Love Story by Karen Kingsbury

cover105549-mediumLove Story by Karen Kingsburg is the book that ties up unanswered questions from the previous books in her series about the Baxter’s. In this book the reader learns the full story of John and Elizabeth Baxter. The reader learns how the couple met and fell in love. The reader learns how the Baxter’s first child was born out of wedlock and that Elizabeth was sent away as a result. The reader learns that Elizabeth was forced to put the baby up for adoption.

I personally have not read the other stories in this series about the Baxter family and as a result I spent most o the book confused. I would recommend reading the other books to know what has happened so you as the reader will not be utterly confused.

Thank you to NetGalley and Howard Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: ARC, book review, books, Christian, christian fiction, family, fiction, Howard books, Karen Kingsbury, Literary Fiction, NetGalley, Women's Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

True to You by Becky Wade

cover105949-mediumTrue to You by Becky Wade is a Christian romance that has several parts that are funny, and emotional. This is a wonderful book. The characters are well developed and relatable. The dynamics of the sister’s is well-thoughtout.

There are two main characters. The first; is Nora, is a cautious and studious young woman. The second; John, is a modern-day Navy SEAL who comes into Nora’s life and turns it upside down.

Nora had a really bad relationship in the past that caused her to build a wall to protect herself from being hurt that she did in her last relationship. The obstacles she puts in her way consist of unfashionable clothing, old hairstyles, and work. Eventually John and Nora meet and the wall that she has built slowly begins to break down.

John has an ego but deep down he was hurting and there was an uncertainty of his future that bothered him.  Recently, John was diagnosed with a genetic condition that will affect him for the rest of his life. John was not attracted to Nora at first but the most time he spent with her the more he saw a wonderful young lady. Through his friendship with Nora, John learns some important lessons in trusting God with his past as well as his future.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bethany House for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Becky Wade, Bethany House Publishers, book review, books, Christian, christian fiction, Christian Romance, family, fiction, Literary Fiction, navy seal, NetGalley, Review, romance, Women's Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You’ll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

cover103804-mediumYou’ll Think of Me by Robin Lee Hatcher is a beautiful story of survival and God’s love for each of us. The characters in this book are the example of grace and acceptance, and demonstrate how far love and kindness can go in this world. This is a lovely story of faith and forgiveness. It is lovely to see the spiritual growth of the hero and heroine cheered on by the sweet innocence of a child and of a grandmother.

Brooklyn Myers is a single mother, not by choice. Life hasn’t been fair to her at all. Everyone who should have loved and supported her have left her or let her down. Now, she is going back home again not by choice; but, putting her daughter first she is returning to Thunder Creek to the home left to her by her deceased ex-husband.

Derek Johnson, local Sheriff’s Deputy of Thunder Creek has received a letter from his best friend’s estate. His friend has died and failed to leave him the land he had promised to sell him; instead, he has left it to his ex-wife and daughter. In addition, he has requested, Derek act as a surrogate father to the child. Derek, doesn’t have good memories of Brooklyn and blames her for his best friend’s life choices as well as resents that his dreams of expanding his farm, which happents to be next door to her new home, are in the dust.

While the characters, particularly Brooklyn, have faced difficulty in their pasts, these issues are only briefly touched upon in the story. The story remains a light tale of romance, family, and community. As a result this is a very peaceful book to read, but I really would have liked to delve a little deeper on some of the big issues that were present. I also expected more conflict between Brooklyn and Derek, but aside from a few calm disagreements, they get along well. They are a well-matched pair and I liked their open communication and peaceful relationship, despite the conflict they might have had in the past. There is also no discussion between Brooklyn and Derek about her family life or her history with her first husband. Once Brooklyn and Alycia move to Thunder Creek, everything falls into place for them. There is a bit of suspense towards the end of the book as characters face dangerous situations, bringing a bit of action to this story of romance and family.

Written in third person, the chapters alternate perspective between Brooklyn, Derek, and Derek’s grandmother Ruth. I enjoyed the small, country-town setting and the collection of supportive and caring characters. Hopefully, Thunder Creek will be a setting we readers can return to in future books by Robin Lee Hatcher.

