Friday, February 28, 2014

"Princess Ever After" by Rachel Hauck


In Princess Ever After, book two in the Royal Wedding series, Rachel Hauck transports the reader back to the wonderful world of Brighton and Hessenberg that she created in Once Upon a Prince. Though the two novels are only remotely connected and easily stand alone, they carry the same romantic, fairy tale-like quality. And they're both so much fun to read!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"distortion" by terri blackstock

About the book (from Litfuse): Juliet Cole's life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn't know who—or what—to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie.

A husband's lies can have deadly consequences.

When Juliet Cole's husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voicemail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers' demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband's dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?

My take:
 From beginning to end, Distortion is a thrill ride. As the novel unfolds, more questions than answers seem to crop up, making for a confusing and enthralling reading experience.

While the novel is incredibly suspenseful, the aspect I enjoyed the most was the focus on family. Distortion is the second book in Blackstock's Moonlighters series about siblings Jay, Juliet, Cathy, and Holly. (You do not need to read the first novel to enjoy this one—I didn't!) These siblings have each others' backs no matter what, and their love for each other really comes through on the page.

I also enjoyed the way faith is portrayed in this novel. Blackstock does an excellent job of showing how doubt and anger can factor into a Christian's spiritual journey as Juliet's story unfolds.

Distortion is the first Terri Blackstock book I've read, and I don't know what took me so long! I'm excited to read more of this series!

My rating: 5 stars

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Buy the book. (On sale through March 10.)


About the author: Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, Restoration, and Moonlighters.

Learn more about Terri at http://terriblackstockbooks.com

About the giveaway:
Don't miss Terri Blackstock's latest release in the Moonlighters series, Distortion.

The book releases March 11th, and Terri will be kicking off the release with a fun Facebook Distortion party and giving away a Kindle Fire HDX. PLUS readers can pre-order the ebook for just $4.99 between now and 3/11 everywhere ebooks are sold.

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One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Distortion and Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 11th. Winner will be announced at the Distortion Facebook Party on March 11th. Connect with Terri for a "suspenseful" book launch party with prizes, a book chat, and more.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, February 24, 2014

"the a-z of c.s. lewis" by colin duriez

About the book (from Litfuse): A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.

C.S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C.S. Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man—written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"—to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.

My take: As a fan of C.S. Lewis's work since childhood, I couldn't wait to get my hands on The A-Z of C.S. Lewis. It is everything I hoped it would be ... though it probably isn't a book you'll want to read from cover to cover!

The subtitle for this book is "An encyclopedia of his life, thought, and writings," and an encyclopedia is exactly what this is. Entries vary in length from one sentence to several pages. One thing I really appreciate is that every word within an entry that has its own entry is denoted with an asterisk—and practically anything I had a question about did have its own entry. It's very easy to lose 30 minutes or an hour going from one entry to a related one, and so on. This book is fascinating!

This book would be a useful resource for anyone—from the person with a passing interest in Narnia to someone who has read and studied Lewis for years. I'm very glad to add this book to my library! (And I certainly wish this book had existed when I was taking a college course on Lewis 10 years ago!)

My rating: 5 stars

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About the author: Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"the wife, the maid, and the mistress" by ariel lawhon

About the book (from Amazon): A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930—Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance—as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks—one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale—of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

My take: Corruption. Lust. Hate. Love. Conspiracy. All are present in Ariel Lawhon's intriguing look at what could have happened in the real-life case of the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater. As the story unfolded, I found myself swept into this world of mobsters, showgirls, and spurned lovers. In essence, the reader experiences the story along with Jude (the NYPD detective who Stella finally decides to give the full story to). Most of the novel reveals only part of the truth, making the end twist that much more satisfying. I do wish Lawhon would have moved the action along a bit faster, as the story does seem to take an incredibly long time to tell. But overall, I greatly enjoyed The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress.

Content note: As this is not the type of book I normally review, I felt a content warning was in order. As you've probably guessed, there is nothing remotely Christian about The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress. The setting alone would give some people pause, and there is also profanity scattered throughout. Also, a few sexual situations crop up, though none are even remotely explicit. If this book were a film, it would probably be rated PG-13. 

My rating: 4 stars

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About the author: Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, is centered around the still-unsolved disappearance of New York State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this product free for review from Amazon.com through its Vine reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"where courage calls" by janette oke & laurel oke logan

About the book (from Litfuse): Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected . . .

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father's wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she'd feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don't even speak English. There isn't even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth's heart is torn between two young men—both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she's had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

My take: Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly is the first "grown up" book I read. Throughout junior high and early high school, I read every Janette Oke book I could get my hands on. Eventually, I moved away from the prairie romances, and it's probably been at least 10 years since I last read an Oke novel.

