Tuesday, July 30, 2013

She Always Wore Red -- Angela Hunt

Book 2 of the Fairlawn series and just as good as book 1!  Can't wait for book 3!

Book 2 picks up where book 1 leaves off.. and that makes writing the review difficult because there are so many things that happen in book 1 that would spoil it if I shared.. but they are pivotal to book 2. (Got all that!?)

Let's see.. Jennifer and family are still in FL and the funeral home is up and running.  Jennifer is making a life / career change.. the kids are adjusting.. and romance is in the air.. but then so is formaldehyde! Jennifer is in need of a friend and she finds one in McLane.  A pregnant young woman waiting for her soldier husband to return from overseas... hopefully before the baby arrives.  As Jennifer and McLane's friendship grows, Jennifer learns a truth that shakes her to the core and McLane is faced with a life or death decision.

Another beautiful story by Hunt. Real life.. real faith.. and a bit of fun tossed in.

This is an excellent series!  Review of number 3 coming soon! (got to read it first!)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Doesn't She Look Natural by Angela Elwell Hunt

The title and synopsis of this book caught my attention of a Kindle freebie / bargain list and so I snatched it up.  It was not what I expected at all and yet I loved it. So much that I immediately borrowed the 2nd one in the series through the Prime Lenders Library and am anxiously waiting to borrow the third one next month.  Really fun series.. really strange subject matter!

This is book 1 of Hunt's Fairlawn Series which includes:

Doesn't She Look Natural
She Always Wore Red
She's in a Better Place

In Natural, we meet Jennifer Graham. Jennifer is a hard working, no nonsense senior staff member for a U.S. Senator.  Fully entwined in the political game until her husband leaves her for another one. How did she not see that coming?  Now Jennifer and her boys are living with her mother while she searches for a new job (how could she continue to work in the same arena as her ex and his new friend?) and a new place to live.  Her faith is a fragile as tissue paper.  And then her uncle dies leaving her, his only relative, everything.

Jennifer, her boys, her mom and their jack russel terrier head south to Mt. Dora, FL to see what treasure awaits them.  What she finds is far from the treasure she expected. Yes, she knew there was a large home.. a big Victorian that she feels certain she can sell for a song.  But no she was unaware that Fairlawn is the local funeral home and in no condition to be sold.

Jennifer also finds the need to get to know her boys.. to be in their lives.. and she finds that life in Mt. Dora offers her that opportunity.  And so a temporary change of plans is in order. or so she thinks until God sends the biggest unexpected her way.

A bit of Historic Fiction....

These are all in my "read" (as in already read not to read) folder on my Kindle.  And when I look at them, I know I read them and I remember whether I liked them or not. I don't, however, remember all the details and to scan the summaries and bring those back to mind would take a lot of time.. SO here are some of the books I read this Spring with a bit of review for each.

Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot - Book 1 in the Texas Dreams trilogy.  This was a nice read. Sarah has left Philadelphia for the wide open spaces of Texas where she will be married to her beloved Austin. Sarah and Austin have never met.. they have been exchanging letters and she has accepted his marriage proposals and finds herself a mail-order bride. Full of hope for the future, Sarah's heart is broken when she gets to San Antonio and learns Austin is dead.  What is she to do? She cannot go back East and it appears Austin's brother wants nothing to do with her.  Can she find a place for herself in Texas and in Clay's heart?

Tall Dark and Determined by Kelly Eileen Hake -- I have loved every book I have read by Hake.. until this one. I tried several times, but never could get interested in it.  It is the 2nd book in a series and I fear that it is just a filler to connect the first too.

The Midwife's Legacy by Rhonda Gibson, Pamela Griffin, Jane Kirkpatrick & Trish Perry -- This is part of the Romance America books and is a compilation of 4 novellas. I loved how they all link together going from one generation to the next connected by an journal.  And how they follow the evolution of midwifery even into the modern day.  And I love that the desire to be a midwife skips a generation along the way.. a very realistic touch.  The stories wind their was from early Wisconsin settlers and the Oregon trail to present day America.  Very enjoyable and a bit enlightening about the calling to be a midwife and how it is viewed in our nation.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

Book 1 of the Under Texas Stars series

If you scan my blog,  you will find that I am hooked on Coble's works and have yet to read one I did not like. Her books combine all the things I love... a bit of history (most of her books are historical fiction), a taste of intrigue and mystery (everything is never quite what it seems) and a touch of romance. And as expected Blue Moon Promises delivers it all and includes Texas a cowboys too boot! :-)

Lucy Marsh is a young determined woman caring for 2 younger siblings in the face of destitution and danger. As she learns that they are to loose their home and that her father's death may not have been an accident, a old friend of his shows up and offers her a way out. A proxy marriage to his son.  Lucy would prefer to know the man and to marry for love, but time and circumstances don't allow for that luxury and so she takes the offer... marries the man sight unseen.. and heads to Texas with her brother and sister in tow.

