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7.29.2015

A Bride at Last ~ Review

A Bride at Last
Unexpected Brides 3
By Melissa Jaegers

Silas Jonesey's dream of having a family seems to be finally coming true - his long absent wife has finally let him know her whereabouts.  But a happy reunion with Lucinda is not to be. In fact a reunion of any sort is out of the realm of possibility because by the time Silas arrives at Lucy's boarding house in Missouri she has died.  But Lucinda has left behind a son that may or may not be Silas's son.  Is a family still a possibility or did Lucy destroy even a chance at a relationship with his maybe son?

Kate Dawson is determined to protect Anthony from the two men who may be his father.  But a single school teacher with nothing but her job has little chance of keeping custody of a 9 year old boy.

Could Kate and Silas be each other's chance for the family that they both dream of?  And could Anthony be happy with the man his mother despised?  But Kate and Silas both have pasts that could get in the way of their future together - a future both want and yet fear.

A Bride at Last is a delightful story that examines family, fears, and forgiveness in such a way one empathizes with all three main characters and their points of view, while at the same time being frustrated at the total pigheadedness on each character's particular hang-up.

If you've read Melissa's previous Unexpected Brides books you'll enjoy Silas's story.  If you haven't, this story can stand alone and you won't be left scratching your head wondering what is going on in the story.

Take a trip to the 1880's and a little place called Salt Flatts, Kansas with a little excursion to Missouri. Discover the importance of love and belonging along with Silas, Kate and Anthony.

I was provided a free copy of this book by the publisher through the generosity of the author in exchange for my honest review.


About the Book:
Silas Jonesey's life in Salt Flatts, Kansas, has not followed the course he imagined. After his mail-order bride, Lucinda, abandoned him, it was an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices and sour moods. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true; his estranged wife has contacted him after ten years of silence to tell him of her whereabouts.

Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but after realizing she had been deceived about her intended groom she never went through with the marriage. Settling into life as a schoolteacher, she's spent her spare time the past few years helping her student, Anthony, and his sick mother. When Lucinda passes away, Kate is ready to fulfill the woman's wish that she take care of nine-year-old Anthony--until a man shows up in town asking about Lucinda and claiming he was married to the woman ten years ago.

Silas and Kate disagree over who should raise young Anthony, who has opinions of his own about his future. After being forced to come together for the good of Anthony, Silas and Kate begin to see another side to each other and the possibility of a united future despite all that stands between them. When Kate's past comes to light, Silas's feelings about women who abandon their grooms immediately throw the walls right back up between them. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony's wounded souls bind them together as a family, or will past hurts and new resentments leave them lonely forever?

7.26.2015

Picture Perfect Love ~ Review

Picture Perfect Love
A Year of Weddings: A June Wedding Story
By Melissa McClone

Jenna Harrison's heart was broken when her fiancee Ashton Vance not only left her at the altar, he accused her of lying to him, and left her with financial wedding ruin.  Is it any wonder that she is less than pleased when he shows up on her doorstep two years too late with an apology.

Ashton can't believe his little sister kept her part in his political downfall secret until she needed Jenna's photographic skills for her own wedding.  He's never forgotten Jenna, but is a second chance possible when he public accused her of lying and nearly destroyed her business in the process?

As Jenna and Ashton work through their issues can they truly discover what true love is?  And did they ever really love one another if they could so easily be divided in the first place?

This is a perfect week-end excursion for those hot summer days when you don't want to do anything except maybe avoid the heat.  This story does have a happy conclusion, but it provides a caution "What is your motivation in getting married?"  Is it love? Financial security? Political ambition? Or God's will?  Stop and ask yourself this question before you say yes when the question is popped you may save yourself heart-ache.

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


About the Book:

Meet the people who make it all happen - the planners, the photographers, the musicians who have helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples as they find their own happy endings in the second Year of Weddings novella collection. When image becomes everything, it's up to love to refocus the heart.

Photographer Jenna Harrison wants every bride and groom to look picture perfect on their special day, putting her heart into every wedding to give the couple memorable images of their love. But her own heart is still broken, the unworn wedding dress hanging in her closet a reminder that relationships aren't always as perfect as they look through her camera lens. But Jenna has faith that she will find true love. Until then, she must be patient and trust in God's plan and His perfect timing.

Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away. When an embarrassing Photoshopped picture of put an end to his political aspirations, he blamed Jenna. So what if the photo led to his being offered a dream job and changing his life for the better? Jenna betrayed his trust, and two years later, Ashton's heart still hasn't recovered.

It was me. His younger sister's three words turn Ashton's world upside down. He must ask Jenna's forgiveness, but can he risk his heart a second time? Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love?

About the Author:
Melissa McClone has always been a fan of fairy tales and "happily ever afters." She holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University but eventually decided to follow her dream and write full-time. She lives in Washington with her real-life hero husband, two daughters, indoor cats, and a forty-eight-pound Norwegian Elkhound who thinks she's a lap dog. She also loves to ski, rock climb and read.

