Category Archives: My Book Reviews

I love reading and I love free stuff. So I get to request free books from some of my favorite publishers in exchange for my honest reviews! What could be better than that?

“Love in the Balance” by Regina Jennings

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Buy on Amazon.com!

Regina Jennings proved that she was a talented author with her first novel, Sixty Acres and a Bride.   But could she do it again?  Yes!  Her latest novel, Love in the Balance, invites readers back to Texas to meet Molly Lovelace, a somewhat spoiled and naive daughter of the wealthy mill owner.  Mr. Lovelace is a man who knows what he wants and knows what is best for his family.  And you can be certain that Bailey Garner is NOT the right match for his daughter.  Why, he’s not going to amount to anything in life.  His Molly deserves only the best.  And the “best” means a man with money.

I’ll admit, I didn’t like Molly for quite a while in the novel.  To me, she seemed selfish and spoiled and completely oblivious to her affect on Bailey.  It took me a while to like her, so if you’re struggling with this same problem, stick with it!  Bailey seemed genuine and real, deserving of a woman who wasn’t as flighty or self-centered as Molly.   But alas, Molly came around eventually.

Author Regina Jennings has a talent for writing real characters in real situations with her own flair.  I highly recommend Love in the Balance and any others written by Regina Jennings.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

About Love in the Balance
Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How’s a Girl to Choose?

Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together.

Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town-and her life-and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind.

What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?
Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/iTdiA 
Meet Regina:  

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

Find out more about Regina at
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“Grave Consequences” iPad Mini Giveaway from Lisa T. Bergren!

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Me one month ago: “Sure!  I’d love to read Book 2 of Bergren’s Grand Tour series!”

Me after reading the book: “Why in the world did I ever agree to read the second book in a three book series, when the third won’t be out for months!!???  I want to THROW this book up against the wall, hoping Book Three will fall from it!”

And these, my friends, are the daily emotional and mental risks that we book bloggers take.

In all seriousness, I LOVE this series.  I just wish they’d be published a tad faster.  But when  you ask the Lord to give you patience, He delivers.  I haven’t read a ton of Lisa T. Bergren’s work, but what I have read, I’ve loved.  So many good authors, so precious little time, right?

In this novel, we pick up exactly where we left off in Glamorous Illusions.  Cora Diehl Kensington is trying to find her way with her newfound, spoiled siblings, all the while trying to decipher her feelings for a Parisian lord that is smitten with her.  And then there’s Will.  What to do with him?  Does she have feelings for him?  Is he only a friend?  In Grave Consequences, you get to journey out of Paris and explore more of France, Austria and Italy as you travel with the Kensington and Morgan clan on their Grand Tour.  Convinced that they left their attackers behind in Paris, Cora wants nothing more than to take all of the sights in while sorting out her feelings for Pierre and her new budding relationship  with Will.

My only critiques of the book have absolutely nothing to do with the content of the story.  That was perfect. Don’t touch it!  However, it’s been so long since I’ve read Glamorous Illusions that it took me about 50 pages to remember who was who.  I know that they can’t go back and reprint the book, but a list of characters in the beginning would have been most helpful.  Or even printing the last chapter of Book 1 in the beginning of this novel.  This novel is so character saturated that something of that sort is a must.

All in all, I highly recommend this series.  However, only read it before Book 3 if you feel that you have a healthy dose of patience.  I am not blessed with such a gift.  I can’t wait to read Glittering Promises and finally find out if Cora and Will can sort out their unpredictable futures together.

I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity and David C. Cook Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

CLICK HERE for a link to my review of the first in this series, Glamorous Illusions!

CLICK HERE to pre-buy the next in the series, Glittering Promises!

  Celebrate the release of Grave Consequences with Lisa T. Bergren by entering to win an iPad Mini!

Grave-Consequences-Bergren

One “grand” winner receive:

  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • Grave Consequences and Glamorous Illusions will be pre-loaded onto the Mini!

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 23rd. Winner will be announced on March 25th at Lisa’s website.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

“Secretly Smitten” by Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter

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Buy on Amazon.com!

Ahhhh, Smitten.  Let’s journey back, shall we?  Last year, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first novel by the four writing buddies, so I jumped at the chance to do it again this year with the second in the series, Secretly Smitten.  And I finished it in two days flat…  On days that I worked a full 8 hours.  Yeah, it’s good.

