Thursday, May 14, 2015

Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour: A Love Like Ours

Here's a description of the book:

"Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?"

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

Combine a childhood friendship, a bubbly heroine with a deep love of art and animals, a solemn hero with a gentle little boy living inside, a stubborn horse with plenty of racing potential, and a delightful cast of secondary characters. What do you get? A whole lotta sweet!

Younger brother Jake Porter stars in this third book of the Porter Family series. He has his work cut out for him when a lovely and lively vision from his past returns to Texas, especially when he harbors hurt from the way their friendship ended and the terrible blows life has given him in the meantime.

Lyndie is a very fun heroine, and I adore the way she's portrayed with her wide variety of interests and her enthusiasm for the people and projects she cares about.

Jake...well, just as he's a very conflicted character, he creates some conflicted feelings in me as the reader. Wade's books often feature troubled heroes, which can be engaging, but can also become bothersome when their love borders on the obsessive/obsessively protective side. I wouldn't say this character trait bothered me as much as it did in My Stubborn Heart. There's a lot going on with Jake's personality and the hardships he's experienced, and that's certainly understandable. But the way the relationship is portrayed in some respects is just something that gives me pause. I will say, though, that faith is a vital part of the story, as well as hope - which I'm glad to note.

The other characters really round out the story. I love Amber's journey of seeking love. (What can I say?) And Ty and Celia's cameos... Gosh, they're just so cute! Meant to Be Mine remains my absolute favorite of the series. But I believe A Love Like Ours comes in second, which is not a bad place to be in such a beloved and well-acclaimed contemporary romance series.

I'm definitely curious about the youngest Porter sibling, Dru. Bring on her story! I'm ready for some more Texas charm.

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity blog tour.*

About the Author

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market, took time off to raise her children, then felt God nudging her to pursue contemporary Christian fiction. Becky’s work has been a finalist for both a RITA and an INSPY Award.

To Learn More and Find Links to Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour: Check out the review from other blog tour participants HERE.

Giveaway!

Fall in love with Becky Wade's new book, A Love Like Ours, a story of healing, romance, and cowboys. A glimmer of the hope Jake thought he’d lost returns when Lyndie lands back in Texas, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

To celebrate the release of her new book, Becky is giving away a $100 cash card and a book-inspired prize pack!

lovelikeours-400 
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 cash card
  • A copy of A Love Like Ours
  • A copy of the Secretariat DVD
  • A scarf
  • A dog-tag/cross keychain
  • A pair of earrings
  • A Texas-shaped cutting board
  • A Jake Porter mug
love like ours - prize pack 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 26th. Winner will be announced May 27th on Becky's site.

lovelikeours-enterbanner

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spine Poetry Strikes Again

I've posted some spine poetry before, and oh, how I love it! Bringing together some gorgeous and mysterious titles and creating a running theme...so fun!

So when I saw that some fabulous authors were hosting a Spine Poetry Book Blitz, I had to get in on the action. :) Here are 5 poems I came up with for the occasion:


To love and to cherish
a beauty so rare
across a star-swept sea,
under a Maui moon:
a distant melody
here to stay.


The lesson:
Look to the East.
My hope is found
all in good time.


A love undone,
nipped in the bud.
Emerald green
pandemonium,
burning sky
under a blackberry moon...
The price of victory.


Heiress - 
mark of distinction.
Her mother's hope:
love's fortune,
the heir,
sons of encouragement,
love at any cost.


Cruel beauty.
Poison
resistance.
Recalled
yesterday's tomorrow,
love's promises
meant to be mine...
Forget me not.

* * *

Do you have any spine poetry to share? There are only a few days left to enter the awesome contest! Prizes include books by Pepper Basham, Kristy Cambron, Carla Laureano, Beth K. Vogt, and Catherine West. And there's an extra giveaway with additional prizes! Click HERE to learn more. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Discover Your Dream Hero! (A Fun Personality Quiz)

I had a lot of fun creating a personality quiz (via Pollsnack) for my historical romances (Which Heart's Spring Heroine Are You?). So I decided to create another quiz! This time it's for my author friend Lena Goldfinch's YA books, and it features the heroes instead of the heroines.

Now, tell me, how could you not want to know who your dream hero is?? ;)


Here are the possibilities...
Let me tell you, ALL of these heroes are dreamy! But which one is the perfect match for you? Take the test to find out!



