Monday, September 1, 2014

Review of Making Marion by Beth Moran

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

Making Marion is one of those books that I couldn't put down, but at the same time I wanted to hold on to it as long as possible. I didn't want it to end, but I wanted to find out how it ended.


From the book's description: She had been looking for somewhere to stay, but instead Marion Miller finds herself on the wrong side of the reception desk at the Peace and Pigs campground and, despite her horrible shyness, promptly lands herself a job.
Marion came to Nottinghamshire--home of Sherwood Forest--to discover her father's mysterious past, but all she has to go on is a picture of her father dressed up, it would seem, as Robin Hood. 
Life on a busy campground challenges Marion's formerly controlled life--the pigs roam free, the resident chickens seem determined to thwart her, and an unfortunate incident with a runaway bike throws her into the arms of the beautiful, but deeply unimpressed, Reuben.
Yet, Marion's would-be boyfriend Jake, and Reuben's stunning fiancée Erica, conspire to leave little room for Marion to daydream about the twinkling eyes of her rescuer . . . Will Marion ever find peace, and perhaps even love, among the pigs?
Including a large cast of memorable, colorful characters, Making Marion is an outstanding debut romantic comedy that touches on issues of identity and family with a natural ease.

Although the book is described as a romantic comedy, there is so much more to it. Marion deals with social issues that stem from a traumatic childhood. She has to confront issues from her past with courage and forgiveness. We see things from her point of view told in first person, but she meets a whole host of characters that are quirky and charming or sometimes spiteful and mean-spirited. There certainly is humor here, but there is also a touching theme of love and acceptance, of ourselves as well as of others.

Things aren't always perfect for Marion, and everything doesn't always come out rosily. But there is plenty of laughter and hope and joy that balance out the tough, realistic life issues that Marion and her friends face.

With a cast of characters that I thoroughly enjoyed and a very interesting story line to keep me wanting to know what happened next, Making Marion was an excellent read. 

I give this one 5 stars and a PG rating for content. I can definitely recommend it as a great read. You can find more information or purchase it from Kregel here  or from Amazon here.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review of Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.


Miracle in a Dry Season was a different sort of novel. It's tone was little more somber. It's Christian fiction with a bit of a romantic story line, but it's definitely not just a romance novel.


The prevailing theme is forgiveness and refreshment. And Sarah Loudin Thomas does an excellent job weaving all of the elements of the story around this theme.

I was a little hesitant when I began because the feel of the novel is just different from the Christian romance stories I often read. But as I read, I really began to enjoy the read. I loved the characters. I enjoyed the story line. And although the tone of novel wasn't so sweet and simple as some of the novels I enjoy, the difference was refreshing.

This is one I can definitely recommend, and I look forward to finding more from the author who was new to me. I give this one 5 stars and a PG rating.



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Miracle in a Dry Season
Bethany House Publishers (August 5, 2014)
by
Sarah Loudin Thomas


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014 through Bethany House. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In a Drought, It's the Darkest Cloud

That Brings Hope


It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor. . .until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Miracle in a Dry Season, go HERE.


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Friday, August 22, 2014

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

A Grand Design is another installment in the Quilts of Love series. I've read quite a few of these now, and many of them are very good. But some are just sort of so so reading- not bad but nothing particularly to make it a great read. A Grand Design fits the latter category.


I didn't feel as if I got to know the characters very well. The story had more action and dialogue and less to tell us how the characters felt and what they were thinking.

The actual story line was a good one and had interesting parts. But overall it was just a simple read that wasn't bad but wasn't great.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Grand Design
Abingdon Press (August 19, 2014)
by
Amber Stockton


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Words from the author:

Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my mid-30's, married to the love of my life since July 2007, have a daughter and a son, and live in Colorado. Here, I am content to do what I love—write, speak, and offer virtual assistance.

Thanks to the gentle nudging of a fellow author -- Tracie Peterson -- in 2002, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers and wouldn't be published today without them. For those of you who are also fiction writers looking for a wonderful support group, check them out! My very first book, Promises, Promises, sold in December 2006 and released in February 2008. I've been going steady ever since.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists. As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Grand Design, go HERE.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review of Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

When I saw the description of this new book by Kelly Minter, a women's speaker and author and a musician, I was very interested.

This beautiful journey through the Amazon invites readers to search their souls and follow Jesus wherever the river runs—experiencing the adventure of knowing the poor and forgotten people He loves.
In Wherever the River Runs, Kelly Minter invites us on a jungle adventure down a river teeming with piranhas, caymans, a beautiful people, and, especially, God’s presence. Her honest and engaging narrative pulls back the curtain on one of the most captivating places on earth as well as on parts of the gospel we may be able to recite but have never fully believed.
For anyone feeling complacent in their American Christianity, Kelly’s story of the forgotten people of the Amazon and how they transformed her understanding of the gospel, is sure to inspire.


