Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mars...with Venus Rising by Hope Toler Dougherty

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Now that summer is here (or at least I thought it might be before I saw the snow falling today), I really enjoy finding light, easy to read books that can provide a nice diversion when I have a few minutes available to relax between activities. Mars...with Venus Rising by Hope Toler Dougherty fit the bill perfectly. A nice light, easy flowing story about Penn, her aunts and John Townsend, set in the community of Mars, PA. I think part of what I enjoyed was having it set in a community I was familiar with, having lived not too far away in Moon Township when I was younger.

I found the story and the characters to be quirky and lovable. The story progresses nicely and kept me interested in seeing what might happen next. There isn't significant growth experienced by the characters, but the story does shows how faith can get you through things that feel beyond your strength and allow you the confidence to proceed with other things in the future.

I do like that the author included the recipes for many of the baked goods that Aunt Jancie and Aunt Winnie made during the story and I look forward to trying the celebration cookies.

About the book:

Mars . . . with Venus Rising (Pelican Book Group, August 2015)

A meddling horse, paper bag floors and a flying saucer on the town square. The little town of Mars has it all---including a brand new resident who might spell heartache for one of its own.

Twenty-something Penn Davenport yearns for an exciting life in the big city and wants to shed the label of orphan that she's worn for years. To achieve that dream, she must pass the CPA exam then move away from the two aunts who reared her after her parents died in a plane crash.

When John Townsend---full of life and the joy of living---moves to town, he rattles Penn's view of herself, her life, and her dreams . . . which isn't such a bad thing until she falls for him and discovers he's a pilot.

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About the author:

Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master's degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. She cheers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in North Carolina and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo.

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You can find more reviews and learn more about the book and author on the blog tour landing page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Dream of Miracles by Ruth Reid

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
It's been a while since I have had the chance to read a work of fiction with an Amish setting. I was looking forward to reading A Dream of Miracles by Ruth Reid. I have never read a book by Ruth Reid and this one was set in an Amish community in Michigan, which was a new setting for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Mattie, the widowed mom of two and Bo, the social services investigator. Their paths were unlikely to cross, were it not for an unfortunate circumstance and a mysterious illness, but despite what was before them, Bo was not willing to accept things as they appeared on the surface. He persevered to find the truth and went above and beyond his role (even so far as to risk his career) to make sure the truth was determined and the family kept whole.

Ruth Reid did a great job of developing characters that became real to the reader, and whose unfolding stories and revelations of their past made the reader want only the best for them. I found myself staying up later than planned to read just one more chapter and deciding that I simply could not go to bed until I finished the book one evening. I had a couple of days where I was less rested than desired, but I was willing to accept that in order to continue to read.

This book was the third in the Amish Wonders series, but I felt no loss for having not read the other books. I look forward to reading more books by Ruth Reid and maybe learning more about the characters I met in this book.
About the book:

A Dream of Miracles (Thomas Nelson, April 2016)

Amish widow Mattie vows never to love again . . . until a suspicious outsider with a shadowy past comes crashing into her fragile world.

Mattie Diener can barely keep it together. A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son's mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her.

Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won't rest until she finds his Mrs. Right. Despite Bo's worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling.

When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible---not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo's dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

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About the author:

Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.

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No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
This past week was spring break for the kids. I wanted them to have a fun-filled week, but didn't want to get too far away from academics. Which is really code to say, I needed some downtime and by having them read, I got the chance to read. The book that I read this week was Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg. It was a very enjoyable book.

From the very first e-mail exchange that the book opened with, I was hooked. Melissa Tagg did a great job of bringing the characters in Maple Valley come to life. As their backstory was revealed through the progression of the book, I felt like I was right there with them and could imagine being a part of the small town of Maple Valley.

Logan is a really great guy, always aware of the feelings of those around him, all while seemingly hiding from his own feelings. Amelia has adopted Maple Valley as her home town and although everyone has welcomed her and become her friend, none of them really know her. As the story unfolds, we get to watch each of them work through the unresolved emotions that they have been hiding from and discover the opportunity to move forward in life, love and faith.

I really enjoyed the story and can't wait to read more by Melissa Tagg.


Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley's haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But when the newspaper she runs is in danger of closing, she pins all her hopes on a story that just might convince the new owner to keep the paper running.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker has the chance of a lifetime: a spot on a presidential campaign. But first he has to return to his hometown to sell the newspaper he's suddenly inherited.

But instead of a quick sale, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She's scrappy, but wounded. He's dependable, but lost. And working together to break the story on Maple Valley's unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

You can learn more about Melissa Tagg and her books at her website.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Playing the Part by Jen Turano

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

I recently finished reading Playing the Part by Jen Turano, I didn't realize it when I started but quickly came to discover that some of the characters that I had first met in In Good Company the first book that I had read by Jen Turano. Even before I discovered that it was next book in the series, I was looking forward to reading this book, as I like the style of Jen Turano and enjoy the historical fiction set in America.