It's hard to take these tests unbiased when you've created them and know which answer corresponds with which character... But I believe my dream hero is Nick. :) (Although, from a reader standpoint, I do so love Pono and Rundan, too!)

Who's your dream hero? 

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Review of The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

About the Book

Swan Lake meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region’s most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the forester.

Jorgen is the forester for the wealthy margrave, and must find and capture the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game.

Odette justifies her crime of poaching because she thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. But will the discovery of a local poaching ring reveal a terrible secret? Has the meat she thought she was providing for the poor actually been sold on the black market, profiting no one except the ring of black market sellers?

The one person Odette knows can help her could also find out her own secret and turn her over to the margrave, but she has no choice. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the dangerous poaching ring . . . and fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his forester is protecting a notorious poacher?


My Rating

Spring

My Review

A "fairy tale" mash-up is a recipe for a fun read - and it's always enjoyable to see what Melanie Dickerson does with familiar tales by adding a different historical twist and a new dose of drama. In this "Swan Lake meet Robin Hood" story, Odette is both the character who changes at night (into a huntress instead of a swan) and the one who takes from the rich to feed the poor.

To be honest, I wasn't super impressed at first with the characters or the story in general. It seemed a little two-dimensional in some respects. Perhaps a bit formulaic with the whole "handsome man meets beautiful maiden and falls in love" sort of thing. (Which is to be expected with the premise, granted!)

Then came some twists with the black market investigation, adding a little more intrigue and a bit deeper characterization. Jorgen seems to come into his own as the story progresses, and while Odette is rather naive and single-minded when it comes to her hunting and its ramifications, she's still likable enough to hold the reader's attention and affection.

Things get even more interesting toward the end, making The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest an engaging read, overall, and another sweet and enjoyable retelling by Dickerson that honors honesty and generosity.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.*

Note: This book releases May 12, 2015.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"It's the Simple Things"

There's a song at the beginning of one of the short Mickey Mouse cartoons from the 1950s ("The Simple Things") with a line that goes like this...

It's the simple things that give my heart its wings.

The past few weeks haven't been the easiest, with the gravity of life pulling down and the winds of heartache blowing through the days, but my heart has been given wings by some of the sweetest and simplest things.

Seeing the room where my grandpa stayed during his last week on earth. 

He had a beautiful view outside his window, reminiscent of his own home, and beautiful care from both my mother and uncle's steadfast company and the kind hospice and care-home workers who made him as comfortable as they could. The way everyone fought for my grandpa - to give him the best possible treatment and going-home experience - touches my heart.

Watching my grandpa's memorial service come together. 

His heart of service, his kindness to others, his big smile for all, his devotion to his one true love and his family, and the faith that meant everything to him - it all was so evident in every part of our celebration of his life.

African violets and a lovely evening on the coast. 

My coworkers in marketing got together and had a basket of beautiful African violets sent to me at work after they heard about my grandpa passing away. I was incredibly blessed by their thoughtfulness and care.

As for the book pictured here, I returned home by way of the coast and enjoyed a delicious dinner and some shopping in Florence's (Oregon) Old Town. One of the items I picked up  in a cute little shop was this "Reading Journal for Book Lovers."

Returning to the red-carpet treatment. 

One coffee break, for some random reason, my coworkers and I discussed how I should have a red carpet leading to my cubicle, curtains around the opening, a body guard, white tiger, and whatnot. (The imaginings got a little carried away. :)) 

When I returned to work after my long weekend away, I discovered a "red carpet" leading to my cubicle, a tree creating some ambiance, and a "white tiger" gracing my chair. (Not to mention the fact that my cubicle had been "magnet-bombed" and the books and knick-knacks playfully disorganized...but the bag of chocolate made up for that!)

* * *

You can't help but feel loved with a red carpet and chocolates - and a new nickname like "White Tiger."

And your heart can't help but fly when God showers you with love through things like...
  • unexpected messages from blogging friends saying they felt prompted to pray for you,
  • flowers and cards from coworkers who are true friends beyond the office,
  • dinners and conversations and moments with family that help bring healing, and
  • a million other simple things from movie-watching to agate-hunting, texts and phone calls, solitary drives and the power of fond memories.
These things aren't really that small - and certainly their impact is far from simple. Listing them here, remembering all the ways God has provided for me and my family in just these past few weeks, is eye-opening. 