Secretly Smitten is a breath of fresh air.  I had been in a rut of boring novels (sad, but true) and Secretly Smitten just made my day (actually, two days).  It’s light, fun and romantic reading that you can break off in four easy sections.  Secretly Smitten doesn’t necessarily have a central theme like the first book did (trying to turn Smitten into the “Romance Capital of the World”), but it does have a story line that streams through the background of all four novellas.  I have to say my favorite story is the first, between Tess and Ryan.  I could have read an entire novel about them, but alas, it was only about 80 pages.

So, should you read Secretly Smitten?  YES, you should.  Do you need to read them in order?  Not necessarily.  Between the two books (8 novellas total) there isn’t a ton of interaction between the characters of Smitten and Secretly Smitten.  However, if you hate finding out if a couple winds up together before you’ve had a chance to read the novel, then DO read Smitten first.  Otherwise, you’ll encounter some “spoilers” in Secretly Smitten.  The characters from the first book do come back into the second, although they do not play a major role.  I’m SO looking forward to January 2014 when Return to Smitten (Book 3) hits the shelves!

I reviewed Secretly Smitten for Thomas Nelson through their blogger program, BookSneeze.  I received the book for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  A positive review was not required, but freely given after reviewing this book.  It’s also worth noting that I woke up at 1:00 a.m. in the morning to request this book.  It was totally worth it.

 

 

“Ashton Park” by Murray Pura

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As a huge fan of Downton Abbey, I jumped at the chance to read Ashton Park.  While I think it’s smart to jump onto the coat-tails of such a hugely popular historical drama, one must do so carefully.  While I enjoyed Murray Pura’s own version, I felt that it fell short in a few ways.

The novel is the first in the Danforths of Lancashire series, which centers on the Danforth family and their servants (sound familiar, DA fans?).  I felt that some of the characters, who were raised in proper British society, did not act as if they had been.  A lot of the novel read like an extremely dramatic soap opera.  While I’ll agree that it makes for fabulous television, I got a little lost when it was all within one book.  You’re constantly flipping towards the front to the long list characters to figure out who is who.

This is the first book that I’ve read of Murray Pura’s.  I’m not 100% positive that I’ll pick up the second in the series.  I might wait to see what other people have to say about it first.  I reviewed this book for Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and received the book free from Harvest House Publishers.

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Ashton Park 

Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013) 

by 

Murray PuraABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

ABOUT THE BOOK

For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park.
Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park.
The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William’s and Lady Elizabeth’s three sons are all in uniform–and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.

As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ashton Park, go HERE.

“Lovelier Than Daylight” by Rosslyn Elliott

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Lovelier Than DaylightRosslyn Elliott concludes her debut Saddler’s Legacy series with Lovelier than Daylight.  I am a big fan of Book One: Fairer Than Morning so of course I snagged the next two in the series to see where Elliott decided to take us. 

 

You can tell from her writing that Rosslyn Elliott is a lover of history.  Throughout each of her novels, she takes real historical events (all centered around Westerville, Ohio) and inserts them seamlessly into her story lines.  What the reader gets in return is a delightful story that is not only fun to read, but educational.  

Susanna Hanby, a passionate aunt, amateur botanist and fierce temperance supporter, vows to rescue her abandoned nieces and nephews.  As a young single woman, the orphanage won’t put them in her care, but Susanna is determined to find a way around that silly rule.  Enter aspiring journalist and brewing company heir, Johann Giere.  He’s committed to fulfilling his responsibilities to his family and their company business, but his heart leans towards sharing stories with the public.  Immediately Susanna and Johann clash on all levels.  He represents all things that Susanna despises and Johann has a hard time seeing past her uninformed prejudice.   

Lovelier Than Daylight is actually set 50 years later than the first novel and 20 years later than the second, but is still centered on the Hanby family.   Beloved Will and Ann from the first novel are front and center, active in the Westerville Whiskey War and helping Susanna bring her nieces and nephews back home. 

 

While I highly recommend the first in the Saddler’s Legacy series, the second two moved a little slow for my taste.  However, if you’re a fan of history and romance, give this series a try. 