Visit her online at www.melissamcclone.com

Twitter: @melissamcclone          Facebook: Melissa McClone

Dauntless ~ Review

Dauntless
Valiant Hearts 1
By Dina L. Sleiman

Lady Merry Ellison is no more.  Her father's attempt to dethrone King John failed - ending in the slaughter of her family and most of those living in the village that her father ruled.  But Merry along with most of the children survived and Merry is determined to protect these young innocents no matter the cost.

But Merry and her young "band" must remain hidden because if word reached King John that the children of Ellsworth and the Baron's own daughter had escaped the slaughter they would be hunted down.  But to survive they need to borrow and steal upon occasion, earning them notoriety as The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest.

But when Merry is spotted by the young man to whom she had been promised as a bride, life becomes suddenly much more complicated.  Timothy Grey believing she's been held a prisoner is determined to save the young woman he thought dead these past two years.

Timothy is determined that Merry shall be safe, but the King's anger has yet to abate and Merry knows that Timothy's loyalty lies with the King.  But when the heart is involved where does loyalty truly lie?  This is the question that Timothy and Merry must work through if they are to have a future - whether together or separately.

Though marketed for the Juvenile / Young Adult market anyone who loves well-written historical fiction will enjoy this the first book in the Valiant Hearts series.  If you enjoy Robin Hood give Merry Ellison and her band of ghosts chance to join your shelves, you'll enjoy the trip to 13th century England.

I was provided a copy this book by the publisher Bethany House through TBCN/BookFun in exchange for my honest review.


About the Book: 
Where Legend and History Collide, One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent

Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.

About the Author:
Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter Time and Dance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series coming with Bethany House Publishers in 2015. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well, and she loves to represent them at writers conferences throughout the US. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

7.24.2015

The Lost Garden ~ Review

The Lost Garden
Tales from Goswell
By Katharine Swartz

The Lost Garden is a lovely story set in two very different time periods - the first nearly a century ago 1918 / 1919 and the second in the present day.  Both stories are set in Goswell on the Cumbrian coast of England.  In both stories the main characters have suffered a loss - one that has forever altered their lives.

This is Marin's story and Eleanor's story as well.  How they deal with their losses is the focus of this story and central throughout is the vicarage garden.  

Throughout one can empathize with Marin and Rebecca as they start over and get to know one another.  And one can feel the pain that Eleanor and Katherine are experiencing as the world that they have known has collapsed after years of war. 

This is a beautifully written story that alternates every other chapter between Marin and Eleanor.as they navigate the various challenges of life and discover what love truly means.  The Lost Garden is a beautiful lesson in life when confronted with unexpected loss.  The garden helps those who need it to find a meaning and purpose when life is at a low point.

I highly recommend this story, though you may what to have a box of tissue nearby while reading. This story also builds in a touch of suspense as we are shown a scene from Eleanor's life at the beginning of the book and then we are lead up to this rather dramatic moment throughout the remainder of the story.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher through the Kregel Reviewer program in exchange for my honest review.


About the book:

Present and past residents of a countryside English vicarage search for love...
 
Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident leaving her the guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister, Rebecca. They choose the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast and settle into Bower House, the former vicarage, on the edge of the church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca’s interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the bramble inside. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together the three of them begin to uncover the garden’s secrets.

In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell’s vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, who was killed just days before the Armistice was signed. Eleanor retreats into herself and her father starts to notice how unhappy she is. As spring arrives, he decides to hire someone to make a garden for Eleanor, and draw her out of—or at least distract her from—her grief and sorrow. Jack Taylor is in his early twenties, a Yorkshire man who has been doing odd jobs in the village, and when Eleanor’s father hires him to work on the vicarage gardens, a surprising—and unsuitable—friendship unfolds.

Deftly weaving the dual narratives, Katharine Swartz explores themes of loyalty and love through her memorable characters and strong sense of place.

7.22.2015

To Capture Her Heart ~ Review and Giveaway

To Capture Her Heart
The Southold Chronicles 2
By Rebecca DeMarino

Take a step back in time to Long Island when much of the the land was still untamed and wild.  This is a continuation of the story (A Place in His Heart) that introduced us to the Horton family and their struggles to find religious freedom and a place in the New World.

The New Haven community is thriving but prejudices still persist as national loyalties and religious beliefs are expressed among those who call Long Island home - English, Dutch, and the various native peoples.

It is in this world that life unfolds for those who have come to call this land home.  And sometimes life is difficult as rivalries threaten the peace that is sought.  But more than anything this is a story of a young woman caught between several worlds.  The world which she was raised to, the world of the English, and that of the Dutch.  Which world will Heather Flower call home?  Will she follow her heart or her head?

This is fascinating look at the foundations of what we now have and how the decisions that were made more than 300 years ago affected all who called this small area of land home.  It is interesting to see how the British and Dutch were both attempting to influence the tribes and their dealings with each other.

I really enjoyed this latest book in the Southold series and am looking forward to the next one for which a short expert is provided at the back of the book.  This is a delightfully attention capturing story that you will enjoy from cover to cover.

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


About the Book:
In an uncertain time, she faces a choice that will change her life forever

It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montaukett tribe, is celebrating her wedding feast when a rival tribe attacks, killing the groom and kidnapping her. Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is bound by her captors and left to die--until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

Still tender from her loss, Heather Flower begins to heal in the home of the Hortons, English friends of her people. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her longtime friendship with Ben Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice--stay true to her friend or follow her heart.

