Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

A weekly meme spotlighting soon to be released books hosted by 

This week I've chosen to spotlight ... 

Release Date ~ September 15, 2015

From the Publisher:

Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . .  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.  
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

What books are you waiting for?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

  • ISBN-10: 0152061541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152061548

Book 1 in this 4 book series

I have had this book in my TBR pile for  few months and have been eagerly awaiting reading it.   I love the cover  ~ that's what caught my attention at first and then when I read the book jacket review - the deal was cinched! 

Life As We Knew It  by Susan Beth Pfeffer is told from the perspective of Miranda, a high school girl who writes about her life and the struggles she and her family face after a climate changing catastrophic event occurs. It's tough being a being a teenager but being one as the world ends?!  


Overall, I felt this was a smashing good story! While reading this book, I would get so drawn into it that when I  would come up for a breather, several times it would take me a few minutes to remember that I still had electricity, chocolate and all the good things we enjoy on a daily basis. I was surprised to find how deeply engaged I was with  the story!

The only issue I have with this story and it's a small one, is how naive the people were when they found out that a rare occurrence was going to happen to the moon. They didn't think about the danger involved - I mean really, how could they not have some clue?!  Some communities were having block parties and some had home parties to celebrate this odd, rare event. 

I just found it rather hard to believe that they would not recognize even a smidgen of the danger that was coming their way.   

 Life As We Knew It was originally published in 2008 and since then the author has published three other books in this thought provoking series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I can't wait to read the other three!

Book Rating: 4.5 stars

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

  • ISBN-10: 0718011783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718011789

From the Publisher: 
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.
Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.
Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

I enjoyed reading The Curiosity Keeper by Sara  E. Ladd.  The story is a nice blend of romance and mystery with a tiny bit of thriller in there too.  The characters are well developed with just the right amount of goodness vs flaws to make them believable but still lovable. Well, most of them.   

What did I like about the heroine?  

Camille is spunky, independent and not at all like the women of her time. She is also quiet, thoughtful and kind.  She didn't let the challenges she faced overcome her and she met each one head on, albeit with a bit of help from a charming gentleman.

Would I read it again?

Absolutely ~ I really enjoyed reading this book and am eager to read more books the author has written.

I give The Curiosity Keeper 4.5 Stars!

I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Redeemed by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A weekly meme spotlighting soon to be released books hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick is ...

  • ISBN-10: 1442497564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442497566

Release Date: September 8, 2015!

From the Publisher:

After traveling through history multiple times and finding out his original identity, Jonah thought he’d fixed everything. But some of his actions left unexpected consequences. His parents—and many other adults—are still stuck as teenagers. And now Jonah has a new sibling, an identical twin brother named Jordan.

As odd as all this is for Jonah, it’s beyond confusing for Jordan. How does everyone in his family have memories of Jonah when he doesn’t? How can his annoying kid sister Katherine speak so expertly about time travel—and have people from the future treating her with respect? A few rash moves by Jordan send them all into the future—and into danger. What if he’s also the only one who can get them back to safety, once and for all?

Why this book? 

I've been reading The Missing series with my kids for several years. We have enjoyed it and on more than one occasion it's sparked one conversation that has led to another and another (a true sign of a good book)!

This series has time travel, history all wrapped up in a great story. I can't wait to read the final conclusion to this series!

I should share that technically this series is targeted for middle school age children but it is so well written, I believe that it can be enjoyed by anyone who loves time travel and history! 

What books are you waiting to read? 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Landry Park by Bethany Hagen a few weeks ago.  I was tickled pink when I found out that Jubilee Manor, book 2 and conclusion to this series was due to be released shortly. No long waiting! :)

  • ISBN-10: 0803739494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803739499

  • Landry Park Series - Book 2

The cover for Jubilee Manor is breathtaking. The blend of colors in the scenery along with that gorgeous dress - pretty impressive! 

The story can be described as a blend of dystopian society meets Gone with The Wind. Where the genteel old southern way of living combines with sci-fi twists and turns creating a story that is an engaging, enticing read!

