Thursday, March 26, 2015

House Divided Blog Tour


House Divided (1)
house divided


There is a law irrevocably decreed in the state of Alabama that you must choose a team. You're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama Fan. There is no fence sitting or waffling. It’s one or the other. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t fall in love with someone from the opposing side. They even have a name for it ... House Divided. Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson were just such a couple, but unfortunately they were separated by more than just their loyalty to a university. Against the odds and against the rules, Ellie and Brady dove right into the forbidden current of friendship and then love. Their sweet, innocent romance was one for the storybooks, but old rules and family prejudices ultimately tore them apart, just as they were each ready to depart to their beloved universities, Ellie to Auburn and Brady to Alabama. But years later, when near tragedy strikes, they're brought together again and given a second chance at love, this time with help from some very unlikely sources. House Divided is a sweet romance filled with southern charm, a dash of humor and, for good measure, a pinch of lies and intrigue.


Praise for the Book 
 "House Divided was one of those books that made me want to ignore my children, my to-do list, my need for food, and pretty much anything else that would keep me from reading. Jennifer Peel has a real gift for depicting first love, heartbreak, and hope." "A tender, soft, story that truly is a gem to read." "Ms. Peel has created a story that stands as a tribute to true southern gentility, it's foibles and strengths. Truly a beautiful read that gives heart and meaning to true devotion. She truly knows how to weave a story that has beauty and true southern charm."

                                                                   My Review
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour.  House Divided is a great book so far.  I must be honest and say that I am still reading it.  It is told from Ellie's point of view - I tend to read slower in first person. That coupled with an unplanned gathering that has taken my attention this week means I have not been able to read more than just a few clicks at a time.  That being said, it is off to a great start.  So far, I like Ellie's devotion to her aunt and hate the way Brady walked away from her in high school.  Stories that explore a couple's second chance at love are one of my favorites.  Often authors will set up the plot where they were good friends or such.  Peel has a unique twist in Ellie and Brady were forbidden to even talk to each other let alone have a "we're just friends" relationship.  I can't wait to see where the journey goes.  
  
   add to goodreads     Jennifer Peel Headshot
Author Jennifer Peel 
 I'm a Colorado native who currently calls Alabama home. I'm the mother of three amazing children who have grown up way too fast. I enjoy the mountains, vacations at the beach, date night with my husband, late night talks with my kiddos, touring model homes, and pink bubblegum ice cream. I grew up on the Western Slope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I learned to love the beauty of the outdoors, but not camping--unless staying overnight at the Marriott counts. I met my husband while living in Denver and then several years later we traded the beauty and majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the art and culture of Chicago, Illinois. My family and I enjoyed living near this world class city, despite the crazy cold winters, but new adventures awaited in Northern Alabama--just six hours away from Orange Beach, Alabama. These three magical places (the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Chicago, and Orange Beach) are the inspired locations used in several of my books.


Jennifer Peel   25_Amazon_Paypal

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/12/15 
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 23, 2015

Need You for Keeps by Marina Adair, A Review

Need You for Keeps (St. Helena Vineyard, #6)

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Book Description


When it comes to caring for the furry residents of St. Helena, California, groomer and pet rescuer Shay Michaels can handle anything. Humans are another story, though especially Deputy Jonah Baudouin. He's the town s resident superhero: upright, uptight, and jaw-droppingly gorgeous, even when he s investigating complaints about Shay s beloved foster animals. And that spells danger for Shay, a free spirit who can't risk trusting the wrong person again.

Jonah and Shay have been circling each other ever since she came to town, and h' s running out of reasons to "not" kiss her senseless. But this deputy is a straight shooter with his eye on the sheriff s badge. He can't afford to get involved with Shay, a chaos magnet with luscious curves who's liable to turn his career and his life upside down. He enforces laws. She breaks them repeatedly. Keeping her out of trouble is becoming a full-time job and i' s one he hopes is never going to end."

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.



While this book is a contemporary romance and follows the formula you typically find, it is much more.  The characters are beautifully written; not just Shay and Jonah, but even the most minor of characters as well.  Shay was exceptionally well-written as a woman who finds it hard to trust those around her but she does it without what I think of as "weak girl whining".    

