Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat? - The Kindle Grab Bag

Forget candy you can eat! (OK, it's really not that easy to forget...) A book lover's delight is cover candy! And there's just so much of it floating around in cyberspace - so how do you know if the story will be sweet after you get past the cover?

Having received a Kindle for my birthday this past summer, I've taken a chance on some generally low-priced e-books that looked good (usually after checking the ratings and/or friends' reviews). Today I'm going to share some of my discoveries, so help yourself to some cover candy and some recommendations:

Trick or Treat?
Definitely a treat - but beware! You won't be able to read just one...

YA time-travel romance? Yes, please! This one sounded so cute, and it didn't disappoint! It's clean, it's fun, it's clever, and it has some surprising, thought-provoking insights. After reading Clockwise, I then quickly devoured Clockwiser (the sequel), which was also good, albeit not as enjoyable as the first one, in my opinion.

This author also has some new books releasing under another name (Lee Strauss) which are supposed to be more intense than her previous books. Having become a semi-fan of dystopian stories after reading The Hunger Games series and Divergent, I decided to buy this one:

Trick or Treat?
I don't know yet, but I'm eager to find out!

Trick or Treat?
Could be a treat, depending on your taste. 

Aliens? Not really my thing. But that cover and the premise (and that seasons theme!) really caught my eye, so after flip-flopping in my desire to buy it and then waiting a bit until it was free on Kindle, I decided to give it a try. It's rather dark, and it becomes even more so in Winter Omens, but it was certainly intriguing! 

Whispers in Autumn was pretty clean, and I found it to be an engaging, really creative read. It was enough to get me to buy this one:

Unfortunately, Winter Omens does have a swear word or two, as well as a scene of nudity (although nothing happens). And while there was some violence towards the end of the first book, the violence in this one was more intense. Depending on your comfort level, these things might or might not be overly bothersome.

However, the romantic tension combined with a great pet character and some creatively thought-provoking, futuristic scenes are definite pluses. There's a Matrix-y theme going on throughout the series regarding the importance of free will, and the choice between being "blissfully" ignorant of the complexities of reality or being aware of it all, despite the pain and the challenges awareness creates. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to continue with this series or not...

But I do have to share the third book's cover with you, as it was just revealed earlier this week!

Betrayals in Spring is set to release in December. I do so love the way the covers go together! And aren't the colors on this one so stunning??

 Trick or Treat?
A small treat, like one of those mini candy bars. 

This may not be a super long or super compelling read, but it's free and it's sweet! Since I agreed to review A Change of Fortune by this author (look for my review in November!), I decided to read this prequel novella. Sometimes it's just really nice to have a quick read that doesn't require a big time investment but still has something to offer. If that's what you're looking for (or if you just want to have something like this on hand for those days when you have to wait in a long line, etc.), you might want to give this one a try!

Trick or Treat?
Definitely a treat!

I heard about this one on Kathryn's blog, Clean Teen Fiction. Her review was glowing and the price was right, so I took the plunge. I loved it!! It's "New Adult" (for 20-somethings, as opposed to "Young Adult"), and it is just such a fun, romantic read! The characters don't always make the right choices, but the way it all comes together is so great. This is an awesome read for those who enjoy contemporary romance - or at least think they could, depending on the book.

I bought a couple more Kindle books recently, so here's hoping that these two are treats:

Gotta love this cover candy! If you've read them, did you find them to be tricks or treats?

As of today (October 31st), here are the Kindle e-book prices for the books mentioned above:
What are some tricks or treats you've discovered when it comes to Kindle e-books? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Trick and a Treat: Cute Edition


For those of you who are tired of me posting cat pictures, I apologize! I just couldn't resist sharing this:

Yes, that's Muffin Man! 

I'm used to the silly cat climbing under my bedspread and taking a nap. But usually he does so after I've already made the bed.... Of course, one morning, not that long ago, when I didn't make my bed right away, he curled up in the blankets. Imagine my surprise when I went to make my bed, found it difficult to tug the sheets into place, and then promptly discovered a warm lump hidden in the covers! 

