Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review-like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell


Like a Flower in Bloom
Siri Mitchell
Bethany House

Since her mother’s death eight years ago, Charlotte Withersby has dodged the marriage bullet, which left her free to pursue her love for plants and assist her father to write books concerning his research on botany.  At age twenty-two, Charlotte’s uncle, the Admiral Williams, started meddling in her affairs, convincing her father it was time she marry.  According to them it was high time she did the job God intended her to do…Be a wife and a mother! 

Mr. Withersby is somewhat absent-minded causing him to be almost completely dependent on Charlotte.  She feels if she complies with their wishes to find a husband for a few days, he will beg her to come back and resume her previous role. That might have worked had Mr. Trimble, a botany correspondent from the South Pacific not shown up on their door step.   Mr. Withersby hires him on the spot to take Charlotte’s place, leaving Charlotte no choice but to look for a husband.  She and her dearest friend devised a plan to hopefully return her to what she really wants and send Mr. Trimble running.  She realizes Mr. Trimble is the only one who recognizes she is intelligent…But he is her rival.   

For me this book had a slow start, but I am so glad I read it!  It is a sweet story of a young girl, age fourteen, caring for her eccentric father after her mother’s death.  She didn’t realize all she was missing in life until her uncle, her father and Mr. Trimble decides she should enter society to find a husband.  Even after learning how to dress properly and correct etiquette, this is definitely not what she wants.  Her plan to send Mr. Trimble running doesn’t seem to be working.   However their antics will keep you laughing all throughout the book.  During all of this she finds God’s beauty in nature and detests people who are not honest.  Will Charlotte find a husband?  Will the thorn-in-her-side Mr. Trimble leave?  Will her father realize his plan for her is not what she wants or needs to make her happy?  These are questions that will be answered as you turn the pages of this book.  It is truly a story of inspiration.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, Bethany House through the blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review-The Last Heiress by Mary Ellis


The Last Heiress
By:  Mary Ellis
Harvest House Publishing
Publish Date:  February 1, 2015


British textile-manufacturing heiress Amanda Dunn sails from her home in England as her father’s emissary to try and restore the shipping of cotton to their mills that has been disrupted by the civil war and to check up on her twin sister, Abigail, who married an American aristocrat five years earlier.    Upon arriving in Wilmington, North Carolina she finds herself in the middle of turmoil-filled war and is unaccepted as an equal in the world of business…because she’s a woman.  Jackson Henthorne, her brother-in-law is a shipping tycoon and has warehouses filled with cotton that he is unable to ship because it is forbidden by the president of the Confederacy to ship to England.  All Amanda wants to do is conduct the business she was sent to do, visit with her sister and return to England until she meets a common shop keeper, Nathaniel “Nate” Cooper. Her family both in England and America are not pleased with her relationship with Nate and do all they can to thwart their friendship.  As the war escalates Jackson finds a way to ship product that Dunn Mills desperately needs even if he does have to deal with some unsavory characters.  Also Nate’s Confederate soldier brother visits him and Nate although a pacifist joins the Confederate army, not to fight for or against slavery but to keep an eye on his younger brother. 

This book grabbed my attention from the first page.  It has more twists and turns than a cork-screw noodle that kept me on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t put it down and read it in one setting.  Amanda was disgusted to find her sister and brother-in-law had slaves.  She felt superior because in England they had paid servants. However she soon began to realize there was a fine line between the squalor conditions of those working in the mills, living in employer-provided housing and slavery.  Her determination to change those conditions and treat the American slaves as equals caused division between her and her family.  As the war progressed her faith and her relationship with Nate was pushed to the limit.  I was amazed that MS Ellis, who is a well-known Amish writer, could change genres in such an effortless manner.  It is a superbly written book, with a storyline that is compelling and the characters are completely believable.  What is not to love in a historical romance during the civil war and an English Heiress?  In my opinion it is a must-read.  I can’t wait to read MS Ellis’ next book in this genre.


Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Harvest House, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Judas the Apostle by Van R. Mayhall, Jr.

