Four Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Religion

“Aren’t Books Pure Joy?”

A few years back I picked up a book entitled Dear Mr Knightley, for obvious Jane Austen reasons. I was delightfully surprised to find a more Daddly-Long-legs story. Possibly the best version I’ve read. I was instantly pulled into the story and loved the entire book. I recently came across another book, also by Katherine Reay, and picked it up without hesitation.

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“One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.

When Madeline’s professional life falls apart, and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. Has she been too quick to dismiss her aunt’s beloved shop? And even if she has, the women’s best combined efforts may be too little, too late.”

I’ll admit I had a harder time getting into this book. It took effort to remember which character was attached to which background and story as she jumped back and forth. It was not an “easy” read, the pacing was a little slow. It was however, beautifully worded, and deeply moving. I loved all the book references, and the lovely description of the small town and its quaint bookshop.

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3 1/2 Stars, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Religion

Perspective

Confession for you all, I have always been more on the sensitive side I cry during movies, watching TV, and while reading books. Heavens, I’ve even cried watching facebook videos! Since having my first baby however, my hormones (lets just blame it on the hormones) have been out of control.

So Healed by Miranda Lotz may not have been the best choice, it is 100% a heart wrencher. I cried through more than half of it.

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“Stephanie knows God answers her prayers. Giving birth to her daughter after five miscarriages is proof of that. 

But when baby Abby is diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy and treatments begin to spiral out of control, Stephanie is left to question why a God of miracles doesn’t guide her to heal Abby.

Stephanie’s husband, Jared, wants to try Mary’s Miracle–an organic CBD oil made from hemp–to treat Abby’s seizures, but Stephanie wants to know what God has planned for them.

As treatments dwindle and options run low, Stephanie must learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart, finding a path forward for her daughter, and a path back to God for herself.”

The author did a beautiful job of reflecting all the pain hurt and struggle a family can go through when they find out hard news about their little angels. Miranda Lotz’s writing not only pulls on your heart strings, but gives you perspective. She did a very good job of making you feel and understand all the emotions.

I did struggle a little with the points of view it was written in, the chapters were labeled with the person’s name, but every now and then it seemed to switch to third person or even a completely different view.

Be aware of the sensitive nature of this book before you decide if it’s for you. Also a few other points: The book is very heavily religious as this family struggles in understanding why God would allow this, but it’s not preachy. There is heavier language than most books we read, so keep that in mind. Lastly, although there is no violence in the book its first chapter is pretty graphic in the telling of her delivery.

That all being said, this is a good book to turn to for perspective, for faith, and for a really good cry. –A.B.

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

You’re Welcome

My daughter, like every other little girl in the world got caught up in the Frozen saga, the costumes, the dolls, the songs. I’ll be the first to admit I enjoyed both the movie and the soundtrack, but there is a limit to how many times you can press repeat until you just can’t anymore. That’s until Moana came out.

If I got a nickle for every time I heard one of my three kids say “Alexa, play shiny,” “Alexa, play You’re Welcome.” I would be a very rich woman. That I actually didn’t mind too much, it’s adorable to hear a toddler say Alexa, but everything has a limit. Thankfully that phase ended too, but the songs came back very quickly as I read Ilima Todd‘s A Song for the Stars.41wGq01L-LL

“Inspired by a true story

Hawaiian Islands, 1779

As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawaii, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with Maile’s homeland and her people—and Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.”

I’ve never been to Hawaii, it’s definitely on my bucket list though. However Ilima Todd’s imagery painted such a beautiful picture, I felt like I was there. Her descriptions were not just visible either. I felt like I could smell the flowers, hear the waterfall, and feel. I could feel so much, you can tell that this novel contains all of Ilima Todd’s heart, it bleeds through ever page.

That includes Maile. I could feel her confusion, her naivety, and her strength. The switch between John’s journal and Maile’s first person narrative was a perfect way to convey the clash of cultures the misunderstandings and the growing feelings between the two. All were handled so well I found myself laughing and crying and yes even sighing.

I loved how she had John and Maile start out on so completely opposite sides, the conflict between them added depth and a beautiful heartache to the story.

The only thing I struggled with was the wayfaring. For the most part, it was fascinating. I loved how something that was so special to her and Ikaika also brought her closer to John. However there were a few moments when I felt like the wayfaring details slowed down the story right when I felt like it was picking up. This however didn’t take away from the beauty of the novel.

This should definitely be on the top of your TBR pile, you’ll thank me. So in advance… You’re Welcome.

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Four Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

Bloom in Adversity

When Mulan first came out I thought, finally! We finally have a kick-but Disney princess! The humor of Eddie Murphy and the swoony singing voice of Donny Osmond didn’t hurt the movie either. Incredibly, Melanie Dickerson‘s retelling of Mulan, The Warrior Maiden, only improved upon it.

