Friday, September 30, 2016

Month in Review: September

  • Backlogged reviews 0
  • Days exercised 10 (my knees were starting to hurt so bad, I had to take a break)
  • Bible read 28
  • Clay dolls sculpted 2
  • Hats knit 0
  • Words written 1200
  • Cross bookmarks tatted 0
  • Thursday, September 29, 2016

    Book Review: "Mattie's Pledge" by Jan Drexler

    Mattie Schrock is excited to be heading west with her family, even more so because Jacob Yoder will be joining them and he has always held a special place in her heart. But they have both changed a lot in the years since they've seen each other. Will what they share be enough to satisfy her for the rest of her life when she yearns to see more of the world?

    "Mattie's Pledge" by Jan Drexler is the 2nd book in the 'Journey to Pleasant Prairie" series. I did not read the first book in the series, but did not feel completely lost about what was happening. Since the 1st book is about Hannah Yoder, and she and her family members feature in this book, it would probably been nice to have read it first, though. Mainly told from the viewpoints of Mattie Schrock and Jacob Yoder, there are also parts told from the viewpoints of Johanna Hertzler, Andrew Bontrager, and Cole Bates, with a short section from both Annalise Yoder and Christian Yoder. Besides the main story line following Mattie and what she was going to choose to do, there was also secondary threads that follow the other characters as well. I did not find the story to be cluttered with all that was going on, though, and enjoyed watching the characters interacting. The Biblical thread is also woven seamlessly into the story and it was nice to see characters grow although Jacob's aloofness towards the children didn't seem totally wrapped up as well as some of the other issues. I am glad to see that Naomi's story is next and can't wait to read it.

    "Mattie's Pledge" is available in paperback:
    • Series: Journey to Pleasant Prairie (Book 2)
    • Paperback: 384 pages
    • Publisher: Revell (September 20, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 080072657X
    • ISBN-13: 978-0800726577
    • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 4563 KB
    • Print Length: 385 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 080072657X
    • Publisher: Revell (September 20, 2016)
    • Publication Date: September 20, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English

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

    Book Review, Tour, and Giveaway: "A Lady Unrivaled" by Roseanna M White

    About the Book

    Click to purchase
    Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All
    Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for it to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.
    Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent to destroy them all?
    My Thoughts
    "A Lady Unrivaled" is the third and final book in the "Ladies of the Manor" series. I had read the second one, but not the first one. I felt like I was missing parts of the story this time around not having read the first book. I didn't feel that way so much while I read the second book. I definitely will go back and read the first book to fill in the gaps! I really liked "A Lady Unrivaled" and kept picturing it as a mini series. Ella is so cheerful and fun and such the perfect person for Cayton who is not so cheerful. Their dialogue was fun and so well written, it felt like I was eavesdropping on someone's conversation. Addie was adorable and  her interactions with both Ella and Cayton were great. I found myself wanting to read faster so I could know what was going to happen, but not wanting to miss any of the details. The characters grew and came to know God better and to trust His leading. This book has romance, mystery, and more. I highly recommend the series.
    About the Author
    Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to Edwardian British romances. She makes her home in the breathtaking mountains of West Virginia. You can learn more about her and her stories at

    Guest Post from Roseanna White

    So Very Ella
    Back in 2008, I went to my first writers conference, where I met my current best friend and critique partner. I’d been pitching the first book in a series I was rewriting from my childhood, so this was the first project of mine our newly formed critique group did together. Specifically, the third book in the series, which I was then calling Diamond Blaze.
    It was about a girl very much like me. Optimistic in the extreme. Always looking for a reason to smile. Her name was Lady Ella Myerston, and though she was the heroine in the third novel in a series—friend to heroine from book 1 and sister of hero in book 2—Ella stood on her own. Or I hoped she did. You see, it’s not very often I try to write a character so much like me, and I wasn’t sure what my new critique partners would think.
    I was delighted and relieved when my critters, as I call them, loved her—it felt a little like them loving me😉 With Stephanie, that BFF/critique partner, Ella became part of our language. “That’s so Ella” meant “that’s so hopefully and optimistic.” It’s a phrase we used for years, long after that series got shelved and we focused on other projects.
    When I finally sold a rewrite of the first book to Bethany House and The Lost Heiress released last September, I was so excited to get to breathe new life into the other books in the series as well. I gave some new twists and turns to Brice’s and Rowena’s story in The Reluctant Duchess, took it to new depths, but it was still largely the story I’d first written seven years before.
    Ella’s story, though . . . we eventually settled on the title A Lady Unrivaled, but it was the hardest one in the series for us to name. And writing! Ella’s story didn’t work anymore as I’d had it. I had to toss out the entire thing and start fresh, with a new premise and new plot. But Ella—Ella had to remain Ella. I learned more about her as I rewrote the series, of course, and I added a few things not like me, naturally. But Ella still seeks a reason to smile, always. She still believes in hope, in every situation. And her knack for misplacing things—herself included—might be borrowed (and exaggerated) from my remarkable ability to lose things that I sat down right there two minutes ago.
    Ella got new adventures, new goals, new excitement in her life—but she’s still the Ella I got to know all those years ago. And her hero, Cayton, is still the sometimes surly, too-realistic, very different-from-Ella man he has to be to counteract her.
    My editor, in her notes to me, said, “Cayton and Ella are so very different. In a way, you wonder how they’ll make it work. And yet you can’t help think they will, and want them to.”
    The love story in this book is partly mine, too. Because though on the surface my husband isn’t much like Cayton, in the ways that matters, he is. He’s my opposite, but my perfect complement. He doesn’t always see the bright side I cling to, but he’d never ask me not to cling on anyway. We view the world very differently—and can face it because we’re together.
    I love all my books, all my characters. But A Lady Unrivaled . . . well, it’s just so very Ella. I hope you love it just a fraction as much as I do!

    Blog Stops

    September 22: 100 pages per hour
    September 22: Smiling Book Reviews
    September 23: Book by Book
    September 23: Bibliophile Reviews
    September 24: bigreadersite
    September 24: Jeanette’s Thoughts
    September 25: The Power of Words
    September 25: Pause for Tales
    September 26: Reading Is My SuperPower
    September 26: Faithfully Bookish
    September 27: Back Porch Reads
    September 28: cherylbbookblog
    September 28: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
    September 29: Blossoms and Blessings
    September 29: Heidi Reads…
    September 30: The Scribbler
    September 30: Karen’s Krayons
    October 3: Colonial Quills
    October 3: Blogging With Carol
    October 5: Books and Beverages


    I’m giving away a complete set of the Ladies of the Manor Series PLUS a special surprise straight from England! (US addresses only for paperbacks; an international winner is eligible for digital gifts, though!)
    "A Lady Unrivaled" is available in paperback:
    • Series: Ladies of the Manor
    • Paperback: 416 pages
    • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (September 13, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0764213520
    • ISBN-13: 978-0764213526
    • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.3 inches

    and in Kindle edition:
    • File Size: 4173 KB
    • Print Length: 416 pages
    • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (September 13, 2016)
    • Publication Date: September 13, 2016
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B01JSOXP32

    I received a free copy of this book to participate in the Celebrate Lit blog tour and give my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

    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
    • ASIN: B01JFJTL9W

    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
    • ASIN: B01BHGW8QO

    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.