Friday, June 10, 2016

From this Moment by Elizabeth Camden

From the publisher:
Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.

But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they've worked for at risk?

This stand-alone novel has a free novella, A Summer of Dreams which I highly recommend reading before this novel.  You can read this novel without it but the little novella adds a lot of depth to Evelyn and Clyde's story and really helped me invest in Romulus and his past as well.

I loved Romulus and Stella.  I loved their flamboyant personalities and how even in their boldness and charm could sometimes be what hindered them from going where they should go.  It was fun to read the banter and chemistry between Romulus and Stella.  I just really enjoyed their characters' flaws and strengths.

Evelyn and Clyde where secondary characters but they were so important and added a richness to the story.  Elizabeth Camden is a wonderful author who really knows how to write characters that readers will enjoy at each step of the way.

The tension in the book will keep you reading and there was also a graphic portion of the book that deals with Stella's sister's death. Otherwise it is just tension filled and not graphic. 

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

Finding God in the Hard Times by Matt and Beth Redman

From the publisher:
In this inspiring book, Matt and Beth Redman draw on their experiences as well as those of others, exploring how to offer praise even in the face of hardship and pain. Focusing on the psalms, many of which were written out of struggle, they show how difficult or tragic circumstances--and our choices--can propel us toward God or away from him, build up our faith or break it. Learn how to ride out the storms of life with a cry of "blessed be your name" on your lips.

This is a small book that I feel would be best used in a small group so that you can really get in depth with what the authors are talking about. This book is what I would call a jumping point.  I feel that if you just read it by yourself and don't engage in further study and discussion that this isn't enough for really going through hard times.  

However, if you use this book as a jumping point then I think you will be blessed.  

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

All Right Here by Carre Armstrong Gardner

From the publisher:
Ivy Darling can’t have children of her own, and her husband Nick’s resentment is forcing them apart. And while Ivy has the support and love of her large, close-knit family, Nick’s family has never welcomed her into the fold.

When the three children next door are abandoned by their mother, Ivy and Nick take them in for the night. One night becomes several, and suddenly Ivy and Nick find themselves foster parents to the only African-American kids in the town of Copper Cove, Maine. As Ivy grows more attached to the children, Nick refuses to accept their eclectic household as a permanent family. Just as Ivy begins to question whether or not she wants to save her emotionally barren marriage, Nick begins to discover how much Ivy and the children mean to him. But is his change of heart too little, too late?

I love the preface of this book.  And I loved reading about the three children and Ivy and even Nick.  It was easy to see how Nick and Ivy were in a bad place and to see how they grew and changed (not always for the better.)

What I didn't like was all the characters.  There were too many characters and subplots/secondary plots going on.  I felt that the book should have stayed focused on just the main story and then in another book added more.  I can see why it was important to have Laura's story in there but I just felt that there was too much going on.  I really wanted to focus on Ivy and Nick and have a deeper look at their lives and the changes that happened there instead of just skimming the surface.

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

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

From the publisher:
After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who's invaded the house with her motley crew.

As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

This is the second book the Hope Harbor series and you don't need to read the first book to enjoy the second one.  

I enjoyed reading Irene Hannon's novel and Eric and BJ's characters.  I felt that they were engaging and how they had to work through their own personal issues and what was important to them.  Often we have to make big decisions and we base it off of what is the most important to us and it was a good read to watch these characters do that.

I had a few issues with the story.  Eric states to BJ that he's not really a Christian and only goes to church because his father expects it.  And while BJ is a Christian that doesn't keep her from deciding to pursue a relationship with Eric.  Eric begins to pray some in the book but it isn't certain if it is only from stress or a real beginning of a relationship.  

The other issue was with Charley.  Some people might love him but I feel that he plays a little too much of "God" or an angel in this book.  I just felt that made it unrealistic.  

I really did like the secondary characters of Luis and Eleanor.  That was such a strong part of the story and I'm glad they were in there.  I am looking forward to the next book and reading more about this setting and other characters. 

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Daughter's Dream by Shelley Shepard Gray

From the publisher:

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s second book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a young teacher and farmer discover they have much in common, especially when it comes to healing old wounds from the past…and finding love in one another.
Rebecca Kinsinger has always dreamed of being a teacher. But when she’s given the opportunity she’s been waiting for at Charm Amish School, she’s dismayed to discover that teaching is hard work—work she’s afraid she’s not very good at.

That is, until Lilly Yoder joins the class. A thirteen-year old who’s just lost her parents, Lilly is in need of someone like Rebecca. For the first time since starting her new job, Rebecca feels a sense of purpose. But when she meets Lilly’s uncle, Jacob, his good looks and sweet, easy-going temperament are hard to ignore. How can she even entertain romantic thoughts of Jacob when his niece is her student?
Suddenly becoming Lily’s sole caregiver, Jacob Yoder never thought he’d be a single parent—or a farmer. Having been living in Florida as a carpenter, Jacob feels more at home wielding a hammer than a backhoe. The only bright spot in his life is Rebecca Kinsinger. As Lily and Rebecca develop a bond, Jacob’s fondness for the pretty teacher grows, too.

But when a fateful accident brings them together, Rebecca and Jacob must choose between duty and desire. Will they follow the path before them? Or set out to find true happiness…and true love?

This is the second book in The Charmed Amish Life series. You don't need to read the first one to understand or enjoy this one as it focuses on different characters.  However, there are a few references that are more easily understood if you have read the previous book. 

I resonated with both Rebecca and Jacob struggling to find where they belonged and to use the talents and gifts they have.  I know many people find themselves in a job where they don't feel their gifts and talents are or in a situation where they thought they always wanted to be but then realize that it really isn't what they wanted.  I think many will relate to the struggles of these characters.

There is a sweet story with two secondary characters that I will be interested in learning more about.  I wish that a character from the first book had come back in this story because I feel her story wasn't finished yet, so I will be interested to see what happens in the rest of the series.

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