Jubilee Manor combines romance, mystery, action and a fight to right the wrongs of a beleaguered world. Madeline, the Landry heir, started out in the first book as a confused, shy girl but within this second book, she finds herself and comes of age. 

I appreciated that she is realistically portrayed as a strong female and yet one who struggles to live up to other's expectations and even those she has for herself. At times, she finds it almost too much to bear.  

Madeline makes mistakes and tries to correct them, finds a deeper love than she ever dreamed of - all while trying to save a world gone mad. 

This story is beautifully written and full of richly diverse characters and it will keep you riveted till the very end!

Rating: 4.5 stars!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The House on Moody Avenue by Cellestine Hannemann

  • ISBN-10: 1449768199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449768195

I was intrigued with the concept of The House on Moody Avenue when I read the book description.  It was an interesting plot that was rather thought provoking.  Reminded me of Amy Grant's song, If These Walls Could Speak.  

There are five stories within this one book; each an incarnation of family and friends who lived within the Moody Avenue house. The first story was  about Lisette, an orphan girl who went from rags to riches through marriage and whose husband built the Moody Avenue house as a wedding present for her. There's more to her story but I don't want to spoil it for you!

Out of all five stories included in this book, Lisette's story was my favorite. The initial story was a lengthy one but rather enjoyable. The author's development of the story line and characters were  very good and it can be read and enjoyed a stand alone story.   

Unfortunately, the other four stories were not as well developed and due to the length of each one, it was too many stories in one book. In addition, the attention to character and plot development declined with each subsequent story. 

I dislike having to give a review such as this. I am only doing so as my commitment with a review book requires me to give an honest review, whether that review is good or not so good. 

Furthermore, I wish to share that I see some creative promise in this book. The first story was promising and the author clearly has talent.   

I encourage you all to make your own decision about this book and not be swayed by this review. Other reviews of this book indicate that some readers have liked it.

I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ~ 08/11/2015

I've been seeing this meme around the blogging world and decided to jump on in!

This week is all about the authors we have read the most books from. 

1. Debbie MaComber 

I have been reading her books for years! She is my "go to" author when I am craving a wonderful romantic story. If I had to choose one of my all time favorite book that she has written it would be Between Friends.

2. Janette Oke

I have read her books for years and my personal favorites are When Calls the Heart Series and Seasons of the Heart series.  

3. Jean M. Auel

Ms. Auel's Earth Children series is a series that I love (& books total) and they hold a high place in my "Absolute Favorite Lifetime Books"

4. Diana Gabaldon

I read The Outlander in the mid 1990's and it was love at first reading! I actually noticed the book due it's wonderful book cover ...

 but was hooked when I read the book description.  

5. J. K. Rowling

The Harry Potter Series. No further words needed to explain this entry! :)

6.   C. F. Dunn

The Secret of the Journal series is phenomenal! I can't wait till the fourth book in the series is published. 

7. Susan Meissner

I really enjoy how this author tells a tale of current time and one from the past. She expertly weaves both into a phenomenal read!  My favorite book of her's is The Shape of Mercy.

8. Katharine Schwartz (also writes as Kate Hewitt)

I came across some of this author's books in 2014 and fell in love with them. I have since been working on catching up on all her books.

9. Kelly Moore, Tucker Read and Larkin Read

Amber House Trilogy series is fantastic! Amber House (book 1)  and Never Was (book 2) are already published.  I'm waiting for book 3 to be released!

10. Amanda Hocking

The Trylle Series is fantastic. Presently, I am reading my way through The Kanin Series and am enjoying it as well. 

Which authors have you read the most? 

Never Said by Carol Lynch Williams

  • ISBN-10: 0310746612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310746614

Release Date: August 25, 2015

From the publisher:

For as long as she can remember, Sarah’s family life has revolved around her twin sister, Annie—the pretty one, the social one, the girl who can do anything. The person everyone seems to wish Sarah—with her crippling shyness—could simply become.

