Monday, November 30, 2015

Must-Have December Releases

        How is it possibly (almost) December already? I’ll never know, but I’m so excited to share my most anticipated new releases for the month with you! So, here goes…

At Love’s Bidding

        After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she’s accidentally sold a powerful family’s prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to by the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.
        Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn’t deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don’t know a thing about the business he’s single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count—but no mysterious painting—Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.

        I am so excited for this book! I have been a huge fan of Regina Jennings ever since I read A Most Inconvenient Marriage, and this novel sounds so intriguing! I can already see the sparks flying between Miranda and Wyatt, both the good and bad kind! I’m getting a copy of this novel as soon as possible, so be looking out for my review, and expect to hear lots me raving all about it!

The Midwife’s Choice

Come home to Friendship, Family, and Faith in the Town of Trinity.
        In a time when the traditional ways of medicine are constantly being questioned by new doctors fresh from medical school, midwife Martha Cade tries to balance her life’s calling with the demands of her family. Recently reunited with her estranged seventeen-year-old daughter, Martha finds herself torn between guiding her child and allowing her to be an adult. At the same time, she must decide whether she’ll risk reopening the heart she’d long closed off to love.
        Though a small town, Trinity, Pennsylvania, is fraught with secrets, and as a midwife, Martha moves among its people. She knows which homes are filled with light and love, which families have slipped into grief, which wives are unhappy, and which husbands dare to cross lines…As Martha struggles with the conflicts of being a mother, a midwife, and a woman, she learns the greatest lessons of all—that hope can shine even in the darkest hours, and that faith has a way of making the impossible possible.

        The Midwife’s Choice is the second book in Delia Parr’s At Home in Trinity series, and is another book that I am so excited for! I read the first book in the series—The Midwife’s Tale—just a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it, and I have been anticipating the rest of the series ever since. Martha Cade is such a great character, I am so glad that her daughter is returning to her, and I cannot wait to read more about her story!

The Painter’s Daughter

        Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.
        Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him—one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with a child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.
        Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.
        Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?

        I just love Julie Klassen. All of her novels (and yes, I’ve read every single one of them) are absolutely wonderful, and I just know The Painter’s Daughter will be no exception. It sounds so captivating, and I just know I will never regret purchasing it (yes, I’ve already preordered it)! Look out for my review of this one in the near future, because I just know I will devour it as soon as I get it!

Until the Dawn

        A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners.
        The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land.
        Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

        Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden is yet another novel I have been eagerly anticipating. I have been a fan of Elizabeth’s for quite some time now, even though I still haven’t gotten around to reading very many of her books yet, so I am excited to see how her latest novel will play out. It sounds wonderfully intriguing, and I cannot wait to pick it up!

The Forgotten Recipe

After losing her fiancé in a tragic accident, Veronica Fisher finds solace in the old recipes stored in her mother’s hope chest—and in a special visitor who comes to her bake stand to purchase her old fashioned raspberry pies.
        Seth Lapp is kind, hardworking, and handsome—but most importantly, he loves his fiancée, Veronica Fisher. As for Veronica, she knows how lucky she is to be marrying her best friend.
        When an accident on the job steals Seth away from her, a heartbroken Veronica is certain she will never love—or be loved—again. Yet when she discovers a batch of forgotten recipes and opens a bake stand to sell her Mammi’s raspberry pies, Veronica picks up a regular customer who gives her heart pause…despite her best efforts.
        Jason Huyard was with Seth when he lost his life—a memory that haunts him still. So when he seeks out the grieving fiancée to convey his condolences, the last thing he expects—or wants—is to fall in love. Nonetheless, Jason soon finds himself visiting Veronica’s bake stand every week…and it’s for more than the raspberry pies.
        Now, as Veronica’s heart thaws, Jason can’t bring himself to tell her he was there when Seth dies. Can he ever reveal where he was on the day her life derailed? Or will his secret rob them of the second chance at love they both want?

        Doesn’t this sound like such an interesting story?! Clearly it wasn’t difficult for me to decide to add it to this list. I cannot wait to read The Forgotten Recipe, the first book in Amy Clipston's Amish Heirloom series, as I am sure it will be such a sweet novel, full of twists and turns that will make it so interesting to read!

The Mountain Midwife

The women in Ashley’s family have helped mothers usher new life into this world for generations. But what if it’s Ashley’s turn to have a new life?
        Ashley Tolliver has tended to the women of her small Appalachian community for years. As their midwife, she has seen it all. Until a young woman gives birth to a baby at Ashley’s home and is abducted just as Ashley tries to take her to the nearest hospital. The new mother is dangerously bleeding and needs medical attention. Now Ashley is on a mission to find the woman and her newborn baby…before it’s too late.
        Hunter McDermott is on a quest—to track down his birth mother. After receiving more media attention than he could ever want from a daring rescue of a young girl, he received a mysterious phone call from the middle of Virginia from a woman claiming to be his mother. He seeks out the aid of the local midwife—her family has assisted in the births of most babies for many generations; surely she can shed some light on his own family background.
        Ashley isn’t prepared for the way Hunter’s entrance into her world affects her heart and her future. He reignites dreams she has long put aside, dreams of earning her medical degree and being able to do even more for her community. But is it commitment to her calling or fear of the unknown that keeps her feet firmly planted in the Appalachian soil? Or is it something more—fear of her growing feelings for Hunter—that make her hesitant to explore the world beyond the mountains?

