Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: One Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

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Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O’Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancé, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose’s Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can’t possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.

Justin’s never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He’d been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He’s done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him–but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he’s been missing.

After Natalie’s reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin’s property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

What I Loved: From the moment I picked up the book I was hooked! I don’t know if Johnson was inspired by the movie Sweet Home Alabama, but I couldn’t help but pick up on some subtle similarities in the first few chapters. And I loved every minute of it! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was a remake, but if you’re familiar with the movie you’ll likely enjoy watching a similar situation unfold.
Johnson kept my attention until the very end. I sympathized with Natalie in a way that I rarely do in a book. She made me laugh, she made me cry. And no heroine is complete without a lovable hero. Johnson did a great job crafting characters that felt and acted like real people. The supporting cast is equally charming.
I’m going to miss visiting PEI with Johnson and the crew, but I’m looking forward to reading more from this talented author!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving On Love’s Gentle Shore 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Contemporary Fiction.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Christy by Catherine Marshall

164In the year 1912, nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston leaves home to teach school in the Smoky Mountains — and comes to know and love the resilient people of the region, with their fierce pride, their dark superstitions, their terrible poverty, and their yearning for beauty and truth. But her faith will be severely challenged by trial and tragedy, by the needs and unique strengths of two remarkable young men, and by a heart torn between true love and unwavering devotion.

Having been written in the 1960s and inspired by the author’s mother, Christy is thought to be classic. Leastwise, it feels that way. I want to share a beloved favorite with you. I feel like it’s a forgotten gem. I fell in love with Christy when I was a young girl and Kellie Martin was on tv. I held a copy of the novel on my shelf for YEARS and have just now read it. I also had the pleasure of listening to the bulk of the story in audio. So today, I’m bringing to you my honest opinion of the book, the tv series, and the audio version.

What I Loved: I remember watching the show and falling in love with the story. Reading the book was just as enchanting! The setting is so rich. The accents, the visuals. The harsh realities of the setting. Marshall had done an excellent job pulling the reader in and planting them in the Appalachian mountains.
I enjoyed watching Christy grow and rise up to the challenges around her. More than once, she sat down to seriously question God and her immature faith. I found it refreshing and was pleasantly surprised by how deep she went. These were factors that the show didn’t cover to such a degree.

What I Didn’t Like: There were times when the characters’ theology would feel so far south that I wondered if Marshall would ever bring them back to truth again. I was relieved when she did come through and balance out the false religion with Biblical truth.
However, there was a scene where the character seems to be in between life and death. I know a lot of Christian media focus on such things these days. I’m not going to argue in a review. My aim is only to point out something that I didn’t agree with for those who might be turned off by it. I wasn’t quite on board with this section of the story, but in light of the greater truths she brought to pass, I feel that I can overlook the small factor we disagreed on in the end. At the end of the day, this wasn’t the focal point of the story, so I felt it was easier to brush aside. But each reader will have to judge for themselves.

Warning:  Catherine Marshall doesn’t write in an overly graphic way. However, she does remark on some tough realities. This book would be best for a more mature and less sensitive audience. As a sensitive reader, I was able to stomach it. I think what made this easier to handle was that the squeamish areas weren’t focal points of the entire story, so they weren’t dwelt on for very long. But reader be warned, there were some shocking and disheartening moments. If you need more details, feel free to email me!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Christy 4.5 stars are recommending it to mature readers who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or for those looking for a newer classic.

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Audio Review: Having loved the tv show and Kellie Martin since I was a child, I enjoyed listening to the audio book read by Kellie Martin. There was something special about being able to hear the accents of the characters as well as hearing the story told from the actress herself. It’s one that I plan to add to my collection.
*Note there are more than one audio version available, so be sure to double check on the narrator before buying if you’re looking for this particular version.

