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9.21.2014

Love's Fortune ~ Review and Video

Love's Fortune
The Ballantyne Legacy 3
By Laura Frantz

Rowena Wren Ballantyne has lived the first 25 years of her life unaware of the power and wealth of her family.  Her life has been lived in Kentucky far from the Ballantyne empire that is based in Pennsylvania.  But when an urgent summons from New Hope calls her father Ansel back to his childhood home, Wren is about to find herself in a world of which she has no understanding.

Ansel is returning home to help run the family business after a plea from his mother due to the failing health of both his father and his older brother Peyton.  His one regret is have kept Wren away from her family though it was done out of fear for her life as much his own.

Wren has lived in a sheltered world in which society had no hold - in fact it was unheard of.  What Wren believes will be a short visit is in fact a permanent move.  Can she find a place for herself within this new world that is to be her home?  And will society in Pittsburgh accept this Ballantyne who has spent her life far from its rules and restrictions?

Shortly after her arrival tragedy strikes and the Ballantyne family is thrown into turmoil.  With her father away tending to business her Aunt Andra and Cousin Bennett convince Wren that she has a duty to the family to marry soon and marry well.  She is to have a season and she has weeks to prepare for it.  And Andra is just as uncaring as to the feelings of others as she was in Love's Awakening.

Can Wren discover where her heart lies and where her heart truly is before it is too late?

In my opinion this just may be the best book in the series.  I really enjoyed it and it was a delight to see the generations all together - Silas and Eden with their children and grandchildren.  Unfortunately the various family thorns are also present - one from each generation.  You don't have to read the previous books before reading this book, but it will greatly help you to understand the history of the family.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher Revell in exchange for my honest review.




About the Book:
Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

9.19.2014

Candle Prayers for Kids ~ Review

Candle Prayers for Kids
By Claire Freedman
Illustrations by Jo Parry

For some reason many people are intimidated by the very thought of prayer.  I mean think about it your asking God to notice you  and what you care about.  But prayer doesn't need to be the monster under the bed for you or your children anymore.

In Candle Prayers for Kids there are a variety of prayers for various topics - including praising God, family and friends, times of thanks, and for different needs.  The book ends with the prayer Jesus said when He taught His followers how to pray.

Prayer is a conversation with God that need not be a scary experience and this book will help both you and the children with whom you share this book to discover the simplicity of this truth as you learn together how to pray.

The cry of the early followers was teach us to pray and this book is an excellent guide to gift and share with the children in your life.

I was provided a copy of this book by Kregel in exchange for my honest review and my tour participation.


About the book: 
A delightful companion prayer book to the popular Candle Bible for Kids. Jo Parry's distinctively bold and vibrant illustrations complement a combination of traditional and modern prayers by Claire Freedman, author of the Benjamin Bear series. Candle Prayers for Kids helps to bring prayerand talking to God into the life of every child.

9.18.2014

Two Empty Thrones ~ Review with Excerpt

Two Empty Thrones
Five in Circle #2
By C.H. Maclean

Two Empty Thrones takes into the world of Haylwen and Cadarn to teen siblings that have recently learned that they have somehow inherited their parents magical abilities.  Abilities that they parents are forbidden to use because of oaths they swore years before their children were born.

Two Empty Thrones is the second book in the Five in Circle series.  To fully appreciate this book you need to read book one One is Come.

Haylwen and Cadarn are being hunted and the safety that they have recently discovered within a magical forest is about to be shattered.  Friendships may be lost and everything hinges on Haylwen and Cadarn finding their hidden enemy before it is too late.  But something insidious and evil has come into the forest and everyone and everything they hold dear is threatened.  As Haylwen and Cadarn's long hidden powers grow they are soon put to tests that they never expected or prepared for.  

Tweens and teens fantasy fans will love this series.  There is magic, danger, and dragons - always a winning combination.  And when you throw in two teens who have to think fast to survive the unexpected you have a book you won't want to put down... And not everyone is whom they appear to be.

I was provided a copy of this book by the author in conjunction with this PUYB blog tour in exchange for my tour participation and my honest review.
About the Book:

With her powers growing every day, fourteen-year-old Haylwen Rightad thinks
she’s safe in the magical forest. And now that she finally has the friends she
always wanted, what is there to be afraid of?

But she’s not out of the woods yet. Old enemies rip through her beloved forest,
threatening to haul Haylwen and her newfound friends away. Their safety
shattered, Haylwen and her friends are suddenly at each other’s throats. Is the
friendship she worked so hard for already ruined, or is there another, unseen
enemy at work?