I always enjoy romance series that are set in small towns with a cast of characters that you can't help but fall in love with - this book definitely delivers that.  My husband walked in at one point with me shaking my head at one of the characters.  Adair wrote a story telling Shay and Jonah's story that drew me in as a reader.  And since each book is a standalone, it is easy to catch up on the series.

Please note that the cover of this book made me think it would be a "sweet" romance.  It was full of sweetness, but did have a few very racy scenes. 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Saving Justice by Susan Crawford, A Review

Saving Justice by Susan Crawford

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Book Description


After losing her brother to gang-related violence, elementary schoolteacher Kinley is on a mission to help her at-risk students. When one of them, Justice, is caught in an act of vandalism, she intervenes. 
Entrepreneur Nash McGuire has gone to great lengths to overcome the poverty he grew up in. When working on a renovation project in his old neighborhood he collides with a juvenile delinquent and his
 do-gooder teacher. 
Kinley believes Justice can overcome the influence of his environment; Nash knows the odds and has little patience with Kinley’s naivety. But as the boy’s mandatory community service forces Justice and Kinley into Nash’s life, he can’t help but discover a boy searching for love and purpose–a boy very much like he once was. 
Then Justice is accused of another crime. And Kinley’s stubborn belief in the boy’s innocence is just too much for Nash to accept… 

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.



This book is darling - and it also had something happen in it that I did not see coming and still almost can't believe that Crawford included it. It was handled very well and added so much authenticity to the plot.

Kinley is a wonderful heroine: she's the kind of teacher I educator I strive to be and that I pray my child has. She's also unfailingly optimistic and it is easy to know why Mr. Grumpy (Nash) was drawn to her. 

This is a faith-based book and demonstrates how God is at work and can use things that happen for good. 

I really enjoyed this story: so much I gave it four stars when most of the formulaic romances I read (and enjoy) get 3 stars. This one has something that has just went deeper when I was reading it than your typical fluff romance.


I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Disappeared by Roger Scruton, A Review

The Disappeared

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Book Description


The Disappeared is a story of our times, of kidnap and rescue, of abuse and healing. It is the story of Stephen, a teacher whose love for the pupil who shares his dreams brings him face to face with ruin; of Sharon, the child of a feckless stepmother, and her criminal abusers; of Laura, the investigative high-flyer, now faced with rape and sexual slavery; of Justin, environmentalist and Heavy Metal fan, whose obsession with Muhibbah, rescued from forced marriage, spells disaster for them both. 

It is the story of a police force fearful of charges of racism, and a social worker, Iona, expected to make a viable community from fragments that will not join.
With dizzying speed The Disappeared uncovers the chaotic underworld of a Yorkshire city, its characters eventually stumbling across one another in a single catastrophe. A victim may bring redemption: but who will it be?

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.



I'm not really sure how I'm going to rate this book, which is an odd place to be when writing a review.  The plot was gripping although after the first two chapters, the point of view shifted to what seemed to be a completely unrelated story.  Scruton masterfully wove three seemingly unconnected stories together.  The plot was the best part of this book.  The characters were interesting and the writing style (almost stream of consciousness and first person for Laura's character) was very different from what I typically read, which I found to be a nice change.  

It was very violent in parts and human trafficking is a serious issue that is quite frankly difficult to read about.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen, A Review

The Repeat Year by Andrea Lochen


Review

I borrowed a copy of this book from my library.  Here is my honest review.

What would you do differently if you could live a year over? Lochen explores this very question in The Repeat Year, a book that I completely enjoyed despite my doubts. I joined a reading challenge that required a science fiction read, a genre I do not read since the few I've read in the past have not been especially enjoyable. Fortunately, my library has a science fiction section that I began to browse in search of a book that would fulfill the criteria. The Repeat Year was a title that stood out from the rest and the cover definitely did not look like what I expect to see in science fiction, so it came home with me. 

