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 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley Book Review

Texas Crossroads Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  She's lost her dream job - but has she found the man of her dreams?
     Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up.  Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort.  The only silver lining:  Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight.  But will Marisa's dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake's real identity?
     This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

REVIEW:  This is a good story about secrets, forgiveness, and love.  Love can overcome secrets and help you forgive past wrongs but it can only come through God.  Marisa is a strong character that loves those around her and slowly learns how to forgive.  She is also one that most people should be able to relate to.  Everyone has family members who have problems that affect those around them, whether it is alcohol, drugs, anger issues, spending issues, hoarding, etc.  Quite often, you end up responding to instances around you with a skewed sense.  Marisa responds quite negatively to anything to do with alcohol.  While that could be constructed as a good thing, she doesn't like a particular author whose main character drinks.  Unfortunately, the author is someone Marisa cares about a great deal.  When asked to forgive someone who was very close to her for events that happened long ago, Marisa sees things through her childhood pain and struggles with forgiving.  As God's love grew in her, she was able to forgive those around her and love them better than before.
     This is a good book and a superb follow-up to the first one.  You probably should read the first book before this one. A few of the minor characters become more relevant and you understand where Rainbow's End Resort has come from and where it is going.  I'm patiently waiting for the third book to be released next year to see how it all comes together.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, Christmas Roses, and At Bluebonnet Lake.  Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best.  She lives in Wyoming.  Learn more at

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reservations for Two Book Review

A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons
Two Blue Doors Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places.
     Food writer-turned-restauranteur Juliette D'Alisa has more than enough on her plate.  While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother's past, it's also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can't give up.
     Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home in Portland presents a different set of challenges.  Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle.  So how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into her life?
    As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can't help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother's letters from the 1940s provide wisdom to guide her present?  Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

REVIEW:  Having read the first book, A Table by the Window, I was anxiously waiting for this one to be released.  All the anticipation I felt was not for nothing: this book was fabulous!!  It grabbed me from the very first paragraph and held it to the very last word.  The Memphis scenes had me turning pages rapidly to see what sights and restaurants Neil and Juliette would go to, being that it's my hometown.  :-)  One of my most favorite things was how chaste Neil and Juliette's relationship was. They traveled through France and Italy together but did not share a room.  Even when Juliette went to Memphis, she stayed with Neil's best friends.  Now, don't get me wrong.  They did kiss and hug but just did not spend the night together, which I think is just awesome.  Another favorite part was reading Juliette's grandmother Mireille's letters to her sister as they discussed Mireille's budding relationship with Gabriel and later, their life together as husband and wife.
     Now, I could see part of the ending coming from a long way away.  I just wasn't sure exactly how how and when it would happen.  I was surprised at why it happened.  To me, it seemed like Juliette was overreacting, but given the stress she was under with the opening of the restaurant and her mother's health, it made sense when I thought more on it.  
     All in all, this is a marvelous book and series.  You really need to read the first book because it gives the familial history of Juliette and helps you understand how and why she ticks.  It also gives you insight on how Juliette and Neal met and see the beginning of their love for each other.  Even though the third and final book isn't due for another year, I am anxiously awaiting it's arrival.  There are some great sounding recipes in this book. Can't wait to see what the next one holds.

This book was provided by Blogging for Books/Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.
Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, A Carol Award Finalist; and Simply Sara, an ECPA Bestselling book.  A graduate of the University of Oregon's School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during an internship at Northwest Palate magazine.  A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring her most recent hometown of Portland, Oregon.  She shares her home with her husband, Danny, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.

Friday, May 15, 2015

As Love Blooms Book Review

The Gregory Sisters Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Young romance opens like a rose . . . but even a rose has its thorns.
     Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious.  Denied a position as a horticulturist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her.  She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory.  Before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park - and a major distraction.  Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream.  But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?
     Against the lush backdrop of manicured gardens and greenhouses full of the exotic, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to delight.