Nate Stanon plans to settle down and marry one day, but in his time and with the woman of his choice. So he is less than amused or pleased when his father shows up with a ready made family in tow. What on earth is Nate supposed to do with these cushy city folks as he tries to run and build up his ranch?

But over time Lucy proves to be more than meets the eye. Her determination and strength surprise Nate and he finds that God's truly does work in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Catching Up!

Seems I have not posted a good many books that I have read this year on my blog. Sorry about that. Guess I am too caught up in reading to blog!  So I will be posting lots of reviews this week to hopefully remedy that and get caught up.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough

The third and finally book of the Boardinghouse Brides series.  I have reviewed book 1 ( The Anonymous Bride ) and book 2 (Second Chance Brides )

As with the other books in this series, I was hooked immediately and enjoyed every word!  McDonough does a great job of bringing everything together in this final installment.  And one of the things I love best about book 3 is the return of 2 characters who had "fallen from grace" and are restored. While Finally a Bride is a fun romance with some very laughable moments, it also shows how we are NEW creations in Christ. How our past.. no matter how hurtful or wrong.. can be wiped away with our salvation.  It is a story of grace hidden in the midst of this light hearted story.

I cannot say enough about this series.  I read fiction is relax and get away a bit from the pressures and stress of life. So I look for something that is a bit light and fun, but I like there to be a bit of meat.. something to learn or of which to be reminded.  All of that is found in this series.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Harmony Series by Nancy Mehl

I discovered Mehl a couple of years ago when I bought this book Cozy in Kansas on sale at a local store.  Such a fun, quirky cozy mystery.  A year later I read Mehl's Missing Mabel  -- another quirky cozy mystery.  So I had mixed feelings when I started hearing about her Harmony Series. There is a bit of mystery to them, but that is the only similarity to the earlier books. This trilogy is set in the Mennonite Town of Harmony, Kansas and while there are things that were "foreign" to me (since I am not a Mennonite), it is far from quirky.  But oh my, this is one of the best series I have ever read. I just loved them! You definitely want to read them in order, as they build on each other centering around the same focal character, Gracie, in each book.

Book 1 -- Simple Secrets -- finds Gracie living the life.. going for the gusto.. working as a Graphic Designer for a firm in Wichita and planning to move up the ladder to great success. And then, she learns that she has inherited a house from an uncle she has never met. She knew of him... her father's brother.  They had a falling out when her father left the Mennonite church and ways and moved with his bride, his parents following soon after.  All these years Gracie knew there was an Uncle Benjamin, but nothing more.

She sets out to look over the house... retrieve family treasures for her father.. and get the place ready to sell. What she never expects to is find a house full of secrets and mysteries and a town that seems so simple and backwards at first, but slowly become a refuge of peace and rest.

Book 2 -- Simple Deceits -- Gracie has grown to love Harmony and the people there and so she decides to work as a freelance designer, while making her life there in her "new" home.  Now that she has electricity and air conditioning, she can survive!

Things change when a baby is left at a local church and an anonymous note is sent saying Gracie is the mother.  The people who she thought loved her begin to look at her suspiciously.  Gracie has to find out who the real mother is and fast before she looses the most precious thing in life.. love.

Book 3 -- Simple Choices -- Gracie just wants to help Hannah. She never dreams by taking her for an art course in the city, she would be feeding into the girl's desires to leave her faith and community.  Hannah disappears shortly after their return and Gracie is blamed.  Certain she has run away, the police do little to look for Hannah. But Gracie knows better.. in her gut. Hannah wouldn't just leave.

And so she sets out again to solve the mystery and the day.  Only this time she gets a little to close and invites the danger home.

Excellent Series!

Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough

Book 2 in the Boarding House Brides Trilogy.

Book 1 reviewed here:  The Anonymous Bride

I have been waiting for Second Chance Brides to become available on PaperBack Swap!  And it finally did (and I will be posting this one back there for someone else to enjoy!)