Tricky cat! But still, he's adorable...


Now, this treat is a little bit early in several ways - it came one day earlier than the estimated shipping date (hooray,!), and it came before Halloween (it's Christmas-themed)!

Love's Christmas Journey - finally on DVD!!

If you missed my review, you can read it HERE. It's been a year since this aired on TV, and after all the wondering and waiting, it is finally available to own on DVD! Looking forward to watching this cute Christmas addition to the Love Comes Softly series once again - minus the commercials! Definitely a treat for fans of the movie series. =)

For Halloween I hope to put together another "tricks and treats" post featuring my Kindle-book discoveries! Until then, do you have any fun "tricks" or "treats" you've received lately?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Review of A Light in the Window

Here's a description of the book:

"One Woman. Two Men.
One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.
But who will win her heart?

Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues.
But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her,
attraction, dreams and faith only muddle her mind.
Can the light in the window illuminate the path of true love?"

My Rating

My Review

A Light in the Window may be a bit "lighter" than the books in Julie Lessman's first two series ("Daughters of Boston" and "Winds of Change"), in the sense that it's a shorter read than her other stories and a tad less epic in scope, but it's a prequel not to be underestimated! For those who have never read any of Lessman's books, this one would be a great place to start, as the focus is only on one couple's journey to marriage - the catalyst for all six books in the aforementioned series. And for those who have read some or (especially) all of Lessman's books, this one is no less dramatic for knowing how it all ends. In fact, it's perhaps more moving to know the heartaches and grand blessings in store for Marceline and the man she marries.

Now, for a story about two rogues trying to win one faithful woman's heart, this has all the angst and emotion - as well as the not-so-smart choices - you'd expect. There is a great message about not judging others, but also being wise about whom you give your heart to; although I must say that I would like to have given Marcy the advice passed down to many a young woman: "Don't enter into a romantic relationship expecting to change the other person!" *sigh*

As for the seasonal aspect of this story, the play/fundraiser that Marcy and her best friend, Julie (I love that!), put together maintains the subtle Christmas theme throughout the pages. And all of the steps leading up to the production of the play (with the same title as the book) are conveyed in such a sweet, relatable, and big-hearted way with the help of some great secondary characters. So there's enough of the Christmas mood to provide a seasonal reading treat should you be looking for such. But really, the story goes about a half of a year's time, and the emphasis is on the tradition and symbolism of leaving a candle in the window, not so much on Christmas festivities - so this can be enjoyed any time of the year.

A Light in the Window is such a great read to bring Lessman's previous books together and provide a segue into new stories and characters in upcoming releases! It's more focused than many of her other books with its one love triangle and its consistent theme. And it can serve as a great introduction to Lessman's works - or a touching way to round out one's time with the O'Connor family.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

To Pre-Order the Book on Kindle: click HERE (releases November 9, 2012)

 Click the image above to go to the contest page on Julie's website. Contest ends December 31, 2012.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: My Review of A Promise to Love

Here's a description of the book from Revell:

"Can a marriage of convenience ever become one of true love?

Ingrid Larsen arrives in Michigan in 1871 with little more than the clothes on her back and a determination to find her brother, who has disappeared into the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, the young Swedish immigrant crosses paths with Joshua Hunter, a newly widowed farmer with eyes the color of the ocean she had crossed and five rambunctious children to raise on his own.

Marriage would solve both of their problems, and Ingrid finds herself proposing in broken English to a man she barely knows. Many difficulties lie ahead--but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband."

My Rating


My Review

A Promise to Love drives home the point that Miller's books are not only unique compared to other novels in their genres, but also quite different from one another. There are several appearances of characters from The Measure of Katie Calloway in this story - which is a neat treat for fans - along with a "similar" climax in both plots, but the general feel of this story and the characters' issues make the reading experience quite different, indeed.

