Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: Winter In Full Bloom by Anita Higman

Title: Winter In Full Bloom
Author: Anita Higman
Publisher: River North
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-8024-0580-7
Publication Date: July 19th, 2013

Synopsis:
Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.
Review:
I have been curious to read this book since I first saw the cover. The cover is just gorgeous and and catches the eye immediately. The muted tones of the woods and the brown cape enhances the red of the tulips and make them pop. As I read the synopsis, I thought it would be an interesting story, it reminded me a little bit of The Parent Trap, two twin sisters taken away from each other as babies, to reunite when they got older.

As I started to read through the story, I found it to be more of a Greek tragedy of sorts and I had a hard time connecting to the characters. Lily Winter is now an empty nester, her only daughter is now away at college, her husband died of a heart attack a year ago, and she has been estranged from her mother for the last ten years. There has never been a real closeness between Lily and her mother. Lily was mainly raised by nannies. As the story progresses, we find out that the night Lily's husband dies, she confronted him on an affair he had been having. Lily's life is hard to read about. As you read about Lily and her mother's interactions, it pushed me further from the story. Lily's mother comes off as a domineering, my way is the only way, I will do as I please, your thoughts mean nothing to me, leave me alone, hard and bitter woman. The author says Lily's mother is agnostic, but she seemed more atheist to me.

Lily's sister didn't have a much better life. After being adopted, she had a good mom with Naomi, but when she died when Camille was young, she was left with her adoptive father who was physically abuse. Camille basically raised herself and has been on her own since she was eighteen. She is cold to Lily, didn't want to communicate or reconnect with her estranged family, yet she sent a note to her biological mother, who passed the note on to Lily.

I had a hard time getting through this story. The idea was a good one, but the way it was carried out just didn't click with me. It was a depressing story, up until the end when there was a bit of hope that started to shine through. Even the love interest for Lily had a difficult past. It was hard to find a bright spot in the story.

2 out of 5

About the Author:
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.




Thank you to Moody/River North, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest opinion.


End of the Year 2013 Reading Cram Read-A-Thon

I have been seeing some posts these last few days from other blogger friends about an End of the Year 2013 Reading Cram Read-A-Thon, from December 9th-22nd Hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and Dana Square. I have decided to join in. I think it would be fun to knock out a few more books before 2013 comes to a close!

As far as goals...I would like to shoot for 5 books to be read during the time. I don't know which ones yet.

Should be fun!

November Recap

It's the last day of November! How did that happen? Seriously, the year is flying by. We are now a month and a day away from New Years and just 26 days away from Christmas. I'm floored! Despite the quickness of the month that also had Thanksgiving and some personal stuff, I was able to read 12 books this month and I reached my 100th book for the year! A first in my reading.

Reviewed:
 Return To Me by Lynn Austin (Bethany House)
Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin (Moody/River North)
Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis (Moody/ River North)
Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (Moody/River North)
Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Moody/River North)
Beyond These Hills by Sandra Robbins (Harvest House)
The Wayfinding Bible (Tyndale House)
Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman (Moody/River North)
Aquifer by Jonathan Frisen (Booksneeze)

Bought:

 Breathe by Lisa T. Bergren
Si-Cology 1 by Si Robertson and Mark Shlabach
Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund


It's been a fun month for books. Most were really good, there were a few that just didn't quite hit the mark, but for the month as a whole, it's been a good book month!

How has your reading month been?

Review: Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis

Title: Captive Trail
Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Moody/ River North
Pages: 301
ISBN: 978-0-8024-0584-5
Publication Date: September 1st, 2011

Synopsis:
The Captive Trail is part of a six-book series about four generations of the Morgan family living, fighting, and thriving amidst a turbulent Texas history spanning from 1845 to 1896.  Although a series, each book can be read on its own.

 Taabe Waipu has run away from her Comanche village and is fleeing south in Texas on a horse she stole from a dowry left outside her family's teepee. The horse has an accident and she is left on foot, injured and exhausted. She staggers onto a road near Fort Chadbourne and collapses.

On one of the first runs through Texas, Butterfield Overland Mail Company driver Ned Bright carries two Ursuline nuns returning to their mission station. They come across Taabe who is nearly dead from exposure and dehydration and take her to the mission.

