Wednesday, September 28, 2011

THE SOLDIER'S WIDOW by Barbara Johnannsen




Annie Barrett's husband was a soldier killed in Iraq. He was the love of her life and she's having a hard time getting past the grief even though it's been three years. One evening while volunteering at the USO in the airport she meets Lee McCord. He's a soldier who's been in Afghanistan but will soon be discharged. He and Annie talk over coffee and find they get along great. Annie's not sure how to deal with her feelings for Lee. Will Annie allow Lee to help her put to rest the memory of her husband and perhaps have a future with him or will she continue to grieve for the man who owned her heart?

This was an enjoyable clean short story. I have not read anything by this author so I had no idea what the book would be like. I felt there was a little something missing but I can't really pin-point what it was except that maybe the dialog between Annie and Lee seemed a little stiff. I liked both characters though and I actually liked the way the story concluded. The Soldier's Widow is okay if you're looking for a quick and light read.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

THERE YOU'LL FIND ME by Jenny B. Jones




Finley Sinclair is trying to deal with the death of her brother while also trying to compose an ending to her audition piece she's to play at the Manhattan music conservatory called "Will's Song". She decides to study in Ireland and walk in her brothers footsteps using his travel journal. Maybe then she'll feel close to God, find peace and the ending for Will's Song. On the plane she meets Beckett Rush who is a well known actor on his way to Ireland to film his latest movie. Beckett is quite taken with Finley because it seems she's not impressed by who he is. He agrees to take her around Ireland if she agrees to be his assistant. She's also assigned an 'adopted grandmother' in a nursing home whom she's suppose to care for. But crotchety Mrs. Sweeney presents Finley with some really big challenges. There's also a few kids at school who are not real pleased with her relationship with Beckett and cause all kinds of trouble. And what exactly is hers and Beckett's relationship? As these stresses begin to pile up Finley begins to melt down. Will she be able to find an ending to her audition piece? More importantly will she find the inner peace that has seemed so far away or will she find it was closer than she thought?

This is one of those stories that will be floating around in mind for a long time to come. I absolutely LOVED this story for all that it was. It was so real. Finley was so relateable. Don't we all have times of doubt and question whether God is really there? I liked seeing how all the different people the Lord brought into Finley's life made an impact that changed her forever. Doesn't the Lord do that for us as well. Finley didn't see it that way though and I think that is totally with us too. Those difficult things we deal with (like Mrs. Sweeney) are tough but they change us in ways that living a smooth life wouldn't. I also loved Beckett and how he related to Finley. Even though his life was complicated he took time with her and gave some great advice. It was also fun to watch how the Lord used Finley in Beckett's life as well.

One thing that really drew me into the story was the humor. There was so many things that Finley said that just cracked me up. They were real things that you and I could have said or thought. But along with the humor there was a great amount of emotion and seriousness to this story. At some point we've all struggled with finding peace. I must say that even though this is billed as fiction for young adults I could easily relate the issues to my own life and found there was a lot of wisdom within these pages. This is the first book I've read from this author but I guarantee it will not be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed "There You'll Find Me" and highly recommend you take a trip to Ireland with Finley. You never know what you might find! A thank you goes to Thomas Nelson for this complimentary copy for my review through Netgalley.
Paperback:
320 pages
Publisher:
Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2011)
ISBN-10:
1595545409
ISBN-13:
978-1595545404

Friday, September 23, 2011

RENEGADE HEARTS by Anne Patrick




Jenny Holloway is a widow who's running a 1200-acre ranch and raising her son Zach on her own. She likes being busy but she could really use some help. Her foreman, Buddy, suggests she hire his son Gil Montgomery who has recently returned home from his military duty. After meeting Gil, Jenny readily agrees to hire him on. She knows she could never find the kind of love she had with her husband, so why does her stomach do flip-flops whenever he's near. Gil Montgomery has ranching in his blood. Though his outward scars from the war have healed he knows this job is just want he needs for his inward healing. Jenny causes his heart to stir in ways it hasn't before but he knows that since her husbands death she's placed big walls around her heart. The more they work together the more he knows that Jenny and Zach are the future he's looking for but will he ever be able to convince Jenny?

I knew when I saw the totally awesome cover of Renegade Hearts that I absolutely had to find out the tale within. I was immediately drawn in by the gentle prose of this story. It truly matched the cover with an easy ebb and flow that I just loved! Though it was not an edge-of-your-seat type story I found myself glued to the pages because I became so involved with its true-to-life well-drawn characters. You will fall in love with each one them. Gil was an excellent leading man. I just loved the way he was with Jenny and Zach. (Big sigh!) Jenny is someone to admire. She was strong and independent but reasonable and tender. Zach will steal your heart hands down! He is such a great little man! And Buddy, Gil's Dad, was a total gem! Now don't get me wrong, this did have a mystery to it and as typical with Anne Patrick's stories, you don't find out the whole truth until the end. She always keeps you guessing. I just LOVED Renegade Hearts! It's an easy, feel-good, up-lifting tale you won't want to miss. A thank you goes to the author for providing this complimentary copy for my review.
Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc (September 13, 2011)
ISBN: 978-161252-081-0
Category: Inspirational
Rating: Sweet


