Thursday, June 28, 2012

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop!

This hop is hosted by:
I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Mundie Moms

There are over TWO hundred blogs participating and each has their own entry rules and geographic limits, so be sure to read the rules for each one. This hop starts June 29th and and runs through July 5th, midnight.

You can win this!

Book Description:

For sisters Maggie and Jenny growing up in the Pacific mountains in the early 1970s, life felt nearly perfect. Seasons in their tiny rustic home were peppered with wilderness hikes, building shelters from pine boughs and telling stories by the fire with their doting father and beautiful, adventurous mother. But at night, Maggie—a born worrier—would count the freckles on her father’s weathered arms, listening for the peal of her mother’s laughter in the kitchen, and never stop praying to keep them all safe from harm. Then her worst fears come true: Not long after Maggie’s tenth birthday, their father is killed in a logging accident, and a few months later, their mother abruptly drops the girls at a neighbor’s house, promising to return. She never does.

Contest is open to anyone over 13 years old with a email address.
Contest ends on 7.5.12 Winner will be chosen by on 7.6.12
Winner will have 48 hours to respond to email or a new winner will be chosen.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Midwife's Legacy

One Journal Unites Four Generations An aged journal links the lives of four spirited women who battle outside elements, opposition, and all odds to aid new life in the world. Will the fight to find true love be just as hard?

Midwife and widow Adele Marley is content with an adopted daughter, a
Wisconsin farm, and her role in the community. Is there room in her life for smitten banker Jerome Jensen, a man used to getting what he wants? On the wagon-train trail to Oregon, Polly Schultz finds confidence, comfort, and guidance in her own skills by reading her mother’s journal. But can she overcome her rising temper and fear of abandonment long enough to establish a future with minister Gordon Baker?

Thanks to the wise words found in her ancestors’ journal, Christiana is secure in her role of midwife. But how will she convince Noah Cafferty, a journalist who decries women working outside the home, that she is capable of being both a wife and a midwife?

Kendra Silverstone’s confidence is shaken when a client loses a newborn. Will carpenter Steven Nichols and the discovery of a long-lost journal be enough to convince her of God’s will for her life? How will God work to make the dreams of these courageous women come true?

My thoughts...

This book follows a family of midwives through a journal handed down from generation to generation. They write their personal experiences and every birth they've assisted.

The first takes place in Wisconsin. Adele is a widow who has never given birth but she's raising her best friend's daughter. Adele is asked to assist the sister of a banker who intends to win her heart, Adele is hesitant because of the amount of bleeding this woman has with her births.

Next is the story of Polly who has been Adele's apprentice for years and is now on the Oregon trail. She has been hired to assist with the birth of a woman who is on the journey. Polly meets a young minister and it looks like a loveless marriage is going to happen after they both are captured by indians.

Polly's granddaughter, Christiana, is learning to be a midwife from her mother. During this time people are starting to look down on midwives. She's attracted to a young man but isn't sure if he feels the same way. He believes a woman's place is in the home and Christiana's desire is to be a midwife which means she will be away from home and duties often.

I enjoyed the book and give it 4 out of 5 stars. I received an ecopy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Meryl Streep Movie Club

Two sisters and the cousin they grew up with after a tragedy are summoned home to their family matriarch’s inn on the coast of Maine for a shocking announcement. Suddenly, Isabel, June, and Kat are sharing the attic bedroom—and barely speaking. But when innkeeper Lolly asks them to join her and the guests in the parlor for weekly Movie Night—it’s Meryl Streep month—they find themselves sharing secrets, talking long into the night . . . and questioning everything they thought they knew about life, love, and one another.

Each woman sees her complicated life reflected through the magic of cinema: Isabel’s husband is having an affair, and an old pact may keep her from what she wants most . . . June has promised her seven-year-old son that she will somehow find his father, who he’s never known . . . and Kat is ambivalent about accepting her lifelong best friend’s marriage pro­posal. Through everything, Lolly has always been there for them, and now Isabel, June, Kat—and Meryl—must be there for her. Finding themselves. Finding each other. Finding a happy ending.

My thoughts...

This is a book about two sisters, their cousin and aunt who run The Three Captains Inn. The four are not close and they only see each other a couple times a year except for cousin Kat and her mom, Lolly, who run the Inn.

Lolly is a huge fan of movies and selects different actors and/or themes throughout the year for her friends and guests to enjoy. This is Meryl Streep season. Each movie they see encourages the women to talk about their own problems, most of which are depicted in the movies.

