On a 5-Star Scale - 4 Stars!!!!

I would like to thank the publishers River North, a division of Moody Publishers for my copy of Shades of Mercy. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

* * * * * * * * * 

The publishers were gracious enough to send me three extra copies of the book to offer to you in a giveaway!

************ GIVEAWAY RULES  ************

1.  Giveaway is open to US and Canada.

2.  No PO Boxes please.

3.  To qualify to win, you must leave a comment below and be sure to include an email address where I can reach you if you are selected as the winner of this giveaway.  Please enter your email address in this format    winner[at]yahoo[dot]com

4.  For extra entries you may do one or all of the following:
    -- Follow me under Google Friend Connect +4
    -- become an email subscriber +2
    -- invite a friend to become a follower of my blog.  If they become a follower and mention your name, you will both receive 2 extra entries

Giveaway will run through February 22nd  and three winners will be selected using Random.Org

Smiles & Blessings,





Sunday, February 2, 2014

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley

 I have always loved reading debut novels, so when I had the opportunity to read Patricia Bradley's debut novel, Shadows of the Past, I jumped at the chance. This novel is an excellent Christian suspense novel with plenty of romance mixed in and it is the first book in the Logan Point series.

The heroine, Taylor Martin, is a psychology professor and criminal profiler who's father ran out on her and her family twenty years ago. The one case she wants to solve more than any other is finding out why her father left and where he is living.

As the story begins Taylor is at a crime scene and senses that she is being watched. But then she's had the feeling that she is being stalked for some time. In fact, she believes a former student of hers could be her stalker.  

At the crime scene she encounters mystery novelist Nick Sinclair. He just happens to be the brother of Scott Sinclair, the student that Taylor believes is her stalker. Can Nick convince her that his brother is innocent? Or is he?

Ms. Bradley has created wonderful, believable characters that pulled me into their story and led me through the twists and turns of their lives. I felt Taylor's terror from the very first page when she found a scrap of paper in her pocket with the words, "Death unfolds like a budding flower, Tentatively, sweetly, unfurling in majestic power until then, my love...until then". Much later, when she is down in the 'tunnels' I could smell the damp, dank odors that the character expressed. I could feel the pain Taylor felt when she learned... oh wait... I never, ever give out spoilers...

I would have to say that Shadows of the Past was one of the best novels I've read within the last year.  I would highly suggest this book to anyone who loves a good, clean, mystery.  The Christian thread wasn't overpowering and blended in well throughout the story. I loved the one statement made on page 233 when Taylor said, "You don't get cleaned up to come to him. He cleans you up afterwards".

Shadows of the Past released today, February 1, 2014 and I can hardly wait until this fall when A Promise to Protect, book two in the Logan Point series is released

On a 5-Star scale = 5 HUGE stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy of Shadows of the Past. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.


Smiles & Blessings,