Monday, August 31, 2020

The Haunting Of Bonaventure Circus By Jaime Jo Wright

The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus
by Jaime Jo Wright
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764233890

I was beyond excited to be part of Jaime Jo Wright's launch team. One never knows what to expect from one of her books. What mystery is lurking around every corner! The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus did NOT disappoint! I was sent her ebook for review purposes and then a paperback as well.

Summary:

Welcome to Bonaventure Circus,
where misfits go to hide.
In 1928, the Bonaventure Circus has become a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby and is no longer content to leave the reason for that rejection unquestioned. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the "Watchman," she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa's search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Decades later, an old circus train depot's future hangs in the balance--it will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its fate rests on Realtor Chandler Faulk's shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot's history, she's also balancing a newly diagnosed disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

My Review:

Jaime Jo Wright's gift of writing time split novels it outstanding. She has the gift to knowing when to rip the reader from the time they're reading in and throw them back into the other time. It's rather jolting. Each time I left whatever time period I was in, I was desperate to back to that previous time, finishing what was happening in that moment. There was almost a desperation to go back to it.

I was absolutely drawn into the story of The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus. Like Pippa, I wanted to go to the circus world, something I've never even considered, but I think it was because of her deep desire to belong and to be known.

Sakes alive, there was definitely a creep factor with the Watchman. Is he good, is he evil? What does he know about Pippa's past?! I felt her anguish to want to know right along with her fear of how she'd find out.

Then there's Chandler in our current time learning about the lives surrounding the train depot and costume house. Those and the murders as well as missing people. I'm not a believer in ghosts, but Jaime Jo's writing definitely messes with me into almost... almost thinking that there could be something to it.

Once again, I appreciate the faith element that goes along with this story. There's a build up of it because of how the story is written, but it's fluid and makes sense. The characters' journey to understand how God is working in and through their lives during their time is a powerful one.

Honestly, there's SO much to say about this book but I can't say anything specific because there's NO way I'm giving anything away. If anyone ever wants to talk about the book as you're reading it, message me... it's THAT good. I just want to talk to others about it!

*I'm part of Jaime Jo Wright's launch team. I was provided a book for review purposes, but not asked to write a positive review. This is my personal opinion.

About the Author:

Jaime Jo Wright (www.jaimewrightbooks.com) is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap'n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.com.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Life Once Dreamed By Rachel Fordham

A Life Once Dreamed
by Rachel Fordham
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800735395

I was excited to see A Life Once Dreamed offered for review from Revell for this month! I have her book, Yours Truly, Thomas on my tbr shelf, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I was thankful for the opportunity to read this book since historical fiction is one of my favorites and I was looking forward to reading Rachel's writing.

Summary:

Where you come from matters far less than where you're going
Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory. In the shadow of the Black Hills, she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid--despite being only twenty-four. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is precisely the one person who can never know.

Can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?

My Review:

A Life Once Dreamed is seriously the perfect title for this story! While we start off knowing that Aggie has a secret, even I wasn't prepared for what it would be... even trying to figure it out before we were told. So needless to say, when it's revealed, even I was surprised!

I really felt for Agnes. You could feel her struggle as she spends time with friends and their families. Even more so when James shows up on the scene. And poor James. All he wants is answers and to be accepted by his new, little town. Seems easy enough, right?

When James and Aggie see each other for the first time it creates quite the stir and the result forces them to spend a lot of time together. What I hadn't expected was Sam! Goodness, he's such a nice guy.

But, back to the main characters. Not only do I love historical novels, but ones set in a small town just give me warm fuzzies. There are always busy bodies (ahem, Minnie) and the Mayor. The friendships are always wonderful like the one between Agnes and Hannah. Everyone knows each others business and when something happens in a town like Penance, it affects everyone.

From the summary of the book you would have no idea how much happens within the pages of A Life Once Dreamed. A couple major events, but I can't speak about them because I don't want to give anything away. hahaha I know, terrible of me, but both are pivotal to the story and to the lives of Aggie and James. It's hard to be vaguebooking, but no spoilers allowed here!

