Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Reading

We are hours away from the new year, but before Christmas slips away, I want to share some great books I read this Christmas season.

I read The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson just after Thanksgiving.  It was a great book to get me in the Christmas spirit!





I just finished One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg.  I was thrilled that it took me back to Maple Valley, Iowa, the fictional town I grew to love in From the Start.  (http://www.bookkisses.blogspot.com/2015/04/book-review-from-start-by-melissa-tagg.html)

This was a sweet, cozy Christmas read.  It was very well-developed for an e-novella!  I am sooo looking forward to reading more books by Melissa Tagg!  You can download this from Amazon for only 99 cents! 

http://www.amazon.com/One-Enchanted-Christmas-contemporary-inspirational-ebook/dp/B017V6PZGO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451600949&sr=8-1&keywords=one+enchanted+christmas+melissa+tagg




You can read my review of The Amish Christmas Sleigh here:  http://www.bookkisses.blogspot.com/2015/12/book-review-amish-christmas-sleigh-with.html


I just finished Silent Night Standoff by Susan Sleeman.  It is Book One of her First Responders series, published by Love Inspired Suspense.  It gets your attention in the first sentence, and keeps it throughout the whole book.  If you prefer a story that is suspense-filled and not predictable, this is one for you.  I won this book from the author in an online contest, but my comments are my own thoughts.  Here's a link to it on Amazon:
  
http://www.amazon.com/Silent-Night-Standoff-First-Responders/dp/0373446330/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451600485&sr=8-1&keywords=silent+night+standoff

I'm looking forward to the great books I'll be reading and highlighting in 2016.  In the meantime, I hope your Christmas was blessed, and that you have a happy, prosperous, and hopeful New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book review: The Amish Christmas Sleigh with a giveaway




The Amish Christmas Sleigh is a three-novella collection of Amish Christmas stories, which feature a sleigh in celebration of Christmas and newfound love.  The three stories were all well-developed, entertaining, and satisfying, in spite of the shortened length.  I highly recommend this collection for those who like Amish fiction, or for anyone who wants some cozy Christmas stories.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About each novella and its author:


A SLEIGH RIDE ON ICE MOUNTAIN
Kelly Long

For solitary toy-maker Sebastian Christner, hiring Kate Zook as his new housekeeper is simply the right thing to do. Now she can support her special-needs brother. But one taste of her independent spirit is showing him undreamed-of holiday joy—and making him long to give her a home for always . . .
Kelly Long is the author of the acclaimed Amish Patch of Heaven series and has been a finalist for the coveted Carol Award from the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel Lily’s Wedding Quilt was a 2011 Goodreads Favorite Book of the Year.  Born and raised in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, she’s been married for nearly twenty-five years and has five children. Please visit her at kellylongbooks.com.




A MAMM FOR CHRISTMAS
Amy Lillard
Bernice Yoder has far too much to do to entertain holiday dreams. Even if she can help Jess Schmucker outwit his three mischievous young daughters, it’s impossible to imagine the handsome widower can see her as anything but a scolding schoolteacher. He never guesses how a magical Christmas Eve will open his eyes to love or how Der Herr will awaken their faith and hope.

Amy Lillard won the 2013 Carol Award for her first Amish romance Saving Gideon. She was also a Maggie Awards finalist. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. Visit her at amywritesromance.com



AN UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS BLESSING
Molly Jebber
As much as Charity Lantz’s children need a father, the young widow isn’t sure her new neighbor Luke Fisher can ever be the right choice. They’re having more disagreements than snowflakes in December. Besides, he’s never given a sign he wants to be more than friends. Can Gott show them a way past their misunderstandings to a forever love?

Molly Jebber is an educational, motivational, and Women’s Christian Connection speaker. She was raised in a small town in the Midwest, and insists if you had blinked twice, you would’ve missed it. She loves God, her family and friends, sunshine, swimming and traveling to the Amish communities.  Creating historical Amish characters and throwing them into difficult situations and joyous times has been challenging and fun for her. The greatest reward she’s experienced in becoming an author is meeting wonderful people from all over the world who’ve been encouraging and supportive.



Purchase from Amazon:

http://amzn.com/B00RRT31E4

Enter to win:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book review: Love Everlasting by Tracie Peterson



In the third Brides of Seattle book, Abrianna Cunningham and Wade Ackerman have already declared their love for each other.  Yet Abrianna has doubts about her adequacy to be a wife, in spite of having been raised in the Madison Bridal School by her aunts.

The Seattle Fire of 1889 has changed much in the city as the residents rebuild.  As a businessman, Priam Welby is poised to take advantage of the changes.  He is not prepared for Abrianna’s dissolution of their forced relationship, however, and determines to marry her, regardless of her lack of affection for him, and using whatever means necessary to secure the union.