Such a fun series.  There are a number of kinds of books I love.. my 2 favorites are cozy mysteries and historic fiction.  I especially love historic fiction set in pioneer or cowboy times. I guess I am a sucker for the Marlboro Man!  LOL!  This series doesn't let me down... and if you like rugged manly men books, they won't let you down either. But I also prefer my female leads to be strong women... not weak and wimpy damsels in distress.  Again, this series delivers the goods.

In Second Chance Brides, Leah and Shannon are stranded in Lookout, TX not sure where the next step will lead nor even what the next step should be. Neither can return home.. Shannon has no home, no family.. Leah would be forced to marry a man old enough to be her father just to provide security for her family.

So they set out to find either employment or husbands.  Employment isn't easy to find, but candidates for husband are!  The men in Lookout know the story.. that they are "leftover" mail order brides.. and they come calling not to court, but to marry. Sadly most want a housekeeper and cook, not a true wife. Is it too much for these girls to expect love before marriage?

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble

Book 2 in the Mercy Falls series. Another great book by Coble.  

Katie Russell loves her job as a telephone operator in Mercy Falls, but her family has plans for her.. plans to better her life and theirs... an advantageous marriage. So they are thrilled when Bartholomew Foster proposes and Katie accepts.  But then life takes a twist... while working, Katie accidentally hers an ominous exchange. And then the lady she heard goes missing leaving behind an infant with no one to care for her. 

Will Jepperson, the new lightkeeper, lays claim to the child.. believing her to be his niece.  But Katie has other ideas and is not keen on Jepperson taking the baby. Eventually they call a truce and form an unlikely alliance in a quest to find Eliza and learn the truth behind the exchange Katie heard.  

Another wonderful intriguing story with adventure and romance mixed in for good measure.  Looking forward to the final book in this series.

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble

This is Book 1 of the Rock Harbor Series

I am on a Coble kick... reading through this series and her Mercy Falls books.  I really am enjoying her writing.

These books are contemporary fiction set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And what a plot!  Bree Nicholls is a search and rescue specialist who finds lost individuals with her dog, Samson.  In her spare time... every moment of her spare time... it becomes personal. Bree's husband and son have been missing for a year from a flight home.  Bree is certain they went down somewhere near home, but nothing has been found.. no bodies.. no plane parts.. nothing.. it is as if they disappeared into thin air.

So when a current search and rescue brings up clues that seem to connect back to her family, Bree begins to dig deeper without realizing the danger she is in.  Can she find her family and peace and closure along with it?  Can she move on with life in order to open her heart up for love again? Or is she destined to live in a constant state of searching?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Colleen Coble

Addie Sullivan grew up in northern California in a lighthouse.  It was a quiet and uneventful life until a stranger shows up and tells her she is not who she thinks she is.  Addie's world and identity is turned upside down as she is introduced to her "real" family.. the Eaton's.  Well known in high-society, the Eaton's are wealthy and powerful and like no family Addie has ever seen or imagined.  How on earth will she begin to fit it?  And as she begins to try, tragedy strikes. It seems someone is not happy to have Julia Eaton back from her watery grave and is determined to end the happy reunion.

An intriguing and exciting tale that draws the reader in and takes him/her on a roller coaster ride with emotional highs and gut wrenching drops.

This is book 1 in the Mercy Falls series by Coble. I am picking up book 2 at my local library today!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dead and Buried by Karen MacInerney

Book 2 of the Gray Whale Inn Mystery series.  This is currently one of my favorite cozy mystery series. I am draw to books set on the East Coast. I have never been there.. hope to go one day.. and am truly fascinated by the thought of life in a sea village with rocks and salt air.  No doubt I romanticize it more than I should!

Cranberry Island is a close knit community full of a vast array of characters. They laugh and cry and gossip and argue, but they stick together.. and everyone is effected when something happens to one of their own.  

Natalie has her hands full running Gray Whale Inn, especially when her laundry-lady doesn't show up and the dirty linens are taking over the basement.  Natalie sets out to check on Polly, only to discover her body in the Cranberry bog behind her home. And so the mystery begins.  No matter how much she determines to not get involved, Natalie's curious mind gets the best of her and off she goes sleuthing. After a second, seemingly unrelated murder, occurs, her best friend is arrested and Natalie steps up her effort.

In the midst of playing detective, she runs her inn.. deals with a potential competitor spying out her business... a relatively new and still fragile relationship.. and an ex-finance who shows up unexpectedly.  

Life is never dull on Cranberry Island!

Knit, Purl, Die by Anne Canadeo

Book 2 of the Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series.

