Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Worth Forgiving by Janet K. Brown

This summer I have tried to make it a point to discover some new writers.  Sometimes, good luck smiles and in this case a writer found me.  I was asked to read a brand new, not released book! SQEEEE!!!!!!  So I pretended to be cool about it (which I am pretty sure I failed miserably at) and agreed to read the book.

This is book 2 in The Wharton Rock Series.  From the back:  Can prejudice and mistrust threaten an ex-con drug addict's new beginning?

After spending three years in a Texas prison on drug charges, Katie Smith is released to rebuild her life. Full of optimism, she sets out to get a job, rent her own place, and make a home for her eight-year-old daughter, whom she had to give away. She could use a friend, but her past choices threaten to doom her to continued failure.

Larry Pullman graduated from seminary with high marks, but the fact that he has no wife makes finding a preaching job almost impossible. It doesn't help that running from God as a teenager gave him a past that he can't undo. He sure doesn't need an ex-con drug addict messing up his life, but then why did God lead him to her? Or did He?

Now Lacey Chandler has to cope with her ex-con sister too. Isn't it enough that she gave her niece a home? Does that mean she has to clean up Katie's messes forever? Why is forgiving such a burden?

Could it be Katie's not Worth Forgiving?

This book focus is on the youngest sister, Katie.  I always worry a little bit about coming into the middle of the series.  Sometimes you have a hard time following along.  But Janet Brown did an excellent job of filling in the reader on other characters.  So even if you haven't read the first one you can fall right into the story.

Katie was a really well thought out and strong character.  There were some hard things in that happened to her and just as in real life she made mistakes and triumphs.  Katie's relationship with her sister was something that I related to on a personal level.  It struck many chords with me throughout the story.  The characters as a whole were extremely well thought out and well written.

Seeing Larry and Katie's relationship change as the story unfolded was so enjoyable.  At times I found myself bossing the characters in hopes of pushing them together quicker.  The story also had some great twist and turns and surprises that left me guessing what was going to happen next.  What I really enjoyed most about the storyline was that these things could and do really happen in our world as well.  The characters also have to learn to trust in God's plans and timing.

There were also a few things I'd have tweaked.  Without spoiling it, the ending felt a little unfinished. There was such a great build up towards the end, but there were some unanswered questions and it felt a bit rushed.

Overall, it was a great new find and I was so excited to get to read Janet's book.  I plan on going back to Wharton Rock to pick up the first book in the series so I can catch how it began.  So pick up your copy of Worth Forgiving on September 1st and plan on falling in love with some amazing new characters!  Happy Reading!

Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. Writing became her second career after retirement from medical coding. 

Worth Her Weight will be the author’s debut inspirational women’s fiction, but it makes a perfect companion to her recently released, Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. Both books encompass her passion for diet, fitness, and God’s Word. Worth Her Weight marks Brown’s third book. Who knew she had a penchant for teens and ghosts? She released her debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, in July, 2012. 

Janet and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three perfect grandchildren, and work in their church. Find her at http:/ /www.janetkbrown.com on Twitter, @janetkbrowntx , on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Janet-K-Brown-Author/143915285641707

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where Hope Prevails Return to the Canadian West (Book 3) by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Do you remember that first book that you read that made you fall in love with a particular genre?  For me it was Janette Oke.  I remember looking through my school library searching for something different that I could hide inside my boring math book.  Love Comes Softly caught my eye.  I grabbed it, checked out and snuck it into class.

Even though I got caught and my book was confiscated I was hooked on Christian Fiction.  I've read all of her original books.  Bethany House graciously gave me a chance to review Where Hope Prevails and I was super excited!

 From the back: When Beth Thatcher returns to Coal Valley, she has much to be excited about. She anticipates Jarrick's proposal of marriage and perhaps a spring wedding. The mine is expanding, and there are more schoolchildren than ever.

But the town's rapid growth brings many challenges. A second teacher is assigned, and Beth finds herself going head-to-head with a very different philosophy of education--one that dismisses religion and rejects God. Fearful for the children who sit under the influence of Robert Harris Hughes, Beth struggles to know how to respond.

At the same time, Beth wonders if Jarrick is considering a position at her father's company simply for her sake. Should she admit her feelings on the matter? Or keep silent and allow Jarrick to make up his own mind?