I loved revisiting the endearing characters I had met in the previous book.  Each one was essential to the story at one point or another.  I did lose patience with Abrianna’s indecision, but as the book progressed, the pace and excitement increased until the fantastic conclusion of the story.

Anyone who has read the previous book in the series, Refining Fire, will definitely want to read this.  Romance and historical fiction fans will want to pick this up, as well.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:


Tracie Peterson is an award-winning, best-selling author of over 100 books.  Having given her heart to Jesus at the young age of six, Tracie has always felt called to some form of ministry, and writing fulfills that mission field.  Tracie received her first book contract in November, 1992, and saw A Place to Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents.  She wrote exclusively for Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership’s vote for Favorite Author of the year for three years in a row.  In December, 1995, she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers.  Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.  Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers.  Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family-especially her three grandchildren-Rainy, Fox, and Max.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book review with a giveaway: Change of Heart by Molly Jebber


About the book:
A modern new century brings a young Amish woman an unexpected new life—and a chance to discover love’s true way home…

Ohio, 1899. Soft-spoken midwife Becca Yost lived by her Amish faith’s strict rules—until her fiancĂ© jilted her before their entire community. She’s never been away from home, but the bustling Englischer town of Massillon, Ohio, is a welcome unexpected refuge. Especially when she goes to work for Dr. Matt Carrington, who shares her passion for healing those in need. His outgoing spirit and gentle strength show Becca a surprising new world of choices—and irresistible love. But there is one formidable obstacle: Matt’s wealthy mother is determined her son will marry a society woman.

With her newfound resolve challenged, Becca decides that she and Matt must not be destined for each other after all. She accepts that she will have to forge a life alone—until a wrenching crisis and life-changing revelations teach her that true faith lies in all things, especially impossible second chances.

My review:
This book was different from much of the Amish fiction I’ve read, because of the time period in which it was set, and also because the main character, Becca Yost, leaves her Amish lifestyle initially in the story.  But she was a character to be admired, because her faith in God, her desire to help people, and her diligence, all Amish values, remained at the forefront of her life.  It was also different because she and handsome doctor Matt Carrington declared their love for each other early in the story.  Matt is a hard-working man of integrity who demonstrates his love for Becca over and over again.

Matt’s mother proves to be the main source of conflict throughout the story, as she incessantly vocalizes her disapproval of Matt’s choice to court Becca.  She is overly concerned with Matt’s position in high society, and her perception of Becca’s inability to fit in to that group.

There were many other endearing characters in Matt and Becca’s lives, and I thought it would be lovely to visit the town and meet them in person.

I enjoyed the story, but I wished that descriptions of some events had been fleshed out in more detail, and that the dialogue was less stilted.  More careful editing would have improved it as well.  However, I found this to be a cozy, enjoyable story that fans of Amish fiction will certainly enjoy, and I plan to read more books by this author.

I received a copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.


About the author:
Molly Jebber is an educational, motivational, and Women’s Christian Connection speaker. She was raised in a small town in the Midwest, and insists if you had blinked twice, you would’ve missed it. She loves God, her family and friends, sunshine, swimming and traveling to the Amish communities.  Creating historical Amish characters and throwing them into difficult situations and joyous times has been challenging and fun for her. The greatest reward she’s experienced in becoming an author is meeting wonderful people from all over the world who’ve been encouraging and supportive.

The giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book Review: Catch of a Lifetime by Candee Fick


“Don’t tell me you hate football.”

A last-minute change in responsibilities lands Cassie Parker a job assisting the university football team, the last place she wants to have to spend her time.  Looking for a fresh start, she has just moved to Colorado as a grad student in the Health and Exercise program, but things have started badly for her.  She rises, however, to the challenges before her:  academic oversight of the players, athletic training, classes, and tutoring.  Most importantly, she learns she can’t judge all football players by the poor decisions of one.

Reed Worthington is a first-year football coach, working hard to prove himself in front of the players, coaching staff, and his father.  Cassie and Reed soon discover that they have a shared faith and realize that there is an attraction between them.  But university football is demanding.  Can they overcome the many obstacles to their relationship?

This was a fun, quick read.  I loved the football setting, and it was great to watch the characters grow in faith and integrity.  I recommend this book, whether or not you are a football fan.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

This book is available at http://amzn.to/1SQHzYK 

About the author:

Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, cross country, and Special Olympics games. In what little free time remains, she enjoys exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book review: Halo Found Hope: A Memoir. With a giveaway!



"Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope?  A young woman lay, packed in ice, as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life… and her family waited.

Six days turned into eight weeks. She awoke to discover that she was not the same. She saw two of everything, couldn’t feel half of her face, couldn’t hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn’t even tell anyone that she felt hopeless… or could she?

Halo Found Hope is the story of a beautiful, busy wife, and mother of three whose life changes instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor. An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackle the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles.

Helo’s story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body. It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it. While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer. Helo’s story is simply this: Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there. He doesn’t need to be recognized by you, to be there for you. He can replace fear with courage and discouragement with determination, if you let Him.  Helo did, and that is how she found hope.”

"Christian readers will find in these pages a powerful testament to the power of faith in dark times, and even agnostics will be uplifted by the joie de vivre of this remarkable woman.” — Kirkus Reviews

My review:

Halo Found Hope is the memoir of one woman’s journey through a brain tumor diagnosis and subsequent treatment.  It is a well-written account of Helo’s diagnosis, surgery, rehabilitation, and acceptance of her “new normal” following the ordeal.  Not only is it a medical journey that she goes through, but a spiritual one, as well, as she learns to trust God on a new level and find her purpose on the other side of the trauma.

The author is gracious and positive as she takes the reader on this journey, and I found that there were many lessons to be learned from Helo’s experience:

Have compassion for those who are going through major medical crises.
Hope in God’s love for us and His goodness.
Consider how we would respond if going through a medical crisis.
Consider how to prepare (emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally, and practically) in advance in case a major medical trauma was to affect our families.
Have compassion for those with disabilities.  You may not be able to see the disability of the person using a handicapped parking spot.
Offer hope to others whenever you have the opportunity.

This book is important.  It is informative.  It is full of hope, and I recommend it.

I received a copy of the book from the author and Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.


There is a giveaway going on now to win a lovely prize package in celebration of Helo's book.  You can enter here:  www.facebook.com/CelebrateLit/app_228910107186452

Halo Found Hope is available at Amazon (http://amzn.com/145753133X) and other online retailers.

Giveaway!

Recently I reviewed The Hesitant Heiress, the first book of The Everstone Chronicles.  You can read it here:  http://www.bookkisses.blogspot.com/2015/10/book-review-hesitant-heiress-by-dawn.html

The three book series was originally released in ebook format, but is now available in paperback!  Book #3, The Captive Imposter, releases on November 3, and in celebration, the author is giving away five print copies.  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book review: More for Girls Only! Devotions


I want to encourage my children to develop the good habit of spending time with God and His Word on a regular basis.  More for Girls Only!  Devotions is a very useful tool to that end.  There are about 60 different devotions that begin with a Bible verse to set the theme, then a story that girls can relate to to make the point of the Bible verse.  Girls then read through a quiz to see how they’re doing in that area, with encouragement about how to do better.  There is a “Things to Do” section, which offers ways to apply what they’ve learned.  Finally, there are more Scripture verses and quotes to further emphasize the lesson.  This devotional is just right for its intended audience, girls 8-12 years old.  The entire book has pink text and contemporary illustrations, plus “girlie” doodles throughout.  I thought that each devotion was thoughtfully put together, with stories that are meaningful about how we should live our lives, treat others, and be in relationship to God.  My twelve-year-old daughter is looking forward to getting her hands on this book!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Tyndale House, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall plus a giveaway!


Author Dawn Crandall's The Everstone Chronicles were first published as ebooks.  Those books won a bunch of awards, and are now available in paperback!  The Hesitant Heiress was released on September 8, The Bound Heart was released on October 6, and The Captive Imposter will release on November 3 of this year.  Read through the end of the post for giveaways & freebies!

Here's my review of The Hesitant Heiress:

The lies.  The proposals.  The nightmares.  Can Amaryllis find the truth, peace, and happiness?

Amaryllis Brigham has been through a lot.  She had a happy childhood, but after her mother’s untimely death and funeral, she was taken away to boarding schools, then a music conservatory.  She was provided for, and became an accomplished pianist, but she was lonely.  She lived in fear because of the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death.  After being unfairly expelled from music school, and moving in with her elderly aunt in Boston, she discovers that she is an heiress to a fortune if she will marry within a year.  She has no interest in joining Boston’s social scene or marrying.

Amaryllis meets the charming, handsome, wealthy, and eligible Nathan Everstone as he returns to Boston with her cousin Lawry.  The mention of Nathan’s father strikes fear in her heart, because of past events, and Amaryllis does not take seriously anything Nathan says to her.  She believes he is toying with her.