A Biblical Suspense Thriller

Judas, the Apostle
By: Van R. Mayhall, Jr.
IUverse
Biblical Thriller

Dr. Clotile Lejeune, an ancient Language expert, living in Seattle, has been estranged from her father, Thibodeaux Lejeune for the last 25 years.  She suddenly receives a phone call from her Uncle Sonny in Louisiana with the news her father has been killed.  She and her soldier son, J. E. fly to Louisiana to attend the funeral and find themselves embroiled in a dangerous mystery that will lead them halfway around the world, where they will meet and be held captive by the Kolector, a man of pure evil, all because he desires the two-thousand year old oil jar Clotile’s father acquired during the war, with Judas Iscariot inscribed on it.  The Kolector is so consumed with hatred for the Catholic Church, he will stop at nothing to find a way to discredit and destroy the church.  He feels this jar will help him do just that.

Is Judas a traitor, as lead to believe in the Bible?  Did he and Jesus talk about the role he was to play before hand?  Did Judas really have a repentant heart?  Was Judas really part of the Sarcarii as his name indicates?  These are some of the questions that will come up as you read this fast-paced suspense-filled novel.  Although the accounting of Judas is scriptural based, it is sure to intrigue the secular audience as well.  The telling of Judas by Mr. Mayhall is thought-provoking and will introduce many facets to the character of Judas through history, the Bible and fiction you may not have known.   At times I felt the historical dialogue of the church did drag and was often repeated to some degree in the next chapter.  However the plot will hold you spell-bound with an ending you may not see coming.  I know I didn’t.  I for one will never view Judas as I did before reading this book.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, IUverse, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review-Esther, Royal Beauty, by Angela Hunt

(I loved this cover..beautiful and mysterious)

Esther
Royal Beauty
By:  Angela Hunt
Bethany House

As the story begins, Esther/Hadassah, is portrayed as a young care-free spoiled girl, which could have been true since she was orphaned and lived with her Uncle Mordecai and his wife Miriam who have no children of their own so they doted on Esther.  They lived in the shadow of the palace and her uncle worked at the Kings Gate as an accountant.  However, they are careful to keep their lineage a secret because they are not sure how the new king feels about Jewish people.  Esther’s character goes through many changes as she matures and the story unfolds.  Her care-free life suddenly comes to an end with the death of her aunt, her betrothal to Binyamin, and the king’s new decree.

King Xerxes finds disfavor with Queen Vashti. When he summons her and she refuses to obey his summons, he banishes her from his bedchamber, his court and as his queen.  The king falls into great despair and his personal eunuch, Harbonah, suggests to the King he find a new queen in the commoners of his kingdom.  After the King’s decree was made, Mordecai was afraid for Esther and sent her to Jerusalem with Binyamin where he felt she would be safe from the reaches of the king.  On the journey to Jerusalem she was abducted by slave-traders and delivered to the King’s Palace.  Life for Esther was changed forever.

Esther has long been one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Although the Bible tells how Esther became queen to a pagan king, it doesn’t tell much of her life before.  Ms. Hunt takes us not only into the Biblical portion but also the history and customs of the time period, thus transporting us to the streets of Susa where we travel with Esther as she makes the dangerous journey from a young naive girl to a queen. 

As I went back to the Bible to re-read Esther’s story, the Bible doesn’t convey that Esther wanted to be a princess; however it is important in setting the stage for the character and events of this book.  I loved the way Ms. Hunt brought the story to a climax that was true to the Bible’s account, but was disappointed that is ended abruptly.  She melded Bible, history and fiction into a riveting story, that although scriptural, would be loved on a secular level.  Once I started reading it…I couldn’t put it down. 
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Bethany House, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Pre-release Review-Bunny's First Spring by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Pre-Release Review

My Review:
This is an adorable hard cover book about the evolution of the seasons in the eyes of a new bunny.  It comes complete with a beautifully illustrated dust jacket to keep the actual cover free of little finger marks.  It is very age appropriate for the 4-8 category. 

As the story begins little bunny is born and sees everything new and beautiful.  As the seasons begin to change he doesn't understand this is normal and worries because his friends are leaving and everything is dying and all things familiar are gone.  Then as the ground thaws and the trees begin to bud and the flowers poke their way through the soil, little bunny once again is filled with hope as his friends return and he sees the miracle of new birth in animals and new life from things he thought was dead such as the flowers, grass and trees. 

This cute little book will touch the heart of any child from ages 4-8.  I have never met a little child who doesn't love a little bunny and what a wonderful way to teach them about seasons, death and rebirth.  It could easily be adapted to fit the Easter season; however it is not a strong religious book and would be acceptable on secular level.    Mr. McPhail’s illustrations are sure to delight any child young or old.  I have been a great fan of Ms. Lloyd-Jones’ children’s books and in my opinion you won’t be disappointed with any of her books for your children.   I loved the paraphrased quote at the end of the book by Martin Luther, reminding us that God promises new life. 

