Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Friday, May 23, 2014

While Love Stirs Book Review

The Gregory Sisters Series
Book Two
  • Take one lovely young woman.
  • Add two ambitious young men.
  • Stir . . . and stand back.
     As a graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery, Charlotte Gregory is thrilled to have the opportunity to travel, lecture, and give cooking demonstrations on the very latest kitchen revolution - the gas stove.  And she certainly doesn't mind that the gas company has hired the kindhearted Lewis Mathis to entertain at her lectures.
     Lewis encourages Charlotte's work, especially her crusade to introduce fresh, appetizing, nutritious food to those convalescing in hospitals.  But young hospital superintendent Dr. Joel Brooks is not convinced any changes should be made - especially by this outspoken young woman.
     When Charlotte and Joel are coerced into planning a fund-raising gala for the hospital, will this combustible pair explode?
     Follow the second Gregory sister as she looks for true love and makes her way in a rapidly changing world in this breezy, lighthearted love triangle that will keep you guessing.

REVIEW:  This book is the second in The Gregory Sisters series.  Not having read the first, I had no problem understanding any part of this book.  It does a great job standing on its own. 
     Charlotte knows what she wants to do - help others by teaching them healthier ways to eat and how food can make them feel better and heal faster.  I like how she takes any opportunity to spread her knowledge, even if it causes some conflict with the superintendent to the local hospital.  The story also reminds the modern reader of the latest inventions during the early years of the 20th century, such as the gas stove, the telephone and automobiles.  I like how Charlotte is able to travel, teaching women how to use this newest technology while also spreading her knowledge of healthy eating.  Her desire to help those around her is one to be admired and emulated.
     There are twists and turns in the story that kept me guessing when money that has been earmarked for Joel's department and projects disappears.  This is a good book that is a easy read, great for summertime and vacations.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 Lorna Seilstad is the author of When Love Calls and the Lake Manawa Summers series.  A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing contests and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.  Lorna lives in Iowa with her husband.  Learn more at

One More Last Chance Book Review

A Place to Call Home
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Some things never change . . . and some things change you forever.
     Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason - because it doesn't change.  After a relationship gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
     Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town.  As the new owner of the Dip 'n' Dine, he's shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.
     As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance - just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.  
     With the same evocative writing and charming characters that won fans for her debut novel, Cathleen Armstrong invites you back to Last Chance for a heartwarming, romantic story of two people navigating the twists and turns of life in a small town.

REVIEW:  This is the second book of this series.  You do not need to read the first one to understand this one unless you would like a little background on some of the minor characters and the history of the Dip 'n' Dine restaurant.
     This is a good book.  I like how Sarah wants to stand on her own but doesn't turn away anyone who wants to help her, especially her grandmother Elizabeth.  She has a huge heart for the kids she teaches and does what she can to help one of them when they experience difficulties in adjusting after moving to Last Chance.  Chris is wonderful.  Even though he is single, he steps up and takes in his niece Olivia after his sister leaves with her boyfriend.  He does a wonderful job running his restaurant and hosting a tasting party while trying to be a "single dad."  
     This is a fun book to read.  Check it out if you need something to do this summer or anytime.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Cathleen Armstrong is the award-winning author of Welcome to Last Chance.  Though she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.  Learn more at

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Broken Kind of Beautiful Book Review

SUMMARY:  Sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong.
     Fashion is a fickle industry, a frightening fact for twenty-four-year-old model Ivy Clark.  Ten years in and she's learned a sacred truth - appearance is everything.  Nobody cares about her broken past as long as she looks beautiful for the camera.  This is the only life Ivy knows - so when it starts to unravel, she'll do anything to hold on.  Even if that means moving to the quaint island town of Greenbrier, South Carolina, to be the new face of her stepmother's bridal wear line - an irony too rich for words, since Ivy is far from the pure bride in white.
     If only her tenuous future didn't rest in the hands of Davis Knight, her mysterious photographer.  Not only did he walk away from the kind of success Ivy longs for to work maintenance at a local church, he treats her differently than any man ever has.  Somehow, Davis sees through the facade she works so hard to maintain.  In fact, it seems that everyone Ivy comes across in Greenbrier challenges what she has come to believe about beauty and worth.  Is it possible that God sees her - a woman stained and broken by the world - yet want her still?

REVIEW:  This book was well written.  It was hard to read at times because I grieved for the difficult childhood Ivy had, the complete rejection of her father and having to deal with the idea of everything she has ever known coming to an end because she is almost twenty-five, ancient in modeling years. But, I loved how others in her life who had faced or were facing very difficult situations trusted God to finish the good work He had started in their lives.  They all realized that God was using their brokenness to bring them closer to Him and to use them in bigger ways than they could imagine.  They looked beyond Ivy's outward appearance and spoke into her heart, helping her in her time of brokenness to find complete healing.  I loved this book and look forward to reading more from this author.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Christy Award-finalist and Carol winner, Katie Ganshert is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows.  She lives in Iowa with her husband and their son.  When she's not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption.

