Thursday, December 6, 2012

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher

From the publisher: "The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take readers to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God's love no matter the circumstances.
It's the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.
Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she's going to have to trust someone if she's to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband's half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?"

This is the second book in the "Where Your Heart Lives" series.  However, it will read well without having to read the other books.  However, the epilogue to this book gives away some details from the first book.  I decided to read "Belonging" the first book in the series before reading this one to review.  Both are worth your time to read.

I think I did enjoy this one, "Betrayal" even more so than "Belonging".  Hatcher does an incredible job of making the character's relationship with God natural throughout the book.  Not many authors have this ability and I was spiritually blessed to read the scripture that the characters would remember or read throughout the story.

The love story was sweet and endearing.  The characters had a depth that made the reader want to know more about them, and Hatcher revealed more about them as time passed. She did an excellent job of "show not tell" in her book.

The theme of renewal through the book was very touching.  I think that many readers will identify with having a past, or something in their past that they wish was not there--and then the freedom and joy of knowing that God can give them new life.

I would highly recommend this book to others, and I cannot wait to read the third book in this series!  I will also be checking out more of her books, since this is the first time I have read her works.

I received this book free for my honest review from

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter Excerpt

This summer I reviewed the book Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert.  That post is here.  Well, if you want to get a sneak peak before buying the book, here are the first couple chapters!   I hope you will take a moment to read these chapters, and then go and read the book.  I am looking forward to reading her new book when it comes out in March.    

Monday, November 12, 2012

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

From the publishers: "As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend."

This was one of the best historical fiction books I have read in a while.  The main and supporting characters were both realistic and likeable (or non-likeable, when you were supposed to not like them.)  Lydia and Bane were both strong characters who were written with real depth.

I liked that the love story wasn't a quick throw together, and that there were real obstacles that had to be overcome.  The love story isn't clean, and for once the character's flaws are hard obstacles to deal with.  Lydia doesn't stay pretty and neat, but nor is she careless.  Bane is hard when he needs to be and really is the better of the two characters.  

Another part that was well crafted was the spiritual side.  In many Christian fiction books the characters have sudden "aha" moments where they come to know God.  The way one of the characters comes to know God is much more realistic to how it is in real life.  And I thought it was woven well through-out the story, without it being trite or preachy.  Well done Elizabeth Camden.

I read through the book quickly because I was so engaged, but now I was to go back and re-read it and enjoy it all over again.  I would definitely recommend this book to others.  

This is the first book I have read of Camden's but it will not be the last one!

I received this book free for my honest review from Bethany Publishing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Isle of Shadows by Tracy L. Higley

From the publishers: "Revised and updated from the original, Christy-award finalist Shadow of Colossus.
Enslaved in a World of Money and Power, Tessa Dares to be Free.
Raised as courtesan to wealthy and powerful men, Tessa of Delos serves at the whim of her current patron, the politician Glaucus. After ten years with him, Tessa has abandoned all desire for freedom or love, choosing instead to lock her heart away.
But when Glaucus meets a violent death in his own home, Tessa grasps at a fragile hope. Only she knows of his death. If she can keep it a secret long enough, she can escape.
Tessa throws herself on the mercy of the Greek god Helios, but finds instead unlikely allies in Nikos, a Greek slave, and Simeon, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant. As Simeon introduces her to a God unlike any she has ever known and Nikos begins to stir feelings she had thought long dead, Tessa fights to keep her heart protected.
As an assassination plot comes to light, Tessa must battle for her own freedom—and for those to whom she has begun to open her heart—as forces collide that shatter the island’s peace."
I have never read the original work Shadow of Colossus so this review is simply related to this book.  The story moved quickly and each section was by a day.  The book covers seven days, but each day has many chapters.  I enjoyed that aspect of the writing because I felt each day was filled with meaningful interactions with each character.  However, because it only covered seven days, the love story seems a bit fast, but it was still engaging to read.  
Tessa's position as a hetaera was interesting to read, and made her strong willed character believable during that time period.  The reader will enjoy not only the main story line  but also the history of Colossus.  What I love about historical fiction is learning more about the time period.  Higley also has a little section in the back of her book that gives more history.  
The book also includes a discussion guide for group discussions.  
I would recommend the book for light reading that also teaches you more about one of the seven wonders of the world.
I received this book free from Booksneeze in exchange for  my honest review.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

To Love and Cherish by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

From the publishers: "When Melinda Colson's employer announces they'll be leaving Bridal Veil Island to return to their home in Cleveland, Melinda hopes her beau, Evan, will propose. But Evan isn't prepared to make an offer of marriage until he knows he can support a wife and family. Evan works as the assistant gamekeeper on Bridal Veil but hopes to be promoted soon.

Letters strengthen their love, but Melinda remains frustrated at being apart from the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Then she learns of a devastating hurricane in Bridal Veil and knows she must give up her position as a lady's maid and make her way back to Evan.

The destruction on Bridal Veil is extensive, meaning every available person is needed to help with cleanup and repairs. Melinda finds a new job on the island, but Evan seems even busier than before, meaning she still never gets to see him. Has she given her heart to the wrong man?