She is reintroduced to friends and distant relatives from her childhood, and it was fun to meet those characters.  Amaryllis’ memories and dreams cloud her perceptions of those relationships.  She had a lot of growing to do, quickly, as she was forced into society without warning.  Amaryllis’ trust issues made the romance between her and Nathan develop VERY slowly.

Set in the 1890s, The Hesitant Heiress was an enjoyable story, with plenty of plot twists, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of The Everstone Chronicles.  Readers who enjoy historical fiction of this time period will want to read this book.

I won an e-copy of this book from the author.  This review is my opinion.

Now it’s your turn.  This link will take you to a free copy of the first chapter of The Hesitant Heiress:
http://whpub.whitakerhouse.com/dawncrandall/pdf/heiressch1.pdf

Here is a link to a Goodreads giveaway of The Bound Heart:
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/156576-the-bound-heart

Here is a Rafflecopter giveaway for The Bound Heart:




a Rafflecopter giveaway



About the author:





Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles from Whitaker House. The series consists of three books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter. 

Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, her husband encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress ​from​ 2010 ​to 2012​. It didn't take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary. Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book review: The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White



Rich.  Exquisite.  Captivating.  Intriguing.

This is the story of Brook Eden, a beautiful orphan with a palatial education.  When her English best friend Justin Wildon discovers her true identity, everything in her world changes quickly.  She moves from urban Monaco, on the Mediterranean coast, to an English countryside manor.  Now that she is titled, is the new-found romantic interest from Justin genuine, or a way to tap into her fortune?  In order to secure her own safety in her new environment, it becomes imperative that she solve the mystery of her mother’s death.

Brook was an adorable character.  While she was beautiful, gracious, and well-educated, she had many (non-feminine) interests and abilities that served her well and made her a well-rounded, self-sufficient, and interesting person.

One of the most beautiful things in the story was her relationship with her long-lost father.  She quickly won his favor, but more importantly, she learned to turn to him for advice, comfort, strength, and companionship.

I loved this book, and gave it a 5-star rating.  The author skillfully weaves several story lines into a book that you won’t want to put down!

Those who enjoy reading Edwardian fiction about the titled class will enjoy this book.  Fans of romance and mystery will enjoy it, too.  It’s a book you’ll want to savor.

I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

Here is a passage I especially enjoyed:

His gaze dipped down to take in her dress, and his lips tugged up.  "You look . . . nice."

"Nice?"  She laughed as he spun them into the dance.  "As many hours as I spent getting ready, I had better look more than nice."

"Pretty, then?"  His eyes gleamed.

She lifted her brows and gripped his hand.  Maybe she could do this.  Maybe she could slide easily from friendship to flirtation.  "Your nemesis over there chose resplendent.  Surely you can outdo that."

He smiled, the challenge turning to a simmer.  "How about this."  He pulled her a little closer and leaned his head toward her ear.  "I have traveled the world over these last months, but nowhere, on no continent, in no country, have I ever seen anyone half so beautiful as you."

Her fingers gripped his shoulder,  "Better."

If you want more, here is a link to the first chapter:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/277142503/The-Lost-Heiress





Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book review: Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion


Jody Hedlund has become one of my favorite authors in recent years, and she has written a  masterpiece in Luther and Katharina:  A Novel of Love and Rebellion.  It releases on October 6.

The writings of Martin Luther had been smuggled into Marienthron, the convent where Katharina von Bora had lived since she was five years old.  As a result of those teachings, she and eleven other nuns escape at night from the cloister, and are delivered to Black Cloister near Wittenberg, home of Dr. Martin Luther.  Luther takes the women in, and reunites them with their families, or secures marriages or placements for each.  Katharina is left.  She is skilled in doctoring, medicinal herbs, and music, and ends up treating Dr. Luther for his ailments on more than one occasion.

Doctor Luther is dedicated to preaching and writing the truth of necessary reforms to the church.  Katharina wants to be loved and have a family.  As the events of the book unfold, the two are drawn to each other, yet both are stubborn and will not admit to their attraction.

It was so enjoyable to watch Katharina’s character develop.  Katharina, part of the upper class, has confidence and leadership skills, which enable her to advocate for her fellow nuns, but her title also gives her unfounded pride.  It was wonderful to read about her maturation as a person and in her relationship with God.

It was amazing to get to know Martin Luther, as well.  He sometimes came across as a crotchety old man, but he had a heart that cared deeply for people.

I learned so much from this book-the customs, the culture, and the politics of the time.  One cannot read this book and not develop a sincere appreciation for what Martin Luther did in standing up for and proclaiming the truth of the Bible.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to those who like historical fiction, church history, and romance.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.


She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fun and Free!