Disclosure:  I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review- Princess Hope and the Hidden Treasure by Young & Johnson


Princess Hope and the Hidden Treasure
By:  Janna Young & Jacqueline Johnson
Illustrated by:  Omar Aranda
ZonderKidz

FROM THE COVER:
“On a shopping spree with her sisters, Princess Hope discovers her grandmother’s lost ring.  It is for sale, but the price is high—even for a princess.  How far will Princess Hope go to buy it?  And will her princess sisters hunt for the greatest treasure be successful?”

MY THOUGHTS:
The illustrations on the book jacket will immediately capture the attention and heart of any little girl from ages 4-7.  With the names of the five princess sisters being…Joy, Grace, Faith, Charity and Hope, you will fall in love with them and your child is sure to want to be one of the princesses.  The illustrations are filled with detail and vibrant colors.

The story its self was adorable with the princess sisters being willing to sell all they had to get something that was priceless to their grandmother and culminated with her learning that when we give of ourselves it will bring joy and peace to your heart and life.  This book also simply and wonderfully explains John 3:16 and how we can become sons and daughters of the Eternal King because He gave His Son for us.  This is absolutely a must-have book for any little girl. 

Sarah’s Review  (age 10)

Book Description:
This book is a hard cover book with a jacket to protect it.  The jacket has pretty princesses on it with glittery dresses, crowns and necklaces.  The print is large and easy to read.

About the Book:
The book is about Princess Hope and her four sisters.  They were shopping and Princess Hope saw her grandmother’s lost ring.  Hope wanted to buy it, but it cost too much even for a princess.  Hope and her four sisters sold everything they had to buy the ring, but soon learned there was a mystery that went with the ring.

My Book Review:
The book was AWESOME because it was about princesses and a mystery and I am very fond of mysteries.  I also loved how the sisters worked together to get the ring back for their family.  From this book I learned if you give up something special for some else, it makes you feel happy and good inside.  I think other girls would love this book and the really cool pictures.

Disclosure: We were given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.



Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review-And The Biggest Brag by Mike Berenstain


The Berenstain Bears and the Biggest Brag
By: Mike Berenstain
ZonderKidz


How can you not love the Berenstain Bear Family?  This lovable whimsical family teaches young children love and acceptance through their antics.  In “…and the Biggest Brag”, your child will learn the dangers of bragging about talents you may have.  Brother and sister bear learn it is foolish to brag about their talents and how they should use their talents for good. 

I love at the end of each book there is a page devoted to activities and questions to help your youngster better understand the meaning of the story. 

I highly recommend this book for children ages 4-8, but it can also serve as a reminder for an older child.  The illustrations are adorable and will keep the youngest child wanting to turn the pages.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Miracles of Jesus


Miracles of Jesus
I Can Read 2
ZonderKidz
Illustrated By:  David Miles

This book is a small compilation of several popular miracles in the Bible that Jesus performed while on earth.  These miracles are the ones our children usually learn at an early age in Sunday School, such as Jairus’ Daughter, the sick woman who was healed when she touched Jesus clothing and feeding five thousand with five small loaves of bread and two small fish.  These carefully chosen miracles all teach about faith. 

This beautifully written and stunningly illustrated book is sure to delight your child from ages 4-7.  It reinforces how important faith is and how great God’s love for us is.  These are timeless stories from the Bible that never grow old.

If you are not familiar with the “I can read” books, they help your child by reinforcing their reading skills.  These particular books also help with the spiritual guidance of your young child.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.


Book Review-God Made You Special by Mike Berenstain


God Made You Special
The Berenstain Bears
By:  Mike Berenstain
ZonderKidz

I totally love this book.  I think it should be used in kindergarten through third grade.  It is a story of love and acceptance of those who are different.  It explains that differences can be anything from physical to mental, but all differences are gifts from God.  It is a beautiful way to teach your young child about accepting those who are different.  I would highly recommend this book.  The illustrations will keep your child eager to turn the pages as the story unfolds.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.




