Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: A Breath of Hope by Lauraine Snelling

With her younger  brother Ivar in tow, Nilda Carlson is on her way to America to join her older brother Rune and his family in the northern forests of Minnesota. While she sees this as a golden opportunity, she has enough experience in life to know it won't be easy. The transatlantic voyage itself proves to be an adventure, and she hopes she will feel safe in her new home. Rune and Signe Carlson are thrilled that Nilda and Ivar are coming to Minnesota, but Uncle Einar Strand, obsessed with his own ambitions, refuses to help. What's more, he forbids anyone from the community to step foot on his land, leaving Rune to toil on his own. When a tragedy lays bare the truth behind Einar's anger and isolation, the Carlsons and Strands will have to come together like never before to become a true family.

I'm giving this book 5 stars. One of my absolute favorite parts of this series is that the conflict for the story doesn't come from a romantic storyline. Instead, the conflict comes from Einar. I just find it really refreshing not to have me romantic notions crushed for 300 pages. Of course, there's still some romance, Rune and Signe are married. Nilda seems to be attracting her share of honeybees. But really, the main love in this story is familial love. It's precious. I can't believe the change in Gerd from the beginning of book one to this book. It's astounding. And Knute and Leif are super cute. And Kirstin is too sweet for words. Basically, yes, you will want to punch Einar at least a dozen and half times while reading this, but it's a really great change in pace to read a family oriented story instead of the typical romance. Not that I'm knocking romance. You guys know me. I'm all about those, but this is a great story and series. I love Lauraine's books and I love that this is (distantly) related to her Blessing series. I hope to one day see these two series cross in an even bigger way. I'm thinking that's up to Ivar. I hope I get to read more books about Ingeborg. Long story short... read the book. {With a cup of tea. It's much better with tea.}

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All these opinions are {pretty obviously ;) } mine.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review: The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Here is the "back of the book" blurb, cause I'm way tooo emotionally riled up to do this. I may not even be able to get through the review. My mom says I'm being a little too dramatic today, but phooey on that!  (I apologize in advance!) 

The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman's daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. 
Unsure why he survived but vowing to make amends, Jean-Luc has buried his pasty life so deep that no one will find it - until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. 
Twelve years after Maribel was pulled from the sea and deposited in an orphanage, hazy memories and vaguely recollected stories all collide in the presence of a man she never really forgot. 
But falling in love with Maribel could cost Jean-Luc everything.

Okey dokey..... Here goes.... First off, I can't resist giving this book 5 stars. That being said... WHAT THE WORLD!!!!! Okay, so basically this happens to me anytime I read a book where one of the characters has lost their memory, or portions of it. And boy oh boy! My mom kept giving me these crazy looks cause I was screaming and almost crying and so frustrated when the author would give a soft tug on a thread that I really wished she would just jerk! But I think I'm going to try and do this methodically. Start at the very beginning.... (Yes, I sang that in my head...) I loved the fact that she spent half of the book on Maribel as a child. I love love LOVE getting to see my favorite characters as kids. That's one thing that I dislike about a bunch of books is that we get like three paragraphs of them as a kid and then boom! 15 years later! But anywho... I digress. I don't read about pirates privateers... like ever! And this story was so perfect that I want to add a lot of nautical tales to my shelves. The storyline was great. I loved the characters. They were perfect! Maribel, Jean-Luc, Israel, Rao, Will Spencer, Evan Connor, Mother Superior, and Abigail... My goodness! They wove together to make a brilliant story that I was downright mad to have end. I feel like there were enough loose ends to tie up that we could have been graced with at least two more chapters. It felt a little rushed there at the end, but nevertheless, I enjoyed this story immensely. And I haven't been this vocal/loud while reading since In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer (which review I have yet to publish because the rant on there was pretty bad... I still get mad sometimes just to look at the book.... It's ridiculous really! But again I digress!!!) Anyway... The point of all this hoo-hah and nonsense is basically that you need to go buy this book and read it... basically right now. Just ignore the fact that you're cooking dinner or picking up your kids from their soccer game, and go buy the book. Also, if you haven't read its companion The Mayflower Bride by Kim Woodhouse then you ought to grab that one as well. I can't wait to continue reading this series. [Daughters of the Mayflower... Barbour Publishing. The next book is The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep.] 

I hope that the craziness of that 'paragraph' didn't vex you. I can't say enough about how much I loved this book, even though I was a little skeptic at first, since I hadn't heard of the author. Trust me... it's great but I have to stop now lest I am tempted to spoil the whole thing. 

And look at the cool cover. 

Here is the Amazon link:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

Agatha is happily causing chaos wherever she goes as she travels the wild west searching for great stories for her newspaper. When she stumbles upon the man she once loved, Zayne Beckett, obviously in need of some guidance (AND minus one Helena....) Agatha decides to take him in hand. Her bodyguard Mr. Blackheart and paid companion Drusilla have learned to just go with it. Zayne, however, tries to resist. (As if anyone could win an argument with Agatha Watson!)Unfortunately, the person who wanted to kill Agatha, spurring her westward journey, is still up to his old tricks. Thankfully, Agatha proves to be hard to kill. Now if only she could nip her growing feelings for Zayne....