Haylwen and her brother must unmask this mysterious enemy before they can
fight it off. But even if all their enemies are destroyed, the King of the magic
users will stop at nothing to ensure he’s still in power when the dragons take
over the world. And he’s hidden an enemy where Haylwen would never think to
look.

If no one is what they seem, who can she trust?

About the Author

To young C. H. MacLean, books were everything: mind-food, friends, and fun. They gave the shy middle child’s life color and energy. Amazingly, not everyone saw them that way. Seeing a laundry hamper full of books approach her, the librarian scolded C. H. for trying to check them all out. “You’ll never read that many before they expire!” C. H. was surprised, having shown great restraint only by keeping a list of books to check out next time. Thoroughly abashed, C. H. waited three whole days after finishing that lot before going back for more.

With an internal world more vivid than the real one, C. H. was chastised for reading in the library instead of going to class. “Neurotic, needs medical help,” the teacher diagnosed. C. H.’s father, a psychologist, just laughed when he heard. “She’s just upset because those books are more challenging than her class.” C. H. realized making up stories was just as fun as reading, and harder to get caught doing. So for a while, C. H. crafted stories and characters out of wisps and trinkets, with every toy growing an elaborate personality.

But toys were not mature, and stories weren’t respectable for a family of doctors. So C. H. grew up and learned to read serious books and study hard, shelving foolish fantasies for serious work.

Years passed in a black and white blur. Then, unpredictably falling in love all the way to a magical marriage rattled C. H.’s orderly world. A crazy idea slipped in a resulting crack and wouldn’t leave. “Write the book you want to read,” it said. “Write? As in, a fantasy novel? But I’m not creative,”
C. H. protested. The idea, and C. H.’s spouse, rolled their eyes.

So one day, C. H. started writing. Just to try it, not that it would go anywhere.  Big mistake. Decades of pent-up passion started pouring out, making a mess of an orderly life. It only got worse. Soon, stories popped up everywhere- in dreams, while exercising, or out of spite, in the middle of a work meeting. “But it’s not important work,” C. H. pleaded weakly. “They are not food, or friends, or...” But it was too late. C. H. had re-discovered that, like books, life should be fun too. Now, writing is a compulsion, and a calling.

C. H. lives in a Pacific Northwest forest with five cats, two kids, one spouse, and absolutely no dragons or elves, faeries, or demons... that are willing to be named, at least.

His latest book is the YA fantasy, Two Empty Thrones.

For More Information
• Visit C.H. McLean’s website.
• Find out more about the Five in Circle series.
• Connect with C.H. McLean on Facebook and Twitter.
• Subscribe to the author’s newsletter.
Contact C.H. McLean.

More about the Book
Two Empty Thrones is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes and Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Read Chapter One here.

Title: Two Empty Thrones
Author: C.H. MacLean
Publisher: CNH Publishing
Pages: 242
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback; Kindle

Book Excerpt:

Haylwen heard a crash, the distant sound of breaking wood. She started
walking, and then heard the sound of a chainsaw. She picked up the pace.
Nacia was gesturing to the twins, who looked confused, then angry. They
started running, sprinting past Haylwen. By the time Haylwen got to the
farmhouse, the boys were standing next to Feabee on the porch, the three of
them looking like thunderclouds.

Nacia ran over to stand with her mother, Topaz, just inside the door. They
looked so much alike, one just an older version of the other, a mirror through
time. Haylwen drifted to stand by her parents off to the side, while Cadarn
stood by himself to the side of the porch. Everyone was looking down the path,
to where the sounds of crashing branches and large motors were gradually
coming closer. Feabee made an occasional gesture to the twins to let them
know what the rest were hearing.

Haylwen blanched at a particularly loud crash, wincing. Her father looked at
her questioningly. “They are trying to help, and it is hurting them,” Haylwen
whispered. Her father held his questioning look for a moment. His eyes popped
wide and suddenly narrowed as he heard what she’d said. He looked into the
forest briefly and then turned and started to say something to Haylwen.

He was drowned out as a large, olive-green truck crashed through the last of
the branches, leaves and twigs caught in its grille and hanging from the roof
rack. It looked like some savage beast, a destroyer of trees. It revved its engine
and then growled its way up the slope to stop halfway up. It backed off the dirt
road onto the grass as a shiny black SUV quietly rolled out from the mangled
tunnel of trees. After the SUV passed it, the truck threw itself in a roaring
spin that threw chunks of green and mud behind it to block the road out. It sat
there, engine still growling. The smell of diesel rolled up to the house.