Another fun cozy mystery. I am not a knitter.. my daughter is so maybe that is why I like knitting mysteries.  And really knitting is sort of what holds the characters together (or should I say Yarn is!) but knitting is not the main focus.  I am a quilter and have a small close knit (oh what a pun!) group of quilting buddies who remind me a great deal of the Black Sheep Knitters.  It is just that camaraderie that occurs when you share a hobby or interest with a small group of people.. people you might not even speak to otherwise.. and you find that you share more than that hobby... you actually like each other!

Gloria Sterling has it all... looks, money, and a gorgeous young husband that other women drool over.  She is well thought of.. a savvy business woman.. charitable.. and in an odd way one of the gang when it comes to the Black Sheep Knitters. Not one of the regular group, but Gloria floats in whenever she can to chat and knit with the girls.

So when she is found dead, they take it personally.  The police are quick to rule her death an accident and certainly everything points to that, but the BSK have their doubts. And when they doubt they snoop!  Secret relationships.. business deals.. troubles.. all turn up as they try to unravel this mystery without smearing their deceased friend's name and adding sorrow to the grieving husband.

If you are a knitter, there are knitting ideas and links to patterns. Throughout the book you read of yummy meals and snacks.  Canadeo has been kind enough to put recipes in the back of the book for many of those yummy treats!

A fun cozy mystery... great way to relax and escape for a bit.

Let.It.Go by Karen Ehman

Back in the fall I was on the search for a Bible study for the ladies Bible study group I lead at church. We have never done any of the Proverbs 31 Ministries studies, so I decided to check them out. There was a new one about to be released, Let.It.Go. by Karen Ehman... How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.  Being  somewhat of a control freak, this one sounded right up my alley!  So I ordered the book, the study guide and the DVD. 

I have to say that Proverbs 31 is very reasonable when it comes to their DVDs!  There books and study guides are about the norm, but their DVDs are a much better price than most of the studies I teach.  I was thrilled.

This review is for all of these items BUT you could easily read the book with out the Study Guide or DVD and get a great deal out of.  

My intention was to work through this on my own and then I learned of an online Bible study group that was going to do this study starting in February, so I signed up!  What fun it was to do with other ladies but it is definitely one that can be done on your own.

Ehman is a self-professed control freak who reaches out with great openness to woman who feel the need to manage every bit of their life (as well as their husband and kids and friends etc.) to death!  In the end, we put more pressure on ourselves and cause more stress and strain in our relationships.. including the most important one.. our relationship with God.

Through humor and personal experiences, Ehman guides you into the Word and personal introspection to discover the freedom that can be found in Letting Go!  Control is not bad.. it is over control that leads to lack to trust and the inability to walk in faith and let God be God!

The DVD offers a bit of personal input from Ehman and while a good bit of the material on it is covered in the book, I really loved being able to listen to her and then read it.  It seemed to help drive some of those points home.  The Study Guide is, to me, a bit weak for a group study. But it would be good for personal study or quiet time.  It reinforces what is taught on DVD and in the book, as well as takes the reader further into the Word... which is always a good thing!

Overall I enjoyed the study. I am not sure it will work for my ladies group, but I have ideas how to use it in my church's Women's Ministry and it effected my personal life.

If you are a control freak or just like to hang on to everything a bit too tightly, this would be a good read for you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A State of Grace by Traci DePree

Book 2 of the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series.

I became a huge fan of DePree's years ago when I discovered her Lake Emily Series.. A Can of Peas, Dandelions in a Jelly Jar and Aprons on a Clothesline. I cannot tell you how much I love this series of books! So I felt certain I would enjoy A State of Grace... and I did.

The Mystery here is an old one linked with a present situation.  Kate Hanlon, wife to local pastor Paul. learns of a single mom bearing the burden of a child battling leukemia alone and she decides to reach out.  In doing so, she discovers a bright vibrant young woman fighting bravely for her life and a tired overwhelmed mother striving for a medical miracle.  And then the words are spoken.. quietly.. quickly.. certainly not planned and not to be repeated "I could stop Marissa's dying, but I am too selfish."  What did Marissa's mother mean by that? And if it is true.. that she could stop her dying.. why wouldn't she?

And so the search begins.  Kate is determined to learn more about Patricia's past... to determine how Marissa could be save.  And in doing so old wounds are opened and it is painful and scary, but only when we deal with the past can we live in the present.