        Confession time: I’ve already started this book (shhhh, don’t tell)! The wonderful Laurie Alice Eakes sent me an advanced reader PDF to read and review, and I have to say, so far, I’m enjoying it immensely. Because of that, I had no choice but to add The Mountain Midwife to this list, but I was planning on it anyway so it all worked out. Anyway, I cannot wait to finish this novel, and to share my review with you! Look for it soon!

        Those are all of the December releases I am anticipating!!! What are you looking forward to reading this month?
        Happy (early) December!

If you want to see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopses goes to the various authors and their publishers.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Bookshelf: Joline’s Redemption by Vickie McDonough

Joline has fallen as far as any women can.
        Jo’s lofty dreams of love and luxury evaporated when her ne’er-do-well husband left her pregnant and alone. After a series of increasingly bad decisions, Jo finds herself at a crossroads: swallow her pride and seek refuge at her sister’s home or risk losing her infant son.
        She chooses the first option, even though she knows the man she’s running from will come after her, and she needs to move farther away. To earn money for the journey, she goes to work for her estranged husband’s brother, Baron. But Jo has a long list of secrets she’s keeping from Baron—namely her son, Jamie.
        Jo intrigues Baron, and he finds himself falling in love with her. But when he discovers she’s his brother’s castoff, he closes his heart. Baron has been cleaning up his younger brother’s messes most of his life, and Jo is one mess he refuses to tackle.
        All too soon, Jo’s past catches up with her, and she realizes the disaster she’s made of her life. Is it possible that God can redeem a woman who has fallen as far as she has and give her hope and peace for a happy future?

        Joline’s Redemption is the second book in Vickie McDonough’s Land Rush Dreams series, coming after Gabriel’s Atonement. Although I really enjoyed Gabriel’s Atonement, I have to say I loved Joline’s Redemption all that much more. I got a taste of Joline’s story mixed into Gabriel and Lara’s—obviously since Joline is Lara’s sister she was mentioned, but part of the drama of her story was perfectly set up in Gabriel’s Atonement—and I knew immediately that I would enjoy reading about how her life ended up playing out. As I began reading Joline’s Redemption, I realized I was right to anticipate her story, and I was hooked by almost the first page.
        Joline is definitely a relatable, loveable character. Although she wasn’t my favorite in the previous book, simply because she had one nasty attitude when it came to her older sister Lara, she is definitely a character worth loving in her own novel. Despite her past mistakes, she only longs to make life better for herself and her son, Jamie, and therefore strives to turn her life around and come back from her past. What makes her the most relatable, however, is the fact that she continually berates herself for the bad decisions she once made. Though that is not something we as people should do since God forgives and forgets as soon as we ask, it is such an easy habit for us to fall into. Anyway, I really loved Jo, and I also loved the way she and Baron interacted, even before she decided not to be afraid of him.
        Baron is such a polar opposite from his brother! I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself, but let me just say, if they didn’t look alike and I wasn’t clearly told by Vickie in the book that they were brothers, I would never have believed it. Baron is such a wonderful, upstanding man who would never do anything to hurt anyone, which makes him completely different from his brother but absolutely perfect in his own right. The only thing I didn’t like about him was the fact that he initially saw Jo as one of his brother’s messes. That is the last thing that she is, even though she does have a bit of a past and it is pretty much his fault, Jo is not anyone’s “mess”. Baron made a mistake in viewing her that way, and his impatience at having to deal with his brother’s messes doesn’t give him any more right to do so. All in all though, Baron really is a great guy, and you truly get to see that as the book comes to an end.
        Because this was such an intriguing book, with romance, suspense, and even a little bit of mystery, I happily give it all five bookshelves. I really, really loved the ending, and the whole story really, and am so glad I own a copy so that I can read it again soon. And I cannot wait for the final book in the series, Sarah’s Surrender, which releases sometime next year! I highly recommend this novel!
        Happy reading!

I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

All credit for the wonderful photo goes to my sister Allie, whose blog you can check out here.

If you want to see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Vickie McDonough and Shiloh Run Press.