Recently I posted my review for Trial Run, book one of the Fault Lines series by Thomas Locke.  You can read the review here:

http://bookkisses.blogspot.com/2015/09/book-review-trial-run-by-thomas-locke.html


Here is a link to the promotional video for Trial Run:  https://youtu.be/FS9Vr2Nfc4Q

Still not sure if this is the book for you?  You can download a free sampler, Chapter 1, here:

http://bit.ly/1JDInx2





And...

Discover how it all began in this explosive prequel to Trial Run.
There isn’t much that can throw Charlie Hazard off balance.  But the mystery woman with the striking eyes and the intense request to follow her-now-just might accomplish it.

Knowing little more than her beautiful name, Charlie leaves his post as a guard at the Satellite Beach community center for what he thinks is just another risk-containment job.

But Gabriella, an experimental psychologist, has far more in store for him than protection duty-if the two of them survive the test.

Leave behind your perceptions of what is possible and race into the unknown corridors of human consciousness in this breakneck prequel to Thomas Locke’s Trial Run.  Click here http://tlocke.com/fault-lines/ to download “Double Edge,” free from your favorite online bookseller.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book review: Trial Run by Thomas Locke ... and a Giveaway!




Wow. 

I really like Thomas Locke’s books, but I wasn’t sure how I would like a techno-thriller.  It’s just not my genre, you know?  But man, this guy can write!  When you pick up this book, hold on!  It will be a wild ride.  But so worth it!

It’s about two teams of scientists in two different parts of the world who are exploring out-of-body experiences, for very different reasons, and a grad student who receives advanced algorithm calculations in his dreams.  All this techie, science-y stuff is beyond me, but it was so interesting.  It was also an adventure to figure out who were the good guys, who were the bad guys, and whom you can trust.  It was a book that I would think about when I was not reading it, wondering about my own safety in ascending, or would I be able to remember all the details so I could accurately help the team in its mission.

I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.  I give it five stars (out of five.)  The only disappointment is that the next book in the Fault Lines series doesn’t come out until next summer, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.  I recommend this book to those who like a story steeped in science and technology.  I think guys would like it, as well as women.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:



Thomas Locke is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.

His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.

Thomas divides his time between Florida and England where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at the University of Oxford.  Visit Thomas at http://tlocke.com.

Congratulations to Sandy G. who won a copy of Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas in my recent giveaway!

Enter below to win a hardcover copy of Emissary, book one in Thomas Locke's  fantasy series, Legends of the Realm.  You can read my review of this book here:

http://bookkisses.blogspot.com/2015/01/book-review-emissary-by-thomas-locke.html


Friday, August 21, 2015

Blog Anniversary Celebration with a Giveaway!

It was a year ago that I started this blog.  I remember working so hard on the title, because I wanted it to encompass a little of everything.  I found that mustering up the mental energy to write anything longer than a Facebook post just wasn't there.  But I love to read, and I love passing along book recommendations, so that has been the focus of this blog so far.  When I start writing about other things, we'll all be surprised!  

My first blog post was a book review of Miracle In a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas.  You can see that post here:  http://bookkisses.blogspot.com/2014/08/review-miracle-in-dry-season.html.  

I've been learning as I go, and things now are looking better than that first post did.  To celebrate this "Blogiversary", I am giving away a copy of Thomas' second book in the Appalachian Blessings series, Until the Harvest.  You can see the review for that here:  http://bookkisses.blogspot.com/2015/05/book-review-until-harvest-by-sarah.html

Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.  This is for U.S. residents only.  Thanks for reading my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



















Monday, August 17, 2015

Book review: The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn


She was just a pilgrim, about to make a pilgrimage from Caesarea to Jerusalem, on foot.  Then why did an army meet her in the harbor?  Why did she have an assassin tracking her?

Helena, former wife of a Roman emperor, mother of Constantine, was a Christian, and an outcast.  The story of her pilgrimage is historically based, at a time when persecution of Christians was the law of the land in ancient Rome.

As she journeys with her small entourage, they must learn to trust each other.  More importantly, they must learn to trust in God in ways they had never needed to before.  As Helena makes this spiritual journey, it is a spiritual journey for the reader as well.  Lessons of trust, forgiveness, and compassion endear the characters to the reader.


This is not a long story, but I was fully involved in it.  I did not know much about this period of history, so it was exciting to watch the events unfold.  I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy history, Church history, and stories of faith.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Franciscan Media, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.


About the author:


Davis Bunn is an award-winning novelist with total worldwide sales of seven million copies.

His work has been published in twenty languages, and critical acclaim includes four Christy Awards for excellence in fiction and his 2014 induction into the Christy Hall of Fame.