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When Mulan takes her father’s place in battle against the besieging Teutonic Knights, she realizes she has been preparing for this journey her whole life—and that her life, and her mother’s, depends on her success. As the adopted daughter of poor parents, Mulan has little power in the world. If she can’t prove herself on the battlefield, she could face death—or, perhaps worse, marriage to the village butcher.

Disguised as a young man, Mulan meets the German duke’s son, Wolfgang, who is determined to save his people even if it means fighting against his own brother. Wolfgang is exasperated by the new soldier who seems to be one step away from disaster at all times—or showing him up in embarrassing ways.

From rivals to reluctant friends, Mulan and Wolfgang begin to share secrets. But war is an uncertain time and dreams can die as quickly as they are born. When Mulan receives word of danger back home, she must make the ultimate choice. Can she be the son her bitter father never had? Or will she become the strong young woman she was created to be?

This was one of my favorite of Melanie’s re-tellings. She followed the story really well, but made enhancements that improved on the original.

The gender reveal between the two main characters and then with the rest of the army was handled better than the Disney story we’re familiar with. That was possibly my favorite change. The chemistry was sweet and just right.

The one story element that was odd to me at first was having the attacking army be religious zealots. It made the book feel a little more preachy than some of her others, but overall it worked for the story line and felt natural for the characters she created.

The sidekick maybe didn’t have Eddie Murphy’s humor, but was spot on and really complemented Mulan’s character. –M.V.

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Melanie Jacobson, Moderate Religion

Fairy Tale Life

Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be a really popular trope right now. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact. A fact I completely embrace. I love watching how each author uses the different elements of the story to create their own fairy tale. I especially love it when it’s not obvious how they’re going to eventually pull the whole story together.

Finding Jack by Melanie Jacobson is a contemporary reverse re-telling (seems like a tongue twister) of Rapunzel.

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When smart, practical Emily finds herself in the crosshairs of an Internet prankster, her orderly world goes topsy-turvy. Instead of getting mad at the handsome stranger behind the joke, she finds herself drawn to him. But Jack Dobson, though hilarious and thoughtful, has a lot of secrets. Despite her growing feelings for her new and unexpected long-distance friend, his biggest secret of all might be the one that breaks the spell they’ve been weaving around each other.

I’ve never read a reverse re-telling of rapunzel. It just doesn’t seem feasible that a man would be trapped in a tower. Melanie Jacobson did an cute flip, and it was so fun to try and figure out how he was “trapped.” I love that she used it as personal prison not a physical one imposed by anyone else.

Melanie Jacobson’s female characters can seem almost too similar. They’re all California determined and focused girls, but I love where she went with Emily and the changes she made.

Melanie Jacobson also has a thing for online relationships. I’ve read that’s how she met her husband, which is sweet, but I keep hoping for something different. The online connection in this one was unique enough to not pull me out of the story.

The banter between Emily and Jack was highly entertaining and I liked how their connection grew and how their characters eventually encouraged each other outside of themselves.

Four Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

Queen of the Night

My college humanities class was one of my favorite classes. For the simple reason that I “had” to attend all sorts of cultural performances, all in pursuit of my grade. It was wonderful. That semester I saw “The Magic Flute” for the first time and fell in love with the opera.

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“When American heiress Gwen Barton aids an injured gentleman in an opera box in London, she shares a kiss with the stranger that changes her life. More determined than ever to be herself, in spite of the limp she’s sustained since childhood, she will marry for love and not a title. She also resolves to learn the identity of the man she helped—and kissed. Surely he can’t be the irritating Avery Winfield, though. But as circumstances continue to throw Gwen and Avery together, she begins to wonder if there is more to this man than she first thought.

While most of London only knows him as the nephew of a duke, Avery Winfield is actually working for the Secret Service Bureau to ferret out German spies from among the ton. It’s a profession that gives him purpose and a reason to remain a bachelor. But the more he interacts with Gwen Barton, an heiress from America, the more he begins to question his plans and neglected faith. Then he learns Gwen is the young lady from the opera box who helped him. Now his most important mission may have nothing to do with saving Britain from danger and everything to do with risking his heart for the woman he met that night at the opera.”

Stacy Henrie wrote two love interests paired so well, you’re rooting for them every step of the way. The faith aspect of the book was subtle. The inclusion of God was a major part of the story, but it felt natural and necessary to the character development of Gwen and Avery, and never pushy.

The character development of the story really made the novel charming. Stacy Henrie used beautiful metaphors, and great moments of introspection to connect the reader to the characters. It made the story more than just entertainment, but a wonderful journey of adventure, love.

Four Stars, Giveaway, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Religion

All I Want for Christmas

Free books are probably the best Christmas present I could get, and for the next four days Liz Isaacson’s A Marriage for the Marine is free! I really love Christmas.