Book Review-A Father's Love


A Father’s Love
ZonderKidz
Illustrated By:  David Miles
An I Can Read Book 2

This is a beautifully written and illustrated “I can read book” is a story about the Prodigal Son.  This book is for ages 4-7, but younger children will be delighted with the colorful illustrations.  This is a wonderful story in easy-to-read and understand format.  It reinforces how the love between a child and their parents can overcome problems resulting in forgiveness.  It also reinforces that our actions be it good or bad, always has consequences. 

If you are not familiar with the “I can read” books…these books help your child by reinforcing their reading skills.  These particular books also help with the spiritual guidance of your young child.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this Book by the publisher, ZonderKidz, for an honest review.   I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.






Book Review-Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson


Steadfast Heart
(Brides of Seattle Series, book 1)
By:  Tracie Peterson
Bethany House Publishing

1888 Seattle Washington:
Although Lenore Fulcher had a spoiled upbringing she believed marriage should be between two people who truly loved each other.  At twenty-one, she was still willing to wait for true love at the risk of becoming an old maid.  Her father wanted to see her settled and agreed to let one of his widower employees who was 17 years her senior come calling, making Lenore unhappy and desperate to find a husband. 

Abrianna, Lenore’s best friend certainly doesn’t care what people think of her.  She is determined to help those who are destitute in the worst part of town, in spite of the danger. 

Kolbein Booth, a lawyer from Chicago comes to Seattle looking for his sister, thinking she answered a mail-order-bride ad.  He bursts into the bridal school where Abrianna was raised, thinking it was possibly a brothel only to find she is not there, but…Lenore and Abrianna….were.

I found this storyline somewhat hard to follow making this review difficult to write.  I realize since this is the first book in a new series many characters are being developed along with their storyline.  However at first I thought the book was going to be about Lenore and Kolbein but quickly Abrianna became the focal character or so it seemed to me.  Hopefully as the series unfolds the characters and storyline will have more depth.  I have read several books by Ms. Peterson and am confident by the next book she will have pulled it all together.  I am looking forward to the next in the series to see how these characters unfold.

This is truly and entertaining historical romance.  If you are a fan of Ms. Peterson, it is really worth reading.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Bethany House, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden


Beyond All Dreams
By:  Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishing

Anna O’Brien had a coveted job as a map librarian at the Library of Congress.  There were only eight female librarians.  Anna’s life was considered dull until she came across some baffling information about the USS Culpeper, the ship her father was aboard when it disappeared fifteen years ago at sea.  As she began to investigate and uncover information, she was stopped by the Navy with threats of losing her job.  Determined to find out what really happened to the ship and its crew she pushed her shyness aside and enlisted the help of the dashing young Congressman, Luke Callahan from Bangor.  Although the rules of female employment in the library were strict and fraternizing with the Congressmen was forbidden, however, Luke and Anna were drawn to each other.  Soon they found themselves embroiled in a dangerous, secretive journey and they wondered if the truth was worth risking their future and the possibility of war. 

I was completely captivated from the first page.  I found myself holding my breath wondering if Luke and Anna would be able to rally and redeem their affections for each other from all the ups and downs in their relationship.  I feel the storyline is completely believable because of the many imperfections and obstacles they have to overcome…Just like real-life.  Anna’s faith kept her grounded and pushing her fears aside over and over again and her ability to forgive was amazing.  All throughout the book forgiveness seems to be the greatest lesson.  I love historical romantic fiction and when you combine that with Christian values it is a win-win.  In my opinion Ms. Camden has written another winner!
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Bethany House, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Finding Hope by Stacy Finz

Finding Hope
By Stacy Finz
Kensington Books

Cookbook writer Emily Matthews didn’t expect to be living in a barn in off-the-beaten-path Nugget, California.  She is there trying to find purpose in her life after the abduction of her daughter and her divorce.  She finds inspiration from the eccentric residents of Nugget.

Clay McCreedy doesn’t want to rent his renovated barn to anyone, much less a female city-slicker, since he and his sons are trying to deal with the scandalous death of his wife.   Clay and Emily’s mutual friend convinced Clay it is the right thing to do.  Clay finds himself drawn to Emily but finds trust difficult.

This book was a fast-paced page-turner.  It is filled with loss, grief and resentment so deep it feels there is no way out for them.  However Clay and his sons begin to accept and trust Emily and she in turn begins to deal with her daughter’s abduction.  Slowly they learn to love and forgive themselves. 

I highly recommend this book. It is filled with love, hope and peace.  It is one that you will not be able to put down until the end.


Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Kensington Books, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Twice in a Blue Moon by Cate Masters


Twice in a Blue Moon
By Cate Masters
Kensington Books

Can true love strike twice?
When Melanie Michaels first love died, she buried herself in grief doing risky stunts on a reality show.  She wanted to live on the edge of danger, knowing it was a matter of time before her luck ran out.  She arranged for her crew to go to the Swedish Lapland in the winter because it would have been her wedding anniversary.  However, she didn’t experience romantic nights with her husband, but with tour guide Joe “Buck” Wright who was a loner and only loved his sled dogs.  Joe is also trying to put his past behind him.  Can Melanie and Joe let go of their past in this frozen tundra and find a future worth fighting for?

From the first page I fell in love with Melanie’s character.  Her grief and love for her husband was so powerful it sucked me right into the story.  All throughout the book, I wanted Joe and Melanie to realize they both loved the same things in life and would make a great couple.  This was a sweet story of grief and romance all rolled into an Arctic winter in the Ice Hotel in the Swedish Lapland. 

If you would like an entertaining book that can be read in one afternoon, then I would recommend this book.  In my opinion it is not for the young adult, but more for the adult audience. 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Kensington Books, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Book Review-Murder Tightly Knit by Vanetta Chapman


Murder Tightly Knit
By:  Vanetta Chapman
Zondervan

Once again Middlebury Amish Village finds themselves under suspicion when a local Amish man, Owen Esch, is found dead on Pumpkin Vine Trail with an arrow through his heart.  As the investigation progresses the trail leads to a survivalist group and the Cat’s Meow knitting shop where a strange man loiters outside the back door and the shop closes early and at odd times.  Having worked together before, when tragedy struck their community, Amber Bowman and Hannah Troyer know who isn’t guilty because they know the Amish people.   Now they need to find the murderer before someone else is killed.

Hannah and Jesse Miller are courting, but life becomes tension-filled when Jesse’s prodigal brother Andrew, returns home just as the murder occurs and his strange actions are unsettling for his family.  Hannah and Jesse will have to work to overcome the tension if they want to make their relationship work. 

This is another superbly written Amish Mystery by Ms. Chapman.  I read “Murder Lightly Brewed” (1st in the series, An Amish Village Mystery) and fell in love with the series.  The book is fast-paced and takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns.  At times I thought I knew exactly who the killer was, but in the next paragraph I would change my mind.  It kept me guessing to the end.  Ms. Chapman has the ability to take two separate ways of life and meld them together in an unsuspecting blend.  I love that as the story unfolded and stress levels increased, love flourished and the community remained united. 

I highly recommend this book.  If you love reading about the Amish way of life, romance, murder, mystery and intrigue all rolled into one…you won’t want to miss this one or this series.  Although this is the second book in the series, you do not need to read the first one to get to know the characters.  Of course once you read this one you will want to read “Murder Simply Brewed”.  These books are addicting.  I can’t wait for the next one.  It is easy reading and highly entertaining.  The characters are easy to follow.  I read it in one afternoon.  There is no explicit language or graphic love scenes—definitely my kind of book. 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Zondervan, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.


Book Review-The Bracelet by Dorothy Love



 The Bracelet
By:  Dorothy Love
Thomas Nelson Fiction

Celia Browning is anxiously awaiting the return of her childhood sweetheart, Sutton Mackay, after being away in Jamaica for the last two years.  She is in hopes he will propose to her.  However with the return of Sutton a relentless story-seeking reporter also arrives in Savannah, determined to write a story of the disappearance of Celia’s uncle and the murder of the laundress in the Browning carriage house.  Celia is just as determined to not let the story be written without it being the truth.  Celia begins to receive threatening notes and a bracelet with a sinister message. 

This enchanting story hooked me from the first page, because even though it is fiction, it is based on actual historical events.  It is fast-paced enough to keep you turning the pages and is filled with mystery, intrigue and romance with a subtle bit of faith tossed into the mix.  I found myself vacillating between wanting and not wanting Celia to find out the truth about her family.  Ms. Love has done a fabulous job in pulling all the twists and turns together in the culmination of a sad but predictable ending.  This is a great afternoon of entertaining reading.  Hopefully there will be another book.  I would love to see what happens to the Browning family, Celia and Sutton, especially with the threat of the Civil War. 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this eBook by the publisher, Thomas Nelson Publishing, through NetGalley blogger program for review. I was not required to write a favorable review nor was I compensated for my review. The opinions in this review are my own.