With some detective work, Ned discovers Taabe Waipu's identity. He plans to unite her with her family, but the Comanche have other ideas. Through Taabe and Ned we learn the true meaning of healing and restoration amid seemingly powerless situations.
Review:
Captive Trail is the second book in Texas Trails A Morgan Family Series. Even though this is a book in a series, it is also a book that can stand alone. I enjoyed that aspect immensely. I also like the fact that this series of six books is written by three different authors. It has given me the opportunity to discover new authors and their books.

This was the first book I have read by Susan Page Davis and I really enjoyed it! She was able to capture the difficulties of the time and bring it to life in her story. Taabe Waipu is a girl on the run. She didn't want to be married to an Indian brave from the Comanche, all she ever wanted for the last twelve years is to get back to her family and her people. After being kidnapped and forced to live Comanche, Taabe found a way out and took it. However, with her years away from the English language and the punishments she received for trying to speak it, it was lost to her over time.

In her escape, Taabe's stolen horse falls, injuring Taabe and leaving her alone in the open plains. Taabe does her best to keep going on foot, but with her injuries and lack of water, she passes out. She is stumbled upon by a stagecoach that is carrying nuns to their new mission a short distance away from a fort. The nuns bring her to the mission where they care for her. In their time, Taabe slowly adjusts to her new surrounds, but is always careful and with the help of the nuns and her new friend Ned, who was the driver of stagecoach, the search for her family begins. Throughout the whole story, we watch as Taabe learns and grows, and slowly rediscovers who she is.

The pacing of the story was enjoyable and kept me turning pages. As Taabe learned English again, more of the plot was revealed. It was an interesting way for everything to unfold.

Too Read
4 out of 5

About the Author:
Susan Page Davis writes romantic suspense, historical romance, and mystery. She is a Maine native now living in Kentucky, and a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her books have won several awards including the Carol Award for her novel The Prisoners Wife; the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for The Prisoner’s Wife and The Lumberjack’s Lady (Maine Brides series); and the 2012 Will Rogers Medallion Award for her novel Captive Trail (Texas Trails series).


Thank you to Moody/ River North, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Stacking the Shelves (22)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Each week you can highlight the books you have acquired the following week, whether it was buying them, receiving them for review, borrowed, or won. They can be printed or ebook.

Review:
 Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman (Moody/River North)
Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis (Moody/River North)

Bought:

 Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal


How was your book week? Get anything you have been looking forward to? Any good Black Friday deals?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A New Site From Tyndale Publishers: Tyndale Direct!


Introducing TyndaleDirect.com where you'll find special offers, gift suggestions and a selection of our favorite devotional titles—direct from the publisher at great prices. Plus, keep an eye on the Deal of the Day page—just in time for holiday gifting!

I've been checking it out and it has so many great title listed! Go and check it out!

Unending Devotion

Title: Unending Devotion
Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 374
ISBN:
Publication Date: September 1st, 2012

Synopsis:
Michigan, 1883
In Her Darkest Hours, Is He the Man She Needs?


Lily Young longs to find her lost sister or will die trying. Heedless of any danger, she searches logging camps and towns, posing as a photographer's assistant. And then she arrives in Harrison, Michigan--and the sights of Connell McCormick.

Connell is determined to increase the fortune of his lumber-baron father and figures as long as he's living an upright life, that's what matters. But when Lily arrives in town she upends his world, forcing him to confront the truth that dangerous men have gained too much power while good men turn a blind eye.

Vexing but persuasive, Lily soon secures Connell's help, drawing them ever closer to each other. Will standing for what's right cost them both everything?
Review:
I have now read every book by Jody Hedlund that has been published to date. Unending Devotion did not disappoint. Each book I have read have been fantastic and contained many of the same elements, historical, romance, a bit of suspense. Unending Devotion offered them as well.

Lily Young has grown up as an orphan. The only family she has left is her younger sister Daisy. She has done her best to take care of her as they traveled from distant family member's houses to orphanages. Lily has fought to keep her sister by her and has succeeded, until it was hard to place two nearly grown girls. Lily made the decision for her sister to live at a farm with a nice family, while she went to the home of an older couple. The wife was ill and needed care. All seemed well until Lily received a note that her sister was leaving to find work where women were needed and the job paid well, even if the job went against society standards. Lily does the only thing she can, she follows Daisy, unknown to the exact location.

After the older woman who Lily was helping care for passes away, she sets off with Oren, the older man who took her in. She becomes his assistant as he snaps photographs of loggers in logging camps. After many stops, Lily hasn't found her sister, but she has been able to help a few girls get out of their place of business, brothels. Each girl she helps, Lily can't help but picture Daisy.

