Sunday, September 25, 2016

Book Review: "A Christmas Homecoming" by Kimberly Rose Johnson

Bailey Calderwood does everything she can to assist Mona Belafonte, even move into Mona's home to care for her after she has a stroke.

For some reason, Mona decides she needs a new assistant and asks her son Stephen to find a replacement for her. The more time he spends with Bailey, however, the more he wants to spend time with her. How can he mend the rift without upsetting either woman?

"A Christmas Homecoming" is the 2nd in the Sunriver Dreams series, so it was fun to see some of the characters from "A Love to Treasure". I was glad for Bailey to realize that she was a worthy person and not just an "ugly stepsister" and how she stood up for herself by the end. I liked Stephen and his desire to honor his mother but to get to the bottom of what was going on so he could date Bailey. Besides the romance, there was also a little bit of mystery about the secret admirer and the car (which I was thinking there would be since the first one had a mystery, too). I wanted to sit on the couch and watch the fire with Stephen and Bailey (okay, maybe on the chair in the room with them...don't want to get between their budding romance!) 

"A Christmas Homecoming" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Sunriver Dreams
  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (September 23, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1943959129
  • ISBN-13: 978-1943959129
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3975 KB
  • Print Length: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (September 26, 2016)
  • Publication Date: September 26, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Review: "A Mother in the Making" by Gabrielle Meyer

"A Mother in the Making" has an adorable cover that drew me in and made me want to read it. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but it helps when the cover draws your attention! At first, this book had me thinking a little bit of Sound of Music with the widower and the governess and later on a little bit of Emma as Marjorie tried to find John a wife. Mostly, it was its own story. I loved Marjorie's enthusiasm and her love for the children. I found myself getting frustrated at John for fighting his attraction to Marjorie! But there wouldn't be much of a story if she walks in and he instantly falls in love with her and wants to get married! I liked the children in the story and watching Petey as he warmed up to Marjorie. I look forward to reading more of Gabrielle Meyer's stories.

"A Mother in the Making" is available in (mass market) paperback:
  • Series: Love Inspired Historical
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired (September 6, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373283776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373283774
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.6 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2665 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals (September 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01CNOK92E

I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Review: "No Greater Gift" by Teresa H. Morgan

History professor Grace Ryan returns to her hometown to help her grandmother turn her journals into a book while her neighbor, Erik Petersson, sorts through Grace's grandfather's records and notes to write a book about his work in the Manhattan Project. When Grace arrives, her grandmother is being loaded into an ambulance. Her last words were of a crime, treason, and finding the truth. Together, Grace and Erik wade through the information as evidence seems to pile up that will tear Grace's already fragile relationship with her family apart. When someone turns to violence to stop Grace's search, will Erik and Grace find the truth before it is too late?

This book touched on several tough subjects like abuse, unjust accusations, infidelity, and divorce. They were dealt with in a way that was not graphic or jarring, but in a gentle manner. I liked Grace and Erik and grew frustrated when they were accused of things that they did not do and their side of the story was not listened to or believed. I liked their reliance on God, but also the honesty that it isn't always easy to do that. I did guess what had happened to Katrina fairly early on, but it played out slightly differently than I expected and made me second guess what I'd thought. I liked the quotes from Churchill and the entries from Annie's journals.  I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to other books written by Teresa Morgan.

"No Greater Gift" is available in paperback:
  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (April 27, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0996006850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0996006859
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2941 KB
  • Print Length: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (May 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Book Review: "Kiss The Bride" by Melissa McClone, Robin Lee Hatcher, and Kathryn Springer

"Kiss the Bride" is a collection of 3 novellas previously released as part of the "Year of Wedding" novella series. I had already read the 2nd novella, but not the other two.

"Picture Perfect Love" by Melissa McClone: Jenna Harrison takes the perfect pictures for weddings while nursing a broken heart from her own failed wedding. When her former fiance, Ashton Vance, suddenly shows up after two years, why is it so hard to keep her heart from falling all over again? Will she be willing for a 2nd chance at a picture perfect love?

I liked Jenna and Ashton and felt frustrated for the manipulation that Judge Vance orchestrated. I liked seeing the growth in the characters. It felt like some of the characters' turn arounds/apologies were a little rushed but with it being a novella, there wasn't a lot of time to fit in a more thought out apology. Having the main characters have a past together always makes it easier to believe a romance can blossom in a short of a time that a novella allows. I enjoyed reading this story.

