Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

Title: The Christmas Cat
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 169
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1966-1
Publication Date: September 9th, 2014

Synopsis:
He felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he'd thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.

After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly--especially since he is severely allergic to cats--his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?
Review:
I'm a lover of both Christmas and cats, so this story seemed right up my alley. And this book became available just in time for the start of the holiday season.

I'm not much of a novella reader, but I will say I did enjoy this story. It was a quick playing story and it really highlighted all of the kitties and each of their unique traits. I love when authors are able to show how varying cats are. I have two myself and they are as different as night and day. I loved seeing how each of these kitties were just the perfect companion for that special person.

Garrison was a guy who meant well. He loved his grandma and cared for her, but his allergies kept him away. He was highly allergic to cats. When she passed away unexpectedly, he finds out many things he didn't know about his grandma and the discoveries take him down many roads.

This was a sweet, short story. If you love Christmas stories or animal stories, I think this is a book you would really enjoy.

Too Read
4 out of 5

About the Author:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.



Thank you to the Revell Reads Blog Tour, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Each week features a bookish topic that offers the opportunity to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic:
Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Oh, my goodness...so many! Here is a smattering.

The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem
Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta
Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden
The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
The Pharaoh's Daughter by Mesu Andrews
Dauntless by Dina Sleiman


There are so many more, but like I said, here is a smattering.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Title: The Daughter of Highland Hall
Author: Carrie Turansky
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Pages: 326
ISBN: 978-1-60142-498-3
Publication Date: October 7th, 2014

Synopsis:
What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor...what if it wasn't enough?

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain's elite.

When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London's East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love-and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.
Review:
I wasn't sure how I was going to like this book going in. I remember Katherine from the Governess of Highland Hall and she wasn't my favorite character. However, I was pleasently surprised with how Carrie Turansky was able to use that and shift her character from beginning to end in this book. It ended up being a very enjoyable, light read for the weekend.

When we were first introduced to Kate in the first book, she had a chip on her shoulder and expected everyone to cave to her demands. She has come a long way from that girl and in this book, Kate is trying to find out who she is and what she really needs to focus on, because what she originally though hasn't turned out to be as grand and glorious as she had thought. Kate's transformation was a very realistic one. She was a girl who had a lot think about and with speed bumps thrown in her path several times, it helped shift her focus. Plus, she has a steady support from Julia, her former governess and future aunt.

Jon Foster is your typical hero. He was a gentleman, he stood up for the weak, he gladly offered support and cared for people who didn't have the ability to help themselves. He is a guy that every girl would love to meet. He isn't one that needs to make a change. However, he is one who does face a big decision. He also stands by his sister, Julia, and helps lift Kate up in some of her trying times in this story.

I was uncertain about one character and about his motivation for things when he was first introduced, but as the story progressed, he proved opposite of my thoughts. That was refreshing. He reasoning were that of what many people his age have faced and he was just trying to do the right thing. I think Kate did the best for the situation.

This story was also a good insight into how society can be fickle. The patterns still continue to this day, just in different forms, but it doesn't change.

This was sweet story and a nice read.

Too Read 
3.5 out of 5

About the Author:
CARRIE TURANSKY is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the ACFW Carol Awards and Genesis Contest. She has written contemporary and historical romances, women's fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Scott, and they have five adult children and four grandchildren.





Thank you to Blogging for Books, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Waiting on Wednesday: Dauntless

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight an up-and-coming release you are excited about.

Waiting On:
Title: Dauntless
Author: Dina Sleiman
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

Synopsis:
From GoodReads
Though once a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest," her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?
Why I'm Waiting:
This story seems like it would a lot of fun and a twist on the Robin Hood story. I love this type of setting and the cover caught my attention right away.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Can't Wait For Sequals

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Each week features a book/blogging related topic that offers the opportunity to spotlight your Top Ten.

Topic:
Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get

 This should be a fun one. My TBR is filled with so many continuations I can't wait to read.

1. Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta
2.The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
3. Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
4. Return to Exile by Lynne Gentry
5. Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green
6. A Sparrow of Terezin by Kristy Cambron
7. The Tomb by Stephanie Landsem
8. Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson
9. Nowhere to Hide by Sigmund Brouwer
10. Siren's Fury by Mary Weber

 This post is just the tip of the iceberg. There are still many more that I didn't list.