It is in Harrison, Michigan that Lily in her quest runs in to Connell McCormick. He is big and strong, but he is one thing that most shanty boys aren't, he is respectful of the women he is around. It is because of this and his concern for the well being of the women in town, Connell gets Lily out of a few problems. In doing so, Connell is drawn in, whether he wants to or not, into Lily's life and her passion to help the girls in the brothels start to open his eyes to the situations around him.

I enjoyed reading Connell and Lily's story! Connell is a great hero. He is strong, handsome, and respectful. Lily is a great mix. She is determined, which makes her independent, but she can appreciate the help that she receives, even if it isn't always in her time frame. She has a strong belief and pushes forward, even when she is threatened, and in doing so, her fortitude rubs off on others and a small flame is ignited in those around her.

Too Read!
5 out of 5

Waiting on Wednesday: The Butterfly and the Violin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each week you can spotlight the up and coming releases you are most excited about.

Waiting On:
Title: The Butterfly and the Violin
Author: Kristy Cambron
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 15th, 2014

Synopsis:
And then came war . . .

"Today." Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world's elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.

"Vienna, 1942." Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna's vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele's barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshiping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait--Adele--they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God's faithfulness never falters.
Why I'm Waiting:
The cover first caught my attention. I think it is just pretty! Then  I read the synopsis and it sounds really interesting. I find myself being drawn to WW2 based stories now.

What are you waiting on this week?


Cover Revel: Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl & Giveaway

I am happy to present today the cover for Jill Stengl's new book, Until That Distant Day! I just have to say, it's gorgeous! I can't wait to read it!

The Cover:
Title: Until That Distant Day
Author: Jill Stengl
Publisher: Rooglewood Press
Publication Date: April 25th, 2014

Synopsis:
Paris, France
1792

Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?

About the Author:
Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.



 
You can find about more about Until That Distant Day at untilthatdistantdaynovel.blogspot.com/.

Giveaway:
Jill is offering an enormous bundle prize of ten print novels and novellas, including her award-winning Faithful Traitor, several novella collections, and her three-book Longtree series. These will all be autographed! (US and Canada only, please.)
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful For...

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week features a book related topic that allows you to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic: 
Top Ten Things I Am Thankful For (could be bookish or not -- up to you)

I am going to stick with the bookish side of thankfulness for this post instead of the personal.

1. Authors
Without their creativity and diligence to writing, I wouldn't have these wonderful worlds to visit.

2. Publishers
All of their hard work of getting a book together and published to put those beautiful books into my hands.

3. Publicists
They do a wonderful job of getting the word out on their new books.

4. Book Blogging Community
I have made so many new friends through blogging. It's a wonderful time chatting about books with y'all.

5. Bookstores (New & Used, Physical Store or Online)
The sales I find in these stores is wonderful and makes book buying delightful with the money saving...that allows me to buy even more!

6. Hot Chocolate and Blankets
They make reading the most comfortable experience.

7. Book Covers
Pretty book covers, how can you pass them up!

8. Reading Buddies
I love my friends who are close by who read similar books that I do and will fawn over the characters with me. There is mo shame in book boyfriends.

9. GoodReads
Such a wonderful website that allows me to search out new books I never would have thought to look for.

10. Being Able to Review Books
It has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to read these books from authors/publishing houses and help get the word out on them...and the free books are an awesome bonus!


There are so many things to be thankful for, it was fun to focus on the book-side of it!

Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Title: Dear Mr. Knightley
Author: Katherine Reay
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 328
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8968-1
Publication Date: November 5th, 2013

Synopsis:
Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself. Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.

But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself “Mr. Knightley”) offers to put Sam through the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it’s pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is – once again – made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.
Review:
Oh, my goodness! Where do I begin with this book? This has to be on the short list of favorites for the year. I have not read a book that is so emotionally gripping as Dear Mr. Knightley, in a long time. This was a fantastic debut novel. I'm looking forward to reading more by Katherine Reay.

Sam is not a girl who has had an easy life. She had a very rough life, she was a part of the foster system for a time, and had very few champions in her life. Despite all of that, she has pushed forward and worked her way through school. However, because of her hard life, Sam is now surrounded by caring people, but she will not let them in. Her true friends are found in books. Her love for books is phenomenal and she also uses these books as a barrier to the real world. When confronted, Sam quotes her way out of interactions with people...and I have to say, I wish I had thought of that when I was younger.