I'm giving this story 5 stars.

1: I have a ton of stuff to say, but if I wait to talk about Mathilda, I might just burst! Mathilda is my favorite! She's hilarious, she's great at guarding, she's a little touchy, she rarely takes the great advice Agatha gives her, and she's very protective. I thought at first that she would be just a "first two chapters" character. I was so glad when Agatha brought her home. OHHHH...... Did I mention that Mathilda is a P-I-G? A very smart one at that! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

2: Okay, back to the rail (I think I might have derailed the train a bit there.... maybe not....) Anywho.... Jen Turano is such a great author. Honestly, if anyone else did this I'd probably think it terribly cheesy. There is a really great balance here. And while some of these situations are unbelievable, I do realize that in some cases... this could be completely plausible. I went from chuckles, to giggles, to brother-staring-at-you-because-you're-so-loud laughter.

3: The characters were amazing. From Agatha, and her ability to make any situation dangerous, to Drusilla, who happens to be able to handle a pistol quite well, From Mr. Blackwell, who won't let anyone know his given name, to Mary, an assassin who is terrible, I mean TERRIBLE!, at her job, every character begs to be loved. Oh, did I mention 8-year-old Piper, who just happens to be the key to straightening out the mess Zayne is making. Honestly.... the characters were everything in this story.

4: As far as bad guys go, well... this one was... hilarious is a given, but I was going to say, devious. I think I had him pegged after the Mathilda affair, but I wasn't sure. Honestly, his reasons for hating Agatha had me wavering between laughing and indignation. Of course, I also consider that awful Helena a bad guy. Her new fiancΓ© though.... he's the best!

5: The epilogue! Yes! I was so excited. It was too perfect! (As if you couldn't tell by the absurd number of exclamation points here!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review: The Golden Vial by Thomas Locke

With the realm under threat and an ailment sweeping the land, the last remaining hope may come from an unlikely source--a young, orphaned servant with untested and untrained abilities. (That's form Goodreads, but it isn't really that great... there's more. Although, I guess this is the essence of it, really.)

This book is the third in a series and while I started here, I think the enjoyment would have been better if I had started at the very beginning. This book, well, it reminds me of the Lord of the Rings stories, not necessarily in plot so much as in the characters. To be honest, at first it kind of freaked me out a little. I enjoyed the book, but I don't know that it is necessarily the series for me. I oved the characters and the storyline, but there was really too high of a dose of spells and whatnot for me to be completely comfortable. If that's what you like, well, it's a great book. The chapters are short so it's easy to find a stopping place if you want or really easy to play the "one more chapter" game. It goes both ways. For myself, I'd give this book.. 3.5 stars. For others, you may find it to be much higher. One thing that does stick out as weird is there's this one chapter that doesn't flow with the narrative style of the rest of the book very well, and it's right near the beginning. Overall, I enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't have probably chosen it had I realized all of the content.  

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Review: The Mayflower Bride by Kim Woodhouse

I've been putting this one off for a while know, just because I don't think that I can do it the justice that it needs. I was so stoked for this book, and I was not disappointed. Kim is incredible, and I'm not just saying that. I finished this book months ago, and I still don't know if I'm ready for this review. But either way... I need to do it now because the Greenville weather is making it the perfect time for this very awful joke/pun thing... April showers bring May flowers... And Mayflowers bring Pilgrims! (Sorry, not sorry!)
I'm just going to give you the official, copy-paste synopsis, because I'm going to ramble enough without that help.

Mary Chapman boards the Speedwell in 1620 as a Separatist seeking a better life in the New World. William Lytton embarks on the Mayflower as a carpenter looking for opportunities to succeed—and he may have found one when a man from the Virginia Company offers William a hefty sum to keep a stealth eye on company interests in the new colony. The season is far too late for good sailing and storms rage, but reaching land is no better as food is scarce and the people are weak. Will Mary survive to face the spring planting and unknown natives? Will William be branded a traitor and expelled?

I lovedddd this book! I'm giving it five stars (in case you were doubting! Oh ye of little faith! But maybe I shouldn't pull Bible verses out of context like that, huh?) Anywho... it was great historically. This isn't a time that I'm overly familiar with. Late 1800s, early 1900s, sure I can hold my own, because basically all my reading is from that time. It was nice (and a little odd...) to switch it up. I just never get to see this time period, and it's neat, not only with different customs, but also different cultural norms, like dress and speech. Truth be told, I've learned a lot of things that have given me an advantage in history classes from all the historical reading. πŸ˜‚ And the characters! Sometimes Mary Chapman just sort of echoed my sentiments exactly. And she and William were super adorable. It was really cool to see him go from Stranger to Pilgrim so quickly. And wowzers, those guys had some troubles with their ships, eh? Also, Mary's little brother just stole my heart right out from under me! That fellow! The bad thing was, I was reading this at carline at work, and so I couldn't cry all the tears that I wanted to cry because there were a ton of parents around and stuff and that's just plain unprofessional. But there were so many people that died! I know it really happened and all but it just made me so sad. I loved the different aspects of the boat and it was really cool when I would recognize an event because I had read parts of Bradford's "Of Plimoth Plantation." There was also the conflict in the story, which was resolved pretty well, although I really wanted to punch someone. Lucky for him, his fictitious status protected him from that. One of the coolest things was that a couple of my ancestors were minor characters in the book. I mean, only mentioned in passing, but still! And the very very very best thing!!! Kim wrote me a super sweet note in the front and this is one of my special-est books now! I can't wait to read more in this series, and especially the next one that Kim writes. (Dr. McNeely, please don't be reading this, and if you are... let's ignore the run-ons and made-up words and what-not going on in this paragraph, please