Lolly is dying of pancreatic cancer and calls the sisters to the Inn so that she can make an announcement in person. The result is an entertaining read, mostly interesting. I found the storyline a bit slow at times. There is a lot of secrets and hurts that come out, healing comes as well. Good characters, several handsome men are waiting in the background while the women work things out.

One of the sisters, Isabel, learns her husband is having an affair and shortly after getting to the Inn gets involved with a guest. I don't feel she had time to heal from the breakup before jumping into a relationship.

June has a child by a man she fell in love with in an hour, spent two days with him before he disappears and she never hears from him again. When the child starts asking questions about his dad while working on a family tree June decides to search for him. She discovers she's been in love with another man for quite some time and just never realized it.

Kat accepts a marriage proposal from a long time friend, is attracted to an intern working at the hospital and learns a secret about her mother that gets her to thinking about what she really wants to do with her life.

Overall, a light summer read even though it deals with a lot of tough issues such as cancer, death, betrayal, etc. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour Stop for "Hope Springs" by Kim Cash Tate

In a small community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go. Publisher's Weekly had this to say about Hope Springs: In this engaging novel, Tate expertly crafts an intriguing narrative that explores unrequited love, true faith, and the complicated politics of change in the Christian church. There are many characters, as intimated by the two family trees that open the book, but a lot of plot comes packed with nearly all of them-sisters, cousins, and all.

My thoughts...

This is an uplifting, Christ-oriented book that deals with faith, love, and race. I loved the way the characters were focused on Jesus and following the plans He has for their lives. There are parts that had me stoppping to worship. There are a lot of characters and it was a little confusing at first to get to know them all but after a bit you do.

Grandma Geri's family are coming for Christmas but the unexpected death of their neighbor and good friend, Pastor Jim, brings them in early and even brings in more of the family than expected. There is a common bond between Geri's family and Pastor Jim's which isn't revealed til the end of the book.
It was not expected.

The romances are predictable but still enjoyable to read about. The two young pastors bring a lot into the story as they try to unite this small community.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher and Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Telling by Mike Duran ~ A First Wildcard Tour

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Mike Duran was a finalist in Faith in Fiction's inaugural short story contest and was chosen as one of ten authors to be published in Infuze Magazine’s 2005 print anthology. He is author of the short story “En Route to Inferno,” which appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner: Back from the Dead edition, and received the Editor’s Choice award for his creative nonfiction essay titled “The Ark,” published in the Summer 2.3 Issue of Relief Journal. In between blogs, he also writes a monthly column for Novel Journey and has served as editor on the Midnight Diner’s editorial team. Duran is an ordained minister and lives with his wife and four grown children in Southern California.

Visit the author's website.


A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.

Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistering himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future,to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.

On the northern fringes of Death Valley, the city of Endurance is home to llama ranches, abandoned mines, roadside attractions...and the mythical ninth gate of hell. Now, forced to investigate his own murder, Zeph discovers something even more insidious behind the urban legends and small-town eccentricities. Early miners unearthed a megalith—asacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge and where an ancient subterranean presence broods. And only Zeph can stop it.

But the scar on Zeph’s face is nothing compared to the wound on his soul. For not only has he abandoned his gift and renounced heaven, but it was his own silence that spawned the evil. Can he overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell?

His words unlocked something deadly,

And now the silence is killing them.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616386940

ISBN-13: 978-1616386948


He used to believe everyone was born with the magic, an innate hotline to heaven. Some called it intuition, a sixth sense; others called it the voice of God. Zeph Walker called it the Telling. It was not something you could teach or, even worse, sell- people just had it. Of course, by the time their parents, teachers, and society got through with them, whatever connection they had with the Infinite pretty much vanished. So it was, when Zeph reached his twenty-sixth birthday, the Telling was just an echo.

That's when destiny came knocking for him.

It arrived in the form of two wind-burnt detectives packing heat and a mystery for the ages. They flashed their badges, said he was needed for questioning. Before he could object or ask for details, they loaded him into the backseat of a mud-splattered Crown Victoria and drove across town to the county morgue. The ride was barely ten minutes, just long enough for Zeph Walker to conclude that, maybe, the magic was alive and well.

"You live alone?" The driver glanced at him in the rearview mirror.

Zeph adjusted his sunglasses. "Yes, sir."

"I don't blame you." The detective looked at his partner, who smirked in response.

Zeph returned his gaze to the passing landscape.