Fatal Exchange Book Review

Southern Crimes Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Desperate time create desperate people.  And desperate people are dangerous . . .
     Though Emily Hunt comes from a family of cops, the relatively quiet life of a high school teacher suits her just fine.  She's saving up to buy a house, slowly moving forward after her brother's death, and settling into a life she loves.  So the last person she wants to spend time with is Mason Taylor.
     An undercover cop, Mason is enemy number one as far as her family is concerned.  His involvement in the death of Emily's brother is still up in the air, and now he expects her to help him with a case.  Mason has been working with one of her students, Rafael Cerda, whose brother has been kidnapped by a drug cartel.   And with time running out to meet their demands, Rafael is getting desperate.
     Emily will have to draw on all of her strength to handle what happens next . . .
     Fatal Exchange will draw you into a complex matrix of intertwining lives, unraveling secrets, and unexpected love.

REVIEW:  This was a good book.  Within the first few pages the story becomes very intense and doesn't let up until almost the very end.  The twists and turns kept me guessing as to what would happen next and turning the pages to find out if my assumptions were correct.  The bulk of this drama happened in one day, which was a little hard to wrap my head around at times because there was so much going on.  The one downside for me was how quickly the main characters feelings, especially Emily's, for each other escalate, going from her tolerating Mason because he has some questions about one of her students to being madly in love with him by the end of day.  I felt it moved too quickly and wondered if maybe her feelings were a little skewed due to being a hostage then chased by someone wanting her dead.
     That said, I enjoyed reading this book and hope to read the third one when it comes out.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Lisa Harris is a Christy Award finalist and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 from Romantic Times.  The author of more than twenty books, including Dangerous Passage, Harris has spent over ten years living with her family as missionaries in Africa.  Learn more at

Mark of Distinction Book Review

Price of Privilege Trilogy
Book Two

SUMMARY:  In Victorian society, where even a whisper of scandal can ruin a life, Julia Elliston must watch her step.
     London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself, but to Julia Elliston, it is a city of shadows.  Now under the protection of Lord Pierson, she is caught up in his desperate plan and thrust into the public eye as his rightful heir.
     She's the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity, but with the entire city clamoring for more ews of the Emerald Heiress, Julia quickly finds it difficult to maintain the illusion.  Each step forward pushes her closer to the precipice.  And she must not forget that Chance Macy's power is far-reaching as well.  One false move, and he could bring her - and the future she's fighting for - tumbling down.
     Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must find a way to regain control of her own fate.  But outwitting one's foe rarely goes according to plan.

REVIEW:  Before you read this book, you MUST read the first one.  This trilogy relies heavily on the information and history given in the other books and does not stand well on its own.  Since I did not read the first book, I had a ton of unanswered questions and could not fully understand some of Julia's actions, especially when it came to Chance Macy.  
     That said, the author did keep me reading, trying to figure out what the main character was going to do next, especially as she is being presented as the Emerald Heiress to London society and her desire to marry a vicar, someone in a MUCH lower class.  But trying to figure out why her father acted like he did - one minute wanting her presented to everyone as his legitimate daughter, the next shunning her for even the minutest of infractions - and how everyone involved, especially the newspaper editor Forrester, had a say in what Julia did except Julia drove me batty at times.
     Some of the reviews listed in the front of this book compare the author with Victoria Holt, a famous author of novels set in the Victorian era.   Having read all of Mrs. Holt's books and being one of my favorite authors, I can see some resemblance this story has to hers but it doesn't go very far.  This novel was interesting but definitely not one to be read by itself.

This book was provided by Tyndale House for review without compensation.
Jessica Dotta has always been fascinated by England during the Regency and Victorian eras.  Her passion for British literature fueled her desire to write in a style that blends the humor of Jane Austen and her dark drama of the Bronte sisters.  She lives in the Nashville area with her family and works as a freelance media consultant and publicist.  Visit her online at

A Promise in Pieces Book Review

Quilts of Love

SUMMARY:  A small gift, a simple promise, a life forever changed.
     It's been more than fifty years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women's Army Corps.  Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier's last wish.  And fifty years since that soldier's young widow gave her the baby quilt - a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come.
     On her way to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Clara decided it's time to share her story.  But when the trip doesn't go as planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the quilt - and the promise stitched inside it.

REVIEW:  This novel is different from most World War II stories I've read but was interesting in how the story played out.  One of my favorite parts was Clara telling her grandson her story and the story of the quilt and his continued interest.  I like how even though Clara's life wasn't easy, she chose to listen to the Lord's leading and follow Him.  In doing so, she blessed many woman and their babies with the quilt and showed them the love of the Lord.  It covers a lot of history but does it quickly without leaving out important details.  This was an enjoyable book.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, and blogger at  She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their two sons.

