Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate

It's Christmas in Hope Springs, NC, and the Sanders clan is getting together, but just before Christmas, Pastor Jim Dillon, dies. The Sanders family and Pastor Dillon's family are next door neighboors, and all the children grew up next to each other. So while both families are dealing with the funeral plans and very supportive of each other, there is one uniqueness. The Dillons are white, and the Sanders are black. There are two churches in Hope Springs, the church that Pastor Dillon pastored, and the church that the Sanders go to, and they are the white church and the black church. While they are not segregated, it is what it always has been and traditions die hard.
The book focuses specifically on 3 women, Janelle, Becca, and Stephanie. For Janelle, this is her first visit back to Hope Springs  after her husbands death a couple years earlier. Becca, is so focused on her own ministry, but her husband feels called back to Hope Springs, permanently. Stephanie finds herself at a crossroads, wondering what is coming next. Her husband is about leave for a mission trip, leaving her home alone for a month. But when Janelle volunteers to stay and help care for their grandmother, Stephanie agrees to help while her husband is away, a decision that will change the course of her life. As these women share their lives and struggles, they begin to find hope and healing with God and each other. After this season in their lives, Hope Springs will never be the same again!
I really enjoyed this book. This is only my second book that I have read by Tate, and she has quickly become a favorite author. I am excited to see what other books she will be writing in the future! She is definitely an author to follow! The characters all were very real to me, and I could see much of the story playing out in real life. I give this book 4.5 stars. I received this book from Litfuse tours for the purpose of this review.

Celebrate the release of Hope Springs with Kim Cash Tate by coming to her Author Chat Party on Facebook.

Grab your copy of Hope Springs and join me for an Author Chat Party on July 10th at 8:00 PM EST (that's 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)!

During the evening Kim will be sharing the story behind her new book, posting book club questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways - books, gift certificates and (I'm so excited about this) - a Kindle Fire!

But, wait there's more – she’ll also be giving you a sneak peak of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on the 10th ... and bring your friends!

Lucy Come Home by Dave and Neta Jackson

Lucy Tucker has lived an interesting and quite varied life. Growing up during the dust bowl, and living as a migrant worker with her family when she was a teenager, serves as a unique background to marrying a carny and living traveling from amusement park to amusement part with her husband for several years. But much of Lucy's adult life has been spent on the streets. The book jumps between Lucy's present life, in which is she living on the streets or in the Manna House shelter, and her younger years, starting in the 1940s with her family, until the two story lines meet.
I found myself wanting the earlier story line to progress faster so I could understand more of where Lucy had come from and why she was the way she was when you see her on the streets or in the shelter, while the present day story line made me think about the life and hardships of those who live on the streets. This book has some connections to some of the Jackson's other books, being set in the same area of Chicago for part of it. I have enjoyed reading other books by Dave and Neta Jackson, but this book was not a favorite for me. I give this book 3.5 stars. I received this book from Litfuse for the purpose of my review.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson

In book three of the Backstage Pass series, Tia Morales is a control freak who is used to calling all the shots, especially on the set of Stars Collide, a popular sitcom. But it seems that the set is the only thing that she really has control over, and even that isn't under her control, especially when her sister gets hired as a make up artist, and Tia starts falling for Jason, the cameraman. Teaching a control freak how to relax seems to be an impossible task, but will Jason be able to show Tia how to relax enough that he can pursue a relationship with her?
Sadly this book just bored me. I had higher hopes for it, but I couldn't really get into the book and enjoy it. Sure, parts of it were interesting, but I just couldn't enjoy it. I did love that all the chapter titles were different tv shows from over the years, many of which I knew, but some were ones I had never heard of.
I give this book only 3 stars because I just couldn't get into it enough to enjoy it. It was a book I could easily put down and didn't want to pick up. I received this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Darkroom by Joshua Graham

Xandra Carrick travels to her mother's homeland of Vietnam with her father to scatter her mother's ashes. Having spent her life seeking her father's approval, Xandra became a photographer like her father. When processing the photos from Vietnam, she begins to have visions that entangle her in a 40 year old conspiracy that started during the Vietnam war. Her only hope is to uncover the truth. But in doing so, she finds herself and those around her in danger.