Friday, November 27, 2015

My Bookshelf: Gabriel’s Atonement by Vickie McDonough

        All Gabriel Coulter ever wanted was to live a comfortable life as a successful gambler, but a confrontation with a disgruntled cowboy who’d just lost to Gabe leads to a family man dying in his arms. Even though it was self-defense, the only way Gabe knows to get rid of his guilt is to return the money he won to the man’s wife. Lara Talbot sees Gabe as a derelict like her husband and wants nothing to do with him. But as she struggles to provide for her family and makes plans to claim property in the upcoming Oklahoma land rush, she wonders if God might have sent the meddling gambler to help.

        Gabriel’s Atonement is the first book in Vickie McDonough’s Land Rush Dreams series, and is also the first full length book I have ever read by her. I have, however, read one of her novella collections in the past, so I knew a little about her writing style going in. in all honesty, though, I didn’t expect that I would love this book nearly as much as I did. The synopsis sounded interesting, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I have been able to read so many wonderfully written books over the last few months, so I’m never sure just what to expect any more when I pick up a novel. Gabriel’s Atonement is such a sweet, captivating romance with just enough mystery and intrigue to make it extremely difficult to put down.
        Lara Talbot is such a strong character! I cannot imagine having to care for my son, sister, ailing grandfather, and farm all on my own, and definitely not in that day and age, but Lara does, and does well. Even though her late husband was a no-account and they are strapped financially, Lara really does an amazing job of taking care of her family, especially considering the fact that she pretty much did it all without much help since her grandfather was ill so often. She is also a wonderful mother to Michael, and is just an all-around easy to relate to character, especially when it comes to how she treats Gabe in the beginning.
        Gabriel Coulter is such a character! Despite his somewhat unsavory past and occupation, he truly is a wonderfully kind, caring, and compassionate man, and as he grows throughout the course of the story he really does become a man worthy of admiration. I don’t want to give away anything, but Gabe definitely is one of my favorite heroes based on all that he becomes. And even just through the transition. His heart is one of gold, once he allows himself to use it of course.
        Gabriel’s Atonement is such a wonderful book, with plenty of romance, action, and just enough intrigue to keep you captivated until the last page. You’ll even be captivated after that as it pretty much sets you up for the next book in the series—Joline’s Redemption—which I’ve already finished and loved as well (I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow). The only flaw I found with this book is one simple part of the ending, I just don’t want to describe it too much because I don’t want to spoil the book for you. Let me just leave it at this: there’s an argument between certain people because of a certain circumstance, and I felt like it was resolved and went back to “happily ever after” a little too quickly and easily for my tastes. Of course, I still loved the ending, it just felt a little too unrealistic for me, which leads me to the decision that I must give this novel four and a half bookshelves instead of all five. However, since most review sites don’t allow you to give books half stars, but only wholes, I will round up to five because I loved this book enough to round up instead of down. Outside of that one teensy-tiny flaw, this was a wonderful book that comes highly recommended from me.
        Happy reading!

To check out where I’m linking up, click on my Where I Party page.

All credit for the wonderful photo goes to my sister Allie, whose blog you can see here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Vickie McDonough and Shiloh Run Press.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

My Bookshelf: A Thousand Shall Fall by Andrea Boeshaar

        In the autumn of 1864, spirited Carrie Ann Bell is searching for her runaway sister in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Disguised as a Yankee soldier, she stumbles into a skirmish near Front Royal—and instead of her sister, she finds trouble.
        Colonel Peyton Collier of the Union cavalry division arrests her for impersonating an officer, but protects her from worse consequences. Soon the Southern girl finds herself drawn to the chivalrous Yankee horseman, discovering that her foe has become her ally—and more than that, someone she could love. But Carrie has promised to keep a dark secret, never suspecting that her silence might threaten the life of the gallant colonel who holds her—and her heart—captive.

        A Thousand Shall Fall is the first book in Andrea Boeshaar’s Shenandoah Valley Saga, and is the only book I have ever read by her, so far anyway. Let’s just say, I loved this novel so much that I know I will be reading more of her work in the future. Andrea has weaved together a wonderful tale of love and loss, pain and joy, that will captivate your mind and touch your heart in ways no other book ever has. The story that fills this novel’s pages is so sweet, so touching, so heart-wrenching, that you will be completely unable to put it down. I know I was.
        Carrie Ann Bell knows that she cannot return home until she finds her sister. So, dressed as a soldier in the Union army, she attempts to make it past army lines and towards the direction she feels sure her sister took. Unfortunately, she gets caught in the middle of a battle, and through a few unusual circumstances ends up captured by the handsome Colonel Peyton Collier. As she gets to know him better, Carrie Ann realizes just what a wonderful man the colonel is, and finds herself wondering what a future with him would be like.
        Peyton Collier is one of my favorite heroes of all time. He is kind, caring, chivalrous, brave, compassionate, and honorable. Enough said. He has such a big heart, and I love the type of colonel he is. He cares deeply about his soldiers, and is such a kind yet firm leader, which helps him to have good relationships with his men but still receive respect and obedience from them. On top of that, I love the way he treats his aunt, her housekeeper/friend, and Carrie Ann. He really knows how to care for the women in his life, and that makes him all the more lovable.
        A Thousand Shall Fall is an extremely captivating novel that has just enough twists and turns to have an element of suspense, and I have to admit there were quite a few unexpected events sneaked between the pages. Although I yelled at Andrea a couple of times because some of the twists were not entirely to my liking, it has nothing to do with the quality of the story, but rather with how they didn’t line up with the way I wanted the story to end. All in all, I happily give this novel five out of five bookshelves, and a place on my all-time favorites list, simply because it was absolutely amazing. I highly recommend this read!
        Happy reading!