Davis divides his time between Florida and England where he serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College at the University of Oxford.  Visit Davis at http://www.davisbunn.com.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book review: Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson


"There was no easy way to move a dead body.  Militine Scott had this on the best authority."  

Isn't that a great opening line?

Militine Scott lives and trains at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle.  Although she has no desire to marry, there she feels safe from being discovered by anyone from her past.  She is best friends with Abrianna Cunningham, niece of the school’s matrons who have raised her since she was orphaned.  Abrianna is impulsive and headstrong, yet entirely devoted to God and serving Him.  Thane Patton is a poor, hardworking friend of the girls, and is best friends with Wade Ackerman, a carpenter who has been Abrianna’s friend since childhood.

The foursome work together under Abrianna’s leadership to open a soup kitchen, providing lunch for homeless men on Seattle’s waterfront.  Abrianna has such compassion for the destitute, and longs to do even more for them.  This leads her to accept a courtship from wealthy Priam Welby, known throughout Seattle for his underhanded dealings.

Throughout the story, the foursome grows in their relationships with each other and with God.  Thane especially respected Wade’s faith, and saw the difference it made in his life, enough to reach out to God on his own. 

Because of the social mores that were proper to follow in the late 1880s, the book had a serious tone to it.  But several characters, especially Abrianna, certainly lightened it up.

Plot twists (which I won’t spoil) made this an interesting book to read.  As the second of the Brides of Seattle series, my enjoyment or understanding of the book was never impeded by not having read the previous book.  Those who enjoy historical romance will enjoy this book.  Those who have a heart for the downtrodden will especially relate to Abrianna.


I received this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:



Tracie Peterson is an award-winning, best-selling author of over 100 books.  Having given her heart to Jesus at the young age of six, Tracie has always felt called to some form of ministry, and writing fulfills that mission field.  Tracie received her first book contract in November, 1992, and saw A Place to Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents.  She wrote exclusively for Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership’s vote for Favorite Author of the year for three years in a row.  In December, 1995, she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers.  Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.  Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers.  Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family-especially her three grandchildren-Rainy, Fox, and Max.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book review: A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears


Love for a child brings them together, but is it enough to keep them together?

A Bride at Last is the third book in the Unexpected Brides series.  It is about Silas Jonesey, a homesteader in the 1880s who was given up by his mother, then abandoned by his wife Lucinda.  On her deathbed, Lucinda asks him to come to her, but he arrives after her passing.  That is when he learns that he has a son, Anthony.  Anthony is being cared for by his teacher, Kate Dawson.  As they contend with each other for custody of Anthony, Richard Fitzgerald shows up at Lucinda’s funeral, claiming that Anthony is his son.

Silas’ and Kate’s days are filled with time together because of Anthony.  Each is attracted to the other, but their troubled pasts and their commitments to their livelihoods threaten to keep them apart.

This book is filled with many plot twists, and I enjoyed it very much.  I wish that I had read the previous books in the series, because I didn’t know if references to their pasts were from previous books, or part of the current story.

I admired how the main characters were committed to doing what was right, first for Anthony, then for each other.  Near the end of the book, Kate’s thoughts were, “If Silas was trying to be a better man, she’d work to become a better woman.”

Those who enjoy historical, especially “prairie” fiction will certainly enjoy this book.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:


Much to her introverted self’s delight, Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be an elementary home school teacher, day-care provider, church financial secretary, and historical romance novelist.  She doesn’t have to leave her house to be a housekeeper either, but she’s doubtful she meets the minimum qualifications to claim to be one in her official bio.  Her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly.  Find her online at www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book review: Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason


Hold on to your horses!  Irish Meadows is a book that races on with its many plot twists and colorful characters!

Irish Meadows is a Long Island estate, home of the O’Leary family.  The O’Learys board, breed, and train racehorses, but there are rumors of a ban on racing, which threatens the livelihood of the family.  James O’Leary, and his father before him, have worked too hard to get where they are, to lose it all now.  James gets desperate, and sees opportunities for advancing his business by making alliances, through his adult children, with his wealthy and well-connected clientele and neighbors.  His children all have their own dreams, which don’t line up with their father’s wishes.

What a cast of characters!

James, the father, the domineering head of the household
Kathleen, the mother, and the spiritual head of the household
Colleen, the beautiful older daughter, who is not afraid to use her looks to her advantage
Brianna, the intelligent and personable younger daughter, who longs for the love and acceptance of her father
Gil, an orphaned young man, who has been taken in as one of the family; fiercely loyal to James, and grateful for his support, especially since James funded his education
Adam, the older brother, who is resentful of Gil’s place in the family
Rylan, a distant cousin from Ireland, who is staying with the family while he completes his seminary studies
Deirdre and Connor, younger siblings who are cute and don’t cause trouble

Sometimes outrageous, sometimes tender, sometimes passionate, sometimes desperate, this book has it all.  The first of the Courage to Dream series by debut novelist Susan Anne Mason, it is filled with lessons learned by each character, and the transformations each goes through as they learn to rely on God and seek His will in their lives. 

