Sunday, September 18, 2016

Alabama Irish by James Russell Lingerfelt

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. 

A while back, I read the Mason Jar by James Russell Lingerfelt, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I just finished reading Alabama Irish by him which I enjoyed as well. I love the way the story is told, through Brian's journal entries. The short entries, within the longer chapters, were a perfect fit to my reading style, allowing me to read even when I had only a few minutes and allowing me to read just one more section before going to sleep. I will say though that the short entries were initially a challenge for me to get into the story, but once I was in I was hooked!
When Brian meets Lauren on a trip to New York, you get to witness his excitement and feelings of first love. A love that he holds so strong that he decides he must find a way to reconnect. This quest results in him heading off to school under a false backstory and with no money. I wasn't expecting it when I started to read, but loved when the story brought us to Pepperdine and started to intertwine with the story of Finn. It is with Finn that he first runs into Lauren, but winds up being disappointed to learn that she is seeing someone else. I love his maturity in recognizing that she had no idea that he was coming to Pepperdine. His false backstory eventually catches up with him and his coming clean nearly cost him the relationships that he so wanted.

I loved how through the course of the story, you could witness the growth of Brian, not only through the experiences that he relayed in the entries, but even in the writing of the entries. Through his journal, we get to see him weather the ups and downs of a relationship and discover the value of true friendship.

Reading a coming of age story told through the eyes of a young man, and written by a male author, is different than I am used to, but was wonderfully appealing. I can't wait to read more books by James Russell Lingerfelt in the future.

about the novel

Brian was raised on "the wrong side of the tracks" in inner-city Alabama. Now, at nineteen, with a troubled past and juvenile record, Brian struggles to earn a living and find a life purpose. When he journeys to New York on a chance trip, Brian meets and falls in love with Shannon; a bright eyed, aspiring actress from California.

Brian returns to Alabama stirred by Shannon's courage and passion for life. With a new zest and reason for living, Brian is determined to turn himself into a man worthy of her love. Unable to afford college, Brian discovers the Os Guinness Scholarship, which provides free tuition to Pepperdine University for Irish students who desire to train for Ireland's ministry. With some innovative thinking, Brian fakes his Irish citizenry, accepts the scholarship, and moves to Southern California to attend school and pursue Shannon.

However, when Brian visits Alabama, all the lies come crashing down and Brian comes face to face with a past he thought was finished. Now, Brian must make a choice: lose Shannon by spinning more lies and choosing vengeance in hopes of putting his past to rest. Or choose honesty and forgiveness and embrace a new life with the only woman he ever loved.

Alabama Irish will make us sit back and laugh, then lay the book down and cry. But in the end, we'll be reminded that no matter our pasts, the possibility to find true love again is never lost.

(This coming of age love story teaches readers the necessity of honesty and openness in the pursuit of loving, long-lasting relationships.)

about the author

James Russell Lingerfelt is the author of The Mason Jar and writes articles for The Huffington Post. James connects with readers at his blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective, and divides his time between Southern California and his family's ranch in Alabama.

Find James online: website, Facebook, Twitter

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, July 31, 2016

A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Summer has been a relaxing and enjoyable time for me this year. I feel like there is a lack of time, but yet somehow, it feels like we are doing a lot. One thing that has been limited, but very enjoyable when I have the time is reading. Most recently, I finished reading A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson. I didn't realize it (even though it is clearly noted on the cover), but this is the second book in the Sapphire Brides series. I must admit, I have never read anything by Tracie Peterson before, so I was not familiar with her work, but learned on her website that she has over 100 titles to her credit.

I enjoyed reading A Beauty Refined. The historical setting of Montana in the early 1900s was the backdrop for this tale of discovering the truth and the faith needed to face it. The author did a nice job of developing the landscape for the story, including the hotel that once was and was once again. I enjoyed reading about Phoebe's clothes, many of which were the latest fashion. Despite the fact that the thought of wearing the accoutrements associated with the fashion of that day do not appeal to me, there is something so fun about the thought that there were clothes for each type of day and even for the different 'occasions' of the day. How often do you get to dress for dinner?

I must admit that I had to make a small effort to overcome the coincidence of Phoebe and her father arriving in Helena at the same hotel where her mother now worked. I recognize that without that coincidence, there would have been no story, but in the early 1900s it seemed a little bit of stretched opportunity for the German Count and his daughter.

As the story unfolded and Phoebe began to learn that what she had always held as true, was not actually her reality, I really felt for her. The reader journeyed with her as she went through the stages of denial, recognition of the signs, many that she had dismissed, that supported the truth, and the recognition of the truth for what it was It takes exploration of her faith to allow her to come to terms with this new reality and in that journey, she finds that Ian is the one she can turn to and becomes a more important part of her life.

If you enjoy historical fiction and a touch of romance, A Beauty Refined is a book that you should consider reading. I am curious to check out some of the other historical fiction stories written by Tracie Petterson.

A Beauty Refined
by Tracie Peterson
Historical Romance
Bethany House

What does it take to reveal the true beauty of a hidden gem?

Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father's intentions---both for her and the gemstones---are not what she thinks.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie---a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father's plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family's deception begins to unravel.

Meet the Author
Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. Find more information about her and her other books on her website.

See more reviews and learn more about the book 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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Her One and Only by Becky Wade

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
I really enjoyed the two books that I have read by Becky Wade, so when I heard that she had another book out and it was part of the Porter Family series, I jumped on the chance to read and review it.
This is the fourth book in the Porter Family Series, I have read the second and third story, but since each story can be read as a standalone, readers can jump in with any of the stories. This book focuses on Dru, the youngest sibling and only daughter in the Porter family. A former Marine, she is now working as a body guard and is assigned to the protection detail of Gray Fowler a popular, successful football player in the NFL.

Becky Wade does a great job in developing the characters. The way that she shares the story from multiple vantage points allows the reader to get to know the characters through their thoughts and actions and through their perspectives of the other characters, as well as the backstory that they share with one another. This three-dimensional view, helps make them realistic and allows the reader to feel a connection with them. The book appeals to the romantic side with the great love story, but also has a nice stream of suspense that keeps the reader wondering who is stalking Gray and wondering what lead up to the events in the prologue. As with the other books in this series, the characters are challenged and flawed. Their spiritual needs are woven into the story and as they put their faith in God, they are able to forgive, learn to trust and love again.

I thoroughly enjoy the chance to see a glimpse into the ongoing story of the other Porter siblings, who we got to know in the earlier books. Keeping up on the lives of those we met in earlier books is something that I really like about reading books in a series. I was bummed to realize that with the stories of all four Porter siblings told, the series is complete. I can only hope that the author features them again in another book.

This book is a must read for anyone that loves a good story with suspense, love and discovery.


After ten years in the NFL, superstar Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt--none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she's determined to find Gray's stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they'll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives--and their hearts--to one another.

About the Author
Becky Wade

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at

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.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Daughter's Dream by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Now that summer is here, I look forward to evenings relaxing on the porch or deck and reading, when my schedule allows. As luck would have it, our Memorial Day weekend was plan free - so I had a couple of times between the things we did to relax and read. The book I read was the new book from Shelley Shepard Gray, A Daughter's Dream. A Daughter's Dream is the second in a series called The Charmed Amish Life, conveniently set in the community of Charm.

I had read A Son's Vow, the first book, but A Daughter's Dream can be read as a stand alone book. The story focuses on Rebecca, a sister of Lukas from the first story, and a new to town man and niece, Jacob and Lilly. Darla and Lukas and several other characters from the first book make appearances in the story, but it is not about them. Rebecca is still trying to discover what her dreams are. She has longed to be a school teacher and fortunately, her friend Rachel has offered to allow her to help in the school and her brother offers support to allow her to spend time in the school. It is while volunteering at the school that she comes to meet Jacob and Lilly, when Jacob comes to enroll Lilly in the school. As both Rebecca and Jacob learn about themselves and the future that will make them happy and successful, they grow individually and find themselves growing together.

I enjoy how Shelley Shepard Gray has the ability to write a book about the Amish with a plot that transcends the setting and the faith of the characters. She develops such a captivating set of characters and as you join them on their journey of discovering themselves, it is hard to not feel a connection with the characters. As with the first book in this series, much time is taken in developing the characters and allowing the story to unfold, and yet again, the book seems to end with a flourish of activity to tie together the loose ends. Despite this, I found the overall story an easy, enjoyable read.

I look forward to the next book in this series, as I know it will likely be about some of the other shadow characters in this story and that it will allow me to follow the progress of the stories of those characters that I came to love in this story.

About the book:

A Daughter's Dream (Avon Inspire, May 2016)

A young teacher and farmer discover they have much in common, especially when it comes to healing old wounds from the past . . . and finding love in one another.

Rebecca Kinsinger has always dreamed of being a teacher. But when she's given the opportunity she's been waiting for at Charm Amish School, she's dismayed to discover that teaching is hard work---work she's afraid she's not very good at.

That is, until Lilly Yoder joins the class. A thirteen-year old who's just lost her parents, Lilly is in need of someone like Rebecca. For the first time since starting her new job, Rebecca feels a sense of purpose. But when she meets Lilly's uncle, Jacob, his good looks and sweet, easy-going temperament are hard to ignore. How can she even entertain romantic thoughts of Jacob when his niece is her student?

Suddenly becoming Lily's sole caregiver, Jacob Yoder never thought he'd be a single parent---or a farmer. Having been living in Florida as a carpenter, Jacob feels more at home wielding a hammer than a backhoe. The only bright spot in his life is Rebecca Kinsinger. As Lily and Rebecca develop a bond, Jacob's fondness for the pretty teacher grows, too.

But when a fateful accident brings them together, Rebecca and Jacob must choose between duty and desire. Will they follow the path before them? Or set out to find true happiness . . . and true love?

Purchase a copy here.

About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Connect with Shelley: website, Twitter, and Facebook

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Learn more about the book and find more 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.

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.

Purchase a copy:

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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?

Purchase a copy:

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Learn more about the book and find more 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.