So why pick up a Janette Oke book now? Because this book is being called a "companion story" to Hallmark Channel's When Calls the Heart series, a series I'm really enjoying watching. So I began reading Where Courage Calls with some preconceived notions about what would happen ... and now I wish I'd gone in blind.

First of all, let me clear something up: When Calls the Heart the TV series is only very loosely related to Oke's Canadian West book series (of which When Calls the Heart is the first book), while Where Courage Calls features some of the characters from the TV series. (Why Hallmark Channel decided to call the series When Calls the Heart is beyond me!) However, while some of the names are the same, the events in the series and the events in the book are completely different. So don't go into the book thinking you'll be reading a retread of the series or even a continuation of the series. You won't. Once I realized that I needed to treat this book as if it wasn't connected to the series, I enjoyed it much more!

Where Courage Calls is classic Janette Oke, featuring a Western Canadian setting, a faith-filled heroine, and endearing children. It's also a bit slow moving, and I did struggle to keep reading at times. Everything—the relationships, the action, and the romance—picks up in the last third of the book, and I flew through those pages. Really, I was quite hooked by the end, and I will probably read any subsequent books in the series. (I assume there will be a sequel, as Beth's future is left up in the air, but I haven't found anything confirming that.)

My rating: 3 stars

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Read an excerpt.

About the authors: Celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry, Janette Oke is the recipient of numerous awards. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies and are beloved by readers around the world. Janette lives with her husband, Edward, in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan is the daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, as well as the novel Dana's Valley, which she co-wrote with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and two sons-in-law and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.

About the giveaway: Janette Oke's newest book, Where Courage Calls (co-written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan), is receiving rave reviews. It is the companion story to Hallmark Channel's TV series When Calls the Heart, set in the Canadian west.

Janette and Laurel are celebrating with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on March 4th.
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One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the Where Courage Calls Facebook Party on March 4th. Connect with Janette and Laurel for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more!

So grab your copy of Where Courage Calls and join Janette and Laurel on the evening of March 4th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, February 17, 2014

"a january bride" by deborah raney

About the book (from the publisher): What will happen when novelist Madeleine Houser's 'pen pal' friendship with a lonely widower takes an unexpected turn?

Who can work in a house that's overrun by contractors and carpenters? Not Madeleine Houser, a successful novelist who gladly accepts the help of her octogenarian friend, Ginny, to arrange for a temporary office in the charming bed and breakfast owned by Ginny's friend, Arthur. Maddie's never met the innkeeper - but a friendship grows between them as Maddie and Arthur leave messages for each other each day. To Maddie's alternate delight and chagrin, she seems to be falling for the inn's owner - a man who's likely many years her senior - and who she's never even met.

Arthur Tyler is a college professor who lost his young wife to cancer. Together they ran the bed and breakfast where Art lives, but without his wife, the house is missing warmth and cheer. He jumps at the chance to have author Madeleine Houser use the space that was once filled with guests. He, too, begins to enjoy the daily exchanges with Maddie, but a series of misunderstandings lead him to believe she's far from being a prospective date—even if he were ready to date again, which he's not.

When Maddie and Art finally meet and discover one another's identity, sparks fly. Even so, they each have obstacles to overcome in order for this winter romance to blossom.

My take: "A January Bride" is a fun, quick read. While it's a novella, it doesn't feel like one. What I mean is, even though the book is short, the characters are well developed, and the relationship moves at a reasonable pace.

I especially enjoyed the lead-up to Art and Maddie discovering the other's true identity, and I laughed aloud a few times as each figured out the mistake.

I am glad that "A January Bride" is a novella, as the mistaken identity plot could quickly grow tiresome if stretched out through a full-length novel. As a novella, though, it's just about perfect.

This is the second installment in Zondervan's A Year of Weddings series, and if the first two novellas are any indication, this is going to be an enjoyable year!

My rating: 4-1/2 stars

Buy the book.
Read my reviews of "A December Bride" and Raney's Forever After, After All, and The Face of the Earth.

About the author: Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including A Nest of Sparrows and the RITA award winning Beneath a Southern Sky and its sequel, After the Rains. Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on primetime network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, "Playing by Heart," was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, Yesterday's Embers, appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas. Find out more at DeborahRaney.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"friend me" by john faubion

About the book (from Litfuse): When a lonely wife and her frustrated husband each secretly pursue companionship online, neither dreams that a real woman is behind their virtual creations, threatening their marriage—and their lives.