What about you? What books are you waiting on?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

Title: The Princess Spy
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Zondervan
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-310-73098-9
Publication Date: November 4th, 2014

Synopsis:
Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.
Review:
I'm always excited when Melanie Dickerson has a new book out. She has a fantastic ability to take such well known fairy-tales and change them into something new and unique, but still hold on to the foundation of the story.

The Princess Spy followed the same pattern and it brought a new twist to the Frog Prince. Plus, we finally got to know Margaretha better in this story. We were briefly introduced to her in the previous story in this series, but this book allowed her to shine. She is a girl who loves to talk and I loved how her mother didn't put her down about that. She turned what Margaretha's brother thought was annoying, into something good. Not only was Margaretha a talker, but she was eager to try things despite the dangers. She was very out going and also loved to help people and willing to protect those she loved. And she can weld a candlestick with the best of them.

Colin is the opposite of Margaretha. He doesn't talk much, but he is driven and shows it with action. When first introduced to him, it isn't under the best of circumstances. Then he out of his element after he gets back on his feet. He is in a foreign country, he doesn't know the language, and he has no money. He is forced to rely on the kindness of the people of the village. In this time, he is still pressing forward to accomplish his mission he set out for.

I thought Colin and Margaretha were fun together. Colin was series and Margaretha was able to balance them out with a little lightness between them with her chatter. We see characters from the previous books, and this book tied The Merchant's daughter into the others. I loved how that was done. Even though the other characters weren't in the spotlight, they still stayed to true to how you knew them previously and added a nice depth to the story. Margaretha's cousin Anne, definitely was the same as she was in the previous story...my goodness, that girl didn't have a clue.

This book started off with action and had it all the way through. I think this story had the most fighting yet with schemes and plans floating around. It kept the pages turning and it was a lot of fun to see where it would go.

Too Read
4 out of 5

About the Author:
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.





Thank you to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (69)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.
 Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight the books you have gotten this past week. They can be the books that you have received for review, bought, borrowed, or won.


Ok...this is a a first! Since the time I started doing this meme, this is the first week I haven't gotten any books. Things have been pretty busy, so the search for a new book wasn't on the to-do list. I did have the opportunity to get some much needed reading done.


How was your book week?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: A Matter of Heart by Tracie Peterson

Title: A Matter of Heart
Author: Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-7642-1060-0
Publication Date: October 7th, 2014

Synopsis:
Texas born and raised Jessica Atherton is a wealthy young woman whose heart was broken when the man she intended to marry wedded another. But her world is upended when two new men come into her life, and both manage to stir her heart.

Harrison Gable is a successful young lawyer with ambitions that match Jessica's dreams. His warm, attentive manner and thoughtful gifts make her feel special.

Austin Todd, a former Secret Service agent, enjoys working now as a Texas Ranger cattle inspector. But after learning of forged gold certificates and missing printing plates, he's drawn back into the world of intrigue and agrees to help solve the case. Jessica is drawn to his kind nature and the unspoken pain she sees in his eyes.

If Jessica follows her heart, where will it lead?
Review:
I have been following this series since the very beginning and was looking forward to seeing how this book would close out everything. I will admit though off the bat, I wasn't sure how I would enjoy reading about Jessica Atherton. In the previous book, I didn't like her at all. Her personality was very overbearing and she was a bit full of herself. So, I entered this story with a bit of trepidation.

Jessica proved to be a surprise from the start. The story takes place a year to two years after the end of the second book. Everyone around Jessica has had their lives move along, but Jessica's life hasn't budged. She's looked on with pity from the other girls in the community who have lives with their husbands and children, despite Jessica's proclamation, that that life isn't what she wants. Under all of that though, we find out who Jessica really is. She is a girl who doesn't know who she is. She finds that people see her as a princess, there to look pretty and to buy things. That isn't who she wants to be known as. This story is her journey to find out what she is missing in her life.

Austin Todd is one of the classic good guys. He is upstanding and he follows law. He is a gentleman through and through and believes in respect. However, he carries a heavy burden. A burden that would be hard for many to carry, but he does his best not to show it and to use it help build a wall around him so he doesn't have to deal with that pain again.

Austin was a good balance for Jessica. Austin was already about helping people, while Jessica was discovering. Both of these people had much they needed work through and figure out what God has planned for them.