Another lovely cozy mystery from this series written by various authors.  DePree wrote 2 in the series (I think.. maybe 3) and I feel certain they will be my favorites!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Through the Fire by Diane Noble

Yes, I started yet another cozy mystery series.. I am addicted!

This is book one of the Mystery and the Minister's Wife series.  This series is written by different authors and the books are considered stand-alones (not building on one another), but they all revolve around the same community and the same main characters.  I did read online that the publisher suggests reading the first 2 or 3 in order to get the lay of the land.  I am not over OCD about much in life, but I am with books. I like to read series in order ... no matter how "stand alone" the books are. So I started with book one and am now reading book two.

Kate and Paul Hanlon has left everything... their thriving church, their home, friends, children to follow God's lead which takes them from San Antonio, TX to Copper Mill, TN.  Paul is the new pastor of Faith Briar Church and Kate, the minister's wife.  They roll into town to discover their new church home a blaze and so the questioning begins. Who would want to burn down their church and why?

As Kate adjusts to life in a small town and a small house, she gets caught up in the mystery and drawn to investigate a bit herself.  Along the way she makes friends (and a few enemies)... discovers secrets...receives death threats... inherits a "grand-dog"... and learns a great deal about herself and trusting the Lord as He leads.

Fun, light, entertaining read.  I am looking forward to following this series and hope the rest are as delightful as this one.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

Book 1 in McCourtney's Cate Kincade File series.

I have read McCourtney's Ivy Malone series a few years ago and enjoyed them immensely, so felt certain this book would be worth reading. It was.  McCourtney has a quirky sense of humor that comes out in her books without overshadowing the plot. 

In Dying to Read, Cate Kincade is after a fresh start and as part of this change, she is working for her uncle, who is a Private Investigator.  A simple assignment to locate a woman for her family, turns into a tangled mess when Cate finds a dead body (not the woman she was after). Determined to leave the murder alone and stay of the search for Willow, Cate finds herself tripping over clues left and right and unable to stop her mind from "supposing". This job was to be temporary.. just something to do until the right career came along.. but maybe, just maybe this is the right career.  

Now if only Cate can discover did the killing and why... before getting herself killed in the process!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Kristen Billerbeck & Diann Hunt

This is the 2nd book set in the town of Smitten, Vermont.  Book 1 was released last year and was a fun read.  Check out my review of it.. Smitten

So when I found out there was a second book, I popped it on my Kindle and started to read. Secretly Smitten picks up where Smitten left off.  Like book 1, Secretly Smitten is a collection of 4 novellas each connected but each focusing on a different resident of Smitten.  

From the discovery of a set of old dog tags in an attic to the hiring of a new city manager, sisters Tess, Claire and Zoe have their hands full.  Add into the mix their mother and a handsome visitor and the plot thickens!  Romance and secrets abound as this group tries to piece together the past while moving into the future.

Loved this one as much as the first and would hope to visit Smitten, Vermont again!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Deadly Business (Maid for Order Bk 1) by Susette Williams

A cute cozy mystery.  Bailey has inherited a cleaning business from a grandfather she never knew. She knew he existed, but was estranged from her dad. So it seems odd to now own his business and home. As Bailey is learning the business and trying to learn more about her family, she learns a few things that put her in danger.

After finding one of her employees dead at a job site and quickly becoming a suspect, Bailey starts digging deeper as she helps others clean up their messes.  Unfortunately one mess leads to another and Bailey soon finds in line to be the next victim.

Detective Max Wellington's life was a lot easier before Bailey popped into the picture. Now he spends his time trying to find a killer and keep Bailey out of trouble before it is too late.

Very fun read.. will definitely be on the look out for book #2.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mail-Order Murder by Leslie Meier

I have seen  Lucy Stone mysteries on several friends' Goodreads list, so decided I needed to check them out. This is book 1 in a long series of books by Meier featuring Lucy Stone as sort of a younger Jessica Fletcher.

In Mail-Order, Lucy (who live in Maine) is married to Bill and has 3 young children. She works part time taking telephone orders at Country Cousins where people all over the world order items ranging from hand-knit sweaters to orthopedic back cushions and every thing in between. The pay isn't great, but the hours work into the Stone's schedule allowing Lucy to be home with her kids in the day and Bill there at night.

Christmas is fast approaching and Lucy is busy buying gifts and preparing for the onslaught of family, so finding a dead body is the last thing on her mind.  But find one she does... her boss, Sam Miller, has evidently committed suicide by carbon monoxide in his car. But the police soon learn that it is not suicide, but murder and Lucy's love of mysteries and natural curiosity take over.

