Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth

181In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, where her estranged uncle serves as the school’s superintendent. Upon arrival, Annabelle learns that she must shed her life of high society and work for her wages for the first time in her life.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to purchase land he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s death, Owen begins to consider a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.

What I Loved: Sometimes a novel is just so perfectly smooth and entertaining that you can’t even begin to explain its awesomeness. A Stranger at Fellsworth was that novel for me. From the very beginning,  I was pulled into a story of adventure, romance, and that classic Regency setting. Ladd kept my attention throughout the entire novel with a story that kept pace and the characters evolved.
I read this one without having read the first two novels of the series and it read as a standalone. If there were any characters who crossed over, I didn’t know about it so there doesn’t appear to be any obvious spoilers.

I also had the pleasure of listening to this one in audio and can highly recommend the audio version. The narrator was easy to understand and pleasing to hear.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy Christian Regency and am giving it 5 stars.

~I received a copy from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to review. All thoughts are my own. 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Cover Reveal and GIVEAWAY: A Mother for His Family by Susanne Dietze

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I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Dietze’s Regency novel, The Reluctant Guardian last week, and I’m already looking forward to her next. Take a look at her upcoming release and hear some of the inspiration behind the cover. 
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About the Book/Synopsis: Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for. All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always.
About the Author: Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the author of several historical romances who’s seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her at: Web Page // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest
Inspiration Behind the Cover: 
Susanne shared her Inspiration behind the cover in saying: “I love marriage of convenience stories and always wanted to write one! It’s always fun for me to read a book where the wedding happens at the beginning and things progress out of order with the couple: marriage first, then love. I was able to offer three scene suggestions for the cover, and the wedding was my first choice so I’m thrilled the amazing art department at Harlequin chose to work with it. It’s a hopeful scene, since both the hero and heroine, John and Helena, think getting married will be the answer to their problems: he needs a mother for his three kids and niece, and she needs a respectable home. However, they learn right away that saying “I do” might provide solutions to their immediate issues, but not all of them, and forging a family can be a challenge—one that both breaks and heals their hearts! I love looking at them in this scene and knowing they have adventures ahead that will bring them closer together!”
Bloggers Participating:
You can pre-order your copy today!
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Susanne Dietze is offering a giveaway just for the event! Follow the link to enter. 
Here’s a quick word from Susanne: Don’t forget to enter to win the giveaway! It’s a Spa Moment (alas, a moment is all I can afford with a kid in college.). You can win a copy of The Reluctant Guardian, which takes place in the same story universe as A Mother for His Family; a Beauticontrol Regeneration Pure Hydration Sheet Masque (over $10 value for this lovely masque), and a signed bookplate.
Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze

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Under the Spy’s Protection 

When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be.

What I Loved: I enjoy a good Dietze novel. They’re always perfect for a quick, light read and The Reluctant Guardian was a prime example of that. Dietze engages the reader with vivid historical detail and authentic lingo. I appreciate the captivating mystery as well as a very interesting side of the Regency era that I had not heard about before now. And Dietze wraps this up with tons of playful banter and a solid message for the soul.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Reluctant Guardian 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Regency fiction.

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

GIVEAWAY and CD Review: Glory Song by Matt Redman

60About the album:

Matt Redman teamed up with several of his worship-artist friends for this album, first releasing the track “Gracefully Broken (feat. Tasha Cobbs Leonard).” Tasha Cobbs Leonard also released her own version of this song on the same day! The album also features Kierra Sheard, Guvna B, Madison Cunningham, and Kim Walker-Smith.

What I Loved: My first impression of the sound or mood of the album was that it was upbeat and smooth. It doesn’t have a rockish sound or a soft lullaby sound. It’s just right smack in the middle. I find it to be consistent with the Matt Redman sound we’ve heard up till now. I think it’s a great addition to praise and worship music. The lyrics are God-focused and God-honoring. Gracefully Broken was a quick hit with me. Another favorite is One Day (When We All Get to Heaven) because I love the blend of something new with a classic hymn and they had done an excellent job with this track. Place of Praise is another favorite of mine. It’s simply beautiful and helps me to focus on the basics of my relationship with Christ.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Contemporary or Praise and Worship music.

~I was given a sample from FlyBy Promotions. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Enjoy this sample song from the album titled, Gracefully Broken: 

Pick up your copy right here!

You can also try your hand at winning a copy! Follow the link right here to enter to win!

 “Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Discussion Questions:
What is your favorite Matt Redman song?
What is your favorite line from Gracefully Broken?

And for your pleasure, we have two more videos for you. One is the full song with the lyrics and the other is the story behind the song. Enjoy!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

172Do They Have a Fighting Chance at Love?

After completing his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past.

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she’s reluctant to trust him. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Eden believes she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about Levi’s prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

What I Loved: One of the aspects that stood out the most was the hero. There’s something so special and so unique about a flawed hero. It was endearing to watch Levi struggle with his speech and the creative way he worked around it. Equally endearing for me was watching Eden’s spiritual growth. She has a righteous judgemental problem that so many Christians have fallen victim to and it was encouraging to see how Witemeyer brought her from one idea to the other. The reader can easily glean lesson while they were being entertained.

