Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review of What Matters Most by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Nutshell: The fourth book in A Texas Gold Novel series takes you to the city of Austin and the world of politics. Leta Breckenridge is barely making ends meet with working two jobs and taking care of her mom who suffers from dementia. With no college degree and working in the floral department at the local grocery store, she knows she needs a break as the bills are piling up. Her luck turns worse when she backs in to a man's car, and with no insurance, she knows she's in deep trouble. His graciousness is a breath of fresh air, only to find out after he drives away that he's a newly appointed senator who also may be running for governor. Knowing she was spared a lot of money, her search for a new job becomes first a foremost. She comes across a job position that she knows she can do, applies for it and is offered the job. This job frees up her finances and the senator is starting to appear on the radar again. With a new friendship on the horizon and a new job she loves, life is looking on the up and up. Only when she realizes that the company she now works for is digging for dirt on the man she is starting to fall for, does she come to the understanding that she has some difficult choices to make. Walk with Leta on her journey where she learns that God does provide even in very unexpected ways.

Pro's: A very smooth read that is a stand-alone novel. Down to earth characters and a glimpse inside what the political world may look like was refreshing. I enjoyed the approach the author took and the plot and storyline were captivating and kept you wanting more.

Con's: The end! It was a bit abrupt, especially with one of the secondary characters having a change of heart of which I thought was a ruse, but it wasn't. That was a bit of a surprise that didn't feel like it transitioned well.

Recommendation: Read this book! A light read if you're looking for a non-deep book. This book has a great story line as do all the other books in the Texas Gold Novel series.

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Review of Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

Nutshell: Juliette D'Alisa is back. She is slowly recovering from the recent long-distant break-up with the man she gave her heart to. She's working on moving forward with her life as manager of her brother's newly opened restaurant and freshly grieving her mother's recent death. Her life as she knows it is going smoothly, even with a new guy in her life. The restaurant is thriving, she's in her element, her family is closer than ever and things may be looking up with her new boyfriend (who she gets to work with). But everything shifts one day out for a walk and she recognizes her first love's face. What in the world is he doing in Portland and why is her heart not over him? Journey with Juliette as she discovers what true love is, not only her own, but the mystery of her mysterious heritage and how love conquered all.

Pro's: I was so excited to see the final book in the Blue Two Doors series! The 3rd book was just as good as the first two and I loved how this book wrapped up the series. The characters were people I would love to get to know. The time frame of the book is short, but packed full of depth and keeps you hooked. It's a well written book! I also love the recipes that accompany and tie in to each chapter. I will definitely be trying some of them!

Con's: It took a bit to get in to the book as it had been awhile since I read the 2nd book. You would definitely need to read the first two books to understand the third book. It is not a stand alone fiction book.

Recommendation: Read this series! You won't be disappointed!

Waterbook Multnomah sent me this complementary copy to review for the them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Review of They Danced On by Carrie Armstrong Gardner

Nutshell: As the final book in The Darling Family Series comes to a close, the reader finds Jane Darling, the mother of the Darlings, and her daughter Laura Darling, as the main characters in this book. Jane is struggling with the diagnosis of her husbands terminal illness and also struggling with God as to why He is not healing her husband as the Bible promises. Laura is struggling with her lot in life and why everything is so unfair and the only thing that seems to help her cope with her life is alcohol. With a smattering of the other Darling siblings' journeys, this book mainly focus' on Jane and Laura and how they each seek and find God where they are currently at. 

Pro's: What a great book to wrap up this series! You feel like you have traveled along with this family with all of their struggles and joys throughout all three books. Gardner does a great job wrapping this book up and bringing closure to many of the characters. 

Con's: It seemed to wrap up quickly at the end. Reading along it felt like there was going to be a 4th book, but then it wrapped up quite fast at the end. 

Recommendation: I would recommend readers read the first two books in this series as to understand what the characters have gone through up to this point in the 3rd book. Those who enjoy series books and sweet storylines will enjoy this series.

Tyndale Publishing sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Q&A with the Author Carrie Armstrong Gardner:
1. They Danced On is the final book in The Darling Family series. How have the Darlings changed throughout series? The books each focus on different characters in the family, and of course the characters each change in some way. But the Darlings have changed as a family too. Grief is chiefly what has changed them: grief over one family member’s terminal disease, and another member’s addiction. In Book 3, they’ve also said good-bye to another daughter/sister who’s moved away to Africa. So lots of changes for this family. By the end of the final book, grief and good-byes
have deepened and transformed them. In particular, the mother Jane grows in
her faith in Book 3. She’s always believed that God operates on an input/output system: if we ask in faith, God will give us what we want. But now she has to face the realitywith all its accompanying pain and joythat God is deeper and more mysterious than that. She has to grow up. 