I really loved the quick pace and was amazed at the many plot twists, and the solidly developed characters.  I recommend this book for those who like romance and historical fiction.  I’m certainly looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
And, the cover is absolutely captivating.


I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Susan Anne Mason’s debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Chapters of RWA.  A member of ACFW, as well, she lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children.  She can be found online at www.susanannemason.com.

Author interview, recipe, and giveaway!


I recently posted a review of To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino.

Today we get to talk to Rebecca to find out more about her book, her writing, and her inspiration.

Congratulations on the release of your new book, To Capture Her Heart!  Tell us a bit about it.

Thank you so much! I am really delighted to be here. Here’s a synopsis of my second novel in The Southold Chronicles:  In 1653 Heather Flower, a princess of the Montauk tribe, is celebrating her wedding feast when a rival tribe attacks, killing the groom and kidnapping her. Though her ransom is paid, she is nonetheless bound by her captors and left to die—until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

Still tender from her loss, Heather Flower begins to heal in the home of Englishman Ben Horton, a longtime friend of her people. But despite Ben’s affectionate attentions, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome Dutchman who saved her from certain death.  Can she find peace again among her own people?  Or will her growing affection for her rescuer draw her into conflict with everyone she loves?  Loyalty or love?

1. Rebecca, how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
 
This aspect just amazes me. I always thought I would write contemporary suspense with a touch of romance and a Christian worldview. But when I sat down to write my first novel, it was a historical about my Puritan ancestors! Talk about getting into the thick of things. So while I think there is definitely a message that comes out in my writing, I write to entertain through story and To Capture Her Heart, like book one of The Southold Chronicles, is a love story I hope my readers enjoy. The spiritual thread that touched my heart as I researched the book is that we are all God’s children, no matter who we are or where we came from.

  1.      What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?  
It was when I watched my dad, Howard Worley, type “The End” for his novel, The Stagecoach Murders. He began writing that book at age 87, because I was writing a novel.  He would send me each chapter in a priority envelope as he finished them, and he was amazing me. Then when he was almost finished he required open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve.  Two days later he had a major stroke.  His recovery is a whole other story, but I was able to help him type the last four chapters while he dictated, and then we published it through Create Space.  Watching him autograph a copy for me was my second greatest moment, followed closely by his book signing at his 90th birthday party.  He’s 92 now!

  1.      Who/What spurs you to write?  Where do your story and character ideas come from?  
I grew up listening to my mom’s stories about Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandfather and how he came across the pond from England on a ship called The Swallow, in the 1600’s. When my brother became interested in genealogy, we discovered there was a lighthouse named after Barnabas, located on Long Island. I asked my mom if she’d like to go there, and off we went. There was a lot of interesting information about Barnabas.  He was a baker and a very recent widower with two young sons when he met my ninth great-grandmother, Mary, in Mowsley, England.  But I could find very little about her, and I began to wonder about what dreams and motivation she had, and courage she must have possessed when she married and then left her family behind for the wilds of Long Island.  A few years later, I began writing my first novel in a quest to give her a voice.  While researching that book, A Place in His Heart, I uncovered a nugget of information about a Montaukett woman called Heather Flower. She is said to be the daughter of Grand Sachem Wyandanch, and I wanted to use the tidbit in book one.  But the decade did not fit.  So I took book two, To Capture Her Heart, up a decade and she became my heroine!  The Hortons and Southold provide the backdrop of the story and sweet Ben Horton is all grown up. It was such a fun book to research and write!

  1.      What was the greatest challenge in writing this book?
After time management (isn’t that a problem for us all?) the greatest challenge is also something I enjoy the most – the research! Though some documents exist such as Barnabas’s will, and some that pertain to his landholdings and tenure as a magistrate, I didn’t have any diaries or letters. And I found many controversies of “facts.”  Heather Flower’s existence is an example.  Some believe her to be a myth, others say she existed but was not Quashawam.  Though that could be frustrating at times, it also afforded some leeway, which is nice when you are writing fiction!