Change isn't something anyone likes and when Beth returns to Coal Valley a whole lot of change has happened.  A new teacher, different living situations, and a wedding.  This is the first book in the series I have read and I must admit, I came into a very busy story line.  Which has it pros and cons.

The things I really liked about the book are Christianity is right there woven into the story line. Christian values and morals are important in all of Janette Oke's books and I'm never disappointed in that.  I also like how well Jarrick was developed as a character.  Sometimes only the female characters are thought out, but in this case for me, Jarrick stole the show in every scene he was in.  I thoroughly enjoyed him!

So there were some things that I felt could have been improved upon.  I felt that Beth and Jarrick's romance needed a bit more oomph.  It's kind of like when you are cooking and you just need that extra dash of salt to bring things together.  I also think the ending (without spoiling it for people who haven't read it) focused a little too much on one character and maybe there could have been less of that and more "salt".

All in all it was a pretty good read and I will be going back to grab the first two books in the series so I can catch up with what I missed!  I have a feeling that will tie some things together for me.  So grab your copy today!  Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter Books 2 & 3 of The Everstone Chronicles By Dawn Crandall

Books that come in a series are great!  They can elaborate on multiple characters, previous characters can pop up, and above all if you just plain love the series you can just keep going!  I'm reviewing both books two and three of the Everstone Chronicles today!
In book two: One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn--Meredyth can't deny that what's holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past. Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she's convinced she deserves, and accept that God's plan for her life includes redemption...and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

Sometimes I worry about reading a new series.  That the books following won't be quite as up to snuff as the first one.  Dawn Crandall set the bar high in her first book, The Hesitant Heiress.  But I am happy to say both books, two and three, are wonderful!  I see lots of growth from her first book into her next ones. 

Meredyth and Lawry are both very well written characters.  The story had great twists and turns.  You are rooting for these two from the start and I kept wondering if they would ever be able to be together!  Wynn caught my heart and I had to keep reminding myself that this was a story child, not a real life one!  Will these two ever find their happily ever after?  

So after I had burned through book 2 I picked up The Captive Imposter.  From the back:  For her own protection following the murder of her brother Will, hotel heiress Estella Everstone assumes the alias of Elle Stoneburner and takes a job as companion to an elderly widow. Never did she imagine that her position would lead her back to her beloved Everston, a picturesque resort property tucked away in the rugged mountains of Maine. Living below her station in a guise of anonymity has its struggles, but her spirits are buoyed by a newfound friendship with the hotel manager, Dexter Blakeley. And his distaste for the spoiled socialites who frequent his hotel causes her to take a close look at her own priorities and past lifestyle. When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer of employment she can't refuse. As the two interact and open up to each other, Estella feels a growing attraction to Dexter; and increasing discomfort over concealing her identity. Yet, in spite of the false pretense she's putting forth, she's never felt freer to be herself than in his presence. But will he still love her when he learns the truth about who she is?

So by now I figured that Dawn Crandall couldn't pull anymore surprises because I was catching on to her writing style.  Ahem, well let's just say that my smug attitude died within the first ten pages. Once again we have very strong characters.  Estella goes through so many struggles and is just a beautiful character.  She really stood out.  Dexter was the type of literary character that makes me swoon. 

The story had lots of twists and I found myself reaching for Kleenex on more than one occasion. Once again another great romance and Dawn's message of relying on God through all things shines through.  

So pick up these books and stay tuned!  Book four (yes there is a new one coming out, squee!!) is on the way!  But don't worry, you will have plenty of time to read the first three and anticipate how they can be topped!  Happy Reading!  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Beauty for Ashes and Monstrous Beauty by Carol E Keen

Once upon a time a girl who loves to read got to go on another book tour.  Ready to grab your wand, pumpkin and slippers with me?   Let's roll!

Purchase your copies here

Some people never outgrow their love of a good fairy tale.  I'm all about magic!  So when I had the chance to read and review two adult fairy tales I jumped at the chance! Let's get the magic rolling. 

In Beauty for Ashes (Book 1 in the Beauty Series): Jazz is being forced to move and her mom has given her a major task to accomplish. She has to pack up the attic. What Jazz finds in the attic changes her life in ways she never imagined, and opens her up to life altering possibilities.

This is a nice short read that manages to pack a whole lot of action into a short book.  In this modern adaptation of Cinderella we meet Jazz who gets transported into her own fairy tale.  We all know how Cinderella goes, but you throw in a few unexpected twists and turns, amazing characters, and an overlying Christian theme you have an almost new story!  I didn't want to put it down and wished it was longer.  