Exploring a unique slice of history, Rebecca DeMarino transports you to the wild land that would eventually become Long Island, New York.

"A masterful weaver of history and heritage, Rebecca DeMarino laces tender love stories with vibrant threads of history and hope, wooing the heart and waking the soul in this rich New World saga."--Julie Lessman, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, and The Heart of San Francisco series

Rebecca DeMarino is the author of A Place in His Heart, book one of The Southold Chroniclesa series inspired by her ninth great-grandparents, Barnabas and Mary Horton.She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother; a love of horses, reading, and writing from her dad; and the wanderlust gene from both parents. Rebecca lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Tom. Learn more at www.rebeccademarino.com.

Grand Prize: $75.00 Gift Card of choice (Amazon, Target, iTunes or Google play), Signed copy of To Capture Her Heart & A Place in His Heart.
Runner Up Prize: $25.00 Gift card to Barnes & Noble, Signed copies of To Capture Her Heart & A Place in His Heart
Second Runner Up Prize: Signed copies of To Capture Her Heart & A Place in His Heart

To Capture Her Heart Book Launch

7.20.2015

Gollywood, Here I Come ~ Review


Gollywood, Here I Come!
By Terry John Barto
Illustrated by Mattia Cerato

Gollywood, Here I Come! will appeal to young readers with the brilliant and colorful illustrations throughout.  This is a simple story that lacks the conflict that is found in many stories published today.

Anamazie is baton-twirling, singing, acting star who is about to be discovered and make it big in Gollywood.  Not winning the Gobbleville's Got Talent contest may be the best thing that could ever happen Anamazie.

Look closely at the illustrations and the story and you'll find several tongue and cheek references for well-known Hollywood icons - like The Turkey and I instead of The King and I.

This is a fun little book that will entertain young readers.  I would recommend this for the 6 and under age range.

The story's main message  “You can do anything if you work hard and never give up.” is a common theme in much of today's media which though offering a positive message can be a bit misleading especially to those who don't achieve these goals.  Perhaps those sharing this story with young readers could focus on also on being happy for our family and friends who do succeed in achieving even if we don't come in first.

I was provided a copy of this book by the author through TBCN/BookFun in exchange for my review.


ABOUT THE BOOK: (34 pages)

"Growing up in the small town of Gobbleville, Anamazie studies acting, singing, and dancing while basking in the local spotlight as a star baton twirler. Opportunity comes knocking when she is discovered by a talent scout and is cast in a major motion picture.

Gollywood Here I Come! taps into pop culture trends of TV shows like “America’s Got Talent” and the public’s fascination with celebrities. At its heart, the story leaves young readers with the positive message, “You can do anything if you work hard and never give up.”"


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Before writing his debut children's book, Terry John Barto directed and choreographed more than 200 regional theater productions. In addition, he was the creative mind behind numerous television and cruise ship live shows throughout the world. When Terry John Barto was employed as the creative director for Wings of Dreams Productions, he worked with many diverse ideas and turned them into screenplays for animated films. He also used his experience to help artists develop popular action figures and dolls for several large retailers. Terry lives in Los Angeles, California and enjoys Pilates, Yoga, and hiking with his dachshunds, Hunter and Mazie.

Gollywood, Here I Come! is a children's books about movie stars, who happen to be turkeys. At its heart, the story leaves young readers with the positive message, "You can do anything if you work hard and never give up."

7.17.2015

Your Core ~ Review

Your Core
By Callie Grant
Illustrated by Missi Jay

Everyone and everything has a core.  This delightfully illustrated board book will take young readers on a journey of discovery.  What does it mean to have a core and how does the human core differ from that of an apple or the Earth?

Recommended for ages 0 - 5, you can introduce the spiritual aspects of God at the earliest possible age.  Take this journey together with your little one today and lay a foundation on which to build.

I was provided a copy of this book by the author though TBCN/Bookfun in exchange for my honest review.


ABOUT THE BOOK: (22 pages)
Balls have a core. Apples do, too. The Earth has a core. So do you! Everyone has an inner place made by God for welcoming Him and meeting with Him. Graham Blanchard’s newest Absorb book, inspired by Ephesians 3:14-19, appeals to the youngest readers with simple text and engaging scenes to convey an often difficult concept to grasp—even for many adults. In the Graham Blanchard book collection, Absorb books connect information about God with a child’s inner life. Children assimilate on a personal level who God is and how they are made to be with Him, trust Him and love Him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Callie Grant founded Graham Blanchard to create children's books for growing up in God, by working with an extensive network of artists, parents, pastors, teachers, and children. The company is the culmination of her experience in the publishing industry paired with a strong calling to help families know God's love and nurture their faith through reading together. Her previous titles, under the name Callie Gregory, include Jeeves, I'm Bored: 25 Internet Adventures for Kids, and Jeeves, I Need Help: Tips and Tricks for Kids on the Net. For more information about Grant and Graham Blanchard, visit grahamblanchard.com