 

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Tv Series Review: For those who have watched this when it was on tv, I don’t have to convince you. But for the rest of you: If you’re a fan of When Calls the Heart, then you’ll enjoy this series. Featuring a young teacher way out of her element, Christy is a  must watch! The setting is drastically different so it’s not a “copycat” series to When Calls the Heart. And if we were to talk copycats, Christy is older. 😉
Sadly, the show was only on for one season. This is a major upset for all fans. If you’re considering giving this series a try, at least you can walk in with your eyes open. They did come back to bring an ending to things with a Return to Cutter Gap mini series…or maybe it was a movie. I’m not too sure. Kellie Martin and at least one of the other main actors didn’t return for it. I’m sure it’s still a satisfying ending, but I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t watched it yet. Even with the hiccup of not finishing with some of the same actors, I would still highly recommend this to anyone looking for period drama, family drama, or Christian drama.
I’ve found reasonably priced copies of Christy on all the Chrisitan media sites in the past.
And if you’re concerned about the warning I left on the novel, rest assured that the tv show doesn’t take things quite so far but keeps it family safe for as much as I can remember. I don’t recall any foul language or intimate scenes or inappropriately dressed actresses. Because of the reality of the setting, you will see things such as moonshine, but it’s always held in a proper light and the consequences of it are clear.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

162Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

My Thoughts: From the very first page there was a strong Sense and Sensibility vibe. Lodge had done an excellent job retelling this classic story in a whole new way. And I especially liked the way Lodge was able to bring a deeper focus on the relationship between the sisters. This was something that I felt like was missing more from the classic version.
There were times when the characters were a bit too perceptive for my liking but other than that it was a delightful read from start to finish.
One of the highlights were all the recipes Lodge added into the story. There are a couple that I’m looking forward to trying out.
Jane of Austin isn’t a Christian novel but it is a clean one. The difference is that the characters never focused their lives on God or sought Him out when in trouble. However, there wasn’t anything damaging to the Christian faith either. I feel comfortable recommending it to my friends.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Jane of Austin 5 stars and I recommend it to those who enjoy clean contemporary fiction or Jane Austen retellings.

~I received a copy from Blogging for Books through Net Galley. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Fly Away by Lynn Austin

150Wilhelmina Brewster has been a college music professor for 41 years, devoting her life to her career and never marrying. Now, after her forced retirement at age 65, she is mourning her loss and searching for something to fill the empty hours. Widower Mike Dolan is a pilot and World War II veteran who has always lived life to the fullest. When medical tests confirm that his cancer has returned, he makes plans to take a final flight in his airplane rather than become a burden to his family. Wilhelmina accidentally learns of Mike’s final plans, and when she discovers that he isn’t a believer, she knows it’s her Christian duty to talk with him about her faith. But although she has been a lifelong Christian, she feels totally inadequate for the task of witnessing to an unbeliever.
Mike and Wilhelmina are two very different people—one figuring out how to live, the other how to die. Yet they will find themselves journeying together as they search for answers to life, loss and faith in God.

What I Loved: This isn’t your typical Austin novel chocked full of historical facts and a before-this-time setting. However, Fly Away contained the same heart-felt story that we’d come to expect from Austin. It wasn’t a fast paced tale, but something deep and enriching.
When two unlikely friends meet up, it opens the door for a lot of self-exploring. What is the purpose of your life? What are you REALLY treasuring? How do you witness to the lost? Are you even supposed to witness at all?
Austin meets the readers where the general audience will be able to relate and she tackles each question beautifully. The characters are well developed and help to enhance the message behind the plot.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Fly Away 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction.

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

Posted in About the Book

Celebrating New Release: Out of the Ashes

3Sometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

Eeeek!! It’s here!! It’s finally here!!! I’ll be celebrating my new release over the next three weeks with a Facebook party, Giveaway, Ebook Sale, and Blog Tour. Keep scrolling to catch all the details and links!

You can grab your copy of Out of the Ashes from Amazon in ebook or paperback.

Ashes reader praise

Find out what others are saying by visiting the blog tour.

July 31: Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley : Book Review

Aug. 1: Krista Noorman @ by Krista : Book Review

Aug. 2: Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings : Book Review

Aug. 4: Alicia Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny : Book Review and Interview

Aug. 7: Dana Kamstra @ D.L. Kamstra  : Book Review

Aug. 9: Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books : Book Review

Aug. 11: Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise : Book Review

Aug. 14: Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic  : Book Review

Aug. 15: Virginia Winfield @  Bigreadersite : Book Review

Aug. 16: Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae : Spotlight

Aug. 18: Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations  : Book Review and Interview

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If you were waiting for a sale to pick up the series, here’s your chance!!