After Sam had graduated college, she was tired of school. She was offered a grant for a graduate degree, but she was burned out and went another path. When they way fell flat, Sam wanted to try school again and found she was eligible for the grant still, but there was one stipulation, she needed to write to the benefactor, Mr. Knightley. It is through her correspondence to Mr. Knightley that the story unfolds.

While at school working on her graduates, she runs into Alex Powell, one of the best selling authors, who she has admired for a long time. As the stories unfolds, we are able to watch Sam grow and learn from her experiences. And the story depicts very accurately how changes do not happen over night, they take time. I appreciated that about the story. It was interesting reading how Sam grew and how her relationship with Alex changed.

As I said before, this has to be one of my favorite books this year. It was a very real story. I felt an instant connection to Sam. Plus, there was so many books mentioned. Some I have personally read and loved and few new ones I will be checking into. I will also say, if you loved the movie You've Got Mail, you will love Dear Mr. Knightley!

Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Katherine Reay has enjoyed a lifelong affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked in not-for-profit- development before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her writing has been published in Focus on the Family and The Upper Room. Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. Dear Mr. Knightley is her first novel.




Giveaway:
Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.
dearmrknightley-400

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • Handmade Austen-themed items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace) 
Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—or BOTH! 

But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Dear Mr. Knightley" Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine's next book.

So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST. Hope to see you on the 3rd!



Thank you to Litfuse and Thomas Nelson, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: Beyond These Hills by Sandra Robbins

Title: Beyond These Hills
Author: Sandra Robbins
Publisher: Harvest House
Pages: 313
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4888-3
Publication Date: September 1st, 2013

Synopsis:
It's 1935, and Laurel Jackson fears the life she's always known is about to become a memory. The government is purchasing property to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and nearly all the families in Cades Cove have decided to sell. Laurel is determined to save the land her family has lived on for a hundred years.

Andrew Brady, the son of a wealthy Virginia congressman, arrives in the Cove to convince the remaining landowners to sell. Sparks fly when he meets Laurel, the outspoken young woman who is determined to thwart his every effort. Will they ever be able to put aside their differences and accept what their hearts already know?

In the third and final book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins brings a dramatic conclusion to the story of the families of Cades Cove.
Review:
Sandra Robbins captures the life of farming in the Smoky Mountains in the 1930's in her writing perfectly. Even though the Depression is raging all around the rest of the country, the everyday life has thrived in Cades Cove. That is until the government decided it wants preserve these mountain ranges for the people of America. Making promises to the people who live there, saying they can keep their farms, that have been in their family for generations...but, the promises have proven to be false. The people of Cades Cove now face the unknown as the government decides that their land is better fitted to suit the needs of the rest of the country as a vacation spot.

Laurel is the third generation born in Cades Cove. It's the only home she has ever known. She is content and happy to live off of the land with her family. Her dad and grandpa have filed court cases against the government to keep their land. The family waits on the verdict and until they know, they live their lives like normal. Ever so slowly, families in the area sell their lands and move off. It hurts Laurel to see so many friends leave their lives behind. Trying to preserve the memories, Laurel snaps picture after picture, trying to preserve the past. Laurel hopes that the suits her grandpa and dad have filed will pull though and she won't have to leave.

Andrew Brady is fresh out of college. He was give his appointment from strings his father, a congressman, pulled for him. When Andrew arrives, he is a bit cocky, very sure of himself, that his task will only take a month, six weeks at the most. He's in for a rude awakening when he sees other wise. Andrew hasn't had a loving family relationship. His father is pushing him to the fast track of politics. The Cades Cove job is just a stepping stone in Andrew's fathers plan. As Andrew spends time in Cades Cove and gets to know Laurel and her family, Andrew's ideas of life start to change. He has long believed he hasn't had much of a choice in what he could do, or who he will become. His assignment opens his eyes to many things.

Beyond These Hills is a sweet story on growing up. Laurel and Andrew each face decisions that will change their future, for the best or the worst. They must each decide who or what they will rely on to help them through it, themselves, parents, or God.

Too Read
4 out of 5

About the Author:
Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town in Tennessee where she grew up. They count their four children and five grandchildren as the greatest blessings in their lives. Her published books include stories in historical romance and romantic suspense. When not writing or spending time with her family, Sandra enjoys reading, collecting flow blue china, and playing the piano.






Thank you to Harvest House, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest opinion.