Darkroom was a book I wasn't sure about when I got it as I just started reading suspense books in the last few months, but this book blew me out of the water. The first almost 100 pages were a little slow as the book was just laying out the different story lines, but once they began to intersect with each other, I didn't want to put the book down.
I give this book 4.75 stars. I received this book from Howard Books for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond

Sophia, a teacher in New York expects to be engaged Congressman Rexford Montgomery any day now. But when he announces his engagement to her close friend, Sophia takes the first opportunity to change her life, by signing up with the Board of Foreign Missions. While she signed up, intending to go to China, she agrees to take the first posting possible, which in her case means moving out west to teach the Ponca Indians. When Sophia arrives, she knows she can teach, but she is overwhelmed with the new culture, her own responsibilities and expectations of being a missionary. She finds a friend and an ally in the agency carpenter, Will, whose own faith helps to challenge and grow Sophia. But as she falls in love with the Ponca Indians, they ignite a joy and passion in her that leads her to do everything she can to help them. But when the government intervenes and decrees that the Ponca must be uprooted from her land, will Sophia and Will be able to continue to fight for their cause together?
This is a book that made me fall in love with the Ponca Indians almost as much as the main characters did. I got frustrated with the government leaders when they tried to force the Poncas onto new reservations, and I rejoiced with Sophia as the children learned to read and count money and thrived in school. This book did a justice to the time period and the historical events that took place over and over with the various Indian tribes.
I received this book from Booksneeze for the purpose of this review. I give this book 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers

Sierra Madrid seems to have the perfect life. But nothing stays perfect for very long. When her husband Alex announces that he has taken a job in LA and the family has to move, Sierra is severely disappointed. After the move, things just seem to fall apart for Sierra and her family. But when Sierra comes across one of her ancestor's, Mary Katherine, journals, she finds that the journal seems to parallel her own life with its pain and journey towards reconciliation.
I loved the interchange between Sierra's story and the Mary Katherine's, and would have loved to have read more of the journal as I love the history of the Oregon Trail. The quilt that was found with the journal contains another reminder with the scarlet thread used in the quilt of God's hand in both Mary Katherine's and Sierra's lives. This is a wonderful story and I give it 4.5 stars.

The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

Dynah Carey had the perfect life until she was raped. Then she discovers she is pregnant and she thinks her world has ended and her family is torn apart. When she considers an abortion, like others in her family have done, she has to decide if she will follow them, or break the cycle.
While this is a book on the controversial topic of rape and abortion, Rivers has done a great job covering the topic and presenting in a riveting way. I could not put the book down until I finished reading it. I give this book 4.5 stars.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Love In Disguise by Carol Cox

Ellie Moore finds herself jobless in Chicago, but when she overhears some men talking about needing a woman for a job with the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  Ellie believes that her background in theater will give her a unique advantage as a detective, however the Pinkerton Detective Agency doesn't see it the same way, at least at first. But when Ellie comes back dressed as Lavinia Steward, a middle-aged widow, the agency has a change of heart and sends her to Arizona for her first assignment. Because Ellie was supposed to go with a seasoned detective whose change of plans won't allow her to go, Ellie has to create a second character, Lavinia's niece, Jessie Monroe to help get information out of the townspeople. When she arrives in Arizona, Steven Pierce, a local mine owner, is the first to really give Ellie a picture of what is going on with the silver robberies.
Will Ellie acting as Lavinia and Jessie be able to solve the mystery and discover who is behind the silver robberies?

This is a book that I was looking forward to reading just based on the front cover and I was not disappointed. I loved the mystery and the disguises. But  it was the last 100 pages or so that had me so focused I didn't want to put the book down until I finished reading it.
This book is filled with mystery, a bit of crime, some romance, and a town full of interesting people. I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review.

Waiting For Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson

Patsy Milstrap hasn't lived the life she expected. Patsy is sent away from her family for her own protection, though she doesn't understand that. As Patsy grows up, she seems to live a normal life, marrying a local war hero, raising a family, but her past still haunts her. Her husband is trying to do everything to help Patsy, but nothing seems to work, until they take a vacation to Cedar Key where Patsy must face the truth.

After reading the first Cedar Key novel, Chasing Sunsets, which greatly disappointed me, I wasn't sure what I was going to think of Waiting For Sunrise. While I didn't find it to be a favorite book, I did enjoy reading it much more than Chasing Sunsets. In reading Chasing Sunsets, the character of Patsy had been introduced and some of her story had been told. I figured that enough of it was told that there wasn't going to be much new in this book, but boy was I wrong. Everson took a small story line and made it into a full length novel that I enjoyed reading.
I give this book 4 stars.
I received this book from Revell for the purpose of this review.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Anniversary Waltz by Darrell Nelson

Set in 1946 and briefly in 2006, The Anniversary Waltz tells the story of Adam Carlson and his wife Elizabeth. The book opens at the Carlson's 60th anniversary party, and Adam is asking his wife to waltz with him, like they have for every anniversary prior. Then they sit down and share the story of how they met, dated, and married. Theirs is a story of true love, courage, and overcoming adversity in many areas. In 1946, Adam has just come home from the war and has returned to his family's farm in Montana. A few days after returning home a town festival, Adam meets a young woman, Elizabeth, who is going steady with Nathan Roberts, Adam's high school rival and now an influential banker.  After Adam and Elizabeth share a waltz together, it seems their future is sealed. It was love at first dance, but things are never that easy.