The story was immediately engrossing and the characters were easily to sympathize with. With the way the story plays out, the reader can form opinions as whether Olive is making the best choice the second time around. "Hindsight is 20/20" shines out as a true adage in the events that unfold. There were moments when I doubted that Olive would be able to accomplish her main goal of repairing the relationship with her ex; the twists that Lochen added to the plot enhanced the story and kept it from being a predictable love story to one that had me on the (virtual) edge of my seat, with fingers crossed that Olive and Phil would have a happy ending.

I will definitely keep an eye out for Lochen's second book and would read more science fiction if it was this enjoyable to read.  I found Lochen's debut book to be exceptionally well written with great character development and an intriguing, well thought out plot.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Heaven Help Heidi by Sally John, A Review

Heaven Help Heidi

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          Christian Book          Book Depository

Book Description

From bestselling Christian fiction author Sally John comes the second book in a series featuring new beginnings and unexpected romance.

Welcome to the Casa de Vida--eleven quaint bungalows located three blocks from the Pacific Ocean in tiny Seaside Village, California. Owner Liv McAlister never advertises vacancies beyond a small hand-lettered sign out front, preferring to trust that God will send the right tenant at just the right time. And He always does.

Heidi Hathaway's life has been turned upside down. After an accident leaves her injured, unable to work, and incapable of negotiating the stairs in her multilevel oceanfront condo, she leases her home and moves into a cozy little cottage in the charming garden complex where her friend Piper lives. There she finds so much more than a place to rest and recover.

Piper Keyes knows Jared is not coming back from Afghanistan. After making it through the fifth anniversary of his death, she wonders if she's at last ready to get on with life. She gingerly explores new avenues--photography, cooking, and buying her own boutique--and learns to open her heart again.

The most comforting thing about living at the Casa is that the women there become each other's mentors and confidantes, learning from their own mistakes and arriving at new, healed places in their lives.

Review

I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review.

Once I got into this book, I really enjoyed it.  I don't recall why I didn't fall into it right away; it was interesting, especially with the opening car crash and then the switch to a different character's perpective.  I must have had a lot going on because when I picked it back up this week, I read it very quickly.

The romance is fairly average - I fully expected Heidi to end up with who she did at the end.  What really made this special for me was the character development and the exploration Heidi goes through in finding herself after her accident.  I like every character in this book. Every. Single. One.  Even those that are more tertiary characters rather than secondary characters.  I want to live at Casa de Vida.  The sense of community and love that flowed through that courtyard was tangible and inviting.  

I was very happy to see this is only the second book in the series; it will be easy to catch up and future stories to look forward to! 

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Amish Clockmaker by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, A Review

The Amish Clockmaker by Mindy Starns Clark

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 Christian Book          Book Depository

Book Description

From bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Clockmaker (Book 3 in the Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Newlywed Matthew Zook is expanding his family's tack and feed store when a surprising property dispute puts the remodel on hold--and raises new questions about the location's mysterious past.

Decades earlier, the same building housed a clock shop run by a young Amish clockmaker named Clayton Raber. Known for his hot temper, Clayton was arrested for the murder of his beloved wife, a crime almost everyone--including his own family members--believed he'd committed, even after charges were dropped. Isolated and feeling condemned by all, Clayton eventually broke from the church, left Lancaster County, and was never heard from again.

Now the only way Matthew can solve the boundary issue and save his family's business is to track down the clockmaker. But does this put Matthew on the trail of a murderer?

A timeless novel of truth, commitment, and the power of enduring love, where secrets of the past give way to hope for the future.


Review

I was provided an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Here is my honest review.

I'm not sure how this book is classified: mystery, romance, romantic suspense. I am sure that it was very different from any other book I have read set in the Amish community, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much more than most of the books I read in that genre.

I found the plot to be really interesting and the writing/story to be incredibly authentic. The authors did a great job exploring how Amish people today work through situations that arise from the English community. 

I don't want to say much so as not to give away any spoilers; there are serious issues that are dealt with in this book (pregnancy, mental illness as well as trust and forgiveness). Oftentimes I read a romance book in the Amish genre and it seems so perfectly idyllic, which is unrealistic. 

The one scene that resonates with me is when Clayton is speaking to his mother after she expressed displeasure towards his wife. He reminds her that Jesus did not require us to be perfect before he sacrificed himself on the cross. He has a deep faith and his view of accepting his wife where she is while wanting peace for her was so touching. 