So after I went through the first book I was super stoked to dive into Monstrous Beauty (Book 2 in The Beauty Series).  From the back: Ethan's father was a piece of work​,​ to put it mildly. His father managed to become quite wealthy before he died, yet he left Ethan deeply damaged in more ways than one. Can the love and care of a strange young woman with a past of her own free him, or is he doomed to never change?

This one was my favorite of the two books.  Beauty and the Beast is my all time favorite tale and I eagerly devour about every adaptation I can find.  Ethan and Annabelle were beautiful together and I loved how they came together.  The story flowed beautifully and once again even if you think you know the story there is enough new material in here to keep the reader engaged and guessing what's going to happen next!  

Both stories were incredible and I throughly enjoyed both of them!  Would you like a chance to score some awesome reads?  You are in luck!  Celebrate Lit is having a giveaway! 
Click on this link and enter to win these great books!  Make sure you follow the tour stops as well! Happy Reading!  

About the Author

Carol E. Keen currently resides in Alabama with her husband and family. She spends her time writing, reading, working on photography, and working with her much loved critters. She started creating stories to share with others at the age of two years old. She was published for several years in FAMA magazine (Freshwater And Marine Aquarium) as a contributing editor. She published her first book on CD, called Simply Seahorses. She is overjoyed to be publishing her fiction to share with you now. Carol currently has more books in the “works”. Please feel free to follow her for updates.

On a personal note: Carol really enjoys coffee and a good book.

Guest Post from Carol E. Keen

Can you believe it? I’m on my second tour with Celebrate Lit! Wow! I’m floored and happy and close to tears too. I have to say a HUGE thank you to Sandy and Denise for their encouragement and patience and help.

Today we are talking about my first series, The Beauty Series. The first book, Beauty For Ashes is the very first published fiction book that I have released. It started out as a contest entry. When it didn’t make the winning selection, I expanded it and had several trusted people read it. It was well received over all, and so I braved the scary world of navigation Amazon and published it.

Beauty For Ashes is based on Cinderella, and it was a challenge to write. I had always had some questions about why certain things weren’t covered in that story, so in my version, I added them. I answered my unanswered questions. I also have always felt that Cinderella had to be Christian to survive what she did and still be who she was.

My third published book is the second book in this series, and one of my favorite fairytales of all time. Monstrous Beauty is based on Beauty and the Beast. As with Beauty For Ashes, I always felt a “back story” to what drove the Beast was missing. In this version I have added all that, as well as having other answers to why “Beauty” was in this situation to start with. How would either of them relied on God to get through their situations?

I had a lot of fun writing Monstrous Beauty, and I’m looking forward to the next book I plan to write in this series.

Thank you so much for joining me on this adventure, and please feel free to ask questions!

Blessings, Carol 🙂

Blog Stops

August 11: A Baker’s Perspective

August 12: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

August 13: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

August 14: Back Porch Reads

August 15: Pause for Tales

August 16: It’s Storytime with Van Daniker

August 17: A Greater Yes

August 17: inklings and notions

August 18: Karen’s Krayons

August 19: Blossoms and Blessings

August 20: simpleharvestreads

August 21: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

August 22: The Power of Words

August 23: Cassandra M’s Place

August 24: ArtisticNobody

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears

I love a good quick read and summer lends itself nicely to that.  But sometimes you want a bit more. You can't always fill up on dessert (well I could, but it's not that good for me!), you need healthy foods as well.

The same with reading.  Sometimes you want to be challenged in what you read.  You want to think about how you view the world around you.

In A Heart Most Certain Melissa Jagears delivers that challenge.  From the back:  Lydia King knows what it's like to be in need, so when she joins the Teaville Moral Society, she genuinely hopes to help the town's poor. But with her father's debts increasing by the day and her mother growing sicker by the week, she wonders how long it will be until she ends up in the poor house herself. Her best chance at a financially secure future is to impress the politician courting her, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the moral society's president is her suitor's mother. Her first task as a moral society member--to obtain a donation from Nicholas Lowe, the wealthiest man in town--should be easy . . . except he flat-out refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas wants to help others but prefers to do it his own way, keeping his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, though Nicholas has a few surprises up his sleeve. Neither foresee the harrowing complications that will arise from working together. When town secrets are brought to light, this unlikely pair must decide where their beliefs--and hearts--truly align.