This book closed everything out well and we were able to see how the characters were from the last two books were doing and get caught up with them.

Too Read
3.5 out of 5

About the Author:
Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over one hundred novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Visit Tracie's website at www.traciepeterson.com.







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


Waiting on Wednesday: Spy of Richmond

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight an up-and-coming release you are most excited about.

Waiting On:
Title: Spy of Richmond
Author: Jocelyn Green
Publisher: River North
Publication Date: March 1st, 2015

Synopsis:
From GoodReads
Trust None. Risk all.

Richmond, Virginia, 1863. Compelled to atone for the sins of her slaveholding father, Union loyalist Sophie Kent risks everything to help end the war from within the Confederate capital and abolish slavery forever. But she can't do it alone.

Former slave Bella Jamison sacrifices her freedom to come to Richmond, where her Union soldier husband is imprisoned, and her twin sister still lives in bondage in Sophie's home. Though it may cost them their lives, they work with Sophie to betray Rebel authorities. Harrison Caldwell, a Northern freelance journalist who escorts Bella to Richmond, infiltrates the War Department as a clerk-but is conscripted to defend the city's fortifications.

As Sophie's spy network grows, she walks a tightrope of deception, using her father's position as newspaper editor and a suitor's position in the ordnance bureau for the advantage of the Union. One misstep could land her in prison, or worse. Suspicion hounds her until she barely even trusts herself. When her espionage endangers the people she loves, she makes a life-and-death gamble.

Will she follow her convictions even though it costs her everything-and everyone-she holds dear?
Why I'm Waiting:
This series has been fantastic and I can't wait to read this latest installment. The history and the storyline are phenomenal and I can't wait to see where this book will take us.

Monday, November 10, 2014

DVD Review & Giveaway: Buck Denver asks...Why Do We Call It Christmas?

Title: Buck Denver asks...Why Do We Call It Christmas?
Directed By: Phil Vischer
Format: DVD
Run Time: Approx. 60 Min
UPC: 853026002370
Release Date: December 6th, 2011

Synopsis: 

Buck Denver Asks….Why Do We Call it Christmas?
You’re invited to the Party of the year…an educational, informational, Christmical kind-of party! Join VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer and his friends from the popular What’s in the Bible? series Buck Denver, Captain Pete, Sunday School Lady, Clive and Ian for the most unusual Christmas party ever! We know Christmas is one of everyone’s favorite holidays. But have you ever wondered why we celebrate the birth of Jesus by chopping down trees and putting them in our houses? Or why we hang stockings by the fire? Or how Santa Claus became such a big part of Jesus’ birthday party? And why do we even call it “Christmas,” anyway? You’ve probably heard the Christmas story - but have you ever heard the story of Christmas?
Come explore….
• Why is it called “Christmas?”
• Why do we celebrate on Dec. 25th?
• What year was Jesus really born?
• What do Christmas trees have to do with Jesus?
• What about Santa Claus? Where did he come from?
• Which came first – Christmas or Hanukah? And which one did Jesus celebrate?
• What are the “12 Days of Christmas?”
• How does the name “Emmanuel” explain the real meaning of Chrsitmas?
Review:
Yay, Christmas is coming! You have no idea how much I love this season! The lights, the carols, the tree, the time with family, it's all a lot of fun. However, with all of the traditional fun, as my littles gets older, she starts asking a lot more questions as to why we do certain things. And they are all good questions. Some I knew the general idea, but others, I had to go look it up.

I've been eying the Buck Denver series for sometime, so when the chance to review this DVD came up, I thought I would give it ago. I have to say, I'm glad I did. My littles loved this video. There was a good mix of jokes (for adults and kids) with good facts of the origins of the Christmas traditions. I also enjoyed the fact that everything wasn't all puppets. There were some cartoon sections put in for a couple of parts and it help break up the show into smaller sections for kids to understand. The segments offered some good insight into the history of the traditions and showed how everything was morphed into one giant celebration of Christmas from many smaller areas.

The littles and I also watched the extra features. There were some fun sing-a-long songs, a poem of Christmas from Buck Denver that had me crack up a couple of times, and a blooper reel. Some kids can get a glimpse into the making of puppet show that way, which is great.