But I must confess that I'm  much more likely to pick up a fiction read that allows me to slip away from reality for a little while. And so, after I received Wherever the River Runs for review, I let it sit on the shelf for a while. I'd look at it when I went to pick up a new book to read. But I'd pass it over for some entertaining fiction. Probably there was a little bit of fear there, the fear that if I read it, I would be convicted; and I would feel like I needed to do something. So I skipped over the book for a while.

But I finally picked it up and began reading. And, of course, I was absorbed instantly. And I was moved. And I was convicted. And I was challenged to be different.

Wherever the River Runs is Kelly's story of her experiences ministering to the people groups along the Amazon River. Kelly, a musician, was hired by a British Christian music label. She began working with this label, singing and traveling around to give concerts. Her interest in the people of the Amazon began when she saw a video shown at one of the concerts. The president of the music label was heavily involved with a mission to the Amazon people. Kelly ended up taking a trip with some of her family and friends and other music artists to visit the people of the Amazon and minister to them. And with Kelly's first visit she was hooked.

Kelly writes in a captivating and casual style. Her writing takes the reader along with her as she heads down the Amazon many times. Her first visit was definitely not her last. And as Kelly tells about the people she meets and the lessons that she learns during her trips, it's easy to see what she sees, to feel what she feels and to desire to help the people she meets.

This is one of those books that you can't read and just walk away from. Kelly's experiences challenge us all to think and to consider our lives. Her descriptions of the people that she's met on her trips inspire the reader to know them also. I came away from this book with a desire to be more like Christ, to follow Him more closely, to serve Him better.

Take a chance. Read Kelly's stories, and think about what God has in store for you. You can watch the video trailer of the book below. And you can find Kelly's website here where you can see her other books and ladies Bible studies as well as her speaking schedule. You can purchase Wherever the River Runs on Amazon here-
Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel



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Monday, August 11, 2014

Review of The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

Around Christmas time I had the opportunity to review The Advent of Murder, a murder mystery surrounding a woman priest- Faith Morgan- in a small English town in the countryside. I really enjoyed the characters and the story, but I knew there was a book that came before that introduced Faith Morgan and told the story of how she came to be the priest at the small country church of St. James in Little Worthy. So I was very happy to read for review the first book in the series- The Reluctant Detective. 


The book's description:

Former cop Faith Morgan may have quit the world of crime, but crime has not let her go. Now a priest in the Church of England, she is assigned to the improbably named village of Little Worthy, and within an hour of her arrival she witnesses the sudden, shocking death of a fellow priest. To her distress, the detective assigned to the case is Ben, her former partner and former boyfriend.
As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising details about her apparently well-loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death. The cop may have donned a clerical collar, but the questions keep coming. How will she reconcile her present calling with her past instincts? Is she in danger herself? What should she do about Ben?

I thoroughly enjoyed this read, as I did The Advent of Murder. Although I had read the second book first, it didn't take away from enjoying this one, so if you picked up the second one after reading that review, make sure to go back and read The Reluctant Detective.

Faith Morgan is a very likable character. She isn't perfect, although she's a priest. So she seems realistic and not too good to be true.

I think old English towns in the countryside are charming, and, at times, I think I would love to live that life. So the setting and surroundings of the story are particularly appealing to me. The characters who live in Little Worthy are quite the collection- sometimes charming, sometimes crotchety, sometimes touching.

The story was very interesting and kept me reading. I loved that it wasn't predictable, and I was kept guessing "Who Dun It?"

There is a romantic thread that runs through the story. Faith has left her long time romantic interest- Ben Shorter- from the police department, and she wrestles with that as she struggles to adapt to her new life as a parish priest.

I could relate to Faith's personal thoughts and struggles to understand the people of her parish and the evil around them in light of her faith. The story doesn't paint an always rosy picture of faith and Christian beliefs. But, through Faith's struggles, we are brought to think about our own personal faith in Christ and what that means in our lives.

I can definitely recommend this one- along with it's successor Advent of Murder. I give it 5 stars and a PG-13 (because of the murder and circumstances surrounding). You can find it here on Kregel Books, and you can find it here-The Reluctant Detective -on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review of Sealed With a Kiss: An Anthology of Inspirational Romance Novellas

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

This spring I had the opportunity to review First Kisses: A Collection of Inspirational Romance stories.  It was a sweet, easy to read, set of inspirational romance novellas. I've recently had the chance to read another set of inspirational romance novellas featuring a few of the same authors. It was another enjoyable, easy read.