All-in-all.... not my best review, but definitely a wonderful book that I highly recommend to all you fiction lovers out there!

I'd love to here from you! Thanks for reading, and thank you, Kim, for the book! I'll cherish it always!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Tour of Catherine Marshall's Julie with JustRead Publicity Tours

Review Coming Soon!

Welcome to this stop on the Julie by Catherine Marshall Reissue Celebration Blog Tour with JustRead Publicity Tours!

Title: Julie
Author: Catherine Marshall
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
ReIssue Date: April 17, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance Fiction
*A New York Times bestseller*
Will the dam hold?

Julie Wallace has always wanted to write. Trying to 
escape the Great Depression, Julie’s father buys the
Alderton Sentinel, a small-town newspaper in flood-prone Alderton, Pennsylvania, and moves his family
there. As flash floods ominously increase, Julie’s investigative reporting uncovers secrets that could
endanger the entire community.

Julie, the newspaper, and her family are thrown into a perilous standoff with the owners of the steel mills
as they investigate the conditions of the immigrant laborers. As the Alderton Sentinel and Julie take on a more aggressive role to reform these conditions, seething tensions come to a head.

When a devastating tragedy follows a shocking revelation, Julie’s courage and strength are tested. 
Will truth and justice win, or will Julie lose everything she holds dear?



Catherine Marshall (1914-1983), “The New York Times” best-selling author of 30 books, is best known for her novel “Christy.” Based on the life of her mother, “Christy” captured the hearts of millions and became a popular CBS television series. Around the kitchen table at Evergreen Farm, as her mother reminisced, Catherine probed for details and insights into the rugged lives of these Appalachian highlanders. Catherine shared the story of her husband, Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate, in “A Man Called Peter.” A decade after Dr. Marshall’s untimely death, Catherine married Leonard LeSourd, Executive Editor of “Guideposts,” forging a dynamic writer-editor partnership. A beloved inspirational writer and speaker, Catherine’s enduring career spanned four decades and reached over 30 million readers.


(1) Winner will win: 
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • Bookmark Swag
  • Necklace (exact or similar & *subject to change)
  • Print Copy of Julie

(Only Gift Card open internationally. Others open to US Mailing Addresses)

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Billy has got hounds on the brain. Not just any ol' dog will do. He wants coon-hounds. Fine, beautiful, coon-hounds. And one won't do him. No sir. He's just got to have two. Two years of hard work later, and Billy has enough money to buy Old Dan and Little Ann. The three bond instantly and have many fine adventures in this classic set in the wonderful Ozarks.

I've got to give this book all 5 stars.

1: This is the kind of book (like My Side of the Mountain) that makes little boys (and a few little girls I'm sure) run away to live in the mountains and have larks of all kinds, not realizing that the thing they suddenly have a craving for isn't a place, it's a time. A time long ago that is almost assuredly lost to us forever, except where it lives on in the pages of wonderful classics like this.

2: You can tell You can feel the strength of Billy's love for his dogs. It's a love that reaches out and takes you captive too, partly due to the first person narration (Which only works in really good books!) Another way you can see who is important to Billy is the frequency of their mentions. Grandpa was his hero, his Papa and Mama were very much loved, and his sisters... well he loved them very much too, but they never even got names! I honestly didn't know his Grandma was even alive until 75% into the book. Yes, Dan and Ann are the center of Billy's universe.

3: Can we say classic coming of age story? Typical, and non-typical at the same time. I do believe its difficulty to classify is one of the things that makes this a classic. It's good for all ages. Can we also compare this book to The Yearling and Ol' Yeller?

4: Okay, so since I can see that I've been rambling without maybe reviewing, I should say something that sounds good..... The characters were believable and realistic (I had a hard time thinking of this book as fiction), the setting was perfect.... I used a Sharpie a little bit (since I was fixing it for our Junior Highers) but it wasn't really a lot, and half of them had two meanings (I just didn't trust the JH'ers to pick the right one!) There was a great amount of God answering Billy's prayers in so many miraculous ways.

5: Apparently I haven't seen the movie (I had thought I had but if I did it was ages ago) so I was pretty shocked near the end there. And at the same time not. It definitely had one of those nostalgic endings (Like I was saying in point 1)

To put it simply.... I picked it up and had to struggle with myself anytime life actually forced me to put it down. I'm so glad I read it. (People have been recommending it for years. I guess I just needed a copy shoved in my hands. Thanks Mrs. G!)