Mail-Order is a neat and tidy little cozy mystery with a bit of a twist at the end, but one that the reader begins to see before it hits... but not too early on. There is a bit of language throughout the book, not as much as a typical sitcom these days (keep in mind this was written in 1991). I enjoyed it, but cannot say I am hooked. In some odd way it was a downer.. the town, the people, their lives seem so depressing.. dismal and while life is not all roses and sunshine, a bit of light and hope would be nice.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Match Made in Heaven by Colleen Coble

I have read other books by Coble, so when this popped up in a Kindle Bargains list it caught my eye. Add to it that the male lead is an architect and I am hooked. (I am married to an architect)  This is one of Coble's older novellas that is now available in digital form.. fairly quick to read and very fun.

Callie is an interior designer who is tired of guys being more interested in her money than in her.  How can she know for sure their "love" in genuine.  Her grandmother, the family matchmaker, tricks her into a one more date... with an architect! The last thing Callie wants is to date someone in the business, but she has to admit there is an attraction between her and Nick.

That attraction soon turns to rivalry as Callie is hired by one of Nick's clients. Their visions for the client's home are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum and an all out "I'm in charge" tug of war begins. Not the way to start a relationship!

Fun and entertaining read.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Beauty to Die For: A Spa Mystery by Kim Alexis and Mindy Starns Clark

Clark's Million Dollar Mysteries is one of my favorite mysteries series.. and I thoroughly enjoyed her Smart Chicks Mysteries, so as soon as I saw her name on this book I snatched it up!  Then I realized I knew the other author.. Kim Alexis.. she was once a super model... which totally fits since this new series is set in the world of beauty and glamor.

Juliette Taylor was a supermodel.. but she walked away from it all while on top to start a new career creating her own line of beauty products for spas and salons.  She and her partner head to a glamorous spa for a weekend pampering Christian women who give more of themselves than to themselves.

But as in all good mysteries there's a surprise (or two) along the way... former rival in the modeling world, an old flame and a dead body to start.. and Juliette's product may be the murder weapon.

Determined to clear her name and stop a killer, Juliette takes matters in her own hand and places herself in harms way.

This is a lovely cozy mystery.  I did have an inkling of whodunit but not until late into the book.. and the why took a bit longer to figure out.  There is plenty of intrigue and twists to keep the reader happy with a splash of romance tossed in for good measure.

Looking forward to book 2 in the series.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Meet Me at The Well by Virelle Kidder

Ever feel like your sinking into a deep dark hole... like life is swallowing you up and there is no where to run? Virelle Kidder understands and she can tell you how to not only survive, but thrive.

Meet Me At the Well is Kidder's story of a year straight from the depths and then a series of events that could only have been orchestrated by God to provide a new start... a fresh perspective... release.

He wants to do the same for you.  Grab this month long devotional read, your Bible, a journal and pen, then dive in one day at a time and let God (through Kidder) speak new life and peace into your stress-filled existence.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

Appleseed Creek Mystery - Book 1

I enjoy Amish fiction... I love cozy mysteries.. this combines them both and did it well.  Chloe Humphreys moves to Appleseed Creek to work at the local college to head up their technology services department.  Just a stepping stone to get some experience and time on her resume before moving on to bigger and better things.

Then she meets Becky, a teen who has just left her Amish family and has no where to live. Then Becky's brother, also ex-Amish, shows up. And so begins Choe's entanglement with the Amish folk of Applecreek.  Add a perceived accident that leaves the Bishop dead, a murder attempt, some destructive vandalism to the Amish farms, a ruthless developer and some angry folks on both side.. with Chloe somehow stuck right in the middle... and you have the mix for  intrigue, mystery and a hint of romance along the way.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading others in the series.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

While My Pretty One Knits by Anne Canadeo

Book 1 of the Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series.  A cute book.. honestly not the best mystery I have read, but not the worst.  A bit weak in plot and characters.  But still entertaining. And I already have book 2 in my to read stack.

There are several series out there that center around groups of knitters... the Seaside Knitters series by Sally Goldenbaum and the Knitting Mysteries by Maggie Sefton are 2 I love. I have reviewed books from each here (search the tags for Mystery and Knitting) Given my like of these series and my love of cozy mysteries, I was drawn to this book.

The Black Sheep Knitters are a group of ladies who are very diverse in lifestyle but connected through their love of knitting and their love of Maggie Messina's shop.. Black Sheep Knitting (hence the name of the group and the series).