In some ways the story reminded me of the tv show When Calls the Heart. It was just the feel of it that drew me into the story. And of course since I enjoy WCTH I would naturally like Rachel's story. Instead of Hearties, would we readers be called Dreamers? lol

If you're ready to head to the Dakota's this is the story for you! Now I'm looking forward to Rachel's other books!

About the Author:

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs and Yours Truly, Thomas. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Contemporary Romance You Don't Want To Miss

One of the things I'm very thankful for is the variety of genres in Christian fiction! One can rarely run out of something new to read in the various options. One of the genres I don't read a lot of, yet enjoy, is contemporary romance.

Now, that being said, I do want to share some of my favorite authors in this genre.

First is Toni Shiloh. She's a new-to-me author and I have absolutely LOVED the two books of hers that I've read. And yes, once again I've read them out of order with missing book one and reading books 2 and 3 in the Faith & Fortune series. The 3 books in the series are: The Trouble With Love, The Truth About Fame, and The Price of Dreams. While the books are romance books, there's a wonderful theme of faith built into the stories that make them even more enjoyable!



The Trouble With Love

I, Holiday Brown, have it all. A platinum record. Multi-million dollar home in Manhattan that I share with my two best friends. Life is looking fantastic until my roommate’s brother decides to bunk in our guestroom while his house gets renovated.

W. Emmett Bell has always been the bane of my existence. He’s annoying, stubborn, a know it all, and just might be the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. But I refuse to fall for him. But when his sister’s threatened by a stalker, dynamics change. His unwavering faith isn’t quite as self-righteous as I’d always thought, and maybe he has a good side I’ve overlooked all these years.

Or maybe it’s all too much trouble.

The Truth About Fame

My life has always been in the spotlight. Born to two famous parents and then quickly rising to "super" status in the modeling world ensured that I, Astoria "Tori" Bell, would always have my image plastered across newsstands. Unfortunately, adoring fans weren't always magnanimous and now I have a stalker on my hands.

Oddly enough, the tall, dark, and all-too handsome bodyguard hired to protect me seems more harmful than the threatening notes from the stalker. As well as his plan to flush out the danger by proposing a fake engagement.

The lines between pretend and reality blur and I have to shore up my resolves. Baggage from my past means I can't let myself be vulnerable. But the way Marcel Fox treats me has me thinking otherwise. 

With a new rock on my finger and the man who put it there by my side, happily ever after seems like a possibility or is that as fake as my public persona?

The Price of Dreams

Ballet has always been my life, but one terrible moment may have destroyed everything I’ve worked so hard for—especially my title of Octavia Ricci, principal ballerina. I thought for sure my physical therapist, Dr. Noah Wright, could help me obtain my dream once more, but he wants more than I’m prepared to give.  

I’ve seen firsthand the trials of interracial relationships. I’m a product of one myself and promised I’d never put my hopefully-someday kids through that drama. Everyone keeps telling me to let go of other people’s expectations, but I’m just not sure I can. Besides, if my dreams of returning to ballet are futile, what hope is there in seeking unconditional love?

Ok, so the second author I'm sharing... gah, I don't even want to admit this... but I've only read one of her books. ONLY one. I actually have no idea why I haven't read any of Courtney Walsh's books before this summer. I've known about her and followed her on socials for ages. This summer I read her book If For Any Reason and loved it! It had me questioning why I hadn't read any of her other books. She just had her 4th novel come out in her Harbor Pointe series.


If For Any Reason

Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door–turned–baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.
As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.
Next on my list is Becky Wade. No surprise there! She writes such fantastic stories with fantastic characters! Seriously you'll fall in love with her characters. Her most recent novel Stay With Me was beyond what I had expected! She covered the difficult topic of addiction and added in a mystery that was definitely unexpected. It's part of The Misty River series. Of course I can't forget to mention The Bradford Sisters series. Her stories will make your heart pitter patter!


