Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Better Together by Kimberly Stuart

Heidi now has a 5 year old daughter, who is starting kindergarten. She turned down returning to work because she plans on having a second child. But life, doesn't always follow our plans. Heidi distracts herself with all sorts of drama. She begins pushing away all of the people that matter most. Only time will tell if she will emerge unscathed from her self-imposed drama.

Heidi's husband Jake is amazingly patient with all her levels of crazy. He gives her space. He tries to help shoulder the burdens of their life. He encourages her to move on when their plans don't work out as expected. Only time will tell if his patience will last or if he will have enough.

Great things are in store for Heidi's friends Annie and Willow. Maybe it's jealousy that leads Heidi to create the mess of her relationships that ensue. Only time will tell...

Better Together is a contemporary Christian fiction novel. I enjoyed reading this edition of Heidi's story much more than the first. It is probably because my life is closer to this story line than one with a newborn. Ms. Stuart really captures the feeling of life with a little one, the moments of stress and joy in a marriage and the vagaries of close friendships. At times poignant and others humorous, this book has a great flow. The romance elements are clean and the subject matter is addressed in a way that even my pre-teen daughter could read and enjoy the story. There is a spiritual element to the story that is evident but not forced. Heidi helps remind us all that life is messy but so worth the effort.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Promise of Rayne by Nicole Deese

I love to read Nicole Deese novels. She sucks me into her made up worlds and leaves me mourning when my visit is over. Her latest story is a prime example.

Rayne Shelby is a beauty. The daughter of the Governor of Idaho and the granddaughter of the former Governor of Idaho, she is a political princess. She has raven hair and a heart of gold. All she has ever wanted was to be worthy of the Shelby name. Yet, her choice to do business with an enemy of her family may undermine all of her dreams.

Nicole draws the reader into Shelby Falls, Idaho and into a story that is full of familial deceit. Rayne wants to focus on social work, primarily reconnecting with the citizens of Shelby Falls. Her family wants to focus on only those things that will further them in the political realm. Family members that don't contribute to the family goals are ostracized.

This story has a clean, swoon worthy romance. It has elements of faith that should not be overwhelming to someone who isn't a Christian. It has an old mystery and the danger of a large forest fire. And in all the layers, there are so many nuggets of truth, words that will resonate with me far past my reading of this book. Just as these first words did: Desperation undermines wisdom.

I cannot wait for future installments of Shelby Falls!

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo

Do you think that an obsessive compulsive, neat freak and a womanizing ball player can find love? Well, you are about to find out.

CRAZY, crazy, crazy! There are so many levels of crazy that you just have to shake your head and keep reading.

Let's start with the fact that Olivia walks her cat on a leash. I know that there are people out there that do this. I may even have been guilty of this at one point except for the fact that my cat wasn't having anything to do with it. The moment the harness was put on him, he would flop over as if his legs no longer worked.

The second example is that Olivia agrees to a pretend relationship to help her neighbor evade a negative publicity moment. I might be willing to go on one "date" but there is no way I would be willing to give up my whole summer just to make sure that someone else can save face.

Olivia is so quirky and over analytical. Her inner dialogue is definitely worse than mine, but I could relate to her moments of crazy. Her heart is kind and she looks out for the children in her classroom. This is where she and I diverge. I struggle at being neat, let alone as focused on it as Olivia. My lack of risk taking behavior would never allow me to even pretend date a womanizing athlete. And yet, I loved reading about her journey.

Will Vandergriff is the bad boy we all love and hope will reform his errant ways. He is the perfect foil to Olivia. He is handsome and easy going, if a bit irresponsible. He may have full command of his social grace, but his disposable attitude toward women and his penchant for making bad choices really challenge his leading man status.

Read The Thirteenth Chance to discover what happens to Olivia and Will during their crazy fake relationship.

Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone

Wow! I just finished reading this and it was definitely a good chase. Although I ultimately guessed the answer to Jayne's dilemma, the author placed so many red herrings in the story that I was second guessing myself. So, it was with a sense of relief that one of my original guesses was proved accurate.

Here are the stand out bits for me:
Jayne is Catholic. I read a ton of inspirational fiction and was a little surprised by this fact. I cannot remember the last time I read a story where the characters where Catholic. I appreciated the break from the norm. This being said, the faith aspect of this story, while present, should not be overwhelming for someone who doesn't believe or who has different beliefs.

The victim has a voice in the story and is well-loved by the heroine. This one was hard for me. While I love a good mystery, this book has made me realize that I prefer the victim to be someone unknown to me or someone who wasn't nice. This added a mournful quality to the read for me.

Miss Natalie has early onset Alzheimer's disease. I felt that the author's portrayal of this was respectful. Based on my own experience with a loved one having Parkinson's, I felt that it was an accurate portrayal. The very real struggle of choosing to crush their world by reintroducing a truth they had forgotten or lying to save them unnecessary grief is one I know all too well.

The conclusion was both bitter and sweet. I was so happy that the truth became known but the truth revealed was also very sad. The circumstances surrounding the cause of the victims death were multi-layered and messy. I'm trying really hard not to include any spoilers!

I enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what else comes from this author. I am really hoping that it involves Jayne finding a balance and the chance to pursue her dreams.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Since You've Been Gone by Christa Allan

This is not a typical genre that I would read. I generally avoid anything that is likely to make me cry.  And yet, I found Christa's book gut-wrenching in it's honesty. There was not a moment of doubt that this story line could have been a true story. It did not feel rushed and had equal moments of despair and healing. Olivia walks through some of the darkest moments a woman can face, one on top of the other.  This story, although fictional, is evidence that our faith can continue to be small and yet still present. I found it interesting that those closest to Olivia were the ones most likely to overly protect her. It took strangers and former friends to help her emerge out of her sorrow. And yet, each person was necessary for Olivia to be able to heal.  I think that Ruthie was probably my favorite character and I love the quiet tenacity of Evan. In all, Olivia's journey is one of sorrow and healing and definitely worth your time to read.Read Since You've Been Gone today!

A Soldier Finds His Way by Irene Onorato

This book was a well-timed romance. I did not feel that the story moved too quickly or too sluggishly. It had the feel of a real life romance. The two have a chance encounter, time passes and then a friend is enlisted to get the two back together.

The appeal of this book for me was the struggle the characters had to go through in order to  have a romance. Audra must battle against separation from Edward in both a physical and emotional realm. Edward must battle his own insecurities and tragic past. They both must contend with Audra's father who thinks that no one else but Audra's  childhood friend can marry Audra.

There is an evident romantic and emotional tension between Audra and Edward. The redemption plot line is also done tactfully and not forcefully. I loved their story and, if you love romances, I recommend that you read A Soldier Finds His Way also.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Ill-Kept Oath by C. C. Aune

I had the privilege of reading "The Ill-Kept Oath" prior to its release. It was a great read. The beginning of the story follows the pattern of a historical fiction. There is a young heiress and her cousins who were orphaned and raised as her siblings. Prudence needs to find a husband with a fortune, but she is torn because she doesn't want to marry someone she can't love. Josephine is a bit of a rascal that is known for her dramatics. Edward is struggling with his place and leaves school to pursue other interests. Somewhere in the middle, this story takes a turn from the usual and veers toward the fantastic. There was anxiety over who to trust, abilities begin to take form, a curse is placed and a love/hate relationship that ensues. The ending left me anxious to find out what happens next in the story. If you are a fan of historical fiction or sci-fi/fantasy, I would recommend you read this book.

This book will be released on September 27th!
Buy on Amazon

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Hypnotic City by Andrea Berthot

The Hypnotic City is the second in the Gold and Glasslight Chronicles. I read this book as a stand alone. It does not completely reveal the previous story, but I definitely know the basics after reading the Hypnotic City.