I received an ARC from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: book review, books, Children's Fiction, christian fiction, Christian Romance, fiction, marriage, NetGalley, Review, romance, Thomas Nelson | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson

cover104765-mediumTreasured Grace by Tracie Peterson is a historical novel set during the 1800’s. The author has done her research well and really showed the hearts of the native Americans who were feeling anger and frustration of being forced off of their land by white people who gave no thought to ask first about how they could live together and instead just swooped in and took. This all comes to a head of course in a most horrifying account of an attack on the mission in which our main character resides with her two sisters Hope and Mercy.

Treasured Grace is well-written and has good characters. My attention was captured and held throughout the book. I found it to have a good pace which made it easy to read. There is extreme violence in the book which is historically accurate, but I found it upsetting. Prayer and faith are prevalent themes throughout the book. It emphasizes how important it is to have faith that God is there for you in the bad times and the good. I give Treasured Grace 4 out of 5 stars. It is a lovely yet heartbreaking story. It does have a sweet ending once you get past the serious parts (which are sad, heartbreaking and slightly depressing). There is the requisite romance, but I did enjoy the character of Alex. Tracie Peterson did a great job with her research. Her writing brought history to life. I have read the majority of Ms. Peterson’s novels (I still have a couple in my TBR pile), and I will continue to read her stories in the future.

I received an ARC copy of this book by Bethany House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Categories: book review, Christian, christian fiction, Christian Romance, fiction, historical fiction, history, NetGalley, Review, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

cover103165-mediumThe Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren is a tender story about a girl who lost her best friend. About a friendship that no matter what will never end, and how grieving someone you lost is different for everybody involved.

The Last Thing You Said is a beautiful look at the enduring power of first love and how two teens must reach through the murky waters of grief to reconnect. The whole story is peppered with beautiful quotes and my favorite will stay with me for a long time: “It’s a good day to have a good day.” I loved how Biren portrayed love as a brave act—because it is such a brave act—and how she explored the courage it takes to trust in romantic love after losing a beloved friend. This is a brave debut, a brave look at the raw, messy, confusing bits of young love.

At thw beginning of the book the reader learns pieces of information about Trixie’s death; such as, the way things were before her death, and why things are the way they are now between Ben and Lucy. There are little stories interspersed throughout the book gives this book depth and substance to the backstory.

This book has a lot of drama. Simon the renter who moves in next door to Lucy for the summer and with whom Lucy sparks a summer romance. Ben struggles with guilt, grief, and disgust with himself about his choices and mistakes. Ben’s family and the way they are handling their grief. Lucy and her family’s struggle to understand Lucy’s grief and stay financially afloat. There is so much wonderful, glorious, messy love in this book- sibling, familial, romantic, and friendship love. And the characters are flawed and make mistakes, many that had me cringing and crying out, ‘no, don’t do that, don’t make it worse.’ But the characters and the story are all the richer for mess that offsets the beauty in this moving book.

I received this book from ABRAMS Kids and Amulet Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Abrams Kids, Amulet Books, book review, books, family, fiction, literature, love, NetGalley, Review, romance, Teens, YA | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Clue in the Papyrus Scroll (The Boxcar Children Great Adventure #2) by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Anthony VanArsdale

32672745The Clue In The Papyrus Scroll is the second book in the Great Adventures series. After arriving in Egypt, they soon realize that the agent is missing but a puzzle will guide them to the next spot. While taking in the sites and escaping danger once again, the kids are off to Nairobi, Stonehenge and Rome while giving back stolen artifacts and the mystery of why other people are trying to stop their quest.

The book raises some good questions and answers that pertain to learning about our world’s history, and the people who are native to different areas of the globe, all while packed into a fun mystery adventure. I think I would have preferred if the children could have spent more time in just one place to really get to know the people there better and learn more in one area,

The Alden children (Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny) are now globe-hopping with the family dog, Watch. After being introduced to a secret society that returns lost and stolen artifacts to museums and historic sites, The Boxcar Children join in the world-wide search for missing artifacts. But as if working with ancient treasures weren’t already enough of an adventure, when the Aldens arrive in Cairo, the agent that they were supposed to meet has gone missing.

While the Aldens are working for the secret society, they don’t know what artifact they are transporting or anything else about their ‘mission’ until they arrive at a destination and decode a clue. The clue here is on a papyrus scroll (hence the title), but it takes time to even get to that point as the agent is missing. Once they figure out what they have and where it’s going, the Alden siblings still have to evade a thief who is following them.