Melissa Jagears does not shy away from real life issues in any of her books.  This one is no exception.   Prostitution, hypocrisy, dysfunctional families, and broken homes to name a few.  These are the people in her world and in our own as well.  We are fallen.  I challenge you to NOT find a piece of yourself in this story.  Many times I found myself, well squirming.  And not the good kind either. 

The book also has romance, drama, suspense and most of all living for God and His desires for us. Check out the author's notes and discussion questions as well!  

Most importantly, this isn't a book to let sit on your shelf.  Pass it on.  This message should not be put "under a bush".  Let it shine!  I plan on donating my copy to our church library and getting a few more to give out as gifts!  Pick up your copy today!  Happy Reading!  

Monday, August 8, 2016

An Interview with Amy Clipston

I think one of the best parts about being a reader is getting to meet the amazing people who bring stories to life!  Today I get to sit down and talk with Amy Clipston.

Thank you so much Amy for stopping by today! 

Thank you for having me on your blog!

The pleasure is all mine.  I have a few questions that I'd like to ask you!

1) Where is your favorite place to write?
I love writing in the family room because I’m able to keep up with what everyone in my house is doing and also be comfortable. I have a favorite spot on the sofa, and it’s a bonus if one of the cats will keep me company. If my family is super noisy, I put on ear buds and jam to my favorite music.

2) Who is your favorite writer and why?
That’s a tough question! I read different genres, so that could change at any time. My favorite author when I was a child was S.E. Hinton. I read The Outsiders at least fourteen times, and my copy of the book nearly fell apart. I enjoy romance novels, and a few of my favorite authors are Jill Shalvis, Julie James, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I enjoy young adult books, such as Brigid Kemmerer and Jennifer Armentrout. I often download audio books to my phone and listen to them at work or while I commute.

3) What do you enjoy most about writing and what is most challenging about it?
I’ve always loved to write. I started making up stories in my head when I was in elementary school, and I carried around notebooks that I filled with silly stories. I feel like something is missing if I’m not working on a book. Writing is always challenging because I try to make my current book better than the last. I always strive to take the stories deeper emotionally, and I hope that my writing grows with each book.

4) What inspired you to start writing Amish fiction?
I was always fascinated with the Amish when I was a child. I remember visiting Lancaster County when I was younger, and my father, who was a German immigrant, told me the Amish speak the same dialect of German as my relatives. I was drawn to their simplicity and faith. Due to my German heritage, I feel a loose connection to the culture. I was inspired by other Amish authors to try to write my own Amish stories.

5) What do you hope that readers will take away from your books?
 I always hope my readers find hope and faith in my books. My stories usually are about second chances and renewed faith, and I pray my readers will find that in my novels.

Thank you once again Amy!  I really enjoyed having you today.  Here is a bit more information on Amy Clipston and her website!  If you are interested you can also find her on Facebook.  She's doing a great giveaway now with a chance to win some awesome swag!

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing "career" began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series with Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. An advocate for organ and blood donation, Amy donated a kidney in 2011 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through her donation, her husband received a second kidney transplant. Amy and her husband matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. Amy's memoir, A Gift of Love, will be available in early 2014. She hopes her story inspires others to become organ and blood donors. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats. You can find her on the web at www.AmyClipston.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

That's Not My Hedgehog by Usborne

My earliest memories are of books.  My mom was never too busy to read to me.  I would toddle over with a rather large stack and demand stories.  My mom couldn't keep up somedays so I soon learned how to read myself.  I don't remember being taught it just seemed to happen.

Now my children both love to be read to and it seems like I can't keep up.  They have both inherited a love for books.  There is a general guestimate that reading to your child 20 minutes a day is a good start.  For younger children you can go less and for older children more.

My daughter has Cerebral Palsy and Vision Issues so finding books that she can enjoy has always been a bit more challenging.  She loves being read to, but I love books that she can participate in. She has Braille Books but is in love with touchy feely books!

Usborne to the rescue!  They have come out with a great touchy feely series.  From the back: A touchy-feely board book with simple, repetitive text, tactile patches and bold illustrations specially designed for babies and toddlers. Small children can meet a range of friendly hedgehogs, and by using their sense of touch, work out which hedgehog is theirs. Don't forget to spot the little white mouse that's hiding on each page!