The SUV pulled off the road and drove across the rolling lawn, leaving crushed
grass in its wake. It stopped with the passenger side at the very edge of the
farmhouse porch. The passenger door opened and a tall man in a charcoal suit
stepped out, directly onto the porch.

With his blond hair chopped short, it took Haylwen a moment to recognize him.
“Mr. Johansen,” she whispered, clutching her father and sliding behind him.
Her ex-principal was here? A wave of fear washed over her, carrying memories
of when he had grabbed her—the feel of his hands on her neck, the chemical
smell of his car as he’d stuffed her in.

“You have nothing to fear from him,” her father said in a quiet, but stern,
voice, tension rolling off of him.

Haylwen’s mother, Crystyn, leaned over, turning to look Haylwen in the eye.
“He will never touch you again, I promise.” Crystyn stood, taking a couple of
firm steps to stand a bit ahead of Haylwen and her father. Abrennin twitched
away as Crystyn moved past him, like he had gotten a shock. He gave her a
brief look of surprise and confusion, but she wasn’t paying attention.

“May I help you?” Feabee said. “You realize this is private property.”

Mr. Johansen took a step toward Feabee, a reddish hue seeping from him.
Haylwen’s guts clenched. He was going to use magic to hurt Feabee!

Abrennin whispered something and then choked. Haylwen's stomach twisted
more, realizing what her father’s choking meant. With me and Cadarn here, 

our parents’ Oath is in effect. Mom and Dad can’t use magic. Her parents
might protect her from a physical attack, but what about a magical one?

Feabee shot Abrennin a wide-eyed look and he nodded once. She blinked, then
her jaw muscles jumped as a green glow slipped around her. Haylwen squeezed
her father’s hand, a question. He smiled thinly and squeezed back. Of course,
Feabee could use magic!

“I have information that you are willfully transgressing against federal law,”
Mr. Johansen said. Haylwen gave a little gasp as a red arc shot from Mr.
Johansen, a striking snake, to bounce off Feabee's green shield. “You are
harboring fugitives, aiding and abetting criminals.” Another red snake slithered
along the ground, trying to work its way under Feabee's shield.

Feabee shook her head with a smile.

“You think truancy laws are less important than any other?” Mr. Johansen said
loudly, standing a bit taller. “We must make sure the children of society are
safe.”

“My paperwork is in order and has not expired,” she said.

“Perhaps, but it only lists three students,” he sneered.

Haylwen looked over to Cadarn, sharing the look of guilt and fear that this was
about them. Haylwen felt her fear twist into anger. Feabee, Nacia, and the
twins were going to get in trouble because of her! She looked up at her father,
who just held her hand and shook his head slightly.

“Actually, I submitted updated paperwork, which was received two days ago,”
Feabee replied.

“And I was sent to confirm the information was accurate. We have the right to
do an inspection for classes equal to, or larger than, five,” he said.

“There is no such law,” Feabee retorted, eyes narrowing.

“Law? Oh, I guess you didn't see the express invitation to an inspection on
the forms you completed?” he sneered. His red bubble pulsed. Several snakes
struck as he said, “The forms you signed authorized the right of inspection
with acceptance. We must make sure there is actual learning, to prevent child
neglect.”

Feabee threw apologetic looks at Haylwen's parents. “Invitation? I didn't see...”
Her green shield was weakening under the repeated attacks.

“You understand that the neglect laws include all students, correct?” The red
intensified, and the attacking snakes grew in number. “Under the child abuse
and neglect statutes, we have the authority to take all of the children into
custody immediately,” Mr. Johansen said.

Haylwen watched as the green glow started to show tiny spots of black, gaps in
the shield. Two more red snakes quickly shot out from Mr. Johansen, squirming
against the black spots, trying to force their way in. Feabee looked resigned,
trapped. Haylwen felt her father try to say something, but he tensed and
choked.

“You have no authority here.” Haylwen gave a small gasp, hearing her
mother's voice with such power. “You will take your polluting trucks and leave
immediately.” Crystyn stalked across the porch to stand ahead and to the side
of Feabee, making Mr. Johansen shift to face her. Haylwen glanced up at her
father, who was breathing easier. His face was an odd combination of confused
and proud.

Mr. Johansen looked over Crystyn's head, following where she had come from
to see Haylwen and Abrennin standing there. He gave a little smirk, a twisted
look of revenge.