I received a copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Check out where I’m linking up on my Where I Party page.

All credit for the cute photo goes to my sister Allie, whose blog you can check out here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Andrea Boeshaar and Kregel Publications.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My Bookshelf: The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.
        Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.
        Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again—this time, to the large city of Hagenheim.
       The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight—Sir Gerek—Rapunzel, in turn, rescues him farther down the road. As a result Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to him than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position? 

        The Golden Braid is one of Melanie Dickerson’s young adult fiction fairy tale retellings, and I’m sure you can guess which princess she’s focusing on with this one (wink wink). I have read her retellings of Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella—The Fairest Beauty, The Merchant’s Daughter, The Healer’s Apprentice, and The Captive Maiden (my favorite!!!), and I loved each one of them. Melanie is really a wonderful author who does an amazing job of weaving together her fairy-tale type stories with her medieval time period, and her novels are always captivating and full of suspense and just the perfect amount of romance. Clearly, I was looking forward to reading this book as soon as I heard she was writing it, and I am so glad I finally got to (I know, I know, it just came out, but I’ve been waiting ever since I heard about it months and months ago)!
        Rapunzel is such a great heroine. Despite the fears that her mother instilled in her and the pain she continually caused her, Rapunzel is extremely brave and strong and kind, and not nearly as broken as one would expect, simply because she continually sees the good in her situation. Even though she has the right to be bitter and angry and scared of her own shadow, she continually embodies all the qualities one would expect a heroine to have. She still stumbles, however, which is perfect because it makes her relatable to those of us who aren’t fairy tale heroines. I just really love the way she cares for others, especially those in Hagenheim, and I absolutely LOVE the way she interacts with Sir Gerek, although I have to confess I liked Valten and Gisela (from The Captive Maiden) and their relationship just a little bit better.
        Sir Gerek was a little difficult for me to like at first. Maybe because he wasn’t Valten, maybe because he was an arrogant and rude little knight, but whatever the case, I quickly grew to love him. Once he got past his own pain and fears, he became the perfect hero worthy of such a woman as Rapunzel. He was still a little surly at times, of course, but he learned to be nice and did lots of other things that I cannot tell you but that made him incredibly wonderful in my eyes, especially since he gave me quite a few reasons to get a little swoony.
        I really loved the intense, action-packed elements to this novel, probably because it made me sit on the edge of my seat and bite my nails on a couple of occasions, and I enjoy when a book is suspenseful enough to cause me to do that. Even though I have mentioned that I like The Captive Maiden better multiple times, don’t let that discredit this novel. I really, really loved The Golden Braid; enough to give it five bookshelves in fact, and enough to place it on my all-time favorites list. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, suspenseful romance novel, but especially to all of those teens or their mothers who are looking for a clean, wholesome YA (young adult) novel that is interesting and action-packed and yet doesn’t make them blush or have to put it down.
        Happy reading!!!

I received a copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

If you want to see where I’m linking up check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the wonderful photo goes to my sister, Allie, whose blog you can check out here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Melanie Dickerson and Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Top Ten Quotes I Loved From Books I Read in the Past Year or So

      Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about quotes. I can’t necessarily promise that all these quotes are from books I’ve read in the past year or so, but I’m going to try. So here goes.

1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

        I read this book for the first time this late winter/early spring, and I absolutely loved it. My favorite quote: “Surely you and I are beyond speaking when words are clearly not enough”—Edmund Bertram.

2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

        “I’ve come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is, and always will be, yours”—This quote may only be from the movie, but I just had to add it to this list, because it really does fit into the story so perfectly, and really is my favorite Sense and Sensibility quote.

3. Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

        This may not be the sweetest or most romantic or profound quote, but I just love it so very much. ‘”I call the spot Eden,” he said. “Who could not wish to paint such a paradise?”’

4. The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

        “He bent lower to whisper in her ear, ‘I love you, Queen of Beauty and Love’”—Valten, Earl of Hamiln. Doesn’t that just make you melt?

5. A Lady of Esteem by Kristi Ann Hunter

        “He bowed over her hand and kissed the knuckles. He’d never despised a glove more in his life.”—isn’t this quote just the greatest?!