And when Melinda overhears a vicious plot against President McKinley, who is scheduled to visit the island, is Evan the one she should turn to? Will Melinda and Evan ever get the chance to stand at the front of a church and promise "to love and cherish"?"

The cover is beautiful and I was hoping that the story would be engaging.  However, I was disappointed in this book.    The main characters of Melinda and Evan were weak and unlikable.  .  I kept hoping that another hero would show up and we could like him better than Evan, and I think I even liked the antagonist better than Evan.  

Most of the book was Melinda being upset for Evan not proposing and Evan not wanting to get married yet.  The book was slow paced and did not grab my attention in any part of the story. Even the "climatic" end was not a winner.  

I wish I could give this a good review.  I enjoy historical fiction, but I will not be reading any other books from this series.

I received this book in exchange from the publishers for my honest review.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The River by Michael Neale

From the publisher: Gabriel Clarke is mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. The rushing waters beckon him to experience freedom and adventure.
But something holds him back—the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old—something no child should ever see.
Chains of fear and resentment imprison Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He remains trapped, afraid to take hold of the life awaiting him.
When he returns to The River after years away, his heart knows he is finally home. His destiny is within reach. Claiming that destiny will be the hardest—and bravest—thing he has ever done.

I have to say that this book lacked depth in many ways.  I was not drawn to any of the characters, least of all the main character Gabriel.  A book can be not very deep, but at least entertaining and engaging.  This book was neither deep, nor entertaining, nor engaging.  This book was choppy and caused me to not really didn't care if Gabriel conquered his fears or got a better life because he was written in a very flat way.  When reading it I felt like I was reading middle/high school writing craft.  

Spiritually there was more mysticism/animism/etc. than Christianity.  There is a hawk that appears to comfort Gabriel, and the River talks to him, an important teacher of his is named after the river, and a special dog helps him at the river.  There could have been many chances to show that God is the One who heals our deepest grief, but instead it was this magical river.

The story line had potential but it was not carried out well.  I cannot recommend this book.

I received this book from Booksneeze for my honest review.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Season for Tending by Cindy Woodsmall

Rhonda Byler has a gift for tending to gardens, but has a past that haunts her.  Then here is Samuel King and his family's orchard and their family troubles and joys.  Rhonda's understanding and expertise at gardening and canning binds a relationship with the King family.

This is the first book in a series, and it seemed that much of it was setting up for what would come later.  If you want a book with a quick ending, then this is not for you.  The characters and families are developed so that they can be further explored in the coming books.

There were a lot of characters and at first I felt confused with all the names and families, but Woodsmall does a good job and trying to keep things sorted out.

The book kept my attention throughout and I am looking forward to reading the next book so I can find out what happens next!

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Scarlet Cord by Joan Wolf

From the publisher:
“Within one of the Old Testament’s most famous battles lies one of its most tender love stories.
Hidden within the battle of Jericho is the story of Rahab, a beautiful and brave young Canaanite woman who aided the Israelites by hanging a piece of scarlet cord from a window. This act of faith changed her life by placing her in the genealogy of Christ.
Rahab is the beautiful youngest daughter of a Canaanite farmer, taken to Jericho for the pagan New Year celebration so that her father can find her a wealthy spouse. Sala is the only son of an Israelite merchant, in Jericho as a spy for Joshua’s army. Their love would have been destined for heartache, were it not ordained by God.
When Rahab finds favor with the king, and is to become his ritual bride, she abandons the pagan gods who have abandoned her and pleads with the One True God of the Israelites for deliverance. With her prayer answered, she vows to deliver Jericho to Joshua, risking her life to do so.
Motivated by love and empowered by a new faith, Rahab saves her family, and secures her future as one of the most important women in the Bible.”

Joan Wolf created an engaging Biblical fiction story.  The historical knowledge of the Canaanite religion helped to create the mood toward the situation and how Joshua had to deal with it.  I appreciated the author’s note at the end of the book and how she struggled with the “jihad” idea and wanted to deal with it as best she could.  I applaud her honestly and her struggle as an author.  I do think that the Bible calling Rahab a harlot was not just a culture thing however, and although I appreciate what Wolf did, I found it more off base Biblically than I would have liked.  Overall it was an interesting read and I look forward to more of Joan Wolf’s books.

I received this book free from BookSneeze for my honest review.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

From the publisher, "A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan. Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany's vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.  For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn't seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she's not even sure exists?"

 I read this book in two days, and it only took that long because I didn't have time to sit and just read.  This book was engaging throughout the read.  The primary and secondary characters are engaging.  I thought it was interesting how the flashbacks were written in first person while the rest of the book was written in third.  I enjoyed that writing craft and how it made the past more vivid to the reader even though the rest of the book was not during that time.

 I appreciated the real feel of the characters and the amount of time it took for them to change or develop.  Sometimes authors have the characters change so quickly and it is unrealistic.  However, I was glad that this author choose to show time passing and events unfolding as the characters developed.  