Ingrid is a woman who may seem easy to cast aside or underestimate with her broken English and her uncertainty regarding "American" ways. But boy, does she quickly throw out any false notions of that kind! She's a strong character who works hard, stands strong against injustice, exercises flexibility in her thinking and actions, and loves fiercely. Pair her with a gentle man who is falsely accused, still in love with the ideal he perceived in his first wife, and desperate for someone who can set his house to order and feed his family - and you've got a situation full of possibilities for misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and...maybe...eventually...growth in character and in heart.

The flow of the story goes along the lines of Love Comes Softly, with a lot of emotional obstacles for all people involved (including the couple, the children, and the former in-laws) to deal with and plenty of farm-life difficulties to challenge the characters. However, the unique characters - especially the heroine - and the added suspense regarding the death of Joshua's first wife (and the powerful climax) help Miller's story stand on its own.

My personal preference as far as setting and plot goes is The Measure of Katie Calloway - I loved the central focus on the logging industry. But A Promise to Love also proved to be a great read, showing that Miller's books continue to shine with wonderful writing and creative characters.

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

“Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

You can also read my reviews of Miller's previous releases: Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, The Measure of Katie Calloway, and An Uncommon Grace.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Walk Through the Corn Maze

A corn maze can offer a quintessential autumn experience:

A unique look at the beauty and bounty of the harvest; 

The sharp and sudden call of crows, and the lonesome silence that follows; 

A calm solitude filled with wonder and whispers;

The pleasure of finding your way after numerous dead ends and wrong turns.

Of course, if the corn maze is a busy, crowded one, then the experience is more likely to be one of screams and laughter and chaos and racing. If a corn maze is filled with people and festive signs and decorations, it's certainly a fun fall outing!

But for those times when the people are few and the hushed autumn air hovers over the field, the experience is a melancholy delight. There's just something about this season with its combination of harvest joys and winter forebodings... It seems to be a thoughtful time of year when some things must be gathered in and others must be let go. 

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven....
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted....
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away."
 ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b,6 ~

I do so enjoy a walk through the corn maze with friends and/or family! This year my mom, sister, and I went at a quieter time when there were only a handful of people in the maze, and I enjoyed taking a few pictures of the scenery. =)

One more thing: In case you were wondering, we tested out a probably well-known (?) theory I've tested before, and we met with success (as I did another time). *Potential Experience Spoiler* Just keep your left hand going along the left "wall" of the maze, and you won't have to worry about getting lost! Of course, you'll go through plenty of dead ends since you'll be following the inner perimeter of the maze, but you won't visit the same dead ends over and over again. I guess it all depends on whether you want to take the reliable scenic route or experience the fun of being lost! *End of Potential Spoiler*

So, do you like walking through a corn maze? What other autumn activities do you enjoy?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour: You Don't Know Me

Here's a description of the book:

"Sometimes the secrets we keep to protect ourselves can be our undoing.

To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.

Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?"

My Rating


My Review

For those who have already fallen in love with Deep Haven and the characters that populate the place, You Don't Know Me is a wonderful addition to the series as it meets expectations for a story of heartfelt character and characters with heart. Of the three I've read, this one follows more along the lines of The Shadow of Your Smile rather than My Foolish Heart - it has a similar suspense and similar themes regarding falling in love again, forgiving, and truly desiring to know and understand another. (If you have yet to experience Deep Haven, any of the these three books can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.)

You Don't Know Me is part contemporary romance, part romantic suspense - but mostly it's a character(s) study, getting into various characters' thoughts and showing why they act the way they do and why they are all in need of grace and love. Warren does a fantastic job of creating flawed characters whom the reader can care about and sympathize with. And it's not just about one couple - it's about multiple couples and family members and friends, showing how much we need others and how much our choices affect others. (I was especially intrigued by one of the younger secondary characters in this story. It's easy for many of the other characters to judge him, but I love the glimpse we get into his heart.)