This was a fun video and the littles has requested to watch again, so it is one I would recommend to anyone.

Too Watch!
5 out of 5

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to FlyBy Promotions, I received a copy of this DVD for free in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (68)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Each week offers the opportunity to spotlight the books you  have gotten this past week. 

Bought:
Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay


It's been a week of playing catch up for me. I got a lot of books knocked out and typed up. I couldn't pass up picking up this much anticipated release.

How was your week? Get anything you were really hoping for?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: The Promise by Beth Wiseman (Litfuse Blog Tour & Giveaway)

Title: The Promise
Author: Beth Wiseman
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 306
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8595-9
Publication Date: September 30th, 2014

Synopsis:
Mallory’s search for happiness leads her to a faraway place. There she finds heartache, betrayal—and danger.

Mallory Hammond is determined that no one will stand in the way of her goal—to save a life. She had that chance years ago, and she failed to take it, leaving her adrift and in search of the real meaning of her life. Finally, she meets a man online from a volatile corner of the world who offers her the chance to find that purpose. But she will have to leave everyone she loves behind in order to take it.

Tate Webber has loved Mallory for many years. He understands that Mallory will never be happy with him until her deepest heart’s desire is satisfied. When Mallory decides to travel across the world to fulfill her dreams, Tate begs her not to go but tries to give her the space she needs. Mallory embarks on her dangerous journey only to discover how swiftly and easily promises can be broken. And Mallory can only pray that she will make it out alive.

Inspired by actual events, The Promise is a riveting love story that asks the question: how far will we go for love?
Review:
The fact that this story is inspired by actual events amazes me! My goodness. This story had me hooked from the prologue. You start the story off with such hope as Mallory has wonderful news for her cousin, but we come to find out years later, her hope was crushed and a new desire has come in to play.

Mallory is a girl who has a deep passion to help someone. She suffered a trauma when she was younger and it has haunted her ever since. As I progressed into the story, Mallory came off as a girl who was a very innocent and naive girl. Her desire to help someone overcame who she is and kept her from seeing the things around her. I thought it was an admirable trait to have in wanting to help, but she tended to take it to the extreme and it left her vulnerable.

Beth Wiseman has realness to her writing. That is what hooked me. Her characters are flawed, there are many good qualities, but they aren't perfect. It's like life. I love that in stories. Mallory is determined to follow her desire to finish her quest, her boyfriend Tate is a good guy. He is a guy who has faith and has grown up in the church, but he doesn't live it all the time.

I was also impressed with how Beth wove in the struggle that people face when it comes to religion. Tate has a solid background and wants Mallory to join him when he does go to church, but because of a good friend and her fiancee's background in Islam, Mallory starts to pursue it and in doing so, she jumbles things up and she suffers a major misunderstanding. With the things that is fed to Mallory, it is easy to see why there is confusion. Mallory never had a background in church and only goes on what she think she knows or the brief snippets she's heard in her life. She has no foundation.

Mallory's story is a bit rough. The idea of flying to a war zone is staggering, but she does and when she is there she sees and experiences things she never could have imagined. You just hurt for her and hope she can find an escape. I honestly could not put this story down. The last hundred pages had me turning pages as quickly as I could to see what was going to happen. It was a thrilling read as you followed Mallory through everything.

This story not only was thrilling, but it was also a good reminder....what you see on the internet is not always the case. Tread carefully. So many people have been hurt because of this. Sociopaths know the ins and outs. Mallory's story shows that so clearly.

I could not put this one down. I look forward to reading more by Beth Wiseman!

Too Read!
5 out of 5

About the Author:
Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. Having sold over 1.3 million books, her novels have held spots on multiple Bestseller lists. She was the recipient of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011 and 2013. In 2013 she took home the coveted Holt Medallion. Her first book in the Land of Canaan series--"Seek Me With All Your Heart"--was selected as the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. Beth lives in Texas with her family.





Giveaway:
In a daring new novel, Beth Wiseman jumps way outside the box. The Promise will take readers far away from Amish country and small Texas towns to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by actual events, this is the book Beth has been working toward for a long time.

promise-400
Curious? Click here to read the reviews, and be sure to enter Beth's Kindle HDX giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Promise by Beth Wiseman
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 9th. Winner will be announced November 10th here.
promise-enterbanner



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