This story made me laugh and cry with the characters. While I knew Adam and Elizabeth had to have gotten married, their journey was filled with obstacles they had to overcome. I wondered how they would be able to do it, when all seemed to be lost. Some parts of the book were predictable, but other parts took me by surprise and kept me turning the pages. In fact, about halfway through the book, I figured I would stop and go to bed and then finish the book in the morning, but I couldn't stop reading, I had to finish the book that night, and about three hours after starting it, I finished reading it.
I give this book 5 stars. It was a great read, and I loved it!
I received this book from Glass Road Media for the purpose of this review.

Friday, June 8, 2012

1000 Days by Jonathan Falwell

While Jesus lived roughly 33 years on this earth, his public ministry was only 3 years, which is roughly 1000 days of ministry. And while Jesus could have come to earth, lived in relative obscurity, and still offered us salvation, he didn't. He took 3 years of his life and spent time with people, choosing disciples who would change the world after he was gone, healing people both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These 1,000 days were intentionally lived and documented in the Gospels. Join Jonathan Falwell, as he takes a look at Jesus' public ministry to see what is important in life.

This book was a straightforward and easy to understand book that gives a great overview of Jesus' 3 year public ministry on earth. While it didn't provide me with any great new insights, it did make me think what Christianity might be like if Jesus just provided salvation without his three year public ministry.
I give this book 4 stars.
I received this book from BookSneeze for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Win a $350 “Glam” Visa Card Prize Pack from @LisaTBegren & RSVP for 6/27 Facebook party!

What is our "true" identity? Join the conversation at Lisa Tawn Begren's Glamorous Illusions Author Chat Facebook Event Page. On the evening of 6/27 we'll gather to talk about our spiritual journey, share our stories and a few laughs.


In the meantime, celebrate with Lisa by entering her Glamorous Illusions Giveaway!

One "glamorous" winner will receive a "Glam Prize Pack":

  • A $350 Visa Cash Card (Oh ... think of what you could do: treat yourself to a mani/pedi, a fabulous new dress, dinner for two, or even a two-night escape in a lovely hotel - you're only limited by your imagination!)

  • Glamorous Illusions (by Lisa Tawn Begren)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 6/26/12. Winner will be announced at Lisa's "Glamorous Illusions" Facebook Party on  6/27 {Fun begins at 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT}. Lisa will be hosting an evening of meaningful chat, fun trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Lisa via video or phone.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of Glamorous Illusions and join Lisa on the evening of June 27th for an evening of fun.

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Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren (and GIVEAWAY!)

Over one hundred years ago, it was not just common, it was expected that young men and women of high society in America would go on the "Grand Tour" of Europe. The Kensington's were just such young people. They were about to embark on a grand tour of England, France, and Italy for the summer.
But Cora Diehl, a young woman who just finished another year at school to become a teacher didn't expect to ever be one of those traveling to Europe for the Grand Tour. But when her father suffers a stroke, her mother reveals a family secret, and a strange man shows up on their doorstep, Cora finds herself in a strange, new environment with a new family and about to go on the Grand Tour.

Growing up, part of me wished I had been born 100 years ago and was able to go on the Grand Tour. But traveling to Europe for mission trips in college helped fulfill this desire. I loved the descriptions in this book of the places they traveled to, the parties they attended. It is a well written, intriguing book that made me want to go to Europe all over again. Glamorous Illusions is the first book in The Grand Tours Trilogy. The other books Grave Consequences and Glittering Promises come out Spring 2013 and Fall 2013.
I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book from Litfuse for the purpose of this review.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of this book please leave a comment below with your email address, answering the following question:
What places would you like to see on your own Grand Tour?

For a second entry, let me know that you already are or just started following my blog.
The giveaway will end at midnight on June 13th. I will pick a winner the following day.