Everyone is excited about an upcoming workshop with a celebrity knitter and the shop is all a buzz as Maggie tries to get everything just right for the event.  Even her competitor, Amanda Goran, owner of Knitting Nest, is looking forward to attending. Maggie is shocked that she will come and more shocked at her friendly attitude.

But as the case in most mysteries, tragedy strikes.. in the form of Amanda being found dead the morning of the event and Maggie becomes the prime suspect.  The Black Sheep Knitters rally round Maggie and set out to find the real killer and clear Maggie's name.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Reading Goals....

I read 64 books last year.  That would average a little over 5 a month. Not bad. Most were fiction. Only  1 was a classic, even though I was determined to work some classics into my reading.

I never set a number for the year. I read a great deal and have no doubt my list for 2013 will be long. But I do hope to read more non-fiction and classics this year. I love love love fiction and confess it is my escape from the stresses of life, but I really do want to ingest some works from days gone by that I have never read.. many are considered Children's books. My 1 classic last year was Anne of Green Gables. I loved it!  Despite the fact that I majored in English Literature and have always been a bookworm, there are many many treasures I have missed... like Little Women!  How did I grow up and not read that!?  So I will strive to read more classics... no set number, that sets me up to fail!  Just more than last year's tally of 1!

I also enjoy non-fiction and use to read a great deal more of it. Part of the problem is my lack of free time for reading and the fact that I teach Bible study.  I love doing that, but it requires a great deal of non-fiction reading and digging and so when I do have time to read, I want something lighter and less taxing on the brain.  Still.. I get so much from non-fiction books, so I will read more of them this year. I have no idea how many I read in 2012 (forgot to tally that up), but I will strive to read at least 1 non-fiction a month.  Right now I am in the throws of Christine Caine's Undaunted.  Very good book!

Looking forward to enjoying more and more of the written Word in 2013!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Christmas Books

Each year from Thanksgiving to New Year's I read only books that are Christmas themed.  A personal tradition I started some years ago and continue to love. I rarely read a Christmas book any other time of year.

I read 11 books this year... 2 or 3 were Novellas... 2 were collections of Novellas.. all were good... some better than others. :-)

Here is a run down of what I read and a very short review of each.

 Blue Christmas by Diane Moody

This is book 1 of the Moody Blue Trilogy

Hannah is a college senior working late on Christmas Eve and having a full blown pity party when a customer invites her to a Christmas Eve service.  As a result Hannah meets Jason McKenzie, the lead singer of her favorite band and her teen idol. Life gets complicated and surreal as Hannah tries to mesh normal life with the world of celebrity.

A Victorian Christmas (Anthology) by Catherine Palmer

4 Novellas about love and joy at Christmas: A Victorian Christmas Quilt, A Victorian Christmas Tea, The Victorian Christmas Cottage and A Victorian Christmas Keepsake. Each one a delightful and lovely read.

Christmas Under Western Skies: A Prairie Family Christmas / A Cowboy's Christmas  by Anna Schmidt and Linda Ford

2 in one... Both wonderful Historic Fiction set in the American West. Both books center on someone determined to just pass through, but who learns that God has other plans.

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson

I admit that this one was a bit of a downer at times, but worth reading. Natalie is facing a horrific Christmas. Her beloved mother has been an invalid for a year as a result of a stroke and no one seems to believe she will recover. Natalie is determined she will.. she has to!  Her obsession is costing her everything... her job, family, faith, life. Natalie is determined to make this Christmas one of miracles no matter what it takes!

Christmas at Barncastle by Susan Paige Davis, Darlene Franklin, Janelle Mowery, Lynette Sowell

This is part of the Romancing America series and contains 4 stories in one book.

Each story centers around a lovely bed-and-breakfast called Barncastle Inn in Vermont.  Their specialty is a week at Christmas in whatever time and theme you want.  Made me want to go visit.  While the stories are stand alones, they all center around the same location and characters reoccur from story to story. Very fun read!

The Christmas Shoppe by Melody Carlson

I don't believe I have ever not liked a book by Carlson and her Christmas Stories are my favorites.  This one is no exception.  It is quirky and fun and takes a hard look at human nature and skepticism in light of God's love and forgiveness.

Home for the Holidays by Christine Lynxwiler

A Christmas Novella

Last year I read Lynxwiler's novella My True Love Gave to Me. It is still one of my favorite Christmas reads. So i looked forward to this one and was not the least bit disappointed. In Home, Lauren realizes her life long friendship with Jeffrey is no longer a friendship where she is concerned.  But alas, he is searching for the perfect wife and Lauren knows she is not it. So off she goes to St. Louis to provide Jeffrey with the break he needs to find that wife and the space Lauren needs to soothe her heart.