I enjoyed this story immensely - I practically couldn't put it down. Since this is the third book in a series, I will be looking to read the previous books and will watch for future books as well.


I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it


Want to Know More?

You can  pick up a copy of Lilies on Daybreak Pond, a short prequel novella in the Men of Lancaster series, at Amazon, free on Kindle,  as of the date of this blog post. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Secondhand Cowboy by Lacy Williams, A Review

Secondhand Cowboy

   Amazon              Goodreads   
This book releases on March 24, 2015 and is available for pre-order.

Book Description


Iris Tatum hasn’t seen her high school sweetheart Callum Stewart since he left years ago without a single word. Then she witnesses an horrific hit-and-run accident, and comes face to face with her past–and Cal’s triplets. A volunteer paramedic, Iris can’t walk away. No matter how much she wants to. 

Bull rider Callum Stewart was run out of town at age twenty and vowed never to return. Only one thing could bring him back: building a future for his sons. Now, thanks to the accident that left him with a broken leg—he needs help to care for his boys. He has no choice but to accept Iris’s grudging help. 

As they rediscover a friendship–and the sparks that never faded between them–Callum’s secrets are brought back with a vengeance. How can they keep the past from destroying their future?

Review

I would like to thank Redbud Press for sending me a copy to review.  Here is my honest review.

I utterly adored this book.  It is a formulaic romance and I enjoy those types of books, typically giving them a three star rating (I liked them, but they didn't stick with me).  I gave Secondhand Cowboy four stars, I enjoyed it that much!

This book had so many elements that I enjoy in a romance: cute cowboy, rowdy boys (in the form of toddler triplets who stole my heart right along with Iris'), a second chance at love, and a small town.  I really enjoyed the theme of forgiveness that Williams weaves into the story.  Callum was convinced that he wasn't worthy of Iris' forgiveness yet she gave it so easily.  I loved that she took time to reflect on what he meant to her and fought for him.

Since this is a formulaic romance, there  are no big surprises, a guaranteed happy ending and it won't cure a world problem; it did however, put a smile on my face and leave me with a warm fuzzy feelings throughout.

I really, really hope that Williams writes stories for Jilly and the dress shop owner.  Sam. And even Mike, who is already married but I have a feeling there's a story there as well.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it


Want to Know More?

Visit Lacy Williams website to learn more about books she has written.  I joined her mailing list; I definitely will be looking at past books she has written and look forward to reading her new works as well.
Kissed By A Cowboy, a novella by Lacy Williams is currently offered for free at Amazon(paired with another Redbud Press book).  As I was looking up other works by Williams, I noticed she had a story (which happens to be Kissed by a Cowboy) in the First Kisses anthology which I reviewed last year; I looked it us and that just happened to be my favorite in the anthology. I love it when I think I've found a new author whose work I enjoyed only to realize that I actually had read their work before.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Devon's Choice by Catherine Bennett, Blog Tour & Giveaway