REVIEW:  Lorna Seilstad tells a light-hearted story about Tessa, who fights against the society norms for young ladies to live the life she wants.  Even when she is turned down for a gardener job by the parks superintendent because she is a woman, she is determined to show him she is not just another pretty face.  Tessa is not afraid to step outside her comfort zone to try something new but also knows her limits and stays within those bounds. Her energy and zest for life is fun and refreshing, though at times, she can be exhausting.  
     Throughout the story, the author shows that keeping secrets, even though it may be with good intentions and to keep from hurting someone, only succeeds at causing trouble and heartache.  Once the secrets are out, the hurt only lasts a short time.
     This story is a great wrap-up for the Gregory Sisters series.  It is also a great summertime or vacation read.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Lorna Seilstad is a history buff, antique collector, and former high school English teacher.  A fan favorite, she is the author of When Love Calls, While Love Stirs, and the Lake Manawa Summers series.  A member of American Christian Writers, Lorna lives in Iowa with her husband.  Learn more at

Thursday, May 14, 2015

When Grace Sings Book Review

The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy
Book Two

SUMMARY:  When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets.
     Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas, will ever fully accept her.  Her family roots aren't what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over.  The bed-and-breakfast she's operating needs to succeed, so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder, not knowing his real motives for being among the Plain folk.
     But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa's insecurities and sets Briley on the trial to uncovering a web of hidden truths.
      Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang n the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face the truth that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined.  They must trust in a loving heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.

REVIEW:  Kim Vogel Sawyer does an excellent job in these books.  You must read the first one, When Mercy Rains, to understand Alexa's insecurities, Anna-Grace's hesitancy, and the secrets that bind them together.  I love how the author does not wrap up everything by the end of the book in a nice, neat bow but leaves you anxiously waiting for the next book to see how the events will play out.  I also like how the only romance is between Anna-Grace and her fiance' Steven, though feelings between Alexa and Briley are not ignored but also not blown out of proportion.  
     The one thing that is pivotal to the storyline, but also drove me crazy, was all the secrets everyone had.  Even though it would have helped matters greatly to voice them, the characters kept everything bottled up inside, causing all kinds of misunderstandings and misinterpretations.  When Steven's secret is finally revealed, the hurt Anna-Grace felt was much greater because he did not discuss it at all with her, his betrothed. 
     This is a great series.  I can't wait for the third book to be released next year to see how everything works out.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.
Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope.  More than one million copies of her books are currently in print and have garnered awards including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.  Kim lives in central Kansas with her husband, Don, and their four feline companions.  She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and her grandchildren.

Friday, May 8, 2015

No Place to Hide Book Review

Hidden Identity Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  She'll defend her friend until the bitter end - but is she in over her head?
     It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news.  Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances.  She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name.  Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him.  The FBI wants him captured.  The bad guys want him dead.  Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.
     Lynette Eason delivers nonstop action as Jackie and Ian travel a dangerous road - one that may lead straight to destruction.

REVIEW:  If you are looking for a novel that will keep you guessing, turning the page in anticipation, and trying to figure out who is involved and how, this is the book for you.  Lynette Eason does a wonderful job keeping you on your toes.  The constant twists and turns will leave you dizzy at times but just adds to the suspense.  There were times I thought I had everything figured out, but the author doesn't make it easy.  The story happens over a period of seven days.  A LOT happens in that week.  Sometimes it seems like too much goes on in that short time span but when you look at the intentions of the terrorists and what they need to do to accomplish their goal, it all makes sense.  This is a wonderful book and a great way to wrap up this series.  
     Now, this is the third book of the Hidden Identity series.  You do not need to read the other books before this one but it is nice to have a little reference for Operation Refuge and their employees. 