This particular story is well-crafted, well-rounded, and boasts its own great cast of characters. The storyline is certainly unique, although some of the elements I perceived to be similar to The Shadow of Your Smile - along with the rather slow and somber progression of events and the drawn out, painful revelations - kept it from being a favorite of mine. But in my growing list of experiences with Warren's books, I've discovered that if you enjoy meaningful and romantic stories with fabulous characters, it doesn't appear that you can go wrong with one of hers!

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

About the Author

"Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning novelist of over thirty novels. A five-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!

Find out more about Susan May at"

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all of the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE.


Welcome to the campaign launch for Susan May Warren’s latest offering in her beloved Deep Haven series, You Don’t Know Me. Susan is celebrating with a $200 Weekend Getaway Giveaway and hosting a fun video Author Chat Party!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one and “Get to Know” your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "You Don’t Know Me” Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/23. Connect with Susan for an evening of book chat, Deep Haven trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be info about Susan’s BookShout read-along and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of You Don’t Know Me and join Susan on the evening of the October 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

*Note: The Facebook Party/Video Chat has been rescheduled for 12/12/12.*

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Review of Against the Tide (CFBA Blog Tour)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Against the Tide
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Camden


A Word from Elizabeth:

I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.

I married relatively late in life, which turned out to be an odd kind of blessing. I had gotten very good at leading a solo life, and although I was not particularly content being alone, I had become reconciled to it. Most importantly, it taught me never to take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet.

As for who I am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.


Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Against the Tide, go HERE.




Deep, dark, and captivating. I started this book one evening and finished it a while later in the early morning hours - not because it is a quick read, but because it completely swept me away with its descriptions and its flawed, amazing characters. Camden has a wonderful talent, and her writing continues to get more and more remarkable with each new book!  

Against the Tide begins with Lydia, giving a sketch of her fascinating but tragic background and then diving into her life as a confident and intelligent adult with a unique career. Some of her quirks ring true for me, and I love her character for her strength and her all-too-real weaknesses.

Camden throws challenge after challenge Lydia's way throughout the story, and it's so horribly sad to witness what she goes through. But oh! The empathy!! What a beautiful thing to be able to feel a character's pain so much that it causes tears and gut-wrenching empathy! It is not an easy journey for Lydia - especially towards the end - but it is a meaningful one with hope and newfound purpose (with a nod to Bane's character - his deep devotion and passion). To be able to feel her emotions so deeply understand how hard it was for Lydia to make the right choices and to accept love while in such a difficult, humble was a powerful reading experience.

Perhaps not everyone will connect with Lydia's character the way I did, but I really think that Camden does a marvelous job of getting into her characters' minds and hearts and helping the reader to do so, too. And while I was most impacted by Lydia's emotional struggles, this story also has plenty of intrigue and suspense, along with a romance that is thrilling, tender, and thought-provoking. There is a lot to love and a lot to ponder with this story!

If you enjoy a well-written historical romance that is flooded with mystery and drama, Against the Tide is a great read. But if you're like me, take note: you might just find that the emotion comes up like a sneaker wave and engulfs you.

*With thanks to the publisher through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Tour: A Merry Little Christmas

Here's a description of the book:

"Fall in love with this cozy story about two people from different worlds.

Franny Martin is an Oklahoma farm girl who's preparing to spend the holidays alone...again. Then Charlie Landau shows up one day, all wealth and polish, and offers to buy Franny's farm. Franny has no money to speak of, but she is clever and spirited, and she's more than happy to sell the farm and move to the city.

As Sinatra croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon her charming farm, Franny teaches Charlie the curious and sometimes comical ways of country life. In the process, they unearth some discoveries of the heart-that sometimes love comes when you're least ready for it. Will the holidays bring their most impossible dreams within reach?"

My Rating


My Review

The synopsis of A Merry Little Christmas suggests that this is a simple falling-in-love story. And it certainly is a sweet romance! But what the synopsis doesn't convey are the twists and turns this story takes and the emphasis it places on the era in which it is set (the early 1960s). While the story started out as I suppose I expected it to, it quickly brought in some elements that surprised and intrigued me, including difficult family dynamics, the death and birth of dreams, the horror of racism, the clash of the social classes, and the shifting perspective on women.