Rating and Recommendation: If you’re looking for another Christian historical or Christian western that you haven’t read yet, you’ll enjoy To Win Her Heart. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Baby Book Review: God Made the World

168Charming illustrations help infants and toddlers discover God’s natural world, from dolphins to foxes to kittens! This squishy fabric book features crinkle cloth for sensory development and hours of baby fun. God Made the World also includes a child-safety mirror so baby can see herself and know she’s a part of God’s design. 

For parents, a Velcro closure keeps the book shut, and a hanging tab can attach the book to a stroller, purse, or toy so it can go wherever they do. It comes packaged in a bag to keep it clean and includes a header card for easy hanging display. 

 

What I Loved: It is cute, colorful, and just right for little ones. It’s soft and would make a great first book. There is a crinkly page to help entertain and a mirror on the last page so baby can see himself. I really appreciate the loop on the top which allows you to attach it to a stroller or car seat. The message inside is short, sweet, and timeless.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving God Made the World 5 stars and recommend it for the littlest ones in your life!

~ I was given a copy from Kregel. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Hold the Light by April McGowen

171To an artist, the light is everything. So what is Amber supposed to do when facing blindness?
Amber spent her life adapting—first to being abandoned by her birth mother as a toddler, and then to the death of her adoptive father in her teen years. Now she’s moved past all that, loving life as an independent woman: she has a job as an art instructor and the perfect apartment.
But when a routine eye appointment reveals she’s losing her sight, life comes to a halt. Pressures come at her from all sides. Her mother, her boss, her boyfriend and her closest friend, Shannon, all have ideas about what’s best for her.
Even after her blindness counselor, Ethan, befriends her and opens her eyes to new opportunities and the possibility of a deeper relationship, one haunting question remains: How could the God she loved all her life turn everything upside down—again?

What I loved: Hold the Light was beautiful! Memorable! I can’t say enough good things about this one. While I did feel like there were areas where the secondary characters or Amber’s reaction came across as a tad shallow, there was so much more working for this novel.
My favorite aspect of the novel was McGowan’s ability to show real hardships and real emotions. She had crafted a story that tugged on my heart without making me feel broken inside. She also excelled at bringing the reader to face a new reality, something very few, if any, of her readers would face in their lifetime. But I walked away enlightened and I know you will too. Hold the Light is more than a story of hard reality, it’s a story of real hope and the peace that comes from knowing The Light of the World.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Hold the Light 4.5 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction or fiction containing characters with a disability.

~I received a copy from WhiteFire. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna White

159Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

What I Loved:  A Name Unknown contained so many of my favorite fiction aspects: There is something so right about meeting a flawed character in a novel, and White nails it with her stuttering hero.
There was a touch of mystery and suspense. Just a touch to keep those pages turning but not so much that you have to leave the light on at night.
I find the noble thief an endearing storyline. It’s always interesting to see the realities of a lifestyle that I have no experience in such as Rosemary’s history as an orphan on the streets of London.
And then there’s the author character. I enjoyed being able to relate to him as well as watching his thoughts and his stories unfold throughout the story.
One can’t neglect the historical angle! The series started before WWI so we’re seeing the climate heat up as the nations are on the brink of war and people begin to suspect each other of being traitors. Most war fiction novels feature the war or the aftermath and few look at what is taking place before the start of it.
And most importantly, of course, is the spiritual message. White does an excellent job walking her character through salvation and repentance, as well as growing her Christian character.
Needless to say, this will be one of my highlights for the year. And I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Name Unknown 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, Pre-war, or WWI setting.

~I received a copy from Bethany House. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

158Page-Turning Intrigue and Romance from an Up-and-Coming Historical Romance Talent

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service. 

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

My Thoughts: Confession. I struggled to get into this one for some unknown reason. I think it was just one of those rare things that happened. But BELIEVE me, there was PLENTY here to get wrapped up in. So my struggle may not be yours.
Breslin does such an excellent job at packing you up and dropping you off overseas in 1917. The history is rich but easy to understand. She brings so much light to life in occupied Europe during WWI. There was also so much detail and insight into underground networks during the war. I found this fascinating. Couple that with the excitement of an unknown double agent, well-developed characters, a solid message on faith and Christ’s forgiveness, and unexpected twists along the way and you’ve found yourself a worthy war fiction novel.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving High as the Heavens 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or Christian war fiction.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

167A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

What I Loved: You’re in for a Christmas treat with this one! Griep has a charming, yet quirky, story to offer for your Christmas reading. I really enjoyed the insight into the Victorian Christmas traditions. There were several that I had never heard of. Griep’s guide to the Christmas traditions in the back came in handy.
There was an intriguing mystery here alongside the romance that kept me engaged. There’s also a timeless lesson on the power of kindness and on not seeking revenge.
This is something of a shorter novel, so it’ll fit right in with your busy holiday season.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving 12 days at Bleakly Manor 5 stars and recommend it to fans of Christian Historical Fiction or Christian Christmas stories.

~I received a copy from the author. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.