“Tate Benson can’t believe he’s come to Nowhere, Utah, to fix up a house that hasn’t been inhabited in years. But he has. Because he’s retired from the Marines and looking to start a life as a police officer in small-town Brush Creek.

Wren Fuller has her hands full most days running her family’s company. When Tate calls and demands a maid for that morning, she decides to have the calls forwarded to her cell and go help him out. She didn’t know he was moving in next door, and she’s completely unprepared for his handsomeness, his kind heart, and his wounded soul.

Can Tate and Wren weather a relationship when they’re also next-door neighbors?”

–I love how real to life her story and characters were. The family dynamics, the realities of dealing with loss and the way money can cause tension in relationships were all true to life struggles and written as such. Balanced against the realities of life was also a sweet and hopeful romance. The Christian elements were just part of everyday life and blended into the story seamlessly.

 

Bent over the tub, she heard the distinct sound of boots entering the house.

“Hello?” a man called, and he sounded softer, kinder, than he had on the phone.

Wren scraped her bangs off her forehead, cursing her hair for the tenth time that morning as it stuck to the back of her neck. It wasn’t quite long enough to pull into a ponytail, and she had the fleeting thought that she’d like to shave every last hair from her head.

She hadn’t even made it to her feet when he said, “You call this cleaning?”

Wren faced him and put her hands on her hips. She felt red-faced and sweaty and her guard went right up as she drank in the boxy shape of his shoulders. The deep brown hazel color of his eyes. The way his jaw already held a day’s worth of facial hair. It matched the rich brown color of his hair, and Wren suddenly needed a very cold glass of water.

“Yes,” she managed to clip between her lips. “I call this cleaning.”

“There’s dust on the shelves in the living room.”

“Impossible,” she said. “If that’s true, it settled there in the past half-hour.”

His eyebrows went up as if he wasn’t used to being questioned. And it was clear he wasn’t. “You want me to show you?”

Frustration boiled in her, and though her momma had always taught her to clean until the customer was satisfied, she bent and extracted a duster from the box she’d brought. “I’d rather you just wiped it up.” She held the blue duster toward him, satisfied when he looked at her like she’d grown a second head and told him he would too if he touched her.

Who was this man?

Your new next door neighbor, her mind whispered, and Wren regretted her decision to quip at him to do the dusting himself. She started to withdraw her hand, but he reached out and snatched the duster from her, spinning with military-precision on his toe, and marching down the hall.

 

 

 

Grab these other Brush Creek Brides Romances for just 99 ¢!

 

Author Liz Isaacson

USA Today bestselling author, Liz Isaacson, writes inspirational cowboy romances. Her Three Rivers Ranch Romance series has multiple #1 bestsellers in half a dozen categories. She loves all things to do with contemporary cowboys, and will write romance in Texas, Montana, and anywhere else she can find horses and mountains

 

 

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends 1/6/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

3 1/2 Stars, Giveaway, Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Religion, Moderate Romance

Best of Intentions

I feel like December should be dubbed the month of best of intentions. I always have all these plans and usually only get through half of them. That’s what happened yesterday, I got so much done! But there’s also so much I didn’t get done. However, I did listen to a delightful book while I did laundry…

“Abigail Spencer loved her job. She was a marine biologist who maintained some of Miami’s most spectacular ponds and aquariums. She had the opportunity to travel around the city, meeting new people and working in beautiful locations. So, even though it was just another day at the office when she suddenly met the man of her dreams, she wasn’t in an office at all.

Every girl imagines meeting her prince charming. It’s doubtful, however, that any of these fantasies include it happening when they’re soaked with sweat and knee-deep in pond scum.

Fate can be funny that way.”

This was a really sweet story. Brooke St. James gave it just the right amount of chemistry and drama. The Christian elements were subtle and well done. A quick cozy by the fire read.

 

 

Author Brooke St. James

Brooke St. James is a bestselling author of contemporary romance novels with Christian and inspirational themes and happy endings. She was born and raised in south Louisiana but has had the opportunity to travel and live throughout the U.S. An avid reader, writer, audio book addict, and fan of all things artistic, Brooke constantly has her hands in some creative activity. She’s currently back home in Louisiana enjoying life with her husband, children, and two lazy dogs.

 

 


Get copies of All In & Something Precious for just 99 cents!

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in PayPal Cash Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends 1/1/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

 

Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Religion, Three Stars

“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control”

There’s no arguing that Jane Austen’s work is timeless. It’s one of the reasons it’s redone so often. Her characters are one of the things that add to the timelessness of her work. They are multidimensional, complex, and real.