Late summers in Endurance were as beautiful as a watercolor and as hot as the devil's kitchen. The aspens on the ridge showed gold, and the dogwoods along the creeks had already begun to thin. Yet the arid breeze rising from Death Valley served as an ever-present reminder that beauty always lives in close proximity to hell.

They came to a hard stop in front of a white plaster building. The detectives exited the car, and Zeph followed their cue. A ceramic iguana positioned under a sprawling blue sage grinned mockingly at him. Such was the landscape decor of the county coroner's building. The structure doubled as a morgue. It occupied a tiny plot of red earth, surrounded by a manicured cactus garden complete with

2 | Mike Duran

indigenous flora, bison skulls, and birdbaths. Without previous knowledge, one could easily mistake the building for a cultural center or art gallery. Yet Zeph knew that something other than pottery and Picassos awaited him inside.

The bigger of the two detectives, a vaquero with a nifty turquoise belt buckle and matching bolo tie, pulled the door open and motioned for Zeph to enter. The man had all the charm of a cage fighter.

Zeph wiped perspiration off his forehead and stepped into a small vestibule.

“This way.” The cowboy clomped past, leaving the smell of sweat and cheap cologne.

They led him past an unoccupied desk into a corridor. Bland southwestern prints adorned sterile white walls. The stench of form- aldehyde and decay lingered here, and Zeph’s stomach flip-flopped in response. The hallway intersected another where two lab technicians stood in whispered conversation. They straightened as the detectives approached. After a brief nod from one of the white-jacketed men, Zeph’s escorts proceeded to an unmarked room.

“We got someone fer you to ID.” The cowboy placed his hand on the door and studied Zeph. “You don’t get sick easy, do ya?”

He swallowed. “Depends.”

“Well, if you’re gonna puke, don’t do it on these.” He pointed to a set of well-polished eel-skin boots. “Comprende?”

“No, sir. I mean—yes! Yes, sir.”

The detective scowled, then pushed the door open, waiting. Zeph’s heart was doing double-time. Whose body was he about to

see? What condition was it in? His mind raced with the possibilities. Maybe a friend had suffered a car accident. Although he didn’t have many friends to die in one. Perhaps the Hitcher, that mythical appari- tion who stalked the highway in his childhood, had claimed another victim. More likely Zeph’s old man had finally keeled over. However, he was convinced that his father had stopped living a long time ago.

Zeph drew a deep breath, took two steps into the room, perched his sunglasses on the top his head . . . and froze. In the center, framed under a single oval swath of light, lay a body on a autopsy table—a body that looked strangely familiar.

“Take a good look, Mr. Walker.” The detective’s boots clicked with precision on the yellowed linoleum. He circled the rolling metal

th e te ll i n g | 3

cart, remaining just outside the reach of the fluorescent light. “And maybe you can help us figger this out.”

Zeph remained near the door, hesitant to take another step.

“Go ahead.” The second detective sauntered around the opposite side, gesturing to the body. “He ain’t gonna bite.”

The detectives positioned themselves on either end of the table. They watched him.

A black marble countertop, its surface dulled by a thin blanket of dust, ran the length of one wall. In front of it sat a single wooden stool. The low-hanging lamp bleached the body monochrome. Zeph had seen enough procedurals and CSI knock-offs to know this was not an autopsy room. Perhaps it was used for viewings, maybe occa- sional poker games. But as the detectives studied him, he was starting to wonder if this was an interrogation room. Scalpels, pincers, saws. Oh, what exotic torture devices one might assemble from a morgue! Nevertheless, this particular room appeared to have not been used in a long time. And by the fevered sparkle in their eyes, these men seemed inspired about the possibility of doing so.

Zeph glanced from one man to the other, and then he edged toward the corpse.

Its flesh appeared dull, and the closer he got, the less it actu- ally looked like skin. Perhaps the body had been drained of blood or bleached by the desert sun. He inched closer. Sunken pockets appeared along the torso, and he found himself wondering what could have possibly happened to this person.

The head lay tilted back, its bony jaw upturned, cords of muscle taut across a gangly neck. A white sheet draped the body at the chest, and just above it a single bloodless hole about the size of a nickel notched the sternum. He crept forward, trying to distin- guish the person’s face. First he glimpsed nostrils, then teeth, and then . . . something else.

That something else brought Zeph to a standstill.

How could it be? Build. Facial features. Hair color. This person looked exactly like him. There was even a Star of David tattooed on the right arm, above the bicep—the same as Zeph’s.