2. Life doesn’t always go as expected for the characters in your book (and for us in real life). What are some ways you’ve learned to respond when this happens? Living and working in Russia was a great training ground for this: life hardly ever went as expected there, both in small ways and big. There were constant curve balls; lots of disappointments and also wonderful, unexpected surprises. I learned to roll with it; I had to, in order to save my sanity. When I came back to the States, a pastor friend said, “Wow, Carre, you’re so much less uptight than you used to be!” How’s that for a back-handed compliment? But I took it in the spirit it was intended. I think there are a couple of keys to how to handle life not going as we expected. The first is to get your own expectations out of the way from the start: expectations that you’re going to get what you deserve; that your kids are going to turn out well; that other people are going to live the way they should live. Disappointed expectations are the root of all bitterness. In fact, we are promised very little by God: we are owed even less. When our expectations are low, it clears the way for gratitude. And gratitude is the second key: it has the power to change our outlook on everything. Paul’s injunction to give thanks in everything means that sometimes we have to give thanks even when we don’t understand a situation; even when there seems nothing to be thankful for. It can be a real discipline. Like all disciplines, the gratitude muscle should be exercised during the less-than-dire times. Then, in times of crisis when we need to call on it, the habit will be there. 

Review of Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Nutshell: Lawyer Eric Nash finds himself out of a job. He heads back to his hometown to take a break, regroup and find his way again. But life comes crashing down as he drives in to town. Literally. Rear-ending a lovely lady was not in his plan. After a heated confrontation with this lady, he heads home to find his childhood home in shambles as his dad has decided to turn it in to a bed and breakfast. And the lead person in charge of the construction is none other than the feisty lady he rear-ended! BJ Stevens has a past of her own that she is trying to regroup from. She was not planning on crashing in to Eric Nash and having another man disrupt her life. With trying to put down new roots in a new town, BJ has to get her heart under control and try to forget about this new guy in town. Travel with Eric and BJ as they wrestle with their future and how what they thought they wanted and needed may be different than what God wants for their lives.

Pro's: Set in a small town, you feel like you are a part of the community of Hope Harbor. With some of the characters being carried over from the first Hope Harbor book, this book still reads as a stand-alone as Hannon does a great job with creating the characters, even ones from the previous book.

Con's: This book felt much slower than the first one with a slower plot line.

Recommendation: If you are looking for a book with a slower pace, well developed characters and an all around easy read, you will enjoy this book.

Revell sent me a copy of this book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review of Freedom's Child by Jax Miller

Nutshell: Freedom Oliver is full of secrets. She's living her secret life under the watchful eye of the witness protection program, but no one is aware of that. She has two grown that she put up for adoption decades before. No one knows that either. She gets wind that her daughter comes up missing and she chooses to slip out from under the watchful eye of the WPP and travels across the country to find her missing daughter. Thus begins her journey of running for her life from her murdered husband's family and from the government to find herself in another pot of boiling water with her daughter's adopted family who are harboring a very dangerous secret themselves.

Pro's: A very gripping story! It took a bit to get off the ground, but the backstory was helpful in figuring out the present story. The characters were well described and the storyline hooked you once the pace picked up. The author did a great job storytelling and keeping the reader engaged throughout the book to the very end.

Con's: The language. It was a bit rough and crude throughout as well as the sexual connotations and language.

Recommendation: If you are not bothered by the "con's" above and can read past these, this a very good story and very riveting.

Blogging for Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Review of Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

Nutshell: Sheriff Michael Keane is back in the news again. This time for saving a man from jumping off a remote bridge that the Sheriff just happened to be driving by with a bus full of ladies. Flung in to the headlines as the local hero, Michael lets it roll off his back. He's not a fan of being the center of attention, especially saving a man who didn't want to be saved. When all the hype dies down, pictures show up in the mail of a dead girl and Michael has a very good idea of who the killer is. Now he just needs to find him to put all of the uneasiness to rest.

Pro's: Gabhart does a great job again of writing a light mystery/suspense novel filled with quirky characters and the small town life. She does a great job pulling you in to the ordinary life of a little town off the beaten path. Even with this being book two in The Hidden Springs Mysteries, it's pretty easy to jump in and follow along.

Con's: There seemed to be a few lull spots throughout the story where it felt like something should be happening instead of the story just coasting along.

Recommendation: If you enjoy light reading with a flare of mystery, you will enjoy this story. And read the first book too!