Scott and Rachel's marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. As Rachel desperately tries to re-create a friendship with a friend who has passed, Scott becomes unfaithful and is torn between the love for his wife and the perfection of his cyber-girlfriend. But neither realizes that there's a much larger problem looming . . .

Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant—and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the virtual friend software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all—Scott, his family, and Rachel's life.

As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it's a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it's too late.

In today's digital age, the Internet presents all kinds of opportunities to test our personal boundaries, and this exciting and suspenseful story raises important questions about the ethics of virtual relationships. Friend Me will open your eyes to a new—and terrifying—moral dimensions and how they play out in the real world.

My take: Friend Me is one of those books that gets under your skin ... and makes your skin crawl. Even 10 years ago, the concept of a virtual friend would have seemed like science fiction. But now? This novel feels like it could have been ripped from the headlines. And the fact that it could happen makes it that much scarier.

While the suspense is great (Melissa truly is psychotic), what is scarier to me is the fact that this technology could exist. If you take away the insane woman manipulating the virtual conversations, you're left with a computer program that becomes more important to the user than the real people in his or her life. And I can totally see that happening. On one end of the spectrum, you have porn taken up a notch because the viewer is actually communicating with the "person" on screen. On the other end, you have a new friend (or a "recreated" loved one) who always knows what to say and never disappoints you. Both are so dangerous yet hold incredible appeal. I think we are headed toward the technology presented in Friend Me (if we're not already there), and we will really need to guard our hearts and minds when it becomes a reality.

I absolutely devoured Friend Me, reading it in a matter of hours. It's truly fascinating and terrifying suspense. The end definitely surprised me, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. But overall, this book is great!

Also, be sure to visit VirtualFriendMe.com. You can chat with "Malicia," a creation of the author's. I did, and it was funny, interesting, and a bit creepy, especially after reading the novel!

My rating: 5 stars

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About the author: John Faubion has spent many years in Asia as a missionary with his family. Since returning to the United States, John has worked as a senior software developer for a large appliance chain. He teaches an adult Sunday school class and enjoys writing and driving his 1949 Packard automobile. John lives near Indianapolis with his wife, Beth, and their daughter.

Learn more about John at http://christiansuspense.com

About the giveaway: John Faubion is celebrating his debut novel, Friend Me, with a Kindle HDX giveaway!
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One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Friend Me by John Faubion
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 22nd. Winner will be announced February 24th on John Faubion's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by John's blog on the 24th to see if you won.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"shadowed by grace" by cara putman

About the book: She found peace in a time of war.

Desperate to save her dying mother, an American woman accepts her newspaper's assignment to travel to Italy where she takes photographs dangerously close to the front lines during World War II. But Rachel's real motive in this journey is to find the father she never knew, an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive at such a desperate time.

In her quest, Rachel becomes involved with what will become the Monuments Men effort to save great monuments and works of art from the Third Reich. Soon enough she will find more than she ever imagined—in war, in love, and in God.

My take: Shadowed by Grace is a story of love, war, longing, and family. Rachel's search for her father is touching, and I especially enjoyed the times we got to glimpse her mother's journal and see the man through her eyes.

I didn't find the search for art or the romance to be particularly gripping, though the entire book is well written. Sometimes a book grabs me, and sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately, Shadowed by Grace fell into the latter category.

I do think that many fans of World War II fiction will enjoy this book, as will those who enjoyed the film Monuments Men.

My rating: 3 stars

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About the author: Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. The best-selling author of more than a dozen books, Cara is active in women's ministry at her church, teaches graduate courses at Purdue University, practices law, and is a homeschooling mom. She lives with her husband and 4 children in Indiana.

Learn more about Cara at http://caraputman.com.

About the giveaway: See here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, February 7, 2014

"smitten book club" by colleen coble, kristin billerbeck, diann hunt & denise hunter

About the book: The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.

Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold—exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

My take: This is the third book in Coble, Billerbeck, Hunt, and Hunter's Smitten series, and while I've reviewed the other two installments, going back now, I find my reviews to be lacking because I talked about the books as a whole. In this review, I'll look at each novella individually and then the book as a whole.

"Love by the Book" by Colleen Coble: While "Love by the Book" is fairly predictable, it's also wholly delightful! Heather and Paul's chemistry is off the charts, and their story is sweet. My one complaint is that the reader is never fully told what happened between them in the past. I think the novella would have been better if it had opened with Paul's rejection of Heather and then skipped into present. 3-1/2 stars.

"Shelved Under Romance" by Kristin Billerbeck: For whatever reason, I could not get into this novella. The story was fine, and the characters were fine, but I felt like the novella lacked spark. I really enjoyed Wyatt and his pursuit of Abby, but once they were well on their way to romance, I found myself struggling to care. 2-1/2 stars.