What were the chances, the mathematical probabilities, that one human being could look so identical to another? Especially in a town the size of Endurance.

4 | Mike Duran

“Is this . . . ” Zeph’s tone was detached, his eyes fixed on the body. “Is this some kinda joke?”

The detectives hunkered back into the shadows without responding.

Goose bumps rose on Zeph’s forearms as the overhead vent rattled to life, sluicing cool air into the room. He took another step closer to the cadaver until his thigh nudged the table, jolting the stiff and bringing Zeph to a sudden stop. He peered at the bizarre figure.

Their similarities were unmistakable. The lanky torso and append- ages. The tousled sandy hair. Thick brows over deep-set eyes. This guy looks exactly like me!

However, it was one feature—the most defining feature of Zeph Walker’s existence—that left him teetering in disbelief: the four-inch scar that sheared the corpse’s mouth.

Zeph stumbled back, lungs frozen, hand clasped over the ugly scar on his own face.

“Darnedest thing, ain’t it?” The cowboy sounded humored by

Zeph’s astonishment. “Guy’s a spittin’ image of you, Mr. Walker.” Zeph slowly lowered his hand and glanced sideways at the man.

“Yeah. Except I don’t have a bullet hole in my chest.”

The detective’s grin soured, and he squinted warily at Zeph. “Indeed you don’t.” The second man stepped into the light. “But

the real question, young man, is why someone would want to put one there.”

My thoughts...

Like books about demons and angels? Then this one is for you. Demonic creatures abound in The Telling. Chilling suspense throughout. Zeph Walker is a prophet and holds the secret to the ninth gate of hell. He wants to forget all about that and continue to live the reclusive life. The story begins when he is picked up by detectives and taken to the morgue to identify a body. A horrific creature like body with his face!

Elderly Annie Lane was chosen to stand in the gap. As people in their town begin to change and become zombie like in their affect Annie gets suspicious and starts investigating. She soon realizes Zeph's time is here.

I thought the pace was a little slow in parts but otherwise it's a good story about the consequences of our choices. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Lily Anderson longs for a life of adventure, steaming down the Mississippi on a riverboat. But her relatives, wanting her to secure a future for herself and her two younger sisters, are intent on Lily marrying well and forgoing any chance of living out her dream. When a loveless match seems inevitable, Lily makes a last ditch effort to avoid losing her freedom forever by purchasing the steamship Hattie Belle from the father of debonair Jean Luc Champney—unaware that her precious dowry garners only partial ownership of the vessel.

Roguish gambler Blake Matthew’s dreams are finally beginning to take shape after a night of card playing wins him the title to the Hattie Belle. But Blake’s brimming confidence in a successful venture is dampened when he meets his new partner—Lily.

As their riverboat enterprise erupts into turmoil, can Lily and Blake discover that God is the One they can count on when all else fails? Will the siren song of the river evolve into a serenade or a somber lament?

My thoughts...

An entertaining book! From front cover to the back cover I enjoyed this story. Lily buys half a steamship but unbeknowst to her the co-owner is a gambling man and problems arise. Lily wants to marry for love. After a proposal that would be a loveless marriange Lily runs away.

The story opens with an embarrassing situation for Lily. Interesting characters and storyline.

That said, I did find the dialog slowed the story down in areas. I prefer a fast paced novel and this wasn't one. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received am ecopy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Through Rushing Water

Sophia has her life all planned out—but her plan didn’t include being jilted or ending up in Dakota Territory.

Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year that she’ll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her heartache and humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions on a whim.

With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she’s being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in the bleak Dakota Territory. She can’t even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she’ll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known—and never expected—and ignites in her a passion for the people she’s sent to serve.

It’s a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their land and marched hundreds of miles away in the middle of winter, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.

My thoughts...

Sophia is expecting a marriage proposal from Congressman Rexford Montgomery. Imagine her shock when her roommate gets the proposal!

Sophie is shocked and humiliated and decides to leave the area. She becomes a missionary and is hoping for an assignment out of the country. Where does she end up? In Dakota Territory teaching the Ponca Indian children. The living arrangements are a far cry from what she's used to.

Sophia meets the Agency carpenter and quickly comes to rely on him for more than carpentry.

This is a moving story of the sorrows of the Ponca Indians as well as Sophia's journey. Gets 4 out of 5 stars from me!