Tucked between the historical and contemporary genres, this book shows how much society has changed in a relatively short time, while also showing some of the roots of modern American society - both the positive and the drastic. I appreciate its uniqueness and its occasional bold and confident tackling of big issues while still maintaining a "simple" charm.

There's a lot going on in this story, and one transition near the beginning caught me off-guard with its suddenness and didn't seem to flow very well, although it served as my wake-up call that more was going to happen than the synopsis suggested. Also, some of the confessions toward the end felt somewhat forced and inauthentic to me. But if you like a Christmas story that has problems resolved and tied up in a big red bow, this book pulls it off nicely.

A Merry Little Christmas begins with two people who are instantly drawn to each other and are given the opportunity to explore their new feelings...but it continues on with challenges and hardships and little surprises (both painful and precious) that draw Franny and Charlie out - out of the past and outward in their thinking and experiences. It begins with lots of clever lines and humor, and continues on ever deeper into more serious issues. But it also begins with a sweet love story and continues on with a sweet love story. An interesting and intriguing Christmas romance!

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

Cover Note: I was so wonderfully surprised when I received this book in the mail and discovered that it is a gorgeous little hardcover book! It's simple but rather elegant, and the size combined with the feel of the pages give it a "gift book" look. A pretty present idea!

About the Author

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Find out more about Anita at

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all of the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE.


Author Anita Higman invites readers to kick off the season with a spirited holiday tale.

Anita is spreading the Christmas cheer by giving away FIFTEEN COPIES of the book.

To enter to win A Merry Little Christmas, just head over to THE CONTEST PAGE at Anita's website and fill out the short form. Be sure to put BLOG CONTEST in the Subject Line. That's it.

Winners will be announced on the Litfuse blog (and notified by email) on 11/9.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Review of Still Life in Shadows (CFBA Tour)

Click HERE to read the book description and learn more about the author!

My Rating


My Review

With this book, Wisler has a new publisher, a new genre, a new story, a new point-of-view...but the same gentle writing style that slowly engages while constantly offering powerful emotional insights.

Due to the popularity of Amish novels and their celebration of the "simple" Amish culture, a book like this - where the hero is a man who helps others leave their Amish roots and embrace the Englisher lifestyle - is bound to intrigue. But Still Life in Shadows is more the story of one man trying to figure out how to reconcile his past and his present (and one girl whose daily struggles alternately annoy him and inspire him) than it is a story out to bash the Amish. While it certainly raises some questions about the rigidity of the Ordnung and the possibly unyielding ways of some of the Amish people, Wisler's story pretty well avoids generalizing and instead boils everything down to the personal - the grief and difficulties the characters struggle with in their own unique situations.

So if you're looking for a fast-paced, anti-Amish book, this probably isn't the one for you. And if you're a fan of Wisler's romance novels, be aware that, while there is some sweet romance tucked away in these pages, the focus is on the two people whose thoughts we are privy to: Gideon, and an autistic girl named Kiki. This book isn't really about the exciting plot twists, but rather about the journeys of Gideon and Kiki and the people that love them.

Still Life in Shadows offers a tender - but not sugar-coated - look at the sorrows of life, the choices that we make, and the hope and growth that can be found in unexpected places, at unexpected times, and in unexpected ways. Love-affirming and life-affirming!

*With thanks to the publisher through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Friday, October 12, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: A Love Surrendered

Here's a description of the book from Revell:

"Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?

With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns, A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman's many fans have been waiting for." 

My Rating


My Review

Oh, drama... It certainly makes for some entertaining reading, especially when captured by the pen of Julie Lessman! There's plenty of drama in this last book of the "Winds of Change" series: a young woman wanting desperately to be seen as "grown-up," a young man held back by his past as he tries to prove himself to be a "good boy," and plenty of secondary characters (whom Lessman fans have come to love) trying to keep their marriages intact. 