Stay With Me

Loving her is a risk he can’t afford . . . and can’t resist.
When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents’ past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge mountains to chase down her family’s secret.  However, it’s Genevieve’s own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of an historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she’s worked so hard to hide.
Sam has embraced his sorrow, his isolation, and his identity as an outsider. He’s spent years carving out both career success and peace of mind.  The last thing he wants is to rent the cottage on his property to a woman whose struggles stir his worst failure back to life.  Yet, can he bear to turn her away right when she needs him most?
Another author I've come to know is Tara Grace Ericson. I've been so blessed to be on her launch team for her The Blooms Sisters series. It's been so fun getting to know first the only brother Hawthorne and then two of the sisters. There are 6 books in the series. One of my favorite aspects of this series is the parallel timeline in each of the stories. At least so far. Since the rest of the books aren't out yet, I don't know if it continues. I also love how the mom of the family, Laura, begins and ends each story speaking about her family and specifically one of her children. The books I've read so far are Hoping for Hawthorne, A Date for Daisy, and Poppy's Proposal.


Hoping for Hawthorne

His sister's friend. Her childhood crush. All grown up.

Hawthorne Bloom is living for the moment, until a beautiful stranger with intriguingly familiar eyes gives him a tongue lashing he'll never forget. When she shows up again at a family event, Hawthorne finds himself trying to dig a way out of a hole he didn't realize he was in.

When Avery Chase returns to Indiana, the last thing she expects is to run into her childhood crush, let alone to realize in the years since she left, he's turned into a complete jerk. Hoping for a man to change is a mistake she's made once before and is determined not to make again.

Then again, it's hard to resist when your childhood crush finally notices you.

A Date for Daisy

He thinks she’s the captain of the Hot Mess Express.
She thinks he’s rigid and wound too tight.
And this renovation is about to get complicated.

Daisy Bloom is determined to turn her 100-year-old house into a bed and breakfast. The only problem? She knows nothing about renovations.

Enter Lance Matthews, construction guru and business owner. He is determined to tackle this project with his usual methodical, organized approach. His only problem? The beautiful and infuriating homeowner -- deeply involved with the project and completely averse to lists, schedules, or any form of organization.

When sparks fly between these wildly different personalities, will they find common ground? Or does God have other plans for each of them?

Poppy's Proposal

She vowed he would never hurt her again.
He hides his pain behind a campaign smile.
Harrison Coulter is in the spotlight. Rumored to be the next candidate for governor, there is just one problem – the people won’t elect the most eligible bachelor to the state’s highest office. He needs a wife, but he isn’t looking for love. There is one woman from his past though…
Poppy Bloom has roots as deep as the produce she grows on Bloom’s Farm. When her livelihood is threatened and she finds herself helpless to make a difference, Poppy agrees to a proposal she never saw coming.
Old feelings blossom into something new, but their individual goals clash with the promises made to each other. How will God use this marriage that was strategized instead of starry-eyed to open them both to the power of love?

Christian Authors

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Medallion By Cathy Gohlke

The Medallion
by Cathy Gohlke
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 9781496429674

This is the first book I've ever read by Cathy Gohlke. I read it on my way back from Minnesota in July. I tell you what, the RBDigital app has been a fantastic find! You can get it if your library participates.

Summary:

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen—Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war—if any of them survive—is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

My Review:

I haven't read such a deep book from WWII. I couldn't believe how profoundly I was impacted while reading this story. I think we all have an idea of the atrocities that happened under the Nazi regime. The lengths in which people went to survive. Sophie, Rosa, and Itzhak are 3 such people.

The Medallion starts off with an explosion that sets the story in motion. Sophie's home, in Warsaw, is destroyed in a bombing and she immediately goes into hiding in the library she was working at. Unfortunately, that doesn't last long.

Rosa and Itzhak go back to her mother's home and find her mother barely holding on to life. Rosa goes into a deep depression after she loses a baby, but in time learns that she's pregnant again! Her mother has rebounded and things seem to be moving along as well as possible in a time of great risk.

Sophie spends her time trying to find ways to help people that she comes into contact with who are trying to stay alive and avoid being found by the Nazis. She even becomes involved in the underground movement. Her plight to help others, while waiting for her husband to return is a very hard one. Some days she's barely able to stay alive.