 The question brought up in the book of seeing religious leaders as God and not God just for who He is was poignant.  Today many people reject God because of who they think He is, based on religious leaders they do or do not like. This book, and the author does a great job at tackling this issue and bring it to the reader. I received this book free for my honest review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley

From the publishers: "The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Daughter.

For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.

Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an indulgent palace life. But when her husband dies and a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own newfound freedom is threatened.

As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family’s secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband’s brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.

In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, one woman must decide if she is willing to risk everything—her possessions, her gods, and her very life—for the Israelite’s one God. Madness, sorcery and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist’s deadly potion, and Tia must dare to risk all – to save the kingdom, and to save herself."

The story was pretty fast paced, in fact, in some ways I felt the beginning was too fast paced. It didn't seem realistic all the risks that Tia was taking, even if she was a princess. Also, though the book was enjoyable, Tia's character was hard to believe. She was very modern and did foolish things. She was not a believable character as she swayed this way and that over various topics.

I was really excited about this book because I have never read any Biblical fiction about King Nebuchadnezzar and I was looking forward to it. There were parts I enjoyed, and some of the history of it was intriguing but not enough to really have me recommend it strongly to anyone.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review from

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Real Marriage DVD Kit by Mark & Grace Driscoll

I have read a lot of marriage/couple books and one thing that I feel people should know is that no one book is going to have all the answers or perfectly fit your couple experience. So if one book has some answers and helps, great, keep reading and take the good and leave the bad.

There are some things that I really appreciated about this Real Marriage DVD kit and study guide by Mark & Grace Driscoll.
1) They were honest. I appreciated their vunerability in their personal lives. Often marriage/couple books leave someone feeling like "If only I had done such and such, I could have a great marriage like _____." That's not how the Driscolls presented their book/DVD. They talked about their struggles and how to overcome them.
2) The study guide was great to do as a group as it has discussion questions and then personal questions to do later on your own time. These questions allowed the person to hear others' thoughts as well as further develop your own. If you were single, they had a section of questions for them to answer as well which I thought was very well thought out.
3) Each section had a portion of scripture at the beginning and then at the end time for prayer. While there could have been more scripture in the study guide I enjoyed having the prayer aspect included.
4) Each week there was an "experience" that you were to do with your spouse. This could be a date time that involved something fun, introspective, deep and hard talking time, or just enjoyment of being together. I thought this was a great thing to have for couples to do. They also had a part for singles to do.
5) Each section had about a 10-minute video of Mark and Grace Driscoll talking (basically to each other) about the topic that was going to be discussed. I found watching them interact added to the study guide. It made me appreciate the struggles they'd had, research they'd done, and thoughts they had put into making the book and study guide. I like the way they interacted as a couple, it was a good role model.

I only had the DVD and study guide, I did not receive the book to review. In the study guide they want you to read the corresponding chapters. Since I didn't have the book, I couldn't do that part, and I think it would greatly enhance the experience to have the book as well as the DVD study guide.

As I mentioned in the beginning, no book/study guide is perfect and I didn't agree 100% with everything they shared but I would still definitely recommend this to other couples.

I received this study guide/DVD kit from BookSneeze for my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

God Gave Us Love by Lisa Tawn Bergren

God Gave Us Love
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

From the back of the book, "As Little Cub and Grampa Bears fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others...even the seemingly unlovable."

This is a small cardboard book that children will enjoy looking through. The illustrations are cute with a family of polar bears dressed in little winter scarves and coats.

The book is easy to hold for toddlers but the words are definitely for adults to read aloud to the child. The book is well done as it talks about love and loving others. I like that this book discussed how we don’t always like others or feel like loving them but even when we know that we should.

For being a simple cardboard book this book is a great teaching tool for all ages about love and God’s love that lives through us and our actions.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review form WaterBrook Press.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spiritual Warfare for Women: Winning the Battle for Your Home, Family, and Friends

Spiritual Warfare for Women  -              By: Leighann McCoy

Spiritual Warfare for Women: Winning the Battle for Your Home, Family, and Friends

by Leighann McCoy

This book came to me at a time where I was just swamped with life and had to put it on the shelf to review later. Then, some things happened that knocked me spiritually off my feet. I was groping for help. I remembered this book. So I picked it up and decided to fight.
What a blessing this book was. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with an attack in their lives. It could be an attack to their personal lives, their church, family, friends, etc. This book grounds the reader in God’s love and promise for their lives and then helps the reader know how to fight their battles.
As women we might feel helpless and weak, but through McCoy’s transparency in her own life, she enables others to fight in Christ’s strength. None of the things she shares in this book are done in our own strength, but in reliance on Jesus’.
A part that I particularly found powerful was the sections at the end of each chapter. This is where you took what McCoy had been saying and applied it to you own life, in prayer, journaling, and memorizing of God’s Word. This takes the book to a deeper level. It is one thing to read a chapter but to apply it to your life and have the deeper connection really sets this book apart.
I was incredibly strengthened and blessed by this book and I know others will be as well.

I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes by the publisher. The review written was my opinion and I was not required to write positive review.