Freebie and Sale!! Pick up your copies this week!
Where Can I Flee 
In the Shadow of Thy Wings
Out of the Ashes

 

Party banner

I’m hosting a release party on Facebook!! The party is open for 3 days so you’ll have more opportunities to stop by. Hope to see you there!!

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Giveaway in progress!! Enter to win all three books in paperback. 
*U.S. residents only

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

152An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainer National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.
 
But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.
 
When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?
 
Karen Barnett’s vintage national parks novels bring to vivid life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands, when he wrote in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter: “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

What I Loved: This was the first Karen Barnett book I have read, and I loved every minute of it. I found her characters well developed. The plot flow was spot on. There were times when I couldn’t see any way out for the characters because she had perfectly painted them in the corner. There was a great spiritual message here about trusting Christ with lost loved ones. But I think the part that stood out the most was the setting. I could easily visualize the park. It makes me want to go hiking, but she’s firmly talked me out of ever climbing a mountain!! I can’t wait to see where Barnett takes us next in this series.

Rating and Recommendation: I recommend The Road to Paradise to anyone who enjoys Christian historical fiction or if you’re looking for something with an outdoor setting. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Finding Margo by Jen Turano

151Off the charts and on the run.

International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small Dutch town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions… the kind that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone.

Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

What I Loved: Everything. Ok, I know that’s not a great review so I’ll try harder:
I read Finding Margo in one day and stayed up way too late. I almost didn’t feed my kids dinner. And I gave up on trying to get any real work done.
I’m not a big Amish fan, but I enjoy a story where both worlds collide. You’ll find a bit of that here in Finding Margo, although it mostly stays contemporary. There’s a mystery involved here and while part of it is easy to figure out from the very beginning, other aspects will surprise you along the way. The chemistry was spot on between Margo and Brock. There’s an entire cast of memorable secondary characters. You’ll also find action, a duck, and some of that Turano humor sprinkled throughout the novel. I loved every minute of it, and can’t wait for the next book of the series.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend Finding Margo to those who enjoy Christian mystery/suspense or an Amish/Contemporary blend. I’m giving it 5 stars.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson

149When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her parents and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother’s family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships, but whose real goal in life is to bring to justice the man who stole his father’s ship and caused his untimely death.

When Catherine finally arrives at her family’s plantation, she finds it in disarray and her family absent landowners. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom or beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish the dreams that have been holding them captive in order to step forward in faith–even if it costs them everything?

My Thoughts: There is much to praise here in Johnson’s latest release. It’s an intriguing story from the very start and one that I could hardly put down. As the mystery unfolds, the suspense increases. For me, the only drawback were the characters. While I liked and sympathized with them both, they never felt very consistent to me and they often swung from being too naive to being too astute. But even this couldn’t keep me from turning pages long after I should have been asleep. Freedom’s Price was an exciting conclusion to the Keys of Promise series. I look forward to more Christine Johnson in the future.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Freedom’s Price 4 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical fiction or a light Christian mystery/ suspense.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Summer Reading: Recommendations and Wish List

Hello, fellow Christian Fiction fans!! I’m bringing you 12 books today for your summer reading list.

My Summer Wish List: Here are 6 books that are releasing THIS summer. I’m hoping to read and review each of them.

Fly Away by Lynn Austin Does this title sound familiar? It should. It was one of her first books and she’s re-releasing it this summer!! It’s been cleaned up and revised. I haven’t read it already so I’m looking forward to digging in.

Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson I was greatly impressed with Johnson’s release last summer and have been looking forward to another visit to the historic Key West.

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Grooms  I enjoy a good mail-order bride story, and I love the concept behind this novella set. Sounds like an enjoyable summer read to me!

A Name Unknown by Roseanna White  Who couldn’t use an intriguing story this summer? The cover alone begs you to pick it up!

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson I’ve enjoyed Johnson’s Prince Edward Island series and have been anticipating my next “trip” to the island this summer!

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin  If you’ve followed my reading habits for very long, you likely picked up on the fact that I enjoy a good war fiction novel. The cover alone screams “Pick me up!!” and the description promises a great adventure.