6. A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

        This quote is just so great. You may have to read the book to fully understand why, but I just love it. “He’d start slow. But he would woo his wife. No matter what personality lay behind the veneer of beauty, she was the only wife he had. And that made her worth it”—Everett Cline.

7. The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

       This is just such a true quote. '"Old things tell a story, Mr. Gilchrist, just as the lives of people do," Miss Iverness's dark eyes were fixed intently on him. "They preserve the past and remind us of how far we have come."'--Camille Iverness

8. When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

        I absolutely loved this book. And this quote really embodies everything I loved about it. ‘”I think everyone who gets to have dreams should reach for them. I want to help you reach”’—Max Sharpe.

9. The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

        This quote is my favorite for two simple reasons. It is the perfect example of Justin’s sarcasm, and it just shows how great his and Brook’s relationship really was. “Heaven help me. I’ll be executed. My poor grandfather will expire from the shock of it, the dukedom will go extinct, and it will be all your fault. All because you grin at me and I can’t say no”—Justin Wildon.

10. A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

         Another perfect quote by the hero of the story. Plus it’s just the epitome of what this book is all about. ‘“Beware, Charlotte Atherton,” Stone murmured as she disappeared around the corner of the barn. “I’m coming for you.” A smile of anticipation stretched across his face. “And I always retrieve what I set out after.”’

         Those are my top ten quotes, and I actually was able to only use quotes from books I’ve read in the past year! What are some of your favorite book quotes?
         Happy Tuesday!

All credit for the photos with the wonderful scenery in the background goes to my wonderful sister, Allie. Check out her blog here.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup at The Broke and the Bookish. 
To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

Monday, November 16, 2015

My Bookshelf: An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

        Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their only grandson, Micah, asks his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him—in front of the whole Binder family. But things go terribly wrong when she says no. Now Katie is stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But, sometimes too much is just enough. Especially, when it’s Christmas.
        Will Katie let herself love and be loved before it is too late?

        An Endless Christmas is a Christmas novella by Cynthia Ruchti, and is the first book by her, to date, that I have ever read. Although I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect going in—since I had never read any of her novels, or very many Christmas novellas for that matter—I had heard wonderful things about both An Endless Christmas and Cynthia’s writing. Clearly I was a little excited for this novella, partly because it does sound wonderful and all, and I have to tell you that I wasn’t disappointed. This was the sweetest, most touching Christmas novella I have ever read. That may not mean much since I haven’t read that many to begin with, but this really was such a great book.
        Katie and Micah were such a sweet couple. I would say the sweetest, but that title goes to Grandma Dodie and Grandpa Wilson, because they really deserve it. But I just love Katie, even with all of her hesitancy and belief that she wasn’t good enough for Micah, wasn’t what he really wanted. Maybe I love her as much as I do because of all that, as those fears make her so completely relatable to me. Although I’m not in that situation or anything, I can definitely see myself, when I am eventually proposed to a million years from now, feeling less than worthy—not good enough—for the wonderful man that God will send to me. So I really understand where Katie is coming from, especially considering all of her baggage. And Micah, Micah is THE BEST guy you could ever imagine. But let me let you in on a little secret: there really are guys out there like him. I’ve seen them, they’re just a little hard to find. Because the main qualities that make Micah so wonderful are his love for his family and Katie, and his constant understanding, selflessness, and faith, he becomes so easy to love, but he is pretty far from unrealistic, which makes him all that much better. And their relationship, despite the few bumps and bruises, is one of the cutest ones I have ever seen.
        But, like I said, the best relationship was between Dodie and Wilson. They are, by far, the absolute sweetest old married couple that has ever existed (forget the fact that they aren’t actually real). After being married for over half a century, Dodie and Wilson have the perfect, I’ve-been-with-you-far-longer-than-I-ever-was-alone, type of companionship, and it was so sweet to see how they are still so in love with each other even after all those years, and all those children and grandchildren. Dodie is so wise, experienced, and full of all kinds of knowledge, especially the exact kind that Katie needs. Dodie is just the absolute perfect matriarch of the large Binder family, and I wish she was my grandmother so that I could experience some of her must-be-wonderful hugs and learn from her wealth of wisdom. Honestly, I want Wilson for a grandparent as well. He is the epitome of the sweet old man, and I just LOVE his nightly traditions!!! I obviously can’t tell you what they are since I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but they are the sweetest things!! Can’t I have a grandpa just like him? (Just to let you know, I don’t have an actual grandfather who is present in my life, so I’m not stepping on any toes by saying that).
        Speaking of traditions, can I just go on and on about the Binder family traditions for a moment? I love, love, love traditions, even when the tradition is to every year throw one tradition on its head, so believe me when I say I oohed and ahhed (is that spelled right?) over all of their traditions. I cannot tell you how many times I had to stop reading for a moment to catalog one tradition or another so that I could either plan to implement it or base my own tradition off of it in the years to come. Since I come from an already fairly close family, I just love the dynamic of the Binders, and I hope that my family will someday be so completely steeped in tradition and love. Maybe I’ll be the one to start the trend. You never know and besides, I am such a sentimental person. Traditions are just up my alley.
        The already conflicting beginning, unexpected surprises, and wonderful ending all gave this novella a permanent spot on my all-time favorites list, and helped it to earn all five bookshelves. As we get ever closer and closer to the Christmas season, I highly recommend this novella as the perfect Christmas read, and the perfect Christmas present. I promise you that you’ll enjoy it immensely, and you won’t ever regret picking it up.
        Happy reading!