For that reason it can be hard to replicate her characters. The character that has been the hardest for me to read retellings of is Emma. Emma is entitled and naive, but she’s also tries really hard to do good and be genuine. It’s this complexity that makes her book so delightfully full of mishaps. However, writing her so you love her quirks and are rooting for her as oppose to just wanting to strangle her takes skill.

I recently read two adaptations of Emma, In Brittany Larsen‘s The Matchmaker’s Match her Emma character seems to hit it spot on. 41HjvJa5hUL

 

Eliza Woodhouse has everything a girl could want: a delightful little beachside flower shop, a loving family, and the best friend a girl could ask for. And while she suffers a chronic lack of romance in her own life, the bohemian beauty is a self-proclaimed matchmaker extraordinaire, as evidenced by her recent successes. Having found a fiancé for her sister and a boyfriend for her best friend, she is now taking her lovelorn new employee under her wing. Yes, life is working out quite nicely for Eliza. Until Parker Knightley walks back into her life.

After three years in Hong Kong, Parker is in town for his brother’s upcoming wedding to Eliza’s sister. They’ve all known each other their whole lives, and Eliza will never be anything but Little Liza Belle to her handsome childhood tormenter. So the fact that their siblings are getting married simply puts Parker one step closer to becoming the big brother he and Eliza have always joked about him being. But the more time they spend together, the more confused Eliza’s feelings become. Because she has come to the shocking realization that the role of brother is the last role she wants Parker to play in her life.

I also love how she handled Mr. Woodhouse, the background and struggles she gave the modern day Mr. Woodhouse seemed to fit the character so well. I appreciated her clever turns of phrases and the moments of introspection she gave her characters.

I felt like her realization of her feelings for Mr. Knightley were mentioned a little early in the novel as opposed to how late Jane Austen has Emma come to her realization. It also felt like she “came to” a realization a couple times which was a little confusing and seemed so opposite to the moment of epiphany we’re used to. But the romance was sweet and their eventual confessions were as beautiful as the many times we’ve relived it from book to movie.

The second adaptation of Emma was by Rebecca Jamison, and unfortunately I didn’t finish that one, by about chapter 4 I really just didn’t like Emma and didn’t care whether she over came her entitled ways and her ignorance. However, I also read her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, and really liked it.

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“As if it wasn’t bad enough to be getting food from Church welfare, I had to meet one of the Ferreros—and a good-looking Ferrero, at that.

Elly Goodwin, a brilliant programmer, is so desperate for a job that she takes one from her ex-boyfriend—the same man who put her family out of business. Then she meets Ethan Ferrero, who seems too good to be true. But Elly is far too sensible to unexpectedly fall in love—especially with her ex’s brother-in-law.

But when Elly’s sister, Maren, dates the wrong guy, Elly must intercede before Maren’s passion clouds her common sense. Together, Elly and Maren must learn that a mixture of sense and sensibility is the perfect recipe for love.” 

Rebecca did a great job of balancing Elly’s steadiness and Maren’s passion. She had a good grasp on the complexities of the sister’s relationship and how it propelled the story line.

Though it is a little heavier on the religious side than I usually choose to read, it wasn’t preachy. It was a major part of the plot, but very subtly woven in.

I also like the twist she put on the Ferrero family and the dynamic that added to the overall story. She was able to adapt this particular Jane Austen into a modern tale with a religious focus and do it well, that’s not easily done.

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Moderate Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence, Uncategorized

Grandmother what big eyes you have

Out of all of the fairy tales out there, Little Red Ridding Hood has never been a favorite of mine. I mean, who doesn’t recognize their own Grandma? Not only the eyes, ears, and teeth, but let’s talk about the fury face, I mean come on. I started this book not even realizing it was a modern day telling of, Red Riding Hood; it didn’t take me long thanks to the names. I was enjoying the writing by Lauren Winder Farnsworth in her book, Chasing Red, so I stuck it out. I’m glad I did.

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“Ryder Redmond can’t wait to begin her new life in New York City, with her first real job after college. But the big city gets a little more complicated once she meets the charming and mysterious Damian Wolfe. On the surface he seems perfect, but her friend Hunter is suspicious of his all-too-straight smile and his motives towards Ryder. With her heart on the line, Ryder will have to decide just how much she trusts the handsome city slicker.”

I loved how Lauren stayed true to Red Riding hoods innocence, and naivety. Even though that is what drives me nuts about Red, I am glad she stayed true to that. I often wanted to shake the main character for it, but it was fitting for following the fairy tale.

There was only one part about the book that I really didn’t like. The childhood best friend who actually seems to like Damien is the one who helps end the relationship in the end, but only by confessing something she saw months earlier. It seemed odd that she sat on that information because she assumed the relationship wouldn’t last, the whole thing seemed a little out of character.

I enjoyed watching her relationships with the other characters develop and grow. Especially between her and her mother. I love finding new authors and will definitely read another one from this author. –M.V.