Rosa, Itzhak, and Sophie's lives converge at one point and keeps them connected for years to come. In a way that is unexpected and life altering. This is where the medallion plays a huge part. As readers we go through emotional upheavals as the stark reality of death comes to those in the story. There's absolutely no way you can remain blasé to the horrors that happened during WWII.

And yes, this can be a very depressing story and it SHOULD be! Hopefully by reading a story like this we'll remember that we never want to go back there. Because of how powerful this story was, I immediately read her book Secrets She Kept. THAT was an exceptional read as well! Same time period and same grip on my heart.

About the Author:

Three-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning and bestselling author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons, speaking of world and life events through the lens of history. She champions the battle against oppression, celebrating the freedom found only in Christ. Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children's and education ministries. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren. Visit her website at www.cathygohlke.com and find her on Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Unveiling The Past By Kim Vogel Sawyer

Unveiling the Past
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
ISBN: 9780525653660

I haven't read one of Kim's books for a while so when I saw it come through from WaterBrook Multnomah for review, it sounded like a book right up my alley!

Summary:

Mysteries, family secrets, and the love of a true Father are found at the heart of this gripping novel from the bestselling author of Bringing Maggie Home

Newlyweds Sean Eagle and Meghan DeFord are no strangers to pain and loss. As cold-case detectives, they know intimately the anguish family members endure after the murder or disappearance of a loved one. But when a new case hits too close to home, it threatens to pull loose the fragile cords of their young marriage. 
  
Sheila Menke was just a girl when her father left for work and never returned. An investigation revealed he had embezzled enough to start a new life elsewhere, but Sheila could never accept the court’s criminalization of her father. Meghan reluctantly takes the case, secretly fearing it will stir up buried feelings about her own biological father. And while Sean investigates the mysterious death of two young brothers, he longs to start a family. But Meghan worries that with a negligent mother and an absentee father as her parenting examples, she might never be fit for motherhood. 
  
As they delve deeper into the past, both Meghan and Sheila must choose to either stumble along the road of bitterness and resentment or walk the difficult path toward forgiveness and healing. When the cases begin to break wide open, these young women are poised to discover that while earthly fathers may fail, there is one in heaven who is a father to the fatherless.


My Review:

This was a fantastic story! I had actually thought I'd read all of Unveiling the Past, but must've gotten distracted and never did. So, I picked the ebook back up to dive back in and the chapters I'd already read came flooding back. I really liked having so many viewpoints. I know it could've been confusing, but the author's writing makes it easy to keep track of whose POV we're reading from.

The mother/daughter relationships really play such a vital role across the entire storyline. Just for my own wishes, it would've been great to have known Diane's relationship with her mom as she grew up. Her relationship with her as an adult seemed to be one of caring. It was a great testament to the power of prayer and the fact that people can change.

Actually that seemed to be the overall theme of the story.

I liked the mystery surrounding Sheila's father which gave us readers something to propel the story forward and keep us on our toes. I also appreciated that it helped Meghan see that she could care for others and that someone other than her husband could care for her in a reliable way.

One of the "negatives" I had with the story is the work relationship between Sean and Meghan. They seem to be these intense cold case detectives, but also very codependent. I can completely understand loving working with a specific person, especially your spouse, but it seemed on the unhealthy side in that they could barely stand the thought of doing a single, possibly short cold case with someone else. Even not having their desks touching seemed to make it so they weren't sure how to even function. In that respect I was incredibly glad they were forced to work with someone else. lol

Kevin's storyline was probably my favorite aspect of the whole story. His relationship with his father dictating how he responded to Diane's pregnancy, to his numerous wives, to his brokenness, all came together in a way that made him out to be a guy who was relying on everything BUT God for his life. I thoroughly enjoyed the roles Diane and Hazel played to help soften his rough edges and see past himself.

About the Author:

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a highly acclaimed bestselling author with more than one million books in print in seven different languages. Her titles have earned numerous accolades including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers' Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas with her retired military husband, Don, where she continues to write gentle stories of hope. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Line By Line By Jennifer Delamere

Line by Line
by Jennifer Delamere
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764234927

While this is the first book I've read by Jennifer Delamere, it's not the first book of hers that I own... go figure. Line by Line came as a review option, and I figured it was the perfect time to try out her books finally!

