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Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Winter in Full Bloom

About the book:
Embark on a flight with Lily as she faces her secret fear and lands in the precise spot that God intended all along.

Lily's life changes in a heartbeat when a fiery confrontation with her mother uncovers a mystery about her totally dysfunctional family, sending Lily on a panicky flight around the world to get answers. But she gets more than she expected in Melbourne when a serendipitous meeting sparks a friendship with a man who is more than just another brazen Aussie. She discovers he might hold the key to her past. Lily hopes her homecoming will lead to a long-awaited reconciliation with her mother; then again, it might just crush the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.

A novel about faith, family and forgiveness. I enjoyed it, but it's not one I absolutely loved. I do love stories about sisters though. I'm not sure how plausible it was that almost as soon as Lily lands in Melbourne, she meets a man who knows who her sister is.  However, the novel has lovely prose and beautiful descriptions of Australia, a place I have always wanted to visit.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Anita Higman here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.

Read 8/13

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Born of Persuasion...Preview

About the book:
The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

About the author:
Born in the wrong century–except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines–Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area—where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a TARDIS. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.

Thanks to the author for the opportunity to preview this book. You can learn more about Jessica Dotta here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Icing on the Cake...Review

About the book:
Scarlet isn't sure if she has just the right ingredients for true love--or utter disaster.

Scarlet Lindsey is busy making her dreams come true. She's moved her bakery to a prime spot on Galveston's most popular street, she's planning an extravagant cake for her best friend's wedding, and she has a great relationship with Bella Neeley, the island's most popular wedding coordinator. Business is booming and Scarlet is enjoying the ride.

But when Bella's dangerously handsome brother Armando breezes into her life, Scarlet is faced with a sticky situation. Should she stay with the safe, sweet guy who's been a fixture in her life for years? Or will this brash Italian hunk melt her guarded heart?

Fan favorite Janice Thompson is back with more wit, more weddings, and more of what you love best--bridal-business drama laced with laughs.

Scarlet wants nothing more than to be the premier baker and cake designer on Galveston Island.  Having the support of Bella Neeley, popular wedding coordinator means even more business and when she is given the chance to compete in a cake decorating show on television, even more publicity awaits.

I loved Scarlet.  I could relate to her in so many ways with her insecurities about her size and self image.  I loved Armando and how he loved Scarlet just the way she was.

Like any Janice Thompson novel, the repartee is sharp, the heroines spunky and fun, the heroes dashing and the extended family loud and supportive.

I adore Janice Thompson's writing, her books and her characters.  Icing on the Cake is delicious.

A sequel to Picture Perfect, the story stands alone just fine, even as many of your favorite characters from the Weddings by Bella series return.

Thanks to Lanette from Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Janice Thompson here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sea Creatures...Review...DNF

About the book:
When Georgia returns to her hometown of Miami, her toddler son and husband in tow, she is hoping for a fresh start. They have left Illinois trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake: Graham's sleep disorder has cost him his tenure at Northwestern; Georgia's college advising business has gone belly up; and three-year old Frankie is no longer speaking. Miami feels emptier without Georgia's mother, who died five years earlier, but her father and stepmother offer a warm welcome-as well as a slip for the dilapidated houseboat Georgia and Graham have chosen to call home. And a position studying extreme weather patterns at a prestigious marine research facility offers Graham a professional second chance.

When Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for an artist who lives alone in the middle of Biscayne Bay, she's surprised to find her life changes dramatically. Time spent with the intense hermit at his isolated home might help Frankie gain the courage to speak, it seems. And it might help Georgia reconcile the woman she was with the woman she has become.

But when Graham leaves to work on a ship in Hurricane Alley and the truth behind Frankie's mutism is uncovered, the family's challenges return, more complicated than before. Late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, Georgia must face the fact that her choices have put her only child in grave danger.