Monday, May 5, 2014

One Perfect Spring Book Review

SUMMARY:  Independent single mom Claire Summers is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her.  Workaholic Keith Watson is interested only in the bottom line - until a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk and changes everything.
     As the executive assistant to a philanthropic businessman, Keith is used to fielding requests for donations.  But the girl isn't asking for money.  She wants help finding the long-lost son of a neighbor.  As Keith reluctantly digs into this assignment in his usual results-oriented style, he has no idea how involved he and Claire will become - nor how unusual the results will actually be.  Who could have guessed that a child's kindhearted request would bring love and hope to so many lives . . . including his own?
     Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, fan favorite Irene Hannon offers this tenderhearted story that demonstrates how life is like lilacs - the biggest blooms come only after the harshest winters.

REVIEW:  There are so many things I loved about this book, I don't think I could cover them all.  This is going to sound silly but one of my favorite things was the relationship between Claire and Keith.  When they decided to acknowledge their mutual attraction and interest in one another, they were up front and honest with each other.  When past hurts and their histories were revealed, Claire and Keith faced them together and worked through any problems and/or difficulties that had developed because of it.  Instead of rushing into a relationship, they took time to get to know each other and didn't shut the other out when a new problem arose.
     There were quite a few twists and turns in the story that kept my attention.  Just when I thought I had everything figured out, the author would make a change.  This is a fabulous book and is on par with all of her other novels.  Fans of Irene Hannon will not be disappointed.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of over forty-five books, including That Certain Summer.  Her romance and suspense fiction has won many awards, including two coveted RITAs, a Carol, two HOLT medallions, a National Readers' Choice, a Daphne du Maurier, a Retailers Choice, and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine.  In addition, she is a Christy Award finalist, and Booklist included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011.  She lives in Missouri.  Learn more at

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Pelican Bride Book Review

Gulf Coast Chronicles
Book One

SUMMARY:  She's come to the New World to escape a perilous past. But has it followed her to these far shores?
     It is 1704 when Frenchwoman Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board the frigate Pelican bound for the distant Louisiana colony.  Both have promised to marry one of the rough  men toiling in this strange new world in order to escape suffering in the old.  Genevieve knows life won't be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of persecution for her outlawed religious beliefs.
     When she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer-turned-farmer whose checkered past is shrouded in mystery, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace.  Trouble is brewing outside the fort between the French colonists and the native people surrounding them.  And an even more sinister enemy may lurk within.  Could the secret Genevieve harbors mean the undoing of the colony itself?
     Gulf Coast native Beth White brings vividly to life the hot, sultry South in this luscious, layered tale.
REVIEW:  The author does a wonderful job making her readers feel like they are there in Fort Louis, showing just how difficult life was in the New World when the colonies were being established. French colonists had to deal with the oppressive heat, flooding, insects, disease, shortages of supplies, and a shortage of money, along with Indian uprisings and problems with the British, who also wanted control of the land and ports.  I like how Genevieve is a take-charge kind of woman, trying to make the best out of a difficult situation, by visiting a local Indian tribe to learn how to best use the corn meal and other items indigenous to the area and opening her own bakery, making the croissants, sweets and other specialties usually only found in France.  She even draws the attention of Tristan, who has determined not to marry again.
      The story has some great twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing as to what will happen next. It did seem to end rather quickly, leaving me with a few questions that were unanswered.  This was a marvelous story and I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Beth White's day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama.  A native Mississippian, her passion is writing historical romance with a southern drawl.  Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers' Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award.  Learn more at

A Beauty So Rare Book Review

A Belmont Mansion Novel
SUMMARY:  PINK is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war - and still had one to fight.
     Plain, practical Elanor Braddock knows she will never marry, but with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow.  Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America - and possibly the most demanding, as well.  Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path - building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War.  While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.
     Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him.  Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the designs of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes.  As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground - and a love neither of them expects.  But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

REVIEW:  First off, even though this book is the second in this series, you wouldn't know it.  It stands very well on it's own.  There are a couple of references to the first book but explained well enough that you don't need to read it to fully understand this story.
     I like Eleanor. Even though she is bombarded with being told what is right and acceptable for someone with her familial background and influences, Eleanor still tries to follow the path God laid before her.  She sees the widows and their fatherless children who have nothing and struggle with living day-to-day and doesn't turn away.  Instead of opening the restaurant she'd dreamed about, she begins to meet some of the needs of this community by providing a hot meal for these families.  I like how, even though her personal funds are limited, Eleanor pays for the food out of her own pocket instead of asking her very wealthy aunt for money.  As she gets to know some of the families and realizes they do not speak English very well, she tries to reach out to them by learning German, their native language, and not ostracizing them like so many others in the community.  Eleanor is also a caring daughter who does what she thinks is best for her father, who suffers from dementia, even though it sometimes breaks her heart.  
      The author does a great job in keeping the attraction between the main characters from progressing too fast.  Even though there were times when I wished things would speed up and they would just recognize what they meant to each other, it was nice to see that things did not get out of hand
     This is a good book with lots of interesting twists and turns, keeping the reader's attention.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.
Tamera Alexander  is a USA Today bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers worldwide.  She and husband make their home in Nashville, not far from the Belmont Mansion.  You can visit her at her website at or her blog at