A Love Surrendered is "edgy," especially as it showcases the lingering Prohibition issues of the early 1930s. Be aware that there are some alcohol references and some strong romance (not explicit, but kind of heavy). (While nothing new to those who have already read Lessman's books, this is mostly a heads-up to those just learning about her work.)

I really enjoyed this concluding installment to the O'Connor saga - more than the previous installment, and perhaps more than a couple of other books in the two series, although my favorite remains that book that started it all, A Passion Most Pure. As far as bringing everything together, it's definitely satisfying, and I think long-time Lessman fans will find this just right, if a bit bittersweet. Reading this one out of order or on its own might not elicit the same reaction, though, simply because those feel-good feelings depend on a connection with all of the characters and a longing to see them happy, regardless of whether things seem "too tidy."

After immersing myself in the lives of the O'Connors multiple times throughout the last few years, I do confess that sometimes the issues and the emotions feel rather repetitive. But Lessman's ability to write long, yet somehow still engaging scenes and her talent for creating characters the reader can care about are admirable. A Love Surrendered is a great ending to two series about a wonderful family, with its own main story that happily dragged me in and held my interest.

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

“Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Wildcats

Nope, I'm not talking about a sports team. I'm talking about these cuties who charm me with their "wild," adorable ways...

Is there anything more fierce than a tabby cat who hides in the bushes? (He even lets out a deep "meow" to let you know you're approaching one of his favorite napping spots!)

Oh my goodness! What could be more terrifying than two crazy cats?? (Can you guess which one is the real one? They're practically twins!)

There goes Mr. Murphy, high-steppin' and confident!

And look at Muffin Man embracing nature and blending into the scenery! (It may be a fake plant, but an indoor wildcat has to make do with what he's got, ya know?)

OK, seriously, they'd like you to think they're ferocious, but they're just too cute! (Well, Muffin Man actually is rather ferocious...)

Mr. Murphy lives as an outdoor cat at my grandparents' house and Muffin Man lives as an indoor cat here at my parents' house. And my old Dorm Cat pillow has a nice spot in my room, even though he doesn't have the luxury of a window view anymore. ;)

Just thought I would share the cat love today, seeing as how I had some fun pictures on my camera. Hope they make you smile - these boys sure brighten my days! (Or at least make them more interesting...)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Tour: The Trouble with Cowboys

Here's a description of the book:

"Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.

Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.

The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs."

My Rating


My Review

The Trouble with Cowboys is a romance story that resonated with me. Not only was it a lot of fun being plopped into Moose Creek with its country charm - and witnessing the charm of a certain cowboy as he played the the part of a gentleman, while still being a bit (?!) of a flirt - but it was also wonderful to encounter a depth to the story that hits strong at the end.

Annie and Dylan are too cute together! There are plenty of sweet scenes to satisfy the romantic heart. (Although I must confess that I find a boy flirting with a girl who already has a boyfriend much "cuter" and more "romantic" in a book than I probably would in real life.) In return for some romantic advice from Dylan for her new column in a magazine, Annie helps Braveheart, Dylan's horse, to try to cope with blindness... But in the meantime Annie and Dylan each have their own "blindness" that requires a "brave heart" to persevere through while learning to "see" in new ways. It's an enjoyable journey for the reader - but not without its serious struggles regarding misunderstandings, prejudice, and learning to let go.

The family angle is easy to relate to, and I found the message about trusting in God to be presented in a moving and inspiring way. The Trouble with Cowboys is just what I look for in Christian contemporary romance - an engaging romance, an interesting setting, great secondary characters, and a faith lesson (or two) that I can take to heart.

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

About the Author

"Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! Find out more about Denise at"

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE.

To celebrate the release of The Trouble with Cowboys Denise is hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. She'll connect with readers and give away some amazing prizes - including a Kindle Fire! 

Save the Date for October 11th!

Grab your copy of Denise Hunter's latest book and join her for an Author Chat Party on October 11th at 8:00 PM EST (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)! Haven't read The Trouble with Cowboys yet? That's okay, don't let that stop you from coming to the party! (You may win a copy!)