These are definitely not the Boxcar Children I grew up with. These children are now world-travelers (on their own!) and much more savvy than those I read about back in the 1960’s and certainly not even close to those from the 1920’s! There were plenty of adventures close to home for the early Aldens, but now they travel with ease around the globe. I’m sure there’s more of an educational value to this, teaching children about places like the pyramids of Egypt or Stonehenge, but it takes away from the innocence of the Boxcar Children. That’s what I miss the most … innocence. These children, with their laptop computers and they ‘Facetime’ don’t really resemble their namesakes of old. I know this is the world we live in, but it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right with these particular children.

But these books aren’t written for me. They are written for an audience that already takes smart phones and laptops to school (yes…I know elementary school children that have laptops in school). These books are for children who already have access to Magic Tree House stories and Magic School Bus stories, where the past is approachable, as is outer space. To compete for attention, the Aldens must step up their game, and I think that the new Boxcar Children (still using the Gertrude Chandler Warner name as author) do this well. It’s just a little sigh-inducing for some of us.

I received a copy of this book from the Albert Whitman & Company via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, book review, books, boxcar children, Children's Fiction, Children's literature, fiction, NetGalley, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wildflower Harvest by Colleen L. Reece

cover97776-mediumWildflower Harvest by Colleen L. Reece is a Christian novel set in the 1800’s. Thomas and Sadie Brown’s farm, Red Cedars, is nestled in the Allegheny Mountain’s in what has become West Virginia. It escaped detection by both Yankee and Rebel troops during the Civil War. Their twin daughters, Mountain Laurel and Ivy Ann, are very different from each other. Laurel is very quiet and reserved while Ivy is outgoing and flirty. They have recently turned twenty. A week later they are blessed to have the new doctor, Adam Birchfield, arrive.

The story is about two twin sisters Laurel and Ivy Ann who lives with their parents in West Virginian. They meet a handsome doctor, Adam Birchfield who seems to like both of the sisters. There is a rift between the sisters which makes one choose to do something unexpected. Adam leaves West Virginian to joins his older brother Nat in Wyoming who is a preacher. Laurel decides leave and go to Wyoming too.

The Birchfield’s have always made their home in Massachusetts until oldest son, Nathaniel, refuses to fight in the war he doesn’t believe in and leaves home. When he finishes school, Adam also leaves his family home in order to practice medicine where he is desperately needed and to try to find his brother.

The lives of these two families become entwined in some very unexpected ways over the years. I really enjoyed this book and the characters though at times I wanted to yell at them when they made silly decisions. There is always some competition going on between Laurel and Ivy, some expected and some seem silly for adult women. The girls are both strong and adventurous when need be. When their lives take unexpected turns they focus on prayer to see them through. Adam finds Nathaniel is now a preacher in the vast Wyoming where the need for a doctor is great. Adam prayerfully considers whether God is calling him to join his brother.

There are many unexpected turns which kept me very engaged and reading to learn what would happen next. The main characters are all Christians but only share their faith through actions. I recommend this book to all who enjoy a good, Christian based romance novel with some mysteries included.

I received an advance copy of this book from Barbour Publishing, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Categories: Adventure, Barbour Books, Barbour Publishing, book review, books, Christian, christian fiction, family, fiction, historical fiction, history, NetGalley, Relationships, Review, romance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abby’s Journey by Steena Holms

cover95941-mediumAbby’s Journey by Steena Holms is the sequel to the  Saving Abbey. It tells the story of Abby’s childhood living with her father Josh. Her mother Claire died shortly after Abby was born but Abby has a real connection with her mother because Claire had written letters to both Josh and Abby to help guide them through her childhood. She had also left her beautiful illustrations in the books she wrote for children with her husband Josh, videos, journals and postcards, all that brought her mother nearer and nearer to Abby.

Abby was born with bronchopulmonary dysplasia a condition which could easily see a simple every-day cold become life threatening pneumonia. Josh had sat at her bedside in hospital time after time, praying that she had the strength. When she was twenty years of age she begged her father to let her move to a flat-share, but he was reluctant to let her move out. Nobody knew Abby as well as he did or would look after her health needs as he did. Reluctantly Josh agreed to let Abby go on a trip to Europe with Millie, her maternal grandmother, retracing her mother’s footsteps and taking her travel journal with her. She not only looked like her mother, but also her thirst for travel adventures was equal to Claire’s. This is the story of Abbey’s first ever holiday without her father, but guided by her mother. Like her mother she documents her travels, sending out postcards, texts and filling her blog with interesting facts and experiences. She was at last living the life she had always hoped she would.