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

BEYOND BASEBALL by Carie Lawson




Jude McCord is all about baseball. When he receives a shoulder injury he's forced to return home to recuperate and not sure if he'll be ready when spring training comes. While home, he purchases the neighboring ranch and begins working on another dream. A baseball camp to help young men gain skills as well as find a love for the game. Isabelle Winters is having some family problems and decides to pay a visit to her grandparents. She doesn't know that her Nannas had a stroke or that her Pops has sold the land to Jude. Jude feels Isabelle would have known if she had bothered to call them in the last decade. Nanna and Pops are like grandparents to Jude but Isabelle thinks he's taking advantage of them. Can a very skeptical Isabelle and a very protective Jude ever come to terms?

Carie Lawson hits another home run with Beyond Baseball! WOW! I LOVED this story! It had it all. I found myself laughing (you will love the scene with Isabelle 'cooking' in the kitchen), crying, sighing and just plain loving ever minute of the story. In the other three stories we have gotten glimpses of the fun and playful Jude but this story allows you to see the whole man. And Ladies let me tell you...he's worth seein'! It was so much fun hanging out with all the McCords. They are such a neat family. You just want to be a part of them. I especially loved all the verbal sparring. Zane and Carly's girls are an absolute riot and will getcha right in the heart! Jude and Isabelle are a great match for each other. The romantic tension ran wild! It was fun watching to see what they would do next. The message of reliance upon the Lord ran strong through the story and caused me to ponder whether I was really doing that myself. Each of the four stories in the Twisted Roots Series can be read as stand alone but I would highly recommend that you start at the beginning. (Beyond Africa, Beyond Summer, Beyond Ever After and Beyond Baseball) It really is a journey of the McCord Family and you won't want to miss a single moment with them. Trust me. As much as I loved Beyond Baseball it was hard to say farewell to this family. I am really going to miss them but at least they're only a bookshelf away. Great job Carie! A thank goes to the author for providing this complimentary copy for my review.
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc (August 30, 2011)
ISBN: 978-1-61252-074-2
Category: Inspirational
Rating: Sweet
Release Date: September 1, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

RACE AGAINST TIME by Kimberley and Kayla Woodhouse




Anesia Naltsiine is a strong woman who has been raising her daughter, Zoya, on her own. She owns a kennel where she breeds champion racing dogs that people from all over come to purchase. So why is loneliness nagging her heart along feelings of unworthiness. Zoya misses a dad she never knew and wonders why God took him away. But she will make her dad and his name proud by being the best sprint dog racer. Then Zoya is witness to a murder which throws her and her family into danger but also reeks havoc on her emotions. Is God really there? That's when Sean Connelly shows up looking for a new start. Anesia and Sean are drawn to each other. As the danger escalates Sean finds himself wanting to protect mother and daughter but he's also finding his feeling for them growing. When Zoya takes off alone trying to protect her mother, Sean and Anesia find themselves in a Race Against Time to save not only her daughter but themselves as well.

The dynamic duo writing team of mother and daughter have once again produced a gripping-nail-biting-page-turning-staying-up-late-into-the-night story that you don't want to miss. Race Against Time is a great sequel to No Safe Haven. I loved that Cole, Jenna and Andie (from No Safe Haven) were very much a part of this story as well. And Sean is one guy you'll want to get to know!!!! You get a panoramic view of the beauty of Alaska, its culture and her people. You learn about sled dog racing, what it takes to care for the dogs and the harshness of the beautiful terrain. The authors tackle many tough subjects like PTSD, anger, forgiveness, and doubting God. You truly feel like you walked the journey with these families. The way the story was laid out, with person, place and time in each section, really enhanced the reading experience. If you enjoy a great romantic suspense that keeps you hooked 'til the end, then I definitely recommend Race Against Time. You could read this as a stand alone but I recommend you read No Safe Haven first. Great job Kimberley and Kayla Woodhouse! A thank you goes to B&H publishing as well as the authors for providing this complimentary copy for my review.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (November 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1433671174
ISBN-13: 978-1433671173

Monday, September 12, 2011

STRANDED by Wendy Davy




Savannah Matthews is a wildlife photographer who needs to get pictures of a particular bird to keep her job. On her way to the Island the engine of the boat she rented quits. She tries to use the oar but it seems hopeless. The drift is too strong. She prays for the Lord's intervention and winds up on the private island of the one known as the 'beast'. Grant Duncan's past has scarred him, both emotionally and physically, and isolation seems his only way to survive. Rumors of a treasure on the island along with the 'beast' folklore draw people to his private paradise. They are usually frightened away when they see him with his long spear in hand. But Savannah seems to be different. She is not easily intimidated by him and is even a little sassy. She's penetrated the imaginary walls of his island can she penetrate the walls of his heart as well?