I received an ecopy of this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Fine Color of Rust

Loretta Boskovic never dreamed she would end up a single mother with two kids in a dusty Australian country town. She never imagined she’d have to campaign to save the local primary school. She certainly had no idea her best friend would turn out to be the crusty old junk man. All in all, she’s starting to wonder if she took a wrong turn somewhere. If only she could drop the kids at the orphanage and start over...

But now, thanks to her protest letters, the Education Minister is coming to Gunapan, and she has to convince him to change his mind about the school closure. And as if facing down the government isn’t enough, it soon becomes clear that the school isn’t the only local spot in trouble. In the drought stricken bushland on the outskirts of town, a luxury resort development is about to siphon off a newly discovered springwater supply. No one seems to know anything, no one seems to care.

With a dream lover on a Harley unlikely to appear out of nowhere to save the day, Loretta needs to stir the citizens of Gunapan to action. She may be short of money, influence, and a fully functioning car, but she has good friends. Together they can organize chocolate drives, supermarket sausage sizzles, a tour of the abattoir—whatever it takes to hold on to the scrap of world that is home.

A delightful novel for fans of Jennifer Weiner, Fannie Flagg, and Maeve Binchy, The Fine Color of Rust is a wonderful reminder that sometimes it really does take a village—and a healthy dose of humor—to change the world.

My thoughts...

Loretta's story begins with her thinking about dumping her kids in an orphanage and riding off on a harley with the perfect lover. The reality is she's dealing with a car that's a lemon, goats (I'll let you read about them) and always wanting to do what's right. Her best friend is an old junk man.

The citizens of dry, dusty, struggling town of Gunapan are unique, Loretta wants to keep their local school from closing and she sets off on a campaign to save it! Lots of chuckles throughout the book, some tears, good characters, interesting plot. The perfect summer read. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received an ecopy of this book free from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury

Coming Home is a novel about tremendous victory and unprecedented loss, a story of faith and a forever kind of love, love that will stay with you long after the last page. This stand-alone novel will serve as either a grand introduction or a beautiful conclusion in the saga of the Baxter Family.

The Baxters make plans to come together for a summer lakeside reunion, a celebration like they haven’t had in years. But before the big day, the unthinkable happens. As the Baxter Family rallies together, memories come to light in the grief-stricken hours of waiting and praying, memories that bring healing and hope during a time when otherwise darkness might have the final word.

In a season that changes all of them, the brilliance of family love overshadows even the valley of heartache as the Baxters draw closer to God and each other. Along the way, secrets are revealed and the truth about the Baxter Family history is finally made known. Ultimately, in this portrait of family love, the Baxters cling to each other and to God’s promise of forever.

My thoughts...

Kingsbury has such a way with words, the characters are more like friends than people you're reading about in a book. This is probably the saddest book I've ever read, you'll need two boxes of tissue for this one. In spite of the sorrow it is a very well written conclusion of the Baxter family series.

The Baxters have survived several tragedies and this one tops the list. I won't give anything away but it took me by surprise. As the family gathers to celebrate the father's 70th birthday they all write a letter filled with memories and tell him how much they love him and what he means to them. It turns out everyone can come though they're are spread out across the country. Minutes before the party something happens that will change their lives forever. Kingsbury did a good job of showing how God can bring something good out of bad.

I've read many of Kingsbury's books, each one has touched my heart, this one is no different. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.

I received an ecopy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Litfuse Publicity Group Tour for Lucy Come Home by Neta Jackson

Fifteen-year-old Cindy worked long days beside her migrant worker family in Michigan's sugar beet fields in the early 1940s -- the "war years" -- until she met a dashing young man from a traveling carnival, bringing some joy and fun into her hard-scrabble life. But a tragic twist of fate -- and a dead field boss-- sent the two young people on the run, leaving behind family and everything she'd ever known.

Lucy Tucker, the crotchety old bag lady from the popular Yada Yada House of Hope series, is a veteran of Chicago streets and not about to give up her independence, even as she approaches her 80th birthday. Until, that is, a young displaced woman with her gentle aging mother and a dog named Dandy seem to need her -- unsettling the secretive Lucy, who doesn't let anyone get to close. But just when it seems her past is catching up with her to bring her in out of the cold... Lucy disappears again.

How these two tales intersect and intertwine between past and present gradually shines light into the dark corners of Lucy's murky past. But... why won't Lucy come home?

My thoughts...

Now we know the rest of the story. Not only Lucy's childhood but her early years as well as what was happening during her disappearances in the recent books. Lucy has an interesting story and I'm so glad Neta has given us this look into her life.