Summary:

Can her dreams of independence withstand a dash of love? Since she was young, Alice McNeil has seen a career as a telegrapher as the best use for her keen and curious mind. Years later, she doesn't regret her freedom in foregoing marriage, especially when she acquires a coveted position at an important trading firm. But when the company's ambitious junior director returns to London, things begin to change in ways Alice could never have imagined.

For Douglas Shaw, years of hard work and ingenuity enabled him to escape a life of grinding poverty. He's now determined to marry into high society--a step that will ensure he never returns to the conditions of his past. 

He immediately earns Alice's respect by judging her based on her skills and not her gender, and a fast camaraderie forms. However, when Alice accidentally angers a jealous coworker and his revenge threatens both their reputations, Alice and Douglas are forced to confront what is truly important in their lives. Will their growing bond give them the courage to see the future in a different light?

My Review:

I have to admit Line by Line was a great introduction to Jennifer Delamere's writing.

We start off by meeting Alice who is fine with the idea of becoming a spinster. Her new job seems like a perfect fit for her. She's got a quick wit and is incredibly smart. Alice certainly seems satisfied with where she is in life.

Then we meet Douglas who is very self assured and knows he's a good looking man! Unlike Alice, he's got big plans to make it rich. He's got his eye set on a banker's daughter... one he's never met, but he seems unaffected by it.

Unfortunately both of them have to work with Archie Clapper. What a cad. he's a crabby man who does nothing but sneer and make snide remarks. He can't stand the fact that a woman works as his "equal". He was a very well written villain! It's rather funny (at least for a time) when Alice uses what she learns from a spinster book she finds at a book store on Archie. The amusement doesn't last long.

I really enjoyed watching Alice and Douglas grow as individuals throughout this story. They certainly came to know themselves better as well as each other. One of the best elements to this story was the addition of Andrew Carnegie. He had quite the impact on Douglas' outlook on life. What was interesting was the teacher who impacted Alice and the direction her life had taken, gave her instruction a bit of a spin, which Alice hadn't expected.

What I enjoyed the most was the tension of both Alice and Douglas to stay true to their courses they'd set from the start of the story. It was great to watch Douglas be so impressed with Alice's insights into the business world. My favorite scene is when Alice teaches Douglas how to dance. It was an ingenious way to do on Jennifer Delamere's part!

I'm hoping we'll get to know Rose and Ellen more in the rest of the series. They're both friends of Alice's. Lucy is also one of Alice's friends, but she rather annoys me. lol I'm not sure what book 2 will be about, but since Rose sends telegrams for the post office, maybe her? I guess we'll just have to wait and see!


About the Author:

Jennifer Delamere's(www.jenniferdelamere.com) debut Victorian romance, An Heiress at Heart, was a 2013 RITA Award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, A Lady Most Lovely, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She's been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Back To School With Zonderkidz

Ok, I have to admit that I've had a complete mind shift with the knowledge I'm going to be a grandma. Children's books have taken on a whole new perspective for me. Now I look at everything in light of what I'm going to get to read to my grandchild one day.

That being said, here are a couple of super adorable books Zonderkidz sent me for review as we look at schools starting up again next month and into September.

Pugtato Finds a Thing
by Sophie Corrigan
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310767817

Summary:

When Pugtato’s simple, quiet life is disrupted after he digs up a strange object in his garden, he enlists his best “spuddies” to help (they are more clever than he is, after all). Tweetroot is certain it’s a new egg for her nest. Tomatoad is quite sure it’s a toy just for him. And Purrsnip simply won’t stop scratching it! Luckily, Pugtato has another very special spuddy to ask …

My Review:

This hardcover book is absolutely adorable! The author/illustrator was able to see a pug as a potato and I don't know if there's anything cuter. Each of the other animal vegetables have adorable "names" such as a Brussels sprout is a Brussels snout and looks like a pig.

The story of Pugtato Finds a Thing is done as a rhyming story which will draw children in. When he finds his "thing" it gives children an opportunity to use their imagination to wonder what the "thing" could be! Each of the animal vegetables use theirs as well! I also liked that the animal vegetable names are larger and colored so it sticks out to the children in the text.