This is a heart-warming story about parental love, family love and friendship. In the various locations that Abby visits she meets people who knew her mother and had kept mementos of her visit. She uses her mother’s journals to connect to the places she visits and she has the time of her life. She also discovers a family secret that her mother had anticipated and another letter for both Josh and Abby helped her to accommodate and assimilate this information with her mother’s wise words.

I loved the gorgeous descriptions Steena Holmes created of the beautiful places Millie and Abby visited. I only wished I was there to share her experiences.

I received this ARC book from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, book review, books, culture, fiction, first reads, historical fiction, Lake Union Publishing, NetGalley, Review, Women's Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Seekers by Wanda Brunstetter

cover100876-mediumThe Seekers is the first installment to Wanda Brunstetter’s newest series, Amish Cooking Class. I really enjoyed this book. In The Seekers, Heidi starts an Amish cooking class. I loved all the different individuals and their own stories and what bought each one to the cooking class held by Heidi.

This book revolves around a woman named Heidi Troyer and her Amish cooking class.Heidi Troyer and her husband of eight years, Lyle, have no children yet. She loves her Lyle and their life together but desires children, also. Lyle refuses to adopt, believing that if it is God’s will, Heidi will be able to conceive a child. Heidi considers giving cooking classes since cooking has come naturally to her and classes won’t take time away from her husband. Heidi will lead six lessons over the next three months.

The Lord prepares students for her first class. The students come with different problems to the classes and through out the book, they find solutions. First is Loretta,  a widow and single mother of two little kids that just wants to learn a more simpler way of life. She wants to know more about being Amish, so learning Amish cooking in an Amish home sounds beneficial.

Second, Charlene is engaged to a wonderful man, but has no experience in the kitchen.  Her financé has a mother who is an expert cook and doesn’t like Charlene. She doesn’t want her future mother-in-law to know she can’t cook.

Third is Eli, is a young widowed man who is part of the Amish community and also doesn’t know how to cook much of anything. His wife had been killed by a hit-and-run driver. He couldn’t cook, and eats out frequently after work.

Fourth, Kendra  is a young lady who got pregnant out of wedlock and was kicked out of her home by her dad so he wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of church or social friends. The young man also left her.

Last but not least is Ron. He pulls his older RV into the Troyer’s yard, hungry and broke. He tells Heidi and Lyle the first lie, that his rig needs repairs and he needs a place to park until he can repair it. He ends up in the cooking class without planning to be there. The Troyers share their food and time, but he holds his secrets close. A Viet Nam vet with PTSD, Ron always finds ways to justify what he does.

Most of the characters are very likable. We see Heidi as a three-dimensional woman of faith, and get to know her students through their everyday lives. I love how this book focuses so much on God. I also love the recipes and how after each class she gives a notecard with the recipe and a verse on the back.

I received this ARC book from Barbour Publishing, Inc. and Shiloh Run Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, Amish, Barbour Publishing, book review, books, Christian, christian fiction, cooking, family, fiction, NetGalley, recipes, Relationships, Review, Shiloh Run Press, teacher, Vietnam, Wanda Brunstetter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journey on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warner

cover102549-mediumJourney on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warner is the start of a five book series with the kids known as The Boxcar Children! The four Aldens are now living with their grandfather with the boxcar in the backyard when finding a painted turtle, they are soon recruited into the Reddimus Society. The Reddimus Society is a secret guild who’s mission is returning lost or stolen artifacts in which the turtle is one of them. As they learn what the society dos, a trip on a train to return the turtle to New Mexico will test the children in ways they never expected that will ultimately, lead them to their next adventure!
This version of the Boxcar Children is fresh and modern. We’re in a world of laptops, WiFi and GPS. The boys and girls are equal players, and since the books are new you don’t encounter those awkward bits of old-fashioned nonsense that you sometimes have to overlook when revisiting other older adventure series. The writing is crisp and direct and clearly aimed at younger readers. A nice touch is that the older kids often explain more advanced words, references, and historical bits to the youngest Alden, Benny, and these explanations, of course, are also intended to help younger readers follow what’s happening.
I thank NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for a free advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Categories: Adventure, Albert Whitman & Company, book review, books, boxcar children, children, Children's Fiction, Children's literature, family, fiction, Gertrude Chandler Warner, history, Journey on a Runaway Train, mystery, NetGalley, Review, school, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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