Lucy and her carnie boyfriend run away after her boss is murdered. They leave family behind and don't look back. It's a really sad story considering they didn't have to run at all. The things they go through are heartwrenching.

If you've read the Yada Yada Prayer Group series as well as the House of Hope series you won't be disappointed in this one. If you haven't I highly recommend them!! I give Lucy Come Home 4 stars.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The First Gardener

Jeremiah Williams has been tending the gardens of the Tennessee governor’s mansion for over twenty-five years. And like most first families who have come and gone, this one has stolen his heart.

Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London, have struggled for ten years to have a child and are now enjoying a sweet season of life—anticipating the coming reelection and sending their precious daughter, Maddie, off to kindergarten—when a tragedy tears their world apart. As the entire state mourns, Mackenzie falls into a grief that threatens to swallow her whole.

Though his heart is also broken, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. As he uses the tools that have been placed in his hands, he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie’s heart, hoping to help her realize what it took him years to discover.

A Southern tale of loss, love, and living, The First Gardner reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all.

My thoughts...

Denise Hildreth is one of my favorite authors, I loved Flies on the Butter and after reading The First Gardener it's one of my favorite books. A sad story of the loss of a child and how God used an old gardener and flowers to heal a broken heart.

Tennessee Governor Gray Landon and his wife, Mackenzie, have a daughter after years of trying to get pregnant. The child is killed in a car accident and Mackenzie sinks deep into a depression, her will to live is gone.

Jeremiah is the gardener and he grows the most beautiful flowers, he's also an instrument God uses to heal broken hearts. Finding out at the end of the book where his home is took my by surprise and made me sad for him.

This is a beautiful story with wonderful characters, Hildreth has captured the depths of Mackenzie's hopelessness, the pain and grief this family suffers. If you're a crier, have your box of tissue ready. This is a 5 out 5 stars book!

The Butterfly Cabinet

When former nanny Maddie McGlade receives a letter from the last of her charges, she realizes the time has come to unburden herself of a secret she has kept for more than seventy years: the truth behind the death of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old daughter of the wealthy household where Maddie was employed as a young woman. Based on chilling events that actually took place in the north of Ireland in 1892, The Butterfly Cabinet is a sterling example of dark, emotionally complex fiction.

My thoughts...

Based on a true crime The Butterfly Cabinet is a haunting tale told through the mother's prison journal and the house maid's recollections. How sad that Harriet was not the mother she should've been, she didn't really know how to love (or care) for a child yet she had nine. Her parents never showed affection and that was all she knew.

Harriet's daughter is locked in a closet as punishment and dies. She is sentenced to prison for murder. McGill writes in a way that makes you feel compassion for this woman. Years later the nanny finally reveals the mystery surrounding the child's death.

This is a book where the description sounds better than the book actually is. I found parts of it boring and hard to get through, the suspense is lacking. It's a good read but not a great one, therefore, it gets 4 out 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from Simon and Schuster in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crazy Dangerous

"You probably want to hear about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and—oh yeah—the weird murder . . . you're definitely going to want to hear about that."

Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with a bad crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it’s only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.

But one day, Sam sees them harassing an eccentric schoolmate of his named Jennifer. When Sam finds the courage to face the bullies down, he loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.

Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons and the devil and death. And here’s the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies—prophecies of something terrible that’s going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.

With no one to believe him, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

My thoughts...

This book is enjoyable to youth as well as adults. Sam is a good boy who falls into the wrong crowd. He defends and befriends a girl who is being bullied and things get crazy dangerous from that point on. The characters are real and likeable.

There's enough suspense to keep you thinking about it even when you had to put the book down. Good plot with lots of twists, Biblical inferences, and information. I finished reading it in one evening.

I liked the ending, especially the words from the stranger.

I received an ecopy of this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Hope Springs

In a small community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go. Publisher's Weekly had this to say about Hope Springs: In this engaging novel, Tate expertly crafts an intriguing narrative that explores unrequited love, true faith, and the complicated politics of change in the Christian church.

There are many characters, as intimated by the two family trees that open the book, but a lot of plot comes packed with nearly all of them-sisters, cousins, and all.

My thoughts...

This is an uplifting, Christ-oriented book that deals with faith, love, and race. I loved the way the characters were focused on Jesus and following the plans He has for their lives. There are parts that had me stoppping to worship. There are a lot of characters and it was a little confusing at first to get to know them all but after a bit you do.