Revell sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review of The 30-Day Faith Detox by Laura Harris Smith

Nutshell: Finding a way to revitalize your body, mind and spirit all at once? The 30-Day Faith Detox can be your guide. With a daily devotional about different warfares that may be waging against your spirit and mind, and suggestions on how to fill your temple to feel the greatest possible, this devotional/guide can be what you are looking for. Recipes, ways to fill your mind with His word, how to declutter your life and put your focus with your food with all different colors, your mind and your body back on Him.

Pro's: This is a great spring board in to getting back in to the routine of spending time with God daily, eating better and how to detox your body of unhealthy chemicals and thoughts. Every day there is a different reading to focus your mind for that day. I liked the suggestions of eating different colors each week. That opened my fridge up to many more options! I've been eating many less carbs/processed foods and my counter and fridge drawers are filled with more fruits and vegetables than ever before!

Con's: It would've been great to see more recipes in the back instead of eating the same recipe for 30 days. In the beginning the author did say not to eat potatoes or corn, but in the food lists of things to buy, potatoes and corn were on there. That was a bit confusing. Also, giving other options instead of juicing every day for lunch or snack would have been helpful as many people work and do not have access to juicing devices during the day.

Recommendation: If you're looking for a jump-start in feeling better inside and out, this is a great tool to use to help you with refocusing your mind, spirit and what you put in your body.

Chosen Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Review of The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

Nutshell: On a small island of the Whales Reef is a little community whose link to the past still carries on through the bloodline of one family. The Tulloch's. David is expected to be the heir, the next in line to "be in charge" and look over the small community, but an unexpected twist is brought to light and the unruly cousin may actually be next in line for the coveted title as chief. Thousands of miles away is an orphan young lady who was raised in the Quaker community by her parents that is wrestling with who she actually is and where she's from. Slowly, these two stories, separated by thousands of miles intersect in the most unique way.

Pro's: The intricate detail of how this book is written. There are so many bloodlines to follow, and having the family tree in the front really helps! It was almost like reading a fiction history lesson. Very well written, very well thought out.

Con's: That this story was not wrapped up in this book! It seemed long in some parts, but picked back up in most others.

Recommendation: If you enjoy a splash of history, intertwined stories and wondering how in the world two plots will come together, you will enjoy this book.

Bethany House sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley

Nutshell: In book 4 of the Logan Point Series, Bailey Adams is in Mexico working hard at making a difference in peoples lives as a missionary. With her broken engagement from Danny Maxwell a thing of the past, Bailey immerses herself as a school teacher and enjoys teaching the women in a local village about Jesus. Bailey is asked to escort one of her student's, who is also her friend Joel's niece, home to the U.S. to visit her grandparents for the first time. With plans set in place and one last meal before heading to the airport, life changes in a flash. Not only is her ex-fiance at the same Mexican restaurant, but the local drug cartel shows up and attempts to kidnap her and her little friend. A series of events puts Danny and Bailey back together, running from the Mexican drug cartel, even in the safe haven of Logan's Pointe. Who is calling the drug cartel shots and why are they after Bailey and the little girl she's escorting?

Pro's: Captivating for sure! A very fast-paced story with events changing every chapter. An easy read to jump in to even as the 4th book in the series. Previous characters were alluded to from previous books, but it was still easy to understand.

Con's: Some seemingly very important medical scenarios at the beginning were not so important at the end, and I think that could've been woven through the book better.

Recommendation: A good read that takes you to the last pages hoping for more. If you enjoy suspenseful books, this keeps you turning the pages!

Revell sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review of Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Nutshell: Annabel Lee finds herself underground locked in a bunker with a dog she is deathly scared of and supplies to last at least a month. She was put there by her uncle and was told to not open the door for anyone. Not even him. Unless he said the secret code. She doesn't know why she's down there and she also doesn't know there are people looking for her. A PI and her ex-husband end up enshrouded in a cat and mouse hunt along with a man who can't speak and a German with his cronies.  What do they all have in common? Once the pieces of the puzzle come together, a chilling realization is discovered and time is of the essence.

Pro's: A fantastic book!! Mike Nappa hit it out of the park with this story! A thriller, mystery, suspenseful plot that takes the reader on quite the journey. The plot is thick with unknowns until the end when it all makes sense.

Con's: A bit gory and violent in places, but it completely fit with the story line.

Recommendation: If you like suspense, you will like this book. It's not a like a suspense book I've read in the past and it was worth the read! Well done Mr. Nappa! As a reader, I'm so glad you listened to your wife and pastor's wife and kept submitting this book to be published!

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.