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Kate Donovan is tired of her job and her life in Dallas. So when her grandmother asks her to help restore the family home in Redbud, PA, Kate jumps at the chance to have a change of pace. When she gets to PA, she meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Matt is good looking, but carries around the pain of losing his wife and then walking away from his career after her death. It has been several years since Matt's wife died, but everyone is still walking around on pins and needles around Matt. Will Kate's stubbornness be what breaks through to Matt and helps him see the light?
I enjoyed reading this book. The issues each of the characters faced and their reactions to them were very honest. The secondary characters were unique and fun. i really was rooting for some of them.
I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book from the author through Bethany House for the purpose of this review.

Son of the Underground by Isaac Liu

Most Christians have heard about the persecution of the church in Asia and the growth of the underground church. And while I have heard of Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man, I knew nothing about him. So getting to meet him through the eyes of his son and reading his son's story opened my eyes more to the real challenges facing the persecuted church.
Son Of The Underground is a unique look at one family's experiences in the underground church of China and their eventual escape to Germany.
I give this book 4 stars.

5 Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

On July 3, 1968, Charles Caldwell died, leaving his estate to his family for 50 years before it is tuned over to the city. 44 years later, Caldwell's granddaughters live in the house. Darlene has married and raised her family there, Carlene grew up there before moving to NYC, but returns for her 50th birthday. Magnolia, or Nolie as she is known, is ten years younger than her twin sisters, and when Carlene was getting all the attention for her voice before moving to NYC to study at Julliard and work on Broadway, and Darlene got married and became a mother, Nolie almost seems like she was forgotten about. Now she is trying to make her own way and prove herself.
Each girl has their own secrets and stubbling blocks that make them put up walls with each other. Will they be able to get past those and find their place together again?

I've read several others of Angela Hunt's books and thought this book would be really good. But sadly I was disappointed. I had a hard time getting into it, and it was a book I could easily put down. While I still wanted to know what happened, it just didn't capture my attention like I hoped it would. While I liked it better in the end than I thought I would after I got into it, it still wasn't a favorite book. I give this book 3.5 stars.
I received this book from Howard Books for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wildflowers From Winter by Katie Ganshert

Everyone has their own secrets and stumbling blocks. Bethany Quinn is no different. She moved away from her home in rural Iowa as soon as she could. But when tragedy strikes, she is forced to return home. While she vows not to stay long, the unexpected happens. 
Evan Price has been taking care the Quinn farm for several years, but when Bethany inherits the land, Evan has to fight her decisions or loose his own dreams.
Bethany and Evan both have to face their past as well as their future. Will both of them be able to let go of control?

This is Katie Ganshert's first novel and she hit it out of the park. Bethany's character was very honest about how she sees God and his character. I give this book 4.5 stars.
I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson, age 20, was a 2008 Olympian, winning 1 gold medal and 3 silver medals in the Beijing Olympics. She is a national and a world champion in gymnastics and then she caught the spotlight again when starring on Dancing With The Stars in 2009. Then she suffered a potentially career ending injury when skiing.
Johnson's book Winning Balance isn't an autobiography per say, though it is written chronological order. Instead, it is stories from Johnson's life, with some of the life lessons that she has learned. This book is an open and honest look at Johnson's life. Her parents instilled a sense of balance in her life, making sure gymnastics never completely took over. She went to public school, up until the Olympics, doing normal, every day things like going to football games, prom, around school, gymnastics and homework. While many gymnasts train 40 hours a week, Johnson was only training around 25-30 hours a week.

I loved reading this book! As a kid, I dreamed of figure skating and gymnastics and loved to watch them on tv whenever I could. Both sports were just like magic to me, watching what these people could do in their sport. Now that I'm older, the magic is still there. Johnson's book was pure magic and pure joy for me.
I give this book 5 stars.
I received this book from Tyndale for the purpose of this review

Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt

Just days before her wedding, Allison Denman isn't just stressed. Everything is wrong. The wedding is too big, the dress isn't right, even the groom is questionable. But when Allison kisses her fiancé's brother, Daniel, everything changes. While she has known her fiancé, Seth, and his brother Daniel, for 6 years, Seth is safe and in control. But Daniel is adventurous and unexpected. Alli loves his desire for something more which she has chronicled with all the Wish You Were Here postcards Daniel has sent her over the years from all his travels and adventures.

Each of the characters had their own flaws and secrets. In reading, you knew there was more to their story than was revealed until the time was right. Allison's journey was fun and adventurous its own right. I enjoyed reading the story and wondering if all would work out the way I wanted it to. There were times I was worried it wasn't going to end as I hoped. But each scene, each chapter kept making me want to turn the page and find out what happens next.

I give this book 4.5 stars. I loved reading it and would love to see Beth K. Vogt write another fiction book.
I received this book free from Howard publishers and Litfuse for the purpose of givin my honest review.