About the book:
A new anthology from some of your favorite inspirational authors--no reprints here!

Enjoy this collection of love stories with a theme of LOVE LETTERS. The Sealed with a Kisscollection includes: 

From USA TODAY and Publisher's Weekly Bestselling Author Janet Tronstad comes a new historical romance Mail Order Sunshine Bride When mail-order bride, Eleanor O’Reilly, arrives in the Montana Territory the only one on the railway platform to greet her is a dangerous-looking man who claims to be the sheriff. Where is her intended husband? Janet Tronstad delights readers with another of her popular mail-order bride stories.

From Amazon Bestselling Author Margaret Daley comes a new romantic suspense Deadly Intent
Texas Ranger Sarah Osborn is sent to investigate the kidnapping of a prize stallion from the Shamrock Ranch, owned by Ian O’Leary, an ex-FBI agent and Sarah’s high school sweetheart. Someone from Ian’s past has a grudge against him and intends to make him suffer. Can Sarah help Ian find who wants him dead?

From award-winning author Camy Tang comes a new romantic suspense Unshakeable Pursuit 
A mysterious young woman warns Dr. Geoffrey Whelan and nurse Maylin Kinley that they are in mortal danger, and then two Asian hit men attack them at the children’s clinic where they work. Geoffrey and Maylin run for their lives, determined to figure out who is after them and why. When they discover the threat is connected to a young teenager whose life they saved, they must race to stop the person who wants them dead—before everyone they care about is caught in the crossfire.

From fan favorite Lacy Williams comes a new contemporary romance With Love, Cowboy
When the love of his life is injured in combat, Ryan Michaels promises himself he won't let any more time go by without declaring his love. Veteran Ashley Reynolds returns home a changed woman, but is she ready to see the truth about the cowboy she left behind?

The novellas are short, simple reads. There is nothing dramatic or deep. But they are all enjoyable and clean romances. 

I suppose that these would be considered "twaddle" reading. There is no deep and meaningful theme running through them. But I occasionally enjoy some easy reading for entertainment. And the stories in Sealed With a Kiss fit the bill.

The stories are inspirational romances, meaning that they have some sort of spiritual references within the lives of the characters. But they aren't overtly "preachy" or religious. The characters usually come to some realization about trusting God, but the novellas don't dwell on spiritual things.

I like the novellas because they are short, easy reads- most can be read in one sitting. And I appreciate the sweet and touching, clean romances.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Review of A Heart To Heal by Allie Pleiter

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, you may be helping to support a voracious curriculum buying habit. Be warned. And thank you for clicking through to purchase.

I know there's a range of opinions about Christian romance novels. And I suppose most of them would be considered "twaddle" as they aren't anything incredibly deep or moving. But I've always had a fondness for a good Christian romance novel.

I like the idea of "happily ever after." I believe I'm living my "happily ever after" with my best friend and I have been for almost 20 years. I want my kids to know that their father and I consider our love a romance better than any in a book.

So I like reading about a happily ever after- especially in a book with some substance and realistic characters.

A Heart to Heal was one of those, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There were interesting characters- characters that weren't perfect by any means, characters that didn't have easy lives and predictable behavior. And the story was a sweet one- not deep and meaningful but sweet. There's also a bit of a spiritual emphasis, a reminder that God is in control of our lives and is taking care of us and bringing us to the place He wants us to be.

A Heart to Heal was a quick, easy read. It would make a great easy pleasure read. And it was very enjoyable and worth a read.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.





This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heart to Heal
Love Inspired (July 15, 2014)
by
Allie Pleiter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and nonfiction. An avid knitter, harp player and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in speech from Northwestern University and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; Becoming a Chief Home Officer and Facing Every Mom's Fears and now novels for Steeple Hill Books. She is the mother of two children and, most recently, a Havanese dog named Bella.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Courage To Hope.

Guidance counselor Heather Browning is desperate. She needs a mentor to help Simon, a disabled student who is struggling at Gordon Falls High School. Unfortunately, hotshot Max Jones is her only option. Confrontational and cavalier, Max uses his flashy persona to hide the bitterness he's felt since his life-changing accident. Perpetually cautious, Heather finds Max's bad-boy bravado as intriguing as it is infuriating. But as Heather and Max work together to build Simon's self-confidence, they begin to trust each other. Max has never been slow and careful with anything. Can he be gentle with Heather's heart?

Gordon Falls: Hearts ablaze in a small town.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of A Heart to Heal, go HERE.



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