During the evening she’ll be sharing the story behind the book, posting discussion questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways – books, gift certificates and – a Kindle Fire! She’ll also be giving you a sneak peek of her next book too!

RSVP today and then come back on the 11th … and bring your friends!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Fan Fiction Piece

This past summer, Anne Elisabeth Stengl (the author of the "Tales of Goldstone Wood" series) hosted a fan fiction contest, and I decided to enter a few days before the deadline. A dream I had about a school-type place with gardens inspired me to write "The Giving of the Flowers," a twist on Una's childhood (she's the main character in Heartless, the first book in the series).

Now, if you haven't read Heartless, this piece might give a little bit away...and it might not make as much sense. However, if you're a fan of the series (or just curious), you can read my entry here:

I didn't win or anything, but I'm really glad I entered so that it pushed me to write this piece and to try writing something different. =) I hope that it might encourage you or make you smile if you read it!

And if you're interested in reading more entries from this contest, Anne is posting one each Monday and Wednesday on her blog until all of them have been shared. Here are the links for the winners: 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place. Lots of wonderful pieces! I'm very grateful God gives us stories through which to bless one another!

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Review of No Safe Harbor

Here's a description of the book from Bethany House:

"New York City, 1897

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger.

Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.

She's then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother--but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.

With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke... a man she's grown to love?"

My Rating


My Review

Ludwig pulls off this combination of "historical romance" and "romantic suspense" genres well with an atmospheric story that pulls you into the dark, stormy streets of New York, a boarding house harboring secrets and emotional battles waiting to happen, and in and out of alleyways and warehouses and secret meetings. The suspense is well-crafted, and the danger and high emotion involved add up to some great romantic tension. All of the different perspectives and the continuously raised stakes make this quite the intriguing read.

I confess that the back story - a crucial piece of the puzzle and the answer to the question of motives (for most of the characters) - never fully came together for me. Perhaps it was all those different perspectives... Perhaps it was that I read through it too fast without taking the time to really connect all the pieces in my mind. Whatever the reason, I personally was confused by what exactly happened (and why it happened) during that fateful event that led to all of these misunderstandings and bad feelings - and how each character was connected to each other.

I was also left a little unsatisfied with some "loose threads" (at least to my thinking) left in the end. Some things could be left for the continuation of the series, if each book builds on the next...or not. I guess that remains to be seen! The ending is still quite satisfactory, just not completely "finished" in its explanations as I saw it.

All of that being said, this really is an enjoyable story, especially if you like unique romantic suspense. The setting is just right for such a story - plenty of twists and turns in the city and in the plot. From Cara's first glimpse of America, this is a story filled with uncertainty and mystery. The cover sets the mood well: be prepared for suspicion, foggy feelings, and a handsome man with lots to hide - as well as a light found in love that penetrates the darkness.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Beauty of Autumn

After three years of being away at college during this season, I finally got to attend the local Apple Harvest Festival again! Apple tasting, hay rides through the orchard, munching on an apple dumpling, listening to old-timey music, drinking tart (and utterly delicious) apple cider, and catching up with good friends - it was a great time!

My sister, me, and my mom on the hayride. =) 
(Yes, we like to match with our Snoopy shirts!)

A view of the orchard while on our hayride. 

Just look at those gorgeous apples!

Is there anything like enjoying good food and good conversation with good music playing in the background? 

There is so much to enjoy during the autumn - the harvest, the colors of the leaves, the weather that wavers between warm and cold. It's a season of beginnings and endings. 

Now is the time to gather in all the fruits of the field and the garden. 

Now is the time for the trees to let go of their old leaves and wait for the new to come. 

Now is the time for celebrating what has grown - and making room for change to occur.

Isn't it interesting how many people love fall? The leaves are dying, and nature is on its way to a season of bareness and cold. And yet there is so much beauty in the colors and even in the melancholy, thoughtful aura that surrounds everything. 

It's a wonderful reminder that in a season when things should seem bleak and depressing (and perhaps are at times), God provides beauty and bounty in many unexpected and enchanting ways. 