This is a very cute series.  There is literally a touchy feely book for every taste out there.  Not into hedgehogs?  No problem.  Pick from cats, reindeer, puppies, meerkats (yes they have that one).  The writing is simple and focused on the textures.  My daughter was hooked from the very first one and we have about eight of these books.  As a bonus we have one in Braille too!  She cannot get enough of them.  Mom may get slightly tired of reading them, but hearing her laugh and become fully engaged is well worth it.  

These books are only available thorough Usborne.  I have a really great consultant that I enjoy working with and when I'm at fairs and such you tend to see booths with the books in them.  So if you want to check them out before you get them you can do that too!  We have had mixed results with getting them from the library.  Lots of little hands and love sometimes mean you don't get the full sensory experience and that's important to my daughter.  

So grab your little one, a hedgehog, fairy, or puppy and snuggle up with a fun read!  Happy Reading!  

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tea Shop Folly (A Teacup Courtship Novella) by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Sometimes you need a quick read that's fun, light, and enjoyable.  I love reading novellas and visiting characters that I've met in previous books.

In Carrie Fancett Pagel's book we travel to one of my favorite states, Michigan.  From the back: Almost destitute, Lilly has run out of hope when she inherits her great-aunt’s home -- but it’s not the Tea Shop that a handsome young gentleman thinks it is. Lilly’s inherited house is crammed full of tea cups. Theo, a Soo Locks engineer, visits frequently in the hopes he will find the perfect antique teacup for his mother and is charmed by the lovely 'Shoppe owner.’ Lilly can’t turn the bachelor away when he persistently peruses her aunt’s collection, which she’s trying to pack up and remove from the house. Is the man only interested in the teacups, or in her? When Theo begins referring people to Lilly, and the genuine Tea Shoppe owner sets the police on Lilly for her lack of a business license, sparks fly!

In this rags to riches story, Lilly is destitute and caring for her sick mother and her sisters when she finds out she has inherited her quirky aunt's estate.  Sparks fly when Theo enters the picture.  In a charming story packed with humor, a little suspense, and tea it's another great read by Carrie Fancett Pagels.  The characters were well thought out, and my only complaint was I wish it was a little longer.  

So pick up your copy of Tea Shop Folly and enjoy a great read!  Happy Reading! 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Rumors and Promises by Kathleen Rouser

The bad news is that I have gone to so many doctors and therapy appointments with the kids this summer.

The good news is that my summer reading stack is slowly dwindling down!  I've gotten a lot of books read so I'm really hoping to sit down and catch up on some much needed reviewing.

I was so super stoked to start reading Rumors and Promises.  From the back: Sophie Biddle, an heiress on the run with a child in tow, considers herself abandoned by her family and God. Wary, self-reliant Sophie is caught off guard when meeting a kind, but meddling and handsome minister at the local mercantile. 

In 1900, Reverend Ian McCormick is determined to start anew in Stone Creek, Michigan, believing he has failed God and his former flock. He works harder than ever to forget his mistake, hoping to prove himself a most pleasing servant to his new congregation and once again to God. 

While Sophie seeks acceptance for the child and a measure of respect for herself, the rumors swirl about her sordid past. Should Ian show concern for Sophie plight, he could risk everything - including his position as pastor of Stone Creek. 

Now the pair must choose to trust God and forgive those who slander and gossip, or run. Will the scandals of their pasts bind them together forever, or drive both deeper into despair?

Sophie was on the run with her daughter, Caira.  Having a child out of wedlock forces her to assume the role of big sister to her daughter to preserve her child's reputation.  Sophie is running from it all. She hopes to start fresh in Stone Creek.  

Reverend Ian is also starting over after a tragic mistake.  When the two meet there is an instant connection but both resist because they can't let go of the pasts that haunt them.  Along the way we meet some wonderful secondary characters in the book.  Esther, the owner of the boardinghouse where Sophie works, brought a smile to my face often.  There were also a few characters ( Gertrude) that I would have happily thrown my shoe at.  

Can Sophie and Ian let go of their pasts and let God heal and restore them?  Will rumors and busybodies who need shoes thrown at them prevail?  Pick up a copy of Rumors and Promises and find out!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book!  I did receive a copy in exchange for a review, but I also ended up purchasing two for some book loving friends of mine.  So pick up your copy as well and enjoy a great read!  Happy Reading!