I'm not really a big fan of short stories because I don't feel there's time to develop both characters and plot but I have to say that Stranded was nice little surprise. It carries all the elements of a longer story which made it a great read. Even though it's only 40 pages there was mystery, danger, humor and a spiritual message as well. You felt like you got to know the characters. It definitely made me wish the story was longer but when the end came I felt satisfied and not lacking, as with some short stories. I always enjoy this authors work and this is no exception. If you like a short story that feels complete then I suggest you try Stranded.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

BANDIT'S HOPE by Marcia Gruver




Mariah Bell has experienced a great loss and is now in need of a husband to keep her land and continue to run Bell's Inn. Knowing she must act fairly quickly she decides to pursue the man whose property borders hers until she meets Tiller McRae. Tiller McRae is tired of the outlaw life. After the gang goes after a nice old man he decides to split from them for awhile. He ends up at Bells Inn. Mariah and Tiller are instantly drawn to each other. He decides to stay on and help out with handyman jobs around the place. He and Mariah have an easy way with each other and things seem to be looking brighter. But both harbor secrets. What will happen when those secrets come to light?

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It had a wonderful mix of romance, danger, suspense and humor. The characters were very well drawn and the dialog was very enjoyable. I especially fell in love with the playfulness of Tiller. There were two other characters that were really fun. Otis (the old man the gang went after) and Mariah's Uncle Joe. One line from the book that just made me laugh was when Joe said to Tiller "The mind of a woman is a deep river. I try not to fish there." It's that type of humor you'll find in this story and I just loved it. The underlying theme was really about forgiveness and I thought this author did a wonderful job in seeing that through. We all can relate to that subject. If you enjoy a good historical then I would definitely recommend Bandit's Hope. It's book 2 in the Backwoods Brides Series. A thank you goes to Barbour Publishing through Netgalley for this complimentary copy for my review.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1602609497
ISBN-13: 978-1602609495

Monday, September 5, 2011

GIVE THE LADY A RIDE by Linda Yezak




Patricia Talbert is a wealthy New York City girl. When her uncle wills her his ranch in Texas she makes a trip down there with the idea of selling it quickly and getting back to New York. That's when she comes face to face with Talon Carlson, foreman of the Circle Bar Ranch. He's a no-nonsense bull rider whose experienced a lot of loss in his life but still retains a deep abiding faith in the Lord. Patricia is drawn to Talon but is not falling for a good-looking, sweet-talking man ever again. Talon is attracted to Patricia but is frustrated by the fact that she wants to sell what has always been his home. Then Patricia finds a box of letters from her uncle that cause her to ponder her decision. She also has a chance to see Talon's deep faith in action. Wanting a little more time to decide what she really wants to do, she asks Talon to teach her to ride bulls. They both learn a lot more than they bargained for.

This was a great story. One I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. This author was new to me so I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew by the cover I wanted to find out what was tucked inside. The author has an easy writing style that makes reading a pleasure. Her characters were larger than life and I enjoyed getting to know them all. There was a secondary story going on with Talon's 'brother' Chance and Patricia's best friend Marie which was extremely enjoyable. Both Talon and Chance were wonderful heroes and very romantic. I loved all the interaction between all the characters. The description of the bull riding scenes were so good I felt like I was watching a movie. This story contained some great little spiritual nuggets you gather along the way which I really liked. I would love to see another installment. If you enjoy an easy-to-read contemporary western with lots of great characters then I suggest you try Give the Lady A Ride. I will be looking forward to other offerings by Linda Yezak.

Friday, September 2, 2011

THE LADY'S MAID by Susan Page Davis




When Lady Anne Stone's father dies, her uncle David Stone is in line to inherit the estate. The problem is he's gone missing. Last word from him came from St. Louis, Missouri. Anne is determined to find her uncle so she won't be left penniless. Anne and her lady's maid, Elise Finster, leave England and set off for America. Once there, they hear he set out west for Oregon to open a store. Elise and Anne secure a position in the next wagon train. Eb Bentley is a scout for the wagon train and doesn't think these two high-society ladies are going to be able to cut it on the trail. They begin to prove him wrong as they handle whatever needs come up and his doubt turns to admiration for these ladies...most especially one of the ladies. The trail west is a difficult journey and dangers lurk around every corner or perhaps in your own train.

This was an interesting story. It certainly painted a picture of how difficult traveling the Oregon Trail would have been. The author does well with describing the journey. I definitely tasted the dust and felt the heat on my skin. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters. There is also a secondary story going on with Anne and several potential suitors. I enjoyed the whole mystery surrounding David Stone. Although it wasn't a page turner, overall I enjoyed the story. The Lady's Maid is book one in the Prairie Dreams Series. A thank you goes to Barbour for this complimentary copy for my review through Netgalley.
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 161626439X
ISBN-13: 978-1616264390

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