My heart has wings, indeed.
He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lᴏʀᴅ is gracious and full of compassion. ~ Psalm 111:4

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: A Dream Not Imagined

Another Cinderella novella will be making its debut soon! This one is by my sweet blogging friend Shantelle. What's more, this book will also be Shantelle's debut into the world of indie publishing. I'm excited to see her make this important step in her writing career - and in glass slippers, no less! :) Read on to learn more about A Dream Not Imagined, the author, and the cover illustrator...

About the Book

A MAID, a PRINCE, and a DUKE. A GARDENER, a STEPMOTHER, and a secret... 

Ellie Abbington, a beautiful yet unassuming young woman, quietly longs for her life to change. Too privileged to associate with the servants—too underprivileged to associate with her own family—she dreams a dream of a prince and a happily ever after.

But it could be that her own stepsisters, conniving Dezmarie and easily-influenced Adelaide, are dreaming the same dream...of the same prince.

In the end, are dreams even all they're made out to be? Especially with deep and long-hidden secrets about to be unearthed?

A Dream Not Imagined is a non-magical fairytale novella based loosely on the classic tale of Cinderella.

Tentative Release Date: June 2015


And here's the full cover...


My Thoughts

A lovely, iconic scene that sets the fairy-tale tone well! The backdrop is simple, making Cinderella with her pretty blue gown and golden ringlets stand out all the more. I love the golden glow from the lamp - like a shimmer of hope that Cinderella can't help but turn her face toward. And I believe the fonts work well with the design and with each other. All in all, it's sweet and traditional with a bit of flair to make it shine. :)


About the Author

Shantelle Mary Hannu was born in the mountainous west, spending her golden childhood years there. Since then, she has relocated time and again with her parents and seven siblings, making cherished memories in both the South and Central United States.

A Christian homeschool graduate, Shantelle has a passion for writing and all things books. From a young age she’s been penning tales with a hope of sharing with the world adventurous and soul-stirring stories that bring glory to God.

A Dream Not Imagined, a fairytale novella, will be her first published book. She’s currently preparing a full-length fantasy novel for publication as well, and working on its sequel.

Shantelle blogs at A Writer’s Heart about her stories, favorite books and movies (with reviews), healthy wheat-free recipes, and hosts fellow authors, among other things. One of her joys is connecting with fellow writers and readers! You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Twitter.

About the Illustrator

Natasha H. is an aspiring photographer and also loves drawing and painting. A Dream Not Imagined is the first book she has drawn the cover picture for. Learn more about her work at her blog, Through My Lens.

Find links to the other cover reveal participants HERE!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Review of The Captive Imposter








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Here's a description of the book:

"Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she’d always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn’t like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can’t refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can’t deny the pull that’s evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she’s been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she’s with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she’s Estella Everstone? She’s not entirely sure."


My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

Wealthy and withdrawn Estella Everstone is in hiding, but her new role as companion to Mrs. Granton brings her back to one of her father's hotels. At Everston, her past, present, and future meet on a vacation that's low on relaxation - and high on drama, mystery, and romance.

With a title including the word "captive," and given the nature of the endings of the first two books in the series, I perhaps hoped for a bit more emphasis on the general suspense element. Since there was a lingering threat from Book 2 (The Bound Heart), it felt like this concluding installment of the trilogy should have been a tad more epic and drawn out in that way.

However, I was quite satisfied with the romantic suspense/tension, and I believe I enjoyed this romance the most out of the three! Lots of emphasis is placed on the time spent between the hero and heroine, Dexter and Estella, resulting in many exciting and tender scenes with a unique, not-quite-Gothic flavor. I loved the resort setting that served as the wild and grand backdrop for the romance. I also appreciated that the faith element felt stronger in this book, with a couple of sermons in the woods to highlight the beliefs and growth of the characters.

The Captive Imposter came across as almost more of a stand-alone with the seclusion of the main characters and setting, making it a little easier to follow compared to the other books in the series. The Everstone Chronicles as a whole is a lovely and intriguing collection, and while I felt the climax could have been stronger in this last book, I think the story flowed best, even if the characters still made me frustrated at times... But I guess it wouldn't be as much fun otherwise! :) Another great historical romance from Dawn Crandall!

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a Kindle copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*










Check out my reviews of The Hesitant Heiress and The Bound Heart, Books 1 and 2 in the series!