My Recommendation List: Here are 6 books that have released earlier this year. You’ll find reviews for all of them here on the blog, but suffice it to say that I loved them. If you haven’t picked them up yet then it’s time! Past time, in fact. 😉

Life After by Katie Ganshert  This gripping contemporary novel has become a highlight of my reading year. There’s such a depth to the characters that it’s mesmerizing. It may sound a little deep for a summer read, but I have a feeling you won’t regret making time for this one.

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson My favorite take on war fiction is from the homefront. There was something cozy and delightful about this entire novel. It’ll make a great summer read!

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection  If you like romance, adventure, short stories, and a water setting, you’re in for a treat here!

My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho by Susanne Dietze  If you’re looking for a comedy, then look no further. I laughed all the way through this one and read it in two days.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen  It’s the start of a new Regency series and it’s bound to keep you entertained this summer.

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin  This is another war fiction novel. Sundin concluded the Waves of Freedom series earlier this year. I recommend you start at the beginning of this series and enjoy all the romance, struggle, and mysteries it has to offer.

Now it’s your turn!! What do you have in your summer bag? Do we have any books in common this summer? Or any that I’ve talked you into adding to your TBR list? 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Seven Brides for Seven Mail-order Husbands Romance Collection

147Seven women seek husbands to help them rebuild a Kansas town.

Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

Abigail’s Proposal by Cynthia Hickey
When her father never returned from the war, Abigail Melton stepped into his role as town mayor. The town needs men, and she needs a husband—and she has a big idea how to find both—but her first duty is to hire a sheriff. And drifter Josiah Ingram will do just fine.

The Kidnapped Groom by Susan Page Davis
Riding through the Flint Hills on his way to Dodge City, cowboy Sam Cayford finds himself the kidnapping victim of two children. When he meets their lovely mother, Maggie Piner—whom the kids insist he should marry—Sam starts to question God’s plans versus his own.

A Clean Slate by Susanne Dietze
Schoolmarm Roberta “Birdy” Green won’t marry any of the prospective grooms flocking to town. After losing her fiancé in the war, the only love her broken heart can bear is for her students. But then she takes on a new pupil—Drew Cooper, one of the gentlemen drawn to Kansas by the advertisement for grooms.

Sunshine of My Heart by Darlene Franklin
Debbie Barker longs to bring beauty to her new home on the prairie, where her family moved after the war, and seeks a husband to help her father run the ranch. Zack Gage returned home from the war to a life in ruins—family dead and business bankrupted. He answers the mail-order husband ad to seek a fresh start. But neither Debbie nor Zeke know what they are doing when it comes to ranching. . .or love.

Come What May by Patty Smith Hall
Chardy Stevens is at the end of her rope. Between running her late father’s store and tending to her four younger brothers, she barely has time to breathe, much less look for a husband to help her. The boys scare off most of her prospects and throw Chardy together with her childhood friend Luke, a disabled veteran who seeks her happiness above his own.

Dime Novel Suitor by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Widow Caroline Kane is the proprietor of a restaurant and inn—and responsible for her five teenaged siblings. But she has no plans of finding a mail-order groom. Britisher Barden Granville IV is on a “cowboy holiday” when he finds himself flat broke in Kansas.  When he answers an old “help wanted” ad, Caroline misconstrues Barden is there as a potential husband. Will the beautiful and fiesty widow cause the new vicar to make Kansas his home?

Louder than Words by Gina Welborn
After years of writing abolitionist pamphlets and chronicling soldier life during the war, J.R. Lockhart is bored and jumps at the opportunity to investigate an advertisement for husbands for an article in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Jane Ransome would like to help the charming-but-oblivious-to-life-out-West man chronicle the courtships developing in town, but she has her own husband to find—one who will fit perfectly in her picket-fenced Kansas home.

My Thoughts: I was smitten with this collection from the moment I had first heard about it. The concept behind it was well thought out. You can tell the authors collaborated together because the entire collection took place in the same town, over the same time frame, and the characters crossed over in each of the stories. And they did a really great job with this.
The problem we often see with novellas is that they tend to lack the depth that we usually find in a full-sized novel. This was no exception. In some way or another, each of the stories lacked tension or depth of character. But at the end of the day, this was an entertaining read. It’s a lighthearted collection with a solid spiritual message attached to each one of the stories. And each of the stories was set in a charming town with equally charming couples.

 

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 4 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian novellas.

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