“Ah, Mrs. Rightad. I see where your vandalizing daughter gets it.” Several
thick red snakes slowly approached her mother. “If I leave, it will be with your
truant children...”

A white glow erupted around Haylwen's mother. Haylwen squinted, slightly
blinded as the white glow around her mother flared even brighter, engulfing
the snakes, obliterating them.

“You will leave with nothing,” her mother said in a tone that sent shivers down
Haylwen's spine. Her mother had locked eyes with Mr. Johansen. Though he
was at least a foot taller, he seemed to shrink with each passing moment,
while Haylwen’s mother seemed to grow. The white glow increased in intensity
and size, washing like waves against the receding red of Mr. Johansen. “If you
ever come close to either of my children again—”

“I did nothing, I have witnesses,” Mr. Johansen interrupted, momentarily
straightening, the red pushing against the waves.

The white flared again, and Mr. Johansen took a step back. He had only the
slightest hint of red around him now, flickering.

“You have nothing to withstand a mother protecting her child,” Haylwen heard
her mother say, as another blinding flare of white pulsed out. Mr. Johansen
took another step back, stumbling, withering even more under her fierce gaze.

Crystyn pointed her finger toward the SUV as another pulse of the white light
washed over Mr. Johansen. “You and your agent's invitations are revoked!”
Haylwen's mother nudged Feabee, who nodded once.

Mr. Johansen slid backward down the stairs, banging into the SUV, scrambling
to open the door and get inside before being sucked away. He slammed the
door closed, and the SUV's idling engine roared, tires spitting grass and dirt in
every direction. Everyone was pelted, but Haylwen noticed not a fleck hit her
mother.

The SUV bounced down the hill as the olive-green truck tore out of the way.
The black SUV disappeared into the tunnel as the truck spun around, engine
roaring, tires clawing the ground, making a new set of wounds in the grassy
field. A cold shiver crawled up Haylwen's legs, tightening around her throat,
as she looked at the ruined lawn. Even after the smell of exhaust had drifted
away, the wounds were mocking proof they weren't safe. It was only a matter
of time.

9.14.2014

Passing Strangers ~ Review

Passing Strangers
By Angela Hunt

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all if you have any hope of surviving.  And Janette Turlington needs to get away from the stresses of her life now.  And an Amtrak train tour is her escape.  The stress of dealing with her 25 year old troubled daughter is about to pull her under.

Andie Crystal has been trying to escape her past as a reality star by throwing herself into job.  But suddenly she is forced into taking an all expense paid vacation by her employer.  And Andie hates traveling.  And adding to her stress, she's just learned her mother is dying but wants to turn it into a media circus reunion show.

Matthew Scofield lost his wife a year ago and he is at a crossroad where his 2 young children are concerned.  He can't keep keep a sitter because of his work schedule.  He is getting desperate to find stability for Roman and Emilia, but he's not willing to sacrifice his career doing it.

When these 3 come together old wounds will start to heal and they get an insight into their own situations that they didn't have before.  Sometimes we need to step back and let someone see for us so that get a clear view.  This is an interesting book in that it looks at 3 different people who are going through 3 different difficulties in their personal lives and how they find help when they reach out to help one another.

I was provided a copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.


About the Book:
A train roars over the rails, carrying passengers on a trip that will change their lives.

Among the many people aboard the 97 Silver Meteor are Andie Crystal, a lonely young woman hiding from her youth as a reality TV star; Matthew Scofield, a widower trying to escape his responsibilities to his two young children; and Janette Turlington, a middle–aged mother running from a situation that has destroyed the peace in her home and marriage.

These three form a makeshift family on an Amtrak tour through the Southern seaboard, a journey that just might heal their wounded hearts and restore them to the people to whom they matter most . . .

A Light in the Wilderness ~ Review

A Light in the Wilderness
By Jane Kirkpatrick

This is an interesting book and the harshness of life to women of color is portrayed in the life of Letitia Carson.  This is a factually based novel drawing upon the life experiences of Letitia as she works to make a life for herself in the waning years of slavery - years in which she was granted freedom.

But Letitia's freedom was not an easy one.  She had to have papers proving her freedom, though these could be called into question on the merest whim of slave patrollers.

Her possessions could be seized and she had no recourse in the matter.  But when she marries Davey Carson, a white man (though it is not recognized legally), her life is about to change.