I received a copy of this novella from the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

To see where I'm liking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the photo goes to my amazing sister, Allie. Check out her blog here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Cynthia Ruchti and Worthy Inspired Publishing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Love Without End by Robin Lee Hatcher

For two single parents with bruised hearts, it’ll take more than a little courage to get back on the horse when it comes to love.
        Kimberly Welch lost her husband to a heart attack in the blink of an eye. But she’s losing her daughter slowly, in the day-to-day tension. In three difficult years, Kimberly has gone from Seattle socialite to Kings Meadow charity case, and her daughter is not responding well to the changes. She’s becoming a sullen, cantankerous teen.
        Chet Leonard lost his teenage son in a car accident. Then his wife abandoned him and their two remaining boys. He tries to keep his mind on the family ranch, but if the last two years have taught him anything, it’s that sometimes you just have to let the memories hurt. Let the memories hurt, and leave well enough alone.
        But when Chet volunteers to help tame Kimberly’s daughter’s horse, everyone gets more than they bargained for…especially when eighty-four-year-old Anna McKenna shows up.
        Nana Anna has reappeared in Kings Meadow after decades away, bringing with her the magnetism and transformative joy that come from a life well lived…just the kind of magic that a couple of unlucky-in-love single parents need to conjure up a little courage and raise a new family from the ashes of tragedy.

        Love Without End is the first book in Robin Lee Hatcher’s Kings Meadow Romance series, and is the first book I’ve ever read by her. I’ve been looking forward to finally having a chance to read one of her novels, and I’m so glad I got to start off with this one. Love Without End is such a sweet, captivating story that I really enjoyed, and I am looking forward to reading more of Robin’s novels.
        Kimberly is such a relatable character! She was burned in her past (haven’t we all) and it leaves her afraid to really live life again. But I’ve got to give her praise for the way she fights to give her daughter what she deserves. Even though she just wants to be back on safe ground, Kimberly tries her hardest to provide for Tara, and that is one of the things I admire about her. I also just really love the way she and Chet interact. I wish I could tell you exactly what about their relationship I like, but since I don’t want to spoil it, I’ll just say that the ending is my favorite part. Because it’s wonderful. Did I mention that Chet is as well? A sweet, still hurting but wonderful single father, Chet deserves so much praise for all that he does for his family and how he fights to get over what his ex-wife did to him. Both he and Kimberly really come back from some serious emotional pain, and I really admire that quality in them.
        I cannot go on with this review without first mentioning Nana Anna for a little bit. Anna is such a great character, the spry, grandmotherly woman she is, but also the young, hurting woman she was. I love how Robin throws Anna’s past into the mix by adding in various chapters that really gave me insight into who Anna was and how that made her who she is. Her story added to the overall plot of this book, and I am so glad that Robin wrote it in this way.
        Overall, I have to give this book all five bookshelves. It was such a sweet story that really dealt with some serious issues, in a mostly lighthearted way, and I enjoyed every bit of it, especially all the parts about the horses. I would highly recommend this novel, and I can’t wait to finish reading the rest of the series!
        Happy reading!

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Robin Lee Hatcher and Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

My Bookshelf: Get Your Story Straight by Kristen Hatton

        Everyone has a story, but not everyone has their story straight—and teenagers are no exception! Today’s selfie culture fuels ongoing confusion about identity and purpose, and teens are left to assume that they are ultimately responsible to make life work, find meaning, and hope for the best when they mess up. When it’s all about you, it also all up to you. Right?
        Let’s get the story straight. Seven years in the making, Get Your Story Straight is a unique, 52-week devotional book to help teens and young adults discover the incredible news that God really is the hero of their story. Forged out of one Bible study leader’s ongoing quest to see the gospel penetrate the hearts of the teenagers in her small group, Get your Story Straight builds a year’s worth of personal reading and interactive exercises squarely upon the gospel. The three-part book starts with creation and works outward, so teens not only see the unending story of Christ, but also why it matters in their lives. Teens spend a week in one Bible passage—exploring, asking and answering questions, and journaling—to establish the habit of interacting carefully with the Scripture and making life applications.
        This one-of-a-kind devotional book rescues teens from the selfie culture, inviting them to live with Jesus in his gospel story—where they can know that their sins are forgiven, their future is assured, and their lives have meaning.