"I Hope You Dance" by Robin Lee Hatcher: Skye Foster is a hopeless romantic and dreams of a cowboy sweeping her off her feet and riding off into the sunset to get married and have a large family. She just hasn't met the cowboy yet. When Grant Nichols comes in for private dance lessons in preparation of a wedding he's a groomsman for, they have an instant attraction for each other. The only problem, Grant is from a large family and doesn't want any kids of his own.

This is a really quick read. If you have read other books in the Kings Meadow series of books, you will notice some familiar people. (I'm sure that also helps with backstory for them as well) I liked Skye and Grant and watching their interactions. The romance moves along really quickly, but as this is a novella, you kind of expect that. The characters themselves even are concerned about how fast it is moving.

"Love on a Deadline" by Kathryn Springer: Mackenzie Davis is back home in Red Leaf temporarily after her father has a  heart attack. What she wants is a big break at the newspaper so she can land her dream job at the big city newspaper. Her boss thinks he has the perfect story for her...the wedding of her high school nemesis, Hollis Channing. Mac could think of only one other person she'd  rather  not see again, Ethan Channing, her high school crush.

I enjoyed Mac and Ethan find their place and what they really needed in life. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize characters from a book I had reviewed two years ago ("A September Bride" from the first 'Year of Weddings' novella series). It doesn't matter if you didn't read it, though, for your enjoyment of this story. This was a cute, quick story. Again, it helps that the characters had a past together for the pace of the romance. 

"Kiss the Bride" is available in paperback
  • Series: A Year of Weddings Novella
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 31, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310395879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310395874
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2873 KB
  • Print Length: 341 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 31, 2016)
  • Publication Date: May 31, 2016
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B010R225PI

I received a free copy of this book from booklookbloggers in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review, Tour, and Giveaway: "Blueberry Cupcake Mystery" by Naomi Miller

About the Book

Blueberry Cupcake Mystery
Click to purchase
In the small town of Abbott Creek, mystery is as much a part of daily life as The Sweet Shop’s sugar cookies.
Katie Chupp spends her days at The Sweet Shop, taking care of customers and baking delicious treats . . . not exactly a profession where one expects to be thrown into the midst of mysteries and mayhem.
But when the bakery is broken into, someone has to find the thief . . . besides finding another place to do the baking and get the orders to the customers.
Is this a random theft, or is the thief trying to ruin the town’s Independence Day celebration?
My Thoughts
This was a cute story.  The characters aren't very developed, but with it being as short as it is, you don't expect them to be as developed as in a longer book. There was a little talk about the Plain folk, but overall, if it weren't for the inclusion of the Amish words, it didn't really feel like an Amish story. It did include a nice amount of references to God and prayer. There really wasn't much in the way of a mystery and it was solved very quickly. To me, the story felt like it was meant for middle graders.

About the Author

Naomi Miller mixes up a batch of intrigue, sprinkled with Amish, Mennonite, & English characters, adding a pinch of mystery – and a dash of romance!
Naomi’s day is spent focusing on her writing, editing, and blogging about her experiences with writing. When she’s not working diligently to finish the next book in her Sweet Shop Mystery series, Naomi tries to make time for attending workshops and writers conferences. One of her favorites is the four-day event that the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization holds annually.
Naomi also enjoys traveling with her family, singing inspirational/gospel music, taking a daily walk, and witnessing to others of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ.

Guest Post from Naomi Miller

Hello! I’m Naomi Miller — and I’m honored to be featured on Celebrate Lit!
I want to share with you how the title and cover for my debut book, Blueberry Cupcake Mystery, was chosen. This is a story I haven’t shared with anyone else — yet. The story behind the blueberry cupcake…
I was actually writing an Amish suspense novel last winter, when God placed it on my heart to write a shorter story — a cozy mystery, with no suspense, no danger, but plenty of faith, family, compassion and community.
While thinking of the best way to begin the story, my daughter made a batch of blueberry cupcakes, which happen to be one of my favorite treats. Of course, the idea to use a favorite treat was too good to resist. Then, during the early days of writing, I began experimenting with the idea of baking cupcakes — but adding blueberries before baking. Two favorite treats in one!
And there you have it . . . once we had a picture of a blueberry cupcake, the designer quickly sent back a cover I fell in love with (although there were a few more tweaks before the final cover was approved).
I actually began writing many years ago — 1990 to be exact. But I had just become a single mom and I didn’t have time to pursue it. I wrote notes, letters, articles, short stories, and I occasionally thought about a career as a novelist, but not once did I consider that dream to ever become a reality.
Several years ago, after my children were grown, my daughter challenged me to write a novel. I began a sweet, Amish fiction story about a young girl—but about halfway into the story, someone was almost murdered! Needless to say, I was surprised, but kept going. Once done, I went back to the beginning to do a major re-write on what was now an Amish suspense novel.
And that’s . . . the rest of the story.
I’m also excited to be doing two special giveaways — 1) a gift bag full of treats and 2) an advanced reader digital copy of Christmas Cookie Mystery (but you’ll have to wait for it)!
In the meantime, here’s the recipe for those delicious blueberry cupcakes
Blueberry Cupcakes
Ingredients1 white or yellow cake mix
2 cups fresh blueberries
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water