Together Davey and Letitia travel to the Oregon Territory where they carve out a life for themselves.  Life is hard but it is better.  Friendships are slowly formed that cross racial barriers and prejudices.  And when Letitia's freedom is once again threatened she draws on the strength of these new friends to help her fight for her rights and those of others who were to come after her.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect in A Light in the Wilderness, but the synopsis intrigued me.  This is an enlightening look at the struggles that formed our country.  The strength of character of those who fought for their rights can be seen in this book.  I highly recommend this book to those who have an interest in Oregon history and the fight for the rights of both women and persons of color.  Letitia is a woman to be admired - a woman who fought for her rights within the boundaries of the law.  This would be an excellent choice for a book club selection or a high school book report.

I was provided a copy of this book by Revell in exchange for my honest review. 

About the book:
Three very different women. One dangerous journey. And a future that seems just out of reach.

Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause most white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read--as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband and she knows she will follow him anywhere--even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill. This multilayered story from bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick will grip your heart and mind as you travel on the dusty and dangerous Oregon Trail into the boundless American West. Based on a true story.

9.13.2014

Nowhere to Turn ~ Review

Nowhere to Turn
Hidden Identity 2
By Lynette Eason

If you like excitement and peril in your reading this is a book you have to read.  The first book in the series No One to Trust introduced us to Adam Buchanan.  Adam is back and he is working with David and Summer Hackett at Operation Refuge. And the current case they are working on is about to get personal for Adam.

Dani (Danielle) Harding has spent the last decade being a nobody just like her husband wants.  But the day she decides to take back her life and that of her son Simon, her husband dies.  At last she is free.  But someone has plans for Dani and she's about to find out just how far they are willing to go.

Someone seems intent on killing Dani and it seems to have something to do with what her no deceased husband hid.  But whatever secret Kurt was keeping went to the grave with him.  Desperate and with the nowhere to turn Dani calls upon Operation Refuge. But whomever is after Dani isn't about to let anyone stand in their way.  Lives are about to be lost and danger seems to be lurking behind every corner.

Fans of Romantic Suspense will love this latest work from Lynette Eason.  And the true identity of the perpetrator will keep you guessing.  Identities are meant to be hidden and there are some killers lurking in the background.  Can Operation Refuge keep ahead of those after Dani and Simon?  If Adam Buchanan has any say in the matter Dani and Simon will live beyond this obsession that is stalking their every move.

I was provided a copy of this book by Revell in exchange for my honest review.
About the Book:

She thought her days of hiding were over . . . but the danger has just begun

The day Danielle Harding takes her eleven-year-old son and flees from her abusive husband is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, things are just heating up. When Kurt was alive, he took something important from a mysterious individual--who wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold you in its iron grip as bestselling author Lynette Eason propels you along in a race to discover the truth.


Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

The Desire ~ Review

The Desire
The Restoration Series 3
By Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley

The Desire is the third book in The Restoration series.  This series is the joint efforts of two talented writers Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley.  This book builds on the previous books in the series, though it is not necessary to read the first two to enjoy The Desire.

In The Desire Michelle and Allan have been married for about two years and to Michelle's disappointment they have yet to have a baby.  Michelle's longing for a child is starting to take a toll on her marriage.  Meanwhile Allan's been going on mission trips and his heart lies with the poor children in Africa he wants to help.

As Allan and Michelle work through these trials that are weighing on their hearts they learn that marriage is a work in progress and communication is the key to making it work.  Meanwhile Tom and Jean are continuing to work on straightening out their financial woes.  And Marilyn and Jim continue seeing a strengthening of their marriage after their rocky patch.

When a young woman in need comes into contact with the Anderson family her life is about to change as they reach out to her with love and support.

The Desire will take you on a journey of faith and trust as the Anderson family continues to grow in their relationships with God.  They learn to trust on God and to listen for His voice as they confront the issues that come up in their lives.

This is a book that speaks to those who have a desire for their own child and the insensitivity they face in their day-to-day lives both within and without the church.  This is a well thought out book that will make you stop and think.  And if you have someone in your life dealing with this issue, you may be a little more aware of their possible struggles and allow you to be a listening ear.

I was provided a copy of this book through Revell's blogger program in exchange for my honest review.   


Can faith build a bridge between their dreams?

For two years, Allan and Michele have been trying to have a baby. The emotional ride has been taking a toll on their hearts--and their relationship. Michele is obsessed with researching fertility treatments while Allan seems content to spend his time--and their money--on supporting displaced children in Africa. Something's got to give. But they both hope it's not their marriage.

Still, God has a plan for Allan and Michele that they could never have imagined. And all it takes to set it in motion is a change of heart . . .