 

I reviewed this novel for BookSneeze, Thomas Nelson’s Book Blogger program.  A positive review was not required, only an honest one. 

“All Things New” by Lynn Austin

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Buy on Amazon.com!

Growing up in the “north”, the North’s victory in the Civil War over the South is generally studied as a turning point for the United States. However, what most history books forget to include is details of the shambles that the South was left in after General Lee had surrendered. What was once a genteel society brimming with wealth, industry and affluence is now a blistered graveyard of plantations and a disparaged people with a bleak future. In the South, the fourth month of 1865 is not seen as a time of celebration, but as a time of mourning. Fathers have succumbed to illness, their brothers are missing in action and the women are left to bury the dead. Their livelihood as they know it is no more. Somehow, someway, they must learn to carry on.

And they did.

I’ll admit “All Things New” started off somewhat depressing. Who wants to read about fathers dying and brothers missing? It’s not exactly the type of stuff that keeps you up late into the night, turning the pages. But stick with it. You’ll be glad that you did.

“All Things New” centers around three woman and their different plights in life: Josephine, a young woman who has lost her years in society to the war, along with her father and her brother; Eugenia, the mother of Josephine, who is learning what it takes to carry on after your life has been turned upside down; and Lizzie, a newly freed slave whose trust in the Lord carries her through.

I reviewed this novel for CFBA and Bethany House Publishers.  The novel was provided in exchange for my honest review.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

All Things New

Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)

by

Lynn Austin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.

Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival–and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine’s mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak…but a bitter hatred fuels her.

With skill and emotion, Lynn Austin brings to life the difficult years of the Reconstruction era by interweaving the stories of three women–daughter, mother, and freed slave–in a riveting tale.

If you would like to read the first chapter of All Things New, go HERE.

“Unending Devotion” by Jody Hedlund

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Buy on Amazon.com!

One thing that I love about Jody Hedlund’s historical novels is that she incorporates real life events and people into her story lines.  And the best part?  It’s more than likely something that you’ve never read in a history textbook or Googled on the web.  You LEARN when you read a book by Hedlund and you’re better off for it when you’ve finished turning the last page.

Jody Hedlund’s newest release, “Unending Devotion” is different from her previous two in many ways.   First, it’s set in cold dreary Michigan in the 1880’s when lumbering was the way of life.  (Kudos to any author who can accurately portray not two, but THREE different time periods in three different novels.)  Second, while there are characters in the book that were real people in history, they are not the main characters, like in her previous two novels.  She also doesn’t rename them like she did in the first two.  Third, I felt like this novel had more romance than the others, which I personally think is a bonus.  There was as much emotion and suspense as the previous two but with just a tad more chemistry between the hero and the heroine.  (You’ll take a big sigh when you turn the last page.  Guaranteed.)

Headstrong, willful and somewhat ignorant Lily Young follows around her “foster dad” to various lumber camps throughout Michigan to help him with his photography business.  All the while Lily is continuously checking the taverns and saloons for her runaway sister.  Lily is determined to find her at all costs, even if she has to sacrifice her own life to do it.  Meanwhile, she’s captured the attention of “shanty boy” named Connell, who is secretly the son of a prominent lumber baron.  His mission is to increase revenue for his father, while turning a blind eye to the dark side of the business.  However, his newfound friendship with Lily forces him into opening his eyes and standing up for himself.

Two days and two days ONLY were spent reading this book.  The suspense of whether Lily would ever find her sister and heart-wrenching determination of Connell forced me to keep my book light on into the wee morning hours.  Out of Hedlund’s three novels, I would say this one is my favorite and it has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf among my other prized books.

I reviewed this novel for Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.  A novel was provided free for me to review.  A positive review was not required, only an honest one.  However, in this case, my positive recommendation of “Unending Devotion” is freely given.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Unending Devotion, go HERE.

About the Author:

Learn more about Jody!

Learn more about Jody!

Jody has written novels for the last 20 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), became a best seller and has won multiple awards.

Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released in September of 2011, and her third book, Unending Devotion, is out now. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!

Jody has been married for twenty years to her college sweetheart. Jody has five children ranging in ages from 15 to 6, with a set of twin daughters in the mix to make things more lively.