Prepare cake mix according to the directions. Add blueberries and fold into batter. Bake following instructions on cake mix box.
Icing1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. milk
additional milk as needed

DirectionsPrepare icing, mixing small amounts of confectioner’s sugar with milk to desired consistency. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Blog Stops

August 23: Blogging With Carol
August 24: cherylbbookblog
August 25: A Greater Yes
August 25: A Holland Reads
August 25: Mary Hake
August 26: Gypsy Road
August 27: Bigreadersite
August 27: Bibliophile Reviews
August 28: Lighthouse Academy
August 28: Book Babble
August 29: Karilyn Putt
August 30: Daysong Reflections
August 31: Quiet Quilter
September 1: Lights in a Dark World
September 1: Just Commonly
September 3: Bukwurmzzz
September 4: Ashley’s Bookshelf
September 4: just the write escape


To celebrate her tour, Naomi is giving away a gift bag full of treats and an advanced copy of her new book Christmas Cookie Mystery! Click here to enter:
"Blueberry Cupcake Mystery" is available in paperback:
  • Series: Amish Sweet Shop Mysteries
  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: S&G Publishing; First edition (May 27, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692701370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692701379
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 3241 KB
  • Print Length: 156 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: S&G Publishing; 1 edition (May 31, 2016)
  • Publication Date: May 31, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01E3A1ATC

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review during the Celebrate Lit blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review: "Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana" by Angela Ruth Strong

Paisley Sheridan needs a little help getting the ranch she inherited fixed up to be a camp and retreat center. She doesn't count on that help coming in the form of Josh Lake who broke her heart in high school. Will she be able to keep her heart sealed until he goes away again? 

Josh Lake doesn't expect to run into Paisley Sheridan at a coffee house in Montana. He is embarrassed to admit he doesn't have any money and works out a trade with her for his room and board at her ranch. The longer he is there, the less sure he is of what he wants in life. Will he be able to find a treasure this Christmas more valuable than all the possessions he had?

"Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana" is the 2nd book in the "Resort to Love" series by Angela Ruth Strong. The main characters from the first book show up in this book, but it's more of a cameo appearance so this book could be read as a standalone. (But I say, "You want to read the first one because it's really good, too!" **and at the time of my review, it is free for Kindle**) Paisley and Josh were very easy to relate with. I didn't totally understand some of their reasoning at first, but as the book progressed, I came to understand why they felt and acted the way that they did. Dot and Annabel were hilarious and added just the right amount of humor into the story. I liked getting to know Sam Lake a little better, too, and am impatiently waiting for his story. I liked the way that the author worked the star theme throughout the book and weaved in Bible truths in a smooth and easy manner. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to shake some of the characters... I had to force myself to put the book down to do things like make food, clean, sleep. I could easily see this as a made for TV movie. The scenery was beautiful and the characters believable.

"Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana" is available for Kindle:
  • File Size: 3058 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (September 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01GIML1H4

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

First Day of School

Our school district again got a waiver from the state to be able to start school before Labor Day. They also changed the teacher training days from 1 all day session to 2 half day sessions. This makes the same amount of teaching time count as 2 school days with the state instead of just 1. Hopefully these changes will keep us from having to go past our currently scheduled last day of school (June 7).

Sarah in front of the school sign

Sarah at her locker 

We saw my nephew as we were getting ready to leave 

Andy in front of his locker

Andy with his teacher, Mrs. St. Denis (a new to us teacher)

Andy at his desk

William by his locker

William with his teacher, Mrs. Baker (both girls had her, also)

Emily by her locker

Emily with her teacher, Mrs. Zank (Sarah had her, too)

Emily at her spot

Sarah getting off the bus for the first time

Will getting off the bus for the first time

Andy getting off the bus for the first time

Emily getting off the bus for the first time

Sarah getting on the bus for the first time

Will getting on the bus for the first time

Emily getting on the bus for the first time

Andy getting on the bus for the first time