The book is set in the theater world of New York City in the early 1900s. Philomena and her friend Jennie are escaping London after an extended quarantine had been lifted from the city. Philomena is the daughter of an earl, but she has only ever felt like a bird in a gilded cage. She steals some of the family wealth and sets out to America to be her own person and seek success on the stage.

While in America, she encounters all of the problems that face a young unknown actress: theives, false friends, disinterested producers, exploitative employers and the need to find a way to survive. Philomena and Jennie find a balance about the time that Jennie falls in love, gets married and leaves to help her husband in his new business. Philomena finds herself on her own in a job that feels like a dead end. One of her co-workers arranges for Philomena to get an important audition only to have the stage manager make fun of her and the producer to dismiss her without even listening to her audition. All of the stress leads Philomena to do something rash while performing at her job. However, that moment is the beginning of big things for Philomena, not least of which attracts a monster. Read The Hypnotic City to see if Philomena is able to make it big and escape the monster that pursues her.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sisters Of The Fire by Kim Wilkins

I got the opportunity to preview this title before its release tomorrow. Before I go further, let me warn you that this story has two brief but explicit scenes.

Sisters Of The Fire is a novel of daring and magic. Five sisters take the stage, each facing her own adventure and her own challenges. Bluebell is the fierce warrior; the right hand of her father the King. Rose is an exiled queen; separated from her firstborn. Ivy is a duchess of a great seaport; searching for love and her place in the world. Ash is an apprenticing magician; on a deadly quest. Willow is a zealot; placing her faith in Maava above all else. These sisters are separated by geography and vastly different personalities. Their stories intertwine and unfold in unexpected ways. Nothing else makes a story more complete than villains you love to hate and this story is full of them. Similar to George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones, Sisters Of The Fire is passionate and brutal.

Will the sisters reunite or will their differences pull the family apart?
Will their kingdoms still be standing at the end?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Disillusioned by Christy Barritt

 I love the crime genre but I do not always love the gore, profanity and sexuality that accompanies some of the plots. When I see Ms. Barritt's name, I know that I can expect a good, thrilling ride without all of the nastiness that other authors feel compelled to include. I have enjoyed reading Ms. Barritt's Squeaky Clean series, so I was very excited to see a new title from her.

Disillusioned grabbed me, from the opening pages, with a compelling story. The pages were full of suspense and tension and just like her Squeaky Clean series, there are no elicit love scenes. The ending may not have surprised me, but there were definitely enough red herrings that I wasn't sure which scenario would be the ultimate ending.

Remember all the hub bub around Bowe Bergdahl. Did you ever wonder if he was innocent or were you convinced he was guilty. Bobby Wright finds himself in a similar position. Fortunately for Bobby, he has a sister that will fight with everything she has to prove his innocence. From the moment they are introduced to the reader, they are fighting for their chance at survival. Nikki risks everything to keep her Navy SEAL brother safe. She even relies on someone who broke her heart because he is the best chance her brother has for freedom. Nikki and Bobby are not only running from the FBI and Homeland Security, but they are also trying to discover a terrorist on US soil. ARM kidnapped Bobby and he was never supposed to survive. Now ARM is coming after Bobby with a vengeance. Both Bobby and Nikki face their own battles with disillusionment. Bobby's is with the world around him. Nikki's is with a God who didn't answer in the way that Nikki expected. Join Nikki Wright on her journey to battle spiritual disillusionment and political conspiracy.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Crystallum by Laney McMann

I just finished reading this book and I have to say that I am disappointed; disappointed that I have to wait for the continuation of the story as this installment was just released.