"A New Chapter" by Diann Hunt: This novella has the distinction of being the only one to make me laugh out loud! I loved Lia's mother's manipulations, and the subplot with Joey's daughter was sweet and heartbreaking. I even shed a few tears at the end of the story. Joey and Lia's relationship did move at a very rapid pace, something that Hunt even acknowledged during the proposal scene, and that pace caused me to enjoy the novella a bit less. 4 stars.

"Happily Ever After" by Denise Hunter: If you've been reading my reviews for a while, you know that I love just about everything Denise Hunter writes. This novella is no exception. I'm glad it was last in the series because allowed me to finish Smitten Book Club on a high note! Molly and Gage have great chemistry, and I could relate most to Molly as a character. It's a great conclusion to the book! 4-1/2 stars. 

The anthology as a whole is enjoyable. It does have a few continuity issues (for example, in the first novella, Heather shows the book to Molly; in the second novella, she tries to keep Molly from learning about it), and I would say it's the weakest of the three Smitten novels. It's a fun, easy, quick read, but it lacks the depth of the other novels. That said, it is full of romance and fun.

I just had a thought—wouldn't it be fantastic if the Hallmark Channel would make a movie (or series) about Smitten? Hunt's For Better or For Worse is currently being adapted into a Hallmark Channel movie, so it's not out of the realm of possibility. I know I would love a small screen journey to Smitten, Vermont!

My rating: 3-1/2 stars

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Read my reviews of Smitten and Secretly Smitten

About the authors: RITA-finalist Colleen Coble is the author of several best-selling romantic suspense Tidewater Inn, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series.
novels, including

Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award, Kristin Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants.

Denise Hunter is the award-winning and best-selling author of several novels, including A Cowboy's Touch and Sweetwater Gap. She and her husband are raising three boys in Indiana.

Diann Hunt has lived in Indiana forever, been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, her dog, and, well, chocolate. Diann lost her courageous battle with cancer in December 2013.

About the giveaway: The Smitten gals are back with their newest release, Smitten Book Club! Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, and Denise Hunter are celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway, a Facebook party on February 20, and a nationwide book-club brunch on March 22.


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One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Smitten books (Smitten, Secretly Smitten, Smitten Book Club)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 20th. Winner will be announced at the Smitten Book Club Facebook Author Chat Party on February 20th. Connect with Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, and Kristin Billerbeck for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! The Smitten gals will also be taking questions from the audience, giving away books and gift certificates, and sharing news about their upcoming nationwide Smitten Book Club brunch on March 22nd. (Sign up to host today!)

So grab your copy of Smitten Book Club and join Colleen, Denise, Kristin, and friends on the evening of February 20th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!

Sign up to host a Smitten Book Club Brunch on March 22nd!
Smitten Book Club Brunch Coble, Hunter, Billerbeck, Hunt

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"a promise kept" by robin lee hatcher

About the book (from Litfuse): God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.

What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison's dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she'd misunderstood.

Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma's attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma's life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?

Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption, A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher's emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.

My take: A Promise Kept is an intensely personal, realistic novel about one woman's struggle to believe God after the dissolution of her marriage. It's also the story of another woman's journey to find her place in the wake of happiness turned to tragedy.

Three different time periods are featured in the novel—Allison's, Emma's, and Emma's again as Allison reads her journals. This sounds confusing, but it actually works beautifully, and I never once felt any confusion as I read.

A Promise Kept is a wonderful story of redemption, trust, and hope, and it powerfully shows how God will do what he says he will do ... just not always in the expected manner!

My rating: 5 stars

See what others are saying.
Buy the book.
Read my review of Hatcher's Beloved.  

About the author: Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends. Learn more about Robin at http://www.robinleehatcher.com

About the giveaway: Don't miss Robin Lee Hatcher's stunning new novel, A Promise KeptRobin is celebrating with a fun giveaway and an encouraging Facebook Author Chat Party.
promisekept-400
 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6th. Winner will be announced at the "A Promise Kept" Facebook Author Chat Party on the 6th. Connect with Robin and friends for an evening of encouraging book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Robin's next book!

So grab your copy of A Promise Kept and join Robin on the evening of February 6th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 2/6!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Seams Unlikely" by Nancy Zieman

Update: Nancy Zieman passed away in November 2017. You can see a tribute from Wisconsin Public Television here.

When I was young, my mom often watched Sewing with Nancy on our local PBS station. I didn't care much for sewing, so I paid little attention ... except to note that there was something "wrong" with the host's face. Throughout the years, I caught bits and pieces of Sewing with Nancy here and there, but I never really considered the woman behind the show until I was offered the opportunity to review this book.