Grandma Geri's family are coming for Christmas but the unexpected death of their neighbor and good friend, Pastor Jim, brings them in early and even brings in more of the family than expected. There is a common bond between Geri's family and Pastor Jim's which isn't revealed til the end of the book.
It was not expected.

The romances are predictable but still enjoyable to read about. The two young pastors bring a lot into the story as they try to unite this small community.

I received a copy of this book free from the Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Glass Road PR Tour Stop for The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson

It’s the summer of 1946, and Adam Carlson has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana. Despite the strained relationship with his father, Adam sets out to revive the dilapidated family farm, neglected since his departure overseas four years ago. After some convincing to take a rest from his labors, he attends the town festival, where he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.

My thoughts..

This is a such a sweet story of how Adam and Elizabeth meet and fall in love almost immediately. The sacrifices they made and their journey is heartwarming. On the eve of their wedding the bride to be is involved in an accident that forever changes her, she breaks their engagement and frees Adam to find love again with someone else. What Adam does to prove his love for her is precious.

So much happens from the time Adam gets home from the war. His father is not the type to show his love and he is still upset with his son for leaving the farm to fight. Adam is struck with guilt when he sees how run down the farm has gotten so he begins repairs and painting to make the place look again only to find out the bank is ready to foreclose.

This book is a beautiful love story. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!

I received a copy of this book free from the Glass Road PR in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Atonement Child

Dynah Carey knew where her life was headed. Engaged to a wonderful man, the daughter of doting parents, a faithful child of God, she has it all. Then the unthinkable happens: Dynah’s perfect life is irrevocably changed by a rape that results in an unwanted pregnancy. Her family is torn apart and her seemingly rock-solid faith is pushed to the limits as she faces the most momentous choice of her life: to embrace or to end the life within her.

This is ultimately a tale of three women, as Dynah’s plight forces both her mother and her grandmother to face the choices they made. Written with balance and compassion, The Atonement Child brings a new perspective to the most controversial topic of our times.

My thoughts...

Francine Rivers just cannot write a bad book, this one is as fabulous as all the others. Heartwrenching, eye opening, full of encouragement. The Atonement Child deals with a sensitive issue and Francine handles it beautifully.

A baby conceived of rape, an abortion, more than one generation effected, this book shows the baby is not the only victim. It sheds light on a controversy that plagues people today.This is not an easy read and it gives plenty of food for thought.

The Atonement Child gets 5 stars from me!

Imagination Station Attack at the Arena

Patrick and Beth learn that Mr. Whittaker’s fancy ring can be seen inside the Imagination Station but not outside of the machine. A mysterious letter leads the cousins to fifth-century Rome in search of a special cup that belongs to a monk. If found, the cup could keep the mysterious Albert out of prison.

At the Roman Colosseum, Emperor Honorius is hosting a gladiator battle in celebration of a war victory. Beth attends the event as the emperor’s slave; Patrick attends as a monk’s apprentice but is taken prisoner and sent to fight in the arena. During their adventure, the cousins meet Telemachus (a true historical figure), a monk who believes that fighting is wrong. Telemachus is willing to risk everything—even his life—to stop the killing. When the cousins return with the cup, they find that a third letter has been sent with more information about Albert’s fate.

My thoughts...

Beth and Patrick are on an adventure to ancient Rome as they search for a silver chalice in order to save Albert from the mysterious Lord Darkthorne. The cousins enter a time machine and exit in Rome. What adventures these two encounter!

Fast paced, fun characters, suspenseful. A great read for children. My grandchildren loved it! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.


This six-book series centers around two 23rd century goofballs, Tuna and Herby, who travel back in time to study TJ Finkelstein for their history project. TJ will someday become a great leader who demonstrates honesty, integrity, thoughtfulness, self-sacrifice, respect for others—all traits she hones and grasps through her adventures in this series. Unfortunately, Tuna and Herby get stuck in TJ’s time (modern day), so she has to deal with their schemes while juggling the normal issues of a seventh grader who has moved to a new city, is trying to fit in, and is coping with her mother’s death and her family’s new life.

In AAAARGH!!!, Tuna and Herby try to help TJ with a book report by getting the author to write it for her, but all three of them quickly see the consequences of cheating spiral out of control. Meanwhile, TJ’s cute neighbor and classmate Chad Steel is getting ready for a big surfing competition—and learning his own lesson about honesty.

My thoughts...

TJ is behind in her studies, has become friends with two very unpopular kids, and all her plans are falling apart. Everyone thinks she's crazy. TJ has invisible friends from another century following her around and causing trouble everywhere!