Sea Creatures is a mesmerizing exploration of the high stakes of marriage and parenthood, the story of a woman coming into her own as a mother, forced to choose between her marriage, her child, and the possibility of new love.

There are some books that sound more appealing in the promotional write-ups and this was one of them. The potential topic of marriage and parenthood and choices sounded compelling.  Unfortunately, the novel didn't grasp my attention, I didn't like the characters and I just couldn't get into the story enough to care. Ultimately, I have better things to do than read a book that I must force myself to finish. However, I've seen many other positive reviews though and you can see some for yourself in the links below.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Susanna Daniel here.  You can see other, more positive reviews and tour stops here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Tuesday, July 30th: The Well-Read Redhead
Wednesday, July 31st: BookNAround
Thursday, August 1st: Luxury Reading
Monday, August 5th: nomadreader
Wednesday, August 7th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, August 8th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, August 12th: Read Lately
Monday, August 12th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, August 13th: Bluestalking
Wednesday, August 14th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Thursday, August 15th: Giraffe Days
Monday, August 19th: Melissa Firman
Tuesday, August 20th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, August 21st: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, August 26th: BoundByWords
Tuesday, August 27th: The Blog of Lit Wits
Wednesday, August 28th: A Bookish Way of Life

Read 8/13

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Crown and The Chalice...Previews

About the book:
Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London.

While Joanna is in the Tower, the ruthless Bishop of Winchester forces her to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may possess the ability to end the Reformation.

With Cromwell’s troops threatening to shutter her priory, bright and bold Joanna must decide who she can trust so that she may save herself, her family, and her sacred way of life. This provocative story melds heart-stopping suspense with historical detail and brings to life the poignant dramas of women and men at a fascinating and critical moment in England’s past.


About the book:
In the midst of England’s Reformation, a young novice will risk everything to defy the most powerful men of her era. In 1538, England’s bloody power struggle between crown and cross threatens to tear the country apart. Novice Joanna Stafford has tasted the wrath of the royal court, discovered what lies within the king’s torture rooms, and escaped death at the hands of those desperate to possess the power of an ancient relic.

Even with all she has experienced, the quiet life is not for Joanna. Despite the possibilities of arrest and imprisonment, she becomes caught up in a shadowy international plot targeting Henry VIII himself. As the power plays turn vicious, Joanna realizes her role is more critical than she’d ever imagined. She must choose between those she loves most and assuming her part in a prophecy foretold by three seers. Repelled by violence, Joanna seizes a future with a man who loves her. But no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape the spreading darkness of her destiny.

To learn the final, sinister piece of the prophecy, she flees across Europe with a corrupt spy sent by Spain. As she completes the puzzle in the dungeon of a twelfth-century Belgian fortress, Joanna realizes the life of Henry VIII as well as the future of Christendom are in her hands—hands that must someday hold the chalice that lies at the center of these deadly prophecies. . . .

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't get very far with reading either book, but rather than do a DNF, I just want to highlight the books as a preview.  I hope to pick them both up again at a later date and enjoy reading then. With everything that is going on in my life, these were books that required more concentration and attention than I could give them at the moment.

I will say that Joanna fascinates me.  I love strong women and stories set in historical England are among my favorites.  Historically the book is rich in its detail.  There are many, many positive reviews for these stories and I urge you to look at the links below.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Nancy Bilyeau here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Sunday, June 30th:  Booktalk & More – review of The Crown
Monday, July 1st:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf - review of The Crown
Monday, July 15th:  Bookish Whimsy - review of The Crown
Tuesday, July 16th:  A Library of My Own - review of The Crown
Wednesday, July 17th:  A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, July 18th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Friday, July 19th:  Col Reads
Monday, July 22nd:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, July 24th:  Lit and Life
Thursday, July 25th:  Books Without Any Pictures – review of The Crown
Thursday, July 25th:  Book Addict Katie
Monday, July 29th:  Scandalous Women
Tuesday, July 30th:  Laura’s Reviews - review of The Crown and The Chalice
Tuesday, July 30th:  Fiction Addict
Thursday, August 1st:  Bookish Whimsy
Monday, August 5th:  Read Lately
Wednesday, August 7th:  A Library of My Own
Thursday, August 8th:  Literally Jen
Friday, August 9th:  A Reader of Fictions
Monday, August 12th:  Books Without Any Pictures
Tuesday, August 13th:  Booktalk & More
Wednesday, August 14th:  2 Kids and Tired
Thursday, August 15th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Letters...Review