Playing the Part has a great balance of romance, mystery, and humor. The author did a great job bringing the eccentric characters to life and it was hard not to fall in love with all the characters (well except for Silas and Nigel). I love the way that the author presented the characters and their quirkiness and then through the telling of the story starts to reveal what makes them who they are. As Bram and Lucetta begin to learn more about the other, they discover that first impressions are not always so reliable. Almost to the final page, the reader continues to learn more about the characters. I love that Millie returned in this story, even if only for a short portion of the story, with her dictionary and 'big words'. Every time she used a big word and then proceeded to tell her friends what it meant, it made me chuckle.

The setting for this story is primarily at Bram's castle, which is in part it's own 'character' with it's motley crew of staff, animals, unique structures, the suspicion that it is haunted and even a dungeon. The castle makes a perfect backdrop for this story, helping to move the story along and allowing us to get to know the real side of the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more by Jen Turano.
About the book:

Playing the Part (Bethany House, March 2016)

Can they accept who they are behind the parts they play in time to save the day?

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson's estate to hide out.

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows.

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can't ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it'll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

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About the author:

Jen Turano, author of the Ladies of Distinction series and the A Class of Their Own series, is a graduate of the University of Akron. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.

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No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sometimes you find love when and where you least expect it. In The Hearts we Mend by Kathryn Springer we meet several characters, including Evie and Jack. This modern day love story unfolds as Evie prepares for her son's wedding and the next phase of her own life. With the janitor at the church takes an unexpected leave, Evie's and Jack's lives start to cross paths more frequently. She has a strong first impression of Jack, but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes that there is a lot more to Jack than is visible on the surface.
The story was well written, it felt like I was right there with the characters. Although this was the second story in the Bannister Falls series, I felt that nothing was lost in jumping in with book two.

The characters were revealed with time, through backstories and current events. I'm sure that if I had read Dandelion Field, the first book in the series, I would have likely known more about the characters going in, but certainly got to know them well through this story. In fact, the more I got to know the characters the more I loved them and the more I cheered them on for things to go 'right' for them. The characters and story are heart-warming - a feel good story that makes you appreciate the diversity of those around you.

I would recommend this book and plan to read the first book in the series to learn more about the backstory.

About the book:

The Hearts We Mend (Zondervan, March 2016)

Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie's life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie's firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie's heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie's life is stream-lined, Jack's approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack's world---a world that isn't as safe or predictable as the one she's worked so hard to create---he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn't make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn't felt since Max passed away---or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn't anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

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About the author:

Kathryn Springer is a USA Today bestselling author. She grew up in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child she spent many hours sitting at her mother's typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books --- which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own. Kathryn has written nineteen books with close to two million copies sold. She lives with her husband and three children in Marinette, Wisconsin.

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Learn more about the book and read additional reviews at the blog tour landing page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Debra Clopton's Kissed by a Cowboy

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I took a break from historical fiction and recently read Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton. Set in the wide open spaces of the small town of Wishing Springs, Texas, the story follows Cassidy Starr. Having recently been divorced and returning to her roots to the home that her great aunt left her. Once there, she quickly crosses path with her new neighbor, Jarrod Monahan, who she had met and spent time with as a child. It's the third book in the Four of Hearts Ranch Romance series. I haven't read the other two, but I don't feel like that detracted from the enjoyment of this story. That being said, I'm pretty sure that the prior books are about Jarrod's brothers and it would be fun to read those books for more of the back story.

Cassidy returned to Wishing Springs in hopes of a clean start, away from her failed marriage. She hopes to revitalize the farm that she inherited and turn the farmhouse into a bed and breakfast. She wants to achieve these goals on her own, not dependent on anyone else for help. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately) for her, Jarrod and the community are naturally helpers and come to the aid of neighbors and community. I was very pleased with the way the story developed and unfolded, eventually being brought to a conclusion, and as with most good stories, found myself wanting to know what will happen next and wishing that there was at least one more chapter to keep the story going.

I really enjoyed getting to know the characters from Wishing Springs. The story drew me in from the start, flowed smoothly, and was easy to read, even when I found myself reading for short periods of time. This story of second chances was an enjoyable read. I look forward to going back and reading the first two books and getting to know more about the residents of Wising Springs.
About the book:

Kissed by a Cowboy (Thomas Nelson, February 2016)

Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong . . . not for a cowboy to steal her heart.

Having lived through her parents' endless string of "matrimonial bliss gone wrong," Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She's been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she's inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She'll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed & breakfast and follow in her aunt's footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy . . . and single.

Rancher Jarrod Monahan's hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He's pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster . . . and that's a challenge that Jarrod can't pass up.

Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy's stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy's kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Debra Clopton is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra's goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.

Connect with Debra: website, Twitter, Facebook

Learn more and read additional reviews on the blog tour landing page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.