This is a cute book, funny storyline but also teaches important lessons such as honesty. You see, TJ is cheating on a book report and it's not a big deal to her.

Funny book. Highly recommended for kids of all ages! I give it 5 of 5 stars.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Spirit Wars: Winning the Invisible Battle Against Sin and the Enemy

Kris Vallotton, a pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California, and the cofounder of its School of Supernatural Ministry, knows his way around the spiritual battlefield. For years he was tormented by a host of demonic assaults, though he didn't know the problems were spiritual. Confused, overwhelmed, he actually contemplated suicide--until the Lord delivered him.

Since that time, Kris has spent his life spreading a message of hope and freedom. He's helped people all over the world recognize the devil's stealth attacks and taught them to overcome. Weaving time-tested spiritual warfare tactics with biblical understanding, Kris offers Christians a bold new battle plan, showing how even those in the most devastating of personal battles can be victorious.

My thoughts...

Spirit Wars is an interesting book. I was fascinated by Vallotton's testimony and experience with spiritual warfare. He has a different opinion on the subject. To me, this was more of a self help book. There were several things I disagree with or have a little trouble believing such as his claim that it isn't our nature to sin after becoming a Christian and that he has gone several weeks without committing a sin. I felt there wasn't enough scripture to back up his thinking.

One thing I especially liked is the entire book can be taken as a call to return to the gospel. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The River Rose by Gilbert Morris

Life hasn't been easy for Jeanne Bettencourt, a widow approaching thirty and struggling to provide for her eight-year-old daughter. But hope arrives in the form of the Helena Rose, a steamboat she unexpectedly inherits from a distant, departed relative. Jeanne's father had captained a similar vessel and taught her how to pilot a steamer along the banks of Memphis. She's looking forward to a renewed livelihood on the mighty Mississippi.

However, as plans are made, news comes of another heir to the Helena Rose - a tough man named Clint Hardin - and a clause in the will that says claimants of the estate must live aboard the boat. Jeanne, a Christian woman, makes it clear she won't stay with a man who is not her husband. But both are desperate for work, so they agree to keep their distance as Clint occupies the lower deck and Jeanne takes the captain's quarters.

As they restore the Helena Rose, the slowly softening Clint becomes attracted to Jeanne - who is now being courted by a wealthy plantation owner. With her family and future at stake, the desires of Jeanne's heart are duly complex. Only her simple faith can navigate her through what's about to happen.

My thoughts...

Memphis, Tennessee 1854 two people inherit a riverboat. Jeanne is a widow with a young child. Her husband is assumed dead in the war. She is working in a hotel barely making ends meet.

Clint has several jobs which include boxing and singing. They inherit the Helena Rose from a very distant relative.

Jeanne's parents had owned a riverboat so she has plenty of experience. She and Clint begin their business and it becomes very successful. Their story is full of happenings and not all good. Things have a way of working out or so it seems.

The book keeps you drawn into it, you just never know what is going to happen next. The characters are fun and realistic. A great read!

I received a ecopy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Skip Rock Shallows

Lilly Gray Corbett has just graduated from medical school and decided to accept an internship in the coal camp of Skip Rock, Kentucky. Her beau, Paul, is doing his residency in Boston and can’t understand why Lilly would choose to work in a backwater town. But having grown up in the mountains, Lilly is drawn to the stubborn, superstitious people she encounters in Skip Rock—a town where people live hard and die harder and where women know their place. Lilly soon learns she has a lot to overcome, but after saving the life of a young miner, she begins to earn the residents’ trust.

As Lilly becomes torn between joining Paul in Boston and her love for the people of Skip Rock, she crosses paths with a handsome miner—one who seems oddly familiar. Her attraction for him grows, even as she wrestles with her feelings and wonders what he’s hiding.

My thoughts...

Fresh out of medical school Lilly accepts an internship in the mountains of Kentucky. The people of Skip Rock Shallows are unique, very standoffish and unwilling to accept a lady doctor until a discovery is made and everything changes!

When Lilly's fiance visits, they work very well together and he's prepared to take her back to Boston with him but Lilly isn't ready to leave the place she's grown so fond of and she certainly can't leave them without a doctor. Something happens between Lilly and a stranger that changes their lives forever.

There's a bit of everything in this fun story... humor, romance, danger, and Watson has done a good job of capturing the lives of mountain folk. I give this 4 stars.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an hoenst review.