devon's choice
Devon’s Choice

Life holds no surprises for Devon Murphy. Her life consists of keeping tabs on her aging Irish father, working part time at a coffee shop, and building her online graphics design business. Devon’s only tricky situation is a shallow relationship with the pampered and affluent Michael Turner, who sees her as just another woman to conquer.
Following his father’s death, Brandon’s only goal is to expand the family business and live life on his own terms. That is, until he walks into the coffee shop one snowy evening and meets the enchanting, red-haired barista behind the counter. But can Devon and Brandon’s attraction for each other be strong enough to help erase their deepest disappointments and renew their faith in God?
add to goodreads
My Review
Let me begin by saying that I was in a very funky frame of mind when I read this book.  I did receive a copy for the tour to review and I am thankful to have been included; but I am going to share some honest thoughts about this book.  I encourage you to check out other reviews as it has received many ratings higher than mine.  
I had a very difficult time getting drawn into this book.  It wasn't the writing, which was fine and even though I thought the character development was fairly shallow, it was fine too.  The story premise is cute so I'm attributing it to my physical and emotional exhaustion of the week*.
By the last quarter of the book, I was hoping Devon would make a smart choice but honestly, she drove me so crazy I wasn't sure I would get a happy ever after - kudos to Bennett for keeping up the suspense on that end.  Devon's Choice definitely followed the formula of a feel-good romance
This is promoted as a book where faith factors in and it is in this that I found my biggest disappointment.  I felt like Devon's and Brandon's faith journey was shallow and would have liked to see more depth in this area.  I did think Bennett did a nice job of portraying how one can feel desire (usually is lacking in a Christian romance) and how to fight to maintain purity in a relationship.  This is probably one of my favorite aspects of the book.
I liked the bantering between Devon and Brandon.  I liked not knowing where the story was going; there were a few times when I was worried that the story would take a twist I did not want it to take.  I don't find a lot of formulaic romances to have unexpected twists and turns that keep me guessing - that was a refreshing treat.  I would have loved to see more of Meg and Brandon's mom (adored her so much from the little glimpse)
Overall, I am giving this 3 stars.  This is a fairly good read, I did enjoy it, I don't regret reading it and I think it is definitely a great read for the price.  If Bennett wrote Meg's story, I would definitely pick it up to read!  Again, read other reviews as my experience with the book fell at a really emotional time for me.  You will find the blog tour schedule below which will list all the blogs posting a review or an excerpt.

I gave this book: 

★ = I did not like it     ★ = It was okay     ★ = I liked it    
★ = I really liked it     ★ = I loved it

 Praise for Devon’s Choice
5 Star Review on Amazon
“Devon’s Choice is an enjoyable Christian Romance. I was hooked from the first chapter. Devon is a strong, independent young woman who is not afraid to stand by her beliefs. The characters are very believable, and the story contains some surprise twists and turns. I would recommend this book to all readers who like Christian Romance. It is an excellent read.” ~ Review by Sharon B.
4 Star Review on Amazon
“This book is an enjoyable read. Moving along with Devon and her choices opens oneself to feeling with her the good and bad consequences of those choices. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between Devon and her dad. How she handles herself and all life throws at her makes for a good read.”
~ Review by Robin
5 Star Review on Amazon
This is a very emotional story of friendship, relationships and loss. Devon Murphy is a woman with strong morals. She loves and cares for her aging widowed father, works a part time job at a coffee shop with her friend Megan, and is putting her graphics art degree to work building a business. She is dating Michael Turner, who is egotistical, self-centered and treats her like a business deal. Brandon Forrester seems to have the same strong characteristics as Devon, family devotion, business ethics, healthier lifestyle and respecting other people. Devon knows that Michael is wrong for her and when she meets Brandon, they seem to have a connection. This story is about taking a hard look at your life and goals and making plans and changes. About dealing with the loss of a parent and knowing how to move on and putting your faith and trust in God and allowing Him to lead in your life. ~ Review by RedRabbitt

5 Star Review on Amazon
I really enjoyed this romance, the characters and their journey. It was very moving, endearing and engaging.
I appreciate the writing style, the emotional pull, the way the story unfolds.
I love to feel satisfied after reading a book, and this one does just that!
Very enjoyable read.
Highly recommend!
~ Review by Kimberly
Want to Know More?
Catherine Bennett
Author Catherine Bennett
I grew up in Ohio where I currently live with my husband and our two rescue Labradors. Some of my favorite things include reading, shopping, pepperoni pizza, Hershey bars and hanging out with my two grown sons. I also love dogs; so going to the dog park is cheap entertainment for my husband and I!
Growing up an only child, I had many imaginary friends. I believe this – and a love of books – fueled my desire to write. It was many years later that my dream of becoming a published author came true.
I’m grateful to God for always keeping a story in my heart and hope you are blessed and entertained by my book.
Blog Tour Schedule
March 9th
{A Leisure Moment} – Review
Getting Your Read On – Review
Mythical Books – Review
Diana’s Book Reviews – Review
Coffee Books & Art – Spotlight
March 13th
For the Art of It – Review
Mom With a Reading Problem – Review
My Own Little Corner – Spotlight
deal sharing aunt – Spotlight
Mommabears Book Blog – Spotlight