The beginning of the story left me in much confusion. Much as the heroine of this story, I couldn't figure out what the sides were let alone who was good and who was bad. By the middle of the story, I didn't care anymore who was what. I was equally infatuated with Kade's love interest, forbidden or not. Kadence Sparrow enters a new town the summer before her senior year. Daughter of a neurosurgeon, she was prone to moving wherever her father's job took them. She lives by rules to protect a secret: no boyfriends, no close friends, show no one who you really are. All these rules come crashing down when she meets Cole Spires. Crystallum is part modern day Romeo and Juliet and part sci-fi demon hunters, reminiscent of Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters. I highly recommend it and, one more thing, she really caught me with the antagonist. I did not see that coming! Read the book!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Amelia, Not Earhart, Makes the Headlines

Home is where the heart is. This is what Amelia learns as she makes a home for herself in Maple Valley. Following a divorce and the loss of her dreams, she finds a niche in the local newspaper office. The only problem is that the newspaper is floundering and she will do anything to make sure that doesn't happen. She even sends desperate e-mail requests to a former reporter who has made it big in the political world.

Like Never Before is a great modern day romance that left me with a smile on my face. I loved all of Ms. Tagg's references to vintage films and the historical element that she wove into the story. This is a great read and I am so glad that I discovered Melissa Tagg! (This is book 2 and I was able to read it as a stand alone, now off to book 1)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Finders Keepers by Sarah Monzon

Pirates, explorers, treasure hunters, adventure and romance, Finders Keepers has all of this and more. I typically have a very easy time predicting the plot line of stories, yet Sarah Monzon's storytelling kept surprising me. I'm tempted to tell you about my favorite suprises, but I think you should read it for your self. This story will captivate you whether you like modern or historical fiction. The story line is paced well, I did not feel like she spent the majority of the book building up to a rushed conclusion. Nor did the time line feel unrealistic in how fast elements happened. I am excited to find out the stories of her supporting cast in the books to come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

I was given this book as a gift. I was conflicted reading it, as I have not read the three preceding books. I am usually someone that prefers to read in chronological order, but decided to go against my pattern and read the last first. I fell in love with Gray and I was rooting for his Executive Protection Agent through out the whole story. It read great as a stand alone story, even though I know there were some spoilers in there for the stories that came before it. I can't wait to find out the story of the other Porter siblings.        

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Close to You by Kara Isaac

This was definitely a unique setting and plot for me. I love Tolkien, but admittedly, was getting a little annoyed with the whole tour thing. Maybe I was just feeding off of the angst that Allison is feeling. The situations that Allison would find herself in were quite amusing. And the situations she creates for the other characters were some of my favorites! A great, clean, inspirational romance awaits you! Make sure you read Close to You this summer!        

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Carpenter's Daughter by Jennifer Rodewald

This has been one of my favorite books of the summer! I absolutely loved Sarah. I loved that she wasn't society's idea of beautiful. I loved that she was physically strong and yet insecure emotionally. There was so much detail and thought put into her story. The only person I loved more than Sarah was Jesse. My heart ached for the misunderstandings that ensued. The redemption part The Carpenter's Daughter happened a little fast for me, but redemption can happen at any point and can be triggered by anything, so it wasn't implausible. This was a great book and it was bittersweet to come to the conclusion. I look forward to future stories from Jennifer Rodewald!        

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Leaving Oxford by Janet W. Ferguson

Set in a beautiful southern college town, Leaving Oxford had me hooked right away. The pacing was steady and did not feel rushed. I loved the community to which Sarah belonged. I completely sympathized with her annoyance at the charmers in the story. I loved the story of overcoming that graced these pages and the sweet love that evolves. I am looking forward to the next stories in this series.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Season To Love by Nicole Deese

I am biased. I love Nicole's storytelling. The characters are real. They are lovable despite their flaws. Sometimes you want to smack them for not seeing the obvious and other times they surprise you by doing exactly what you thought they wouldn't do. The one thing I can guarantee is that they will be so endearing you will be disappointed when the story comes to an end. Definitely read this book and read A Cliche Christmas if you haven't already. Both are beautiful modern day romances that are worth the read.