Of course since I love gardening I'll have to sock up on these books so I can share this love with my grandchild and this adorable Pugtato will be a fun way to begin that adventure!



Grandma Snuggles
by Glenys Nellist
Illustrated by Gail Yerrill
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310770749

Summary:

Grandma Snuggles is an engaging, board book that celebrates the love between a grandma and her little ones. Whether it’s Grandma Mouse who shares her cheese or Grandma Duck who splashes in the lake, this book shows special cuddles and love, relaying a message that all grandmas are special in their own ways.
So, hop, skip, and run with Grandma Rabbit and roll into a ball with Grandma Hedgehog. Most of all, celebrate Grandma who’s as sweet as pie!

My Review:

I love the relationships portrayed by a grandma and a grandchild in Grandma Snuggles! It gives me alllll of the feels! I mean, what grandma doesn't want to snuggle their grandchild like the sweet cover portrays? It's adorable how each of the animals interact differently in their respective species.

I think this book is a wonderful building block for a grandma and grandchild to talk about how their relationship is unique and the fun things they enjoy doing together. It's also a perfect way to infuse our faith into our grandchildren. Each page mentions God with either how He watches over us, made a grandma extra snuggly, or how God made the grandma with something unique. A lovely way to teach our kids how they're made just the way God wanted them to be.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Gentleman Spy By Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy
by Erica Vetsch
Publisher: Kregel
ISBN: 9780825446184

After having been on the tour for The Lost Lieutenant I had my fingers crossed that I'd be able to be on the tour for book 2 in the series and HERE I am!! I received my book from I Read With Audra for review.

Summary:

He only wanted a duchess for a day--but she's determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she's meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life--as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She's determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society--the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she'd remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

My Review:

After having met Marcus in The Lost Lieutenant, I was excited for him to have his own story in The Gentleman Spy. Not only was it great to learn more about Marcus, it was fun getting to visit with Evan and Diana again.

Let's talk about the characters first off. Whew, where to start though! Marcus. He's an interesting fellow. Being the "spare, not the heir" he had a lot of liberty with how he lived his life. Having to take over being a Duke seemed to be a bit of a challenge to his natural bent in life... that of being a spy! Then there's Charlotte. Goodness it was easy to like her. Her parents, not so much. Insufferable. Her father, despicable. I loved how Charlotte called him out! You go girl! Speaking of parents, Marcus' mom is long suffering in seemingly every way when it comes to Marcus and then Charlotte. I would've sent her on to the other home as soon as I was married if I'd have been Marcus. HA!

One of my favorite characters is Aunt Dolly! She has great insight, and well she should. She's seen and done a lot in her life. Aunt Dolly sees Charlotte's desire to help others and beings her into the fold. I do have to say, in the summary above it mentions that "her endeavors aren't met favorably in society, nor by her husband..." and I have to disagree. I think he wishes she would've stayed in the background because of his spy work, but he was very proud of her work with the women. He even goes so far as to stand up for her to his m!om. I just don't want Marcus to seem like a cad. :)

I could appreciate the struggle Marcus had to keep the different roles he plays in life compartmentalized. Doing that wasn't as easy as he thought. It's a little hard to do that when one actually finds themselves attracted to one's spouse. I also liked that the people around him tried to encourage him in regards to his relationship with Charlotte.

Charlotte's care for others, when her parents seem as cold as ice, turned out to be a big part of who she is. It doesn't surprise me that she winds up married to Marcus, but I'm glad that she's not satisfied with just being a piece of eye candy for whenever he needed. I liked her because she didn't fit into the society she was born into. She speaks her mind, which Marcus appreciates and she helps women whom society turns away from... including a woman who has a huge impact on Charlotte's life.

I enjoyed everything about this story and you don't want to miss it nor the first one! That being said, be sure to enter this amazing giveaway below! I'm already looking forward to Sophia's story.

About the Author:

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. 

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England. 