        I have a confession to make. I haven’t finished this book. But that doesn’t keep me from accurately reviewing it. I really love this non-fic. So why haven’t I finished it, and how can a possibly love an unfinished book? The answer is simple: Kristen Hatton designed Get Your Story Straight to be a one-a-day devotion that lasts for a year, and I haven’t had this book for a year. But it’s obvious that I love it when I’ve added it to my daily devotionals even though it’s mostly designed for teens (okay, okay, maybe I still fall into that category by some standards, but still). By the time I had finished the devotion for day one, I knew I was going to take a year to do this devotional. Because there is simply no other way to get everything out of it without taking your time to get through it.
        I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet (clearly since it will take me a year and I haven’t even had the book for a month) but I know that I am going to learn a lot as I make my way through its pages. It is just so full of substance, all about how God really is the hero of the Bible, and of our stories. It’s about applying Scripture to our lives, and about getting our story straight with God. So far as I can tell, Kristen does an amazing job of relaying her message in a way that is relatable and interesting for teens, and really families of any ages.
        At this point in my reading, I can easily give Get Your Story Straight all five bookshelves, and I know I am looking forward to continuing to enjoy this devotional. I’ll have to give you an update on what all I glean from it by the time I’m finished. Needless to say, I would definitely recommend this book to any family with teens—or anyone in general—who is looking for a good year-long devotional. You cannot go wrong with this one.
        Happy reading!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Linking up at Women with Intention Wednesdays, Thought Provoking Thursday, Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me, and Totally Terrific Tuesdays.

All credit for the italicized synopsis—which I found on Amazon—goes to Kristen Hatton, New Growth Press, and Amazon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations I’m Looking Forward To

        Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is either ten book to movie adaptations I’m looking forward to or ten book to movie adaptations I still need to watch. I’m leaning more towards ten book to movie adaptations I’m looking forward to, and my interpretation of that means I’m going to list ten book that I think absolutely must have movies made of them. Just because that would be totally awesome.

1. The Lost Heiress by Rosanna M. White

        I think this book would be the perfect historical film! It’s got plenty of drama and mystery and intrigue, along with being full of great historical buildings and clothes and such, and romance of course, which would make for such an interesting movie! Plus I just love The Lost Heiress, so I would love to see it across a big screen.

2. A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter

        This would be another wonderful historical movie. A Noble Masquerade is such an action and drama packed novel, set in the perfect 19th century time frame. It is so sweet and romantic, and it really has one of the best storylines that would be perfect for a movie. Besides, it’s just so, so great, and I know it would be extremely popular to all those who wouldn’t mind the slightly Biblical theme.

3. The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

        Who wouldn’t want a movie made out of a fairy-tale retelling? Need I say more? The Captive Maiden is one of the most captivating, full of twists and turns, swoon-worthy novel I have ever read, and it’s based off of Cinderella, only set in medieval times. Who wouldn’t love a movie like that? This one is basically a no brainer; it MUST be a film someday!

4. Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

        I added Not by Sight to this list mainly because it’s so different from all of the typical World War II movies you see nowadays, and I feel like it would be a refreshing addition to the film library (I don’t care if that’s not a real thing, it is now). It has such an interesting, different story that I feel would really make for a wonderful movie. Not only would it be something new to enjoy, it is also super sweet and insightful, and I feel like those are all perfect reasons to turn it into a movie.

5. Royal Wedding Series by Rachel Hauck

        I added the whole Royal Wedding series simply because I couldn’t pick just one of these books, and I know that all of them would make for wonderful movies. Movies and books where nobles fall for commoners are so popular these days, especially since Prince William and Katherine got married, so I know all three of these novels would do super well. Once Upon a Prince is so sweet and magical, I know it would be a chick flick for the ages that would have everyone—including me of course—sighing with delight during every second. Princess Ever After is also sweet, but it has so much more depth and twists and turns to it that I feel would make it a more serious, but yet still lighthearted, love story. And lastly, How to Catch a Prince is just so wonderful it must be made into a movie. It’s so captivating and intriguing, and the love story is beyond magical. How could these three books not be made into movies?

6. When I Fall in Love by Susan May Warren

        I just love the whole Christiansen Family series, and Susan May Warren’s writing in general, so I just had to add one of those novels to this list. When I Fall in Love is by far one of the sweetest books I have ever read, and it has such a captivating, swoon-worthy story that no one would be able to resist. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a movie that is at least 50% filmed in Hawaii? Doesn’t that make for a must-see movie?
7. The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

        Mysteries always make for good movies, right? Besides, The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a mystery set in 19th century England that has one of the sweetest love stories ever, so it has plenty of reasons to be made into a film. There is plenty of drama and intrigue, and Julie Klassen really weaves some of the best tales, so I would really love to see any of her books as movies, but especially this one.

8. Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna M. White

        This is one of my favorite books in the whole world! Have I mentioned that before? Whispers from the Shadows is such an intriguing, mysterious, romantic, wonderful book that would make for the perfect movie! I would LOVE to see this amazing story plastered across a giant screen!

9. Weddings by Bella Series by Janice Thompson

        I put the whole Weddings by Bella series on this list because I think at least one of these books should become a movie, but each book is so completely entwined in the others that the only way they could be a movie is if there was a movie—or a series of movies—made of all four of them. Though I’ve only read Fools Rush In, Swinging on a Star, and It Had to Be You, the first three books in the series, I am sure that That’s Amore is the perfect conclusion to the series and must be added as well. The reason these books should be a movie is simple: they are super sweet, funny, interesting, and who wouldn’t love to watch a wedding planner from a big Italian family fall in love with a good old Texas cowboy? How could that not make for a hilarious movie?

10. Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth Jones

        I love this book so very, very much. It is my favorite one that Denise has ever written. There is so much raw emotion, so much pain and struggle and final freedom, that this would be one of the best, tear-jerker movies that has ever graced the silver screen. Every time I read Hurricanes in Paradise, and I’ve read it quite a few times, I cannot help but cry through the whole thing because it is just so accurate, so real. And I feel like it would be even more so if it were made into a movie.

        That’s my ten, but I can promise you that it took me forever to narrow it down to just the ones I listed, and I can think of lots of others I would like to add. She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh, Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery, First Date by Krista McGee, Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones, and Beguiled by Deeanne Gist just to name a few. Or six. I almost even made my list 16 instead of 10. But I didn’t, just to save you from having to hear me rave on and on about those books too. Just believe me when I say, I would absolutely love it if all those novels were turned into movies. Because I would watch every one of them. Over and over and over again.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Bookshelf: Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry

A twenty-first-century doctor. A third-century plague. A love out of time.
        First-year resident Dr. Lisbeth Hastings is too busy to take her father’s bizarre summons seriously. But when a tragic mistake puts her career in jeopardy, answering her father’s call seems her only hope of redeeming the devastating failure that her life has become.
        While exploring the haunting cave at her father’s archaeological dig, Lisbeth falls through a hidden hole, awakening to find herself the object of a slave auction and the ruins of Roman Carthage inexplicably restored to a thriving metropolis. Is it possible that she’s traveled back in time, and, if so, how can she find her way back home?
        Cyprian Thascius believes God called him to rescue the mysterious woman from the slave trader’s cell. What he doesn’t understand is why saving the church of his newfound faith requires him to love a woman whose peculiar ways could get him killed. But who is he to question God?
        As their different worlds collide, it sparks an intense attraction that unites Lisbeth and Cyprian in a battle against a deadly epidemic. Even as they confront persecution, uncover buried secrets, and ignite the beginnings of a medical revolution, Roman wrath threatens to separate them forever. Can they find their way to each other through all these obstacles? Or are the eighteen hundred years between them too far of a leap?

        The first book I have ever read by her, Healer of Carthage is the first book in Lynne Gentry’s Carthage Chronicles series. Although I had yet to experience Lynne’s writing, I had heard so many good things about her, so I was fairly excited when I picked up this book. I had already read about the whole series, and it sounded so interesting to me, but I never expected Healer of Carthage to be as wonderful as it was! It pulled me in from the very first page, and I have been hooked on Lisbeth’s story ever since! Although I don’t often like fantasy-type novels, I loved the time travel aspect of this book. It definitely made for one of the most interesting stories I have ever read, especially since I really felt as if I was getting to experience 3rd Century Roman Carthage.
        Dr. Lisbeth Hastings is a little spitfire! I love her fire, her zest, and how she never takes no for an answer. Although stubbornness isn’t exactly an admirable personality trait, I love hers just the same. Her fight is what makes her unique, and what makes her such a good doctor, especially when it comes to the epidemic she is thrown into upon her arrival in Carthage. She is so easy to relate to, especially when it comes to the way she wants to fix things so that no one she loves has to face any pain (I tend to be that way at times). I loved watching her grow as time went on.
        Cyprian was also a wonderful character. Although he made me extremely mad at times, I also just really loved him. Deep down inside he is an amazing man, and I really loved his fight to save the church. Besides, the main thing about him that angered me occurs in the second book. So he’s forgiven for now.
        All in all, I really enjoyed this novel, definitely enough to give it all five bookshelves. I’m also loving the rest of the series—Return to Exile and Valley of Decision—and I know Lynne will be an author I will be keeping up with from now on.
        Happy reading!

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Lynne Gentry and Liftuse Publishing.