All I Have to Give: A Christmas Love Story by Melody Carlson

If you have ever read The Gift of the Magi, then this book will ring familiar. But please don't let that keep you from reading! Anna and Michael have been trying to have a baby for years and are both facing the reality that the day will never come.  Each strives to give the other the perfect Christmas and along the way both make wrong judgment calls about each other. Fortunately love covers a multitude of sin and this Christmas there is an abundance of love surrounding them.

A Biltmore Christmas by Diane Ashley, Sylvia Barnes, Rhonda Gibson, Jeri Odell

This is part of the Romancing America series and contains 4 stories in one book.

Set back in time shortly after Biltmore was constructed, each story focuses on the grand house and a set of orphaned sisters seeking a new life there.  In each case, they find that new life but not in the way they expected. Wonderful stories about an age in our country where the barriers of Class and Status were being challenged.

A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman

I enjoy Amish fiction and have just recently discovered Chapman's writings.  Annie Weaver left her Amish roots with full intention of returning one day. But one day came later than she had planned. Now a trained nurse, Annie is called to return home and care for her father after an accident.  Is she home for good? Will she join the church.. find a husband.. return to the life waiting for her? And how will she use her skills among a people who see it as prideful?  Her Simple Amish Christmas is not as Simple as she thought it would be.

Bah, Humbug!  by Heather Horrocks

A Romantic Comedy Novella

This was probably the most fun read of all the books this season. Too cute! Lexi Anderson is a single mom who has her own television show and has been touted as the next Martha Stewart. So she finds it ironic when she moves next door to Scrooge. No sign of Christmas anywhere! And to add insult to injury, he is the author of her favorite series of books!  What's a girl to do? In Lexi's case, step in and save the man from himself and bring Christmas and love back into his life.

There are my Christmas reads from the 2012 season. If you read Christmas throughout the year, then grab one of these and read away. You won't be disappointed!  Or start saving them up for the 2013 Christmas season and start a Christmas books only tradition like me!  I already have some in my closet and loaded on my Kindle for next year!

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

I have reviewed another book or 2 by Witemeyer here before. I found a book she wrote (Tailor-made Bride) in a clearance section of a store a year or so ago. The cover caught my eye and the book peaked my curiosity. I have never regretted purchasing that book and the others by this author I have snatched up since. And I look forward to future works.

I love a light hearted fun bit of fiction that entertains and helps the reader escape a bit from the craziness of life BUT I also like there to be a bit of meat there too... a lesson to be learned. Witemeyer delivers.

Adelaide Proctor has it all figured out.. her life that is.. right down to the man who will be her husband. When he is promoted and transferred, Adelaide takes it on herself to pursue and obtain said husband-to-be... but when he is found, well... Adelaide finds that things are not as she thought. Stranded in a new town with no money and no job would unhinge most women. Not Adelaide. She sets a course to find new employment. Her no nonsense persona lands her a position as governess to a young girl, Isabella,  who lives in an isolated part of Texas on a sheep ranch.

Being raised by a guardian, Isabella is heiress to a fortune in England and wanted by an unscrupulous uncle for the money and title.  Gideon, her guardian, hopes to keep her hidden away and protected.  But as is often the case, evil seeks and finds what it wants.

When Isabella's uncle comes to take her, Gideon and Adelaide find themselves trusting God on a deeper level. Not only with Isabella, but also with their hearts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Glory of Green by Judy Christie

Book 3 in the Green series.. which I love! The Green series revolves around a small town newspaper in Louisiana owned by a young woman named Lois.  I have always loved to write and started my college career as a Journalism major (change to English Lit later). I am a Southern girl. So the combo of a newspaper and Louisiana greatly appeals to me.  Hence, I love this series.... which is very well developed and written.

The problem with review books in a series comes in not giving the surprises away.  So I can safely say this book continues to entertain the reader with tales of the quirky folks in Green, LA and yes, Lois has a crisis of faith.  I will share more below but take this as a spoiler alert... there will be surprises revealed.. so stop here if you want!


Lois and Chris are merging households, preparing for their wedding.. which is the social event of the year in Green.. and in the midst of it all they are thrown a tornado, a never-ending collection of catfish (ceramic, stuffed, woven etc.), a homelessness, and grace beyond compare.

You will not be disappointed in The Glory of Green.