I hope you are enjoying the beauty of autumn!

(You can learn more about Clendenen's - the orchard we visited for the apple harvest festival - HERE. And when they say they have "the best cider you'll ever taste," they aren't kidding!)

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Tales of Goldstone Woods Continue!

There's a fantasy series that has moved me to tears and enchanted me with its characters and descriptions - and that would be the "Tales of Goldstone Woods" series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl! I'm very excited for the upcoming release of the fourth installment, Starflower (expect a review of the book in November!).

But I'm also very excited to share the cover and book description of the fifth installment, Dragonwitch, which is releasing next summer!

An Ancient Evil 

Long ago, Etanun buried his sword in the depths of the Netherworld then vanished from all known history. One day, it is said, his heir will find the sword, and the Dragonwitch, firstborn of the Dragon King, will be finally slain. 

A Desperate Hope 

These stories are no more than nursery rhymes. In a world of cold reality, what room is left for fairy tales? Lady Leta of Aiven is pledged to marry a man she does not love . . . sleepless Lord Alistair struggles to unite the stubborn earls of the North Country . . . Mouse is lost, far from home, slaving as a kitchen drudge . . . 

. . . and the reclusive Chronicler, keeping the records of Gaheris Castle, bears a secret so dangerous it could cost him his life and plunge the North Country into civil war. 

An Impossible Journey 

But when nursery rhymes begin to come horribly true, will these unlikely heroes find the strength they need to fulfill a prophecy of fire? For the Dragonwitch lives. And she has vowed vengeance on all who have wronged her. 


Coming Summer 2013
Tales of Goldstone Wood 
Timeless Fantasy that will keep you Spellbound! 


Isn't that quite the cover?? It's very different than the other books in the series (Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and the soon-to-be-released Starflower):

Those other covers are all gorgeous in their hues of blue and fascinating in their depictions of the heroines. (I can't wait to see the cover of Starflower in person!) 

This latest cover sets quite a different tone - much more intense as it draws the eyes upward along the length of the sword, following the trail of smoke rising, and emphasizing the gray, barred windows and the title of the character depicted, the Dragonwitch. No tranquil or even eerie blue here - just gray and fiery red. 

I'm intrigued to see if this very different cover indicates a very different type of story than the previous books in this series. But I'm sure it will be like the first four books in one thing, at least: great storytelling. Anne hasn't let me down yet in the first three installments!

If you're new to the series, I highly recommend reading all of the books in order. I think it's a much richer experience that way (and it probably is easiest to understand that way, too!).

 Which cover out of these five is your favorite? Which title is your favorite? Are you a fan of the series, too, or are you curious to give it a try? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcome, October!

I love fall, especially October! Apple harvest festivals, the corn maze, the pumpkin patch, sunny days and crispy leaves, tart and delicious apple cider, golden evenings and red trees ablaze - what a wonderful time of year! I'm especially blessed to be able to spend this season at home again after three years of being away at college. There's nothing like enjoying all the delights of fall with your family! I'm excited to dive into this month like diving into a pile of fiery leaves!

With book review upon book review taking up many of the posts on this blog, I thought it was time I jumped in and said "hello" to you all again. I hope you are enjoying the season so far! As you can see, even our couch is dressed up for fall with pumpkin pillows - my mom is so great about decorating for each holiday/season!

I'd love to hear what you like best about autumn and what you're looking forward to doing in the next month. I'm definitely excited about hopefully going to the Apple Harvest Festival next weekend, finding my way through a corn maze, attending a local Medieval Festival of Courage, and maybe more!

As for the coming month here on the blog, you can expect some more book reviews... There are a lot of great fall releases, so I hope you enjoy the reviews and don't mind that there are so many of them! But I do hope to add some other fall-ish posts into the mix, so we'll see what happens!

I'll leave you with a precious look from Muffin Man. He's too adorable to resist, but he isn't much for cuddling - so you can imagine that I get annoyed looks from him a lot...