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust and Nowhere to Turn.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.  She has a master's degree in education from Converse College, and she lives in South Carolina.  Learn more at

Monday, May 4, 2015

Wilderness Rising Book Review

A Church Builder Novel

SUMMARY: It began as a search for the truth about her best friend’s death. Now Bethany Barclay is caught in the ultimate struggle to keep faith alive.
     The Wilderness, an ancient cabal bent on destroying Christianity, has murdered Bethany’s best friend, framed her for acts of terrorism, and captured the brilliant teen hacker she vowed to protect. To ransom the girl, Bethany must traverse England and Europe to find the Pilate Stone—a mysterious first-century artifact that might not even exist.
     She’s not the only one who wants the stone. The Garden, a powerful group of intellectuals sworn to save the Church and help Bethany, is willing to betray her to achieve their higher goals. And a mysterious third faction lurks in the shadows, waiting for her to stumble.
     Alone and on the run in this international landscape of double and triple agents, Bethany’s quest becomes an ever more complex and dangerous contest against players who don’t play fair.
     In this riveting sequel to The Church Builder, many of A. L. Shield’s cunning characters are ruthlessly devoted to preserving a world where faith is possible. Others aim to brutally, and finally, undermine belief.
     Including Bethany’s.

REVIEW:  My daughter and I have been anxiously waiting for this book since we finished the first one.  Now, you DEFINITELY need to read the first book, The Church Builder, before reading this one or you will not be able to follow along.  Even though I had read it, it had been a while so I had trouble trying to remember what happened previously, how it was relevant to this story and who all was involved how.  After a few chapters, everything started falling back into place.
    The author does an excellent job keeping you guessing and sitting on the edge of your seat, quickly turning the pages to see what happens next.  This book is like a classic spy/whodunit-type novel, with all the twists, turns and not knowing who to trust. Quite a few questions from the previous publication were answered and things started falling into place.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Bethany is one character I won't easily forget.

This book was provided by Zondervan and Booklook Bloggers for review without compensation.

A.L. Shields  is a pseudonym for Stephen L. Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for thirty years. He is also the author of seven acclaimed works of nonfiction and five best-selling novels. His first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park (2002), spent eleven weeks on the New York Times best seller list.

The Heart of the Amish Book Review

Life Lessons on Peacemaking
and the Power of Forgiveness

SUMMARY:  We all have someone we need to forgive.  But sometimes it's hard to let go of our hurt and anger in order to truly forgive and move on.  For the Amish, forgiving others is woven into the very fabric of their faith.  From daily annoyances to heartbreaking tragedy, they exhibit an incredible capacity for forgiveness that often baffles us.
     Through the true stories gathered from a variety of Amish communities, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows you how the Amish are able to release their pain and desire for revenge, and live at peace with others.  Her in-depth, personal research uncovers the astounding yet fundamental way the Amish can forgive any one from the angry customer at the grocery store to the shooter at Nickel Mines.  You'll learn how to invite God into your story, apply lessons from the Amish to your own circumstances, and find the freedom that comes with true forgiveness.

REVIEW:  Forgiveness is hard.  We, as humans, want to hold onto the hurt and make sure the one who caused us so much pain suffers as much as we do.  As Christians, we are told to forgive and to love our enemies but it is NOT easy.  The Amish have made forgiveness a lifestyle, engraving it deep into their DNA, so to speak.   As Ms. Fisher shows, it's not always easy but it is necessary.  She shows us story after story of when an Amish person has been wronged, hurt, or devastated, how reliance on their faith in God helps them forgive, love their "enemy" and move forward.  It's not always easy but when the wronged reaches out to the one who wounded them in forgiveness and love, powerful healing takes place.  She also shows how we can move towards forgiveness when we are wronged in the Reflections questions at the end of each chapter. 
     This is a short book, less than 200 pages but very meaningful.  It would make a great bible study or Sunday school lesson for all ages.  Check it out!!

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs, as well as many novels about the Amish, including the Lancaster County Secrets series, the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series.  She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp.  Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting.  She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines.  She lives in California.  Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.