About the book:
Rose Schrock is a plain woman with a simple plan. Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband's debts, she sets to work to convert the basement of her Amish farmhouse into an inn. While her family, especially her cranky mother-in-law, is unhappy with Rose's big idea, her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and he helps with the conversion. As Rose finalizes preparations for visitors, she prays. She asks God to bless each guest who stays at the Inn at Eagle Hill. As the first guest arrives and settles in, Rose is surprised to discover that her entire family is the one who receives the blessings, in the most unexpected ways. And she's even more surprised when that guest decides to play matchmaker for Galen King.

With her signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for fresh stories of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life. Fisher's tale of God's providence and provision will delight her fans and create many new ones. Welcome to the Inn at Eagle Hill.

As if losing her husband wasn't bad enough, having to deal with his business issues proves just as difficult, but Rose Schrock is resilient and resourceful.  She decides to turn her family home into a bed and breakfast inn even without her cantankerous mother-in-law's approval.  But, with the help of her kind friend and neighbor Galen. Rose manages it and when her first real Englisch guest arrives, she has no idea how her life or the life of Delia Stoltz will bless each other.

I have enjoyed all of Suzanne Woods Fishers book immensely.  Stoney Ridge is one of my favorite fictional places and I was so glad to see that Suzanne returns there in her new series.  This series stands alone just fine, but it was nice to see favorite faces return from previous books, especially Englischer Will Stoltz.  And, has Jimmy Fisher finally grown up?  I hope so!  I really liked Rose and Galen.  Seriously, just two terrific characters. Vera, not so much, but as we learned her story, I grew to have more sympathy for her.

I love the principles taught through Amish stories and the emphasis on faith, family and friendship.  Suzanne has such a fantastic way with words and her characterizations are terrific.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Suzanne Woods Fisher here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Widows of Braxton County...Review

About the book:
Family secrets can bind and destroy
Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she marries Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn't quite as idyllic as she'd hoped. It's filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who—unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding—will be living with them.

As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krause family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death that haunts Kate as a dangerous, unexplainable chain of events begins.

So many books sound appealing and then just fall short of your expectations.  This was an inherently sad novel.  The story alternates between the past and present and the stories are very much parallel.  Murder then, murder now. Kate unsuspectingly marries into a family of abusers and her excitement at marriage and what she sees a freedom from her abusive, demanding grandmother quickly turns sour.  She struggles to fit in and find her place, her mother-in-law is mean and belittling, her husband isn't as charming as she once thought and her new family harbors a long history of secrets and the family home may be haunted.

There were a few things I liked, but this was one that I just didn't enjoy. I loved Rose and Will and liked Kate when she finally got a backbone.  There was a bit of a twist at the end that I admit I didn't see coming and I like how it ends, but it's not one I can really recommend.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jess McConkey here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other more positive reviews and tour stops here.

Tuesday, July 23rd:  Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, July 25th: 5 Minutes For Books
Monday, July 29th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, July 30th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, July 31st: BoundByWords
Thursday, August 1st: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
Monday, August 5th: A Dream Within a Dream
Tuesday, August 6th: Excellent Library
Monday, August 12th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 13th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, August 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, August 15th: Becca’s Byline
Friday, August 16th: Sweet Southern Home
Monday, August 19th: The Reader’s Hollow

Read 7/13

* *
2/5 Stars