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Twitter (@EricaVetsch), Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Love And A Little White Lie By Tammy L. Gray

Love and a Little White Lie
by Tammy L. Gray
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764235894

Having never heard of this author before, I decided to apply to be part of her launch team simply because of the title. I mean, doesn't it pique your interest? I'm SO thankful I was chosen to participate and receive her book for review because it was EXCELLENT!

Summary:

There's a lot of irony in hitting rock bottom
After a heartbreak leaves her reeling, January Sanders is open to anything--including moving into a cabin on her aunt's wedding-venue property and accepting a temporary position at her aunt's church despite being a lifelong skeptic of faith. Choosing to keep her doubts to herself, she's determined to give her all to supporting Grace Community's overworked staff while helping herself move on. 

What she doesn't count on is meeting the church's handsome and charming guitarist. It's a match set for disaster, and yet January has no ability to stay away, even if it means pretending to have faith in a God she doesn't believe in.

Only this time, keeping her secret isn't as easy as she thought it would be. Especially when she's constantly running into her aunt's landscape architect, who seems to know everything about her past-and-present sins and makes no apologies about pushing her to deal with feelings she'd rather keep buried.

Torn between two worlds that can't coexist, can January find the healing that's eluded her, or will her resistance to the truth ruin any chance of happiness?

My Review:

Love and a Little White Lie is an excellent story! I wanted to be friends with January by the time I hit page two. With this book, I've been introduced to a phenomenal author. The flow of her words seem completely effortless, but we all know that's never the case for authors. I wanted to highlight every single line I wanted to quote in the story and share it with everyone, but I would've had to highlight the entire book and that would've just been plagiarism.

First, let's talk about January. She's SUCH an interesting character. She's got a photographic memory, but for things that most people don't recognize. I was very fascinated by her. After her break up she's staying temporarily at her aunt's cabin and that's where we get to see January in her brokenness.

I appreciated the author's take on January accepting a position at a church when she's agnostic and not interested in the least in faith. In fact, she's probably more antagonistic about it thanks to her mom, than anything. Her experience with the leadership at the church was great to witness, and the nuances that are brought up throughout the story that deal with church life are so REAL. You can tell Tammy brought her experience working in a church to the story. I was able to relate to so much with my husband being a Director at our church.

Then there's Cameron. How can we, the reader, not fall for this guy just like January does? He's the ultimate, available church guitarist who catches her eye and vice versa. Reading this part of the storyline, I feel like this could be happening at just about any church whose doors you might walk through. I think most of us would be drawn to him and why not? He's quite the catch.

My favorite part of this story is that EACH of the characters has a depth that I'm not used to reading about. Many of the supporting characters you get to know on the surface, but in Love and a Little White Lie I feel like we walk away having a full understanding as to where they're coming from. I couldn't even tell you which character I relate to more, but January is pretty high on my list. I also loved, loved, loved her Aunt Doreen. She's the kind of lady I hope to be one day.

And next, let's cover  Dillon. That's a guy who's dealing with a lot. Even while he's going through his own pain, he sees January's brokenness. He recognizes it. While they antagonize each other, it's fun to watch them interact because they seriously irritate each other.

The faith element in this story... I. Loved. It! January's agnosticism is covered very well and explained in a believable way. I was so thankful that Tammy didn't make January's lack of faith become wrapped up in a neat bow quickly or without making sense. There are a couple uses of the word h e double toothpicks, BUT, in a way that makes sense in the story and aren't gratuitous. I usually have an issue with words like that in a Christian story, but they work and make sense here. I'm just pointing that out because I want to always be transparent about something that a reader might not want to read.

Please, do NOT miss out on this book. I'll say it one more time. It was EXCELLENT! The author writes about the human condition and how we can struggle through life and life's decision through the characters of this story. This is absolutely one of my top reads of the year! My next task it to find the rest of Tammy's books and devour them.

About the Author:

Tammy L. Gray (www.tammylgray.com) lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas. Her nine modern and true-to-life contemporary romances include the 2017 RITA Award-winning My Hope Next Door. When not taxiing her three kids to various events, Tammy can be spotted crunching numbers as the financial administrator at her hometown church.

 
Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.