  1.      Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I was born in a car and have been on the move ever since. My dad delivered me, and my sisters can still remember standing in the picture window of our house with the babysitter and Dad holding me up so they could get a glimpse. He was a career Navy pilot and my husband was a career officer in the Air Force. I retired as a service director from United Airlines in 2008 and settled in the Pacific Northwest. I’m blessed with three beautiful daughters, eight beautiful grandchildren, and when I married my sweet husband in 2006, he added a charming son and a beautiful daughter and three more beautiful grandchildren to the count. I should say we are empty nesters, with all of those kids happily settled with their own spouses, which gives me time to be a full time writer!

  1.      What’s next for you?

I just turned in the manuscript for the third book in The Southold Chronicles. It moves up another decade—to 1664—and Patience Terry, the young girl who sailed with the Hortons on The Swallow is my heroine. My working title was Pure Patience and I love her story! And I love the editing phase of a book, so I’m looking forward to that. To Follow Her Heart release next July!

I'm looking forward to reading Patience's story!






Now for a little treat-Rebecca shares her recipe for Ginger cookies!  She writes:

"Growing up, I always knew Christmas would soon be here when the ginger cookies baked by Grandmother Horton arrived by mail, carefully wrapped in a green Frederick and Nelson's shirt box!  She baked them for us each year and when she could not, my mother continued the tradition.  I have tried to do the same, baking them each December for my three daughters and grandchildren.  My 9th great-grandfather, Barnabas Horton, was a baker from Mowsley, England, and I like to think the cookie genes came from him!  The following recipe is Grandmother's original.  I use canola oil instead of the Mazola.  These are delicious with a glass of icy cold milk, but I enjoy them with a steaming cup of coffee or tea, too!"



Grandmother Horton’s Ginger Cookies


Combine 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup Mazola oil, 1 egg, 4 T molasses, 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 level tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp ginger.

Mix well, roll into small balls. Dip in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove to rack and cool.


I hope you love this recipe as much as I do!





Thanks, Rebecca. I can't wait to try these! And I will love the history behind them when I do!

And now. . . giveaway time! As Rebecca celebrates the release of To Capture Her Heart with a blog tour, she is also giving away signed copies of her books and gift cards!



To Capture Her Heart Book Launch

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book review: In Good Company by Jen Turano




Poor Millie.  She was dismissed from another nannying position, and in attempting to secure a new opportunity, runs into Oliver Addleshaw’s friend Everett Mulberry.  Everett was in desperate need of a nanny for his three young wards, but knowing of Millie’s many previous childcare mishaps, did not want her to care for the children.  However, nannies were pouring out of his house like a sieve, so, in desperation, he employs Millie to watch the children as they take a summer trip to Newport, Rhode Island, with Everett’s lady-friend, Caroline Dixon.

Millie is an energetic, fun-loving young lady, with a real heart for children.  She has wisdom to understand them, and is an advocate for her new charges.  Raised in an orphanage, she is also determined to overcome her lack of education, and always tries to improve herself by reading and learning new words.  She even keeps a dictionary in her pocket.  This ensures some laugh-out-loud dialogue!  Everett, however, is preoccupied with being a part of the high society social scene, and appeasing Caroline. 

As a result of Millie’s influence, Everett begins to get to know and appreciate the children, and to question the values and attitudes of the company he keeps.

There is no shortage of adventures and mishaps with Millie around, which makes this a fun book to read.  There is also suspense, and, of course, romance.

The second of Jen Turano’s A Class of Their Own series, this lighthearted novel is sure to delight its readers.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Jen Turano, author of six books, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles.  She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.  Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book review: To Capture Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino



1653 Long Island.  Settled by Dutch, English, and native tribes, there was turmoil and unrest.  Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren and English settler Ben Horton both vie for the heart of Heather Flower, a Montaukett Indian princess.  As the Dutch, English, and Indian nations work for peaceful solutions to their differences, each man and Heather Flower must search their own hearts to find God’s path for their lives. 

Throughout the story, strong themes of community, sacrifice, and perseverance came through.  After Heather Flower was rescued from the warring tribe that kidnapped her and killed her husband, she chose to live with her aunt near the town of Southold.  There she was embraced and lovingly brought into the community.  She was hardworking and always willing to help, even though she was brought up as a princess.

Author Rebecca DeMarino’s ancestors once again are the characters in this historical romance, the second book of The Southold Chronicles.  This is a lovely book that will charm those who love to immerse themselves in another time and place.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher, in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

About the author:




Rebecca DeMarino writes love, legends, and lore as a historical romance author and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading, and writing from her dad, and the wanderlust gene from both parents.  Her travels have taken her from Alaska to Nebraska and Florida, from Long Island to England and Italy, and from Washington, DC to Texas, California, and Guam.  But usually you can find her at home, enjoying her grandchildren and baking crisp little ginger cakes.  Learn more at rebeccademarino.com.