When Annie suddenly chops off her hair, quits beauty pageants, and gains weight, the focus changes—Annie is still the star of the family, but for all the wrong reasons. Sarah knows something has happened, but she too is caught in her own spiral after her boyfriend breaks up with her and starts hanging out with one of Annie’s old friends.

Annie is intent on keeping her painful secret safe. But when she and Sarah start spending time together again for the first time in years, walls start to break on both sides … and words that had been left unsaid could change everything.

Never Said by Carol Lynch Williams is a story that revolves around secrets, shame, fear, anger and words left unsaid.  The story itself is told from the perspective of two twin sisters, Annie and Sarah. Each has their own story to tell and the chapters alternate with their individual perspectives until the story is told.  

At first, I thought it would be too confusing to follow the story line as the chapters alternate between Annie and Sarah but when I started reading the story, I quickly realized that was not the case. The story flows well and I found I didn't have any trouble keeping up with the story line.   

Ms. Lynch Williams did a great job of capturing and writing about teenage life.  She addressed several very painful issues within this book and my heart ached for these girls and their family. 

This is a very well written story that will capture your heart and won't let it go even after you've finished reading it!  

Rating: Four Stars

 I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore with Jeff Hoagland

  • ISBN-10: 0310335582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310335580

Release date: August 25, 2015

From the publisher:

Raised in a broken family and emotionally overlooked, Sherry Gore grew up without a solid foundation, a prisoner of her own poor choices, and at times without hope.  A series of terrible mistakes left her feeling wrecked and alone and a sudden tragedy threw Sherry into an emotional tailspin too powerful to escape.
Sherry hangs by a thread, unable to see how she can go on living, until it happens: on a morning of no particular significance, she walks into a church and BAM the truth of Jesus’ forgiving love shatters her world and cleaves her life in two:  She goes to bed stunned; she wakes up a Christian.
Unwilling to return to the darkness of her former life, Sherry attacks her faith head on.  Soon the life Sherry Gore remakes for herself and her children as she seeks to follow the teachings of the Bible features head coverings, simple dress, and a focus on Jesus Christ.  Only then does she realize, in a fit of excitement, that there are others like her.  They are called Amish and Mennonite, and she realizes she has found her people.
The plain choice that Sherry makes is not easy – and life still brings unexpected pain and heartache - but it changes everything for her, as she becomes one of the few people on earth to have successfully joined the Amish from the outside. 
She has found her place. And her story proves that one can return from the darkest depths to the purest light with the power of God.

I read mostly fiction yet every once in awhile a non-fiction book catches my eye. The Plain Choice by Sherry Gore with Jeff Hoagland is one such book!   

What drew me to this book?  I am not really sure. I found the cover and the title interesting.  I found myself glancing at this book again and again. It seemed to keep tugging on my heart strings.    

While I stared at the front cover, my mind was flooded with memories as a child going with my mother to our local Amish community several times a year for  shoo-fly pie, mincemeat pie and other treats. I always loved those trips. 

Then I read the book description on the back of this book and I was immediately hooked!  

I started reading it as soon as I  received it.  I immediately felt as if I was sitting across the table in a sunlight filled kitchen chatting with Ms. Gore while drinking coffee and hearing about her life. I rarely get that feeling when I start reading a book so I knew this one was going to be good! 

Ms. Gore shares her story in a forthright style that spoke deeply to my heart. The story of the her life and her family is an amazing one. Her faith rings true and God's love in her life is evident and real.  

In this book she shares her choice to follow a Plain lifestyle as well as their experiences both good and bad, easy and hard.  But there is more to this book.   It is a call for all to realize God's love and forgiveness and that absolutely no one is beyond God's love and redemption. 

The Plain Choice touched my heart deeply, reminded me of some things I needed to remember and brought back focus on what should be and is most important to me in my life. 

I highly recommend this book. It's a life changer! 

Rating: 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

  • ISBN-10: 0310338476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310338475

From the publisher:

For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents. 

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancĂ©e. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

I read Love Arrives in Pieces  over a relaxing afternoon when I tried to beat the heat by staying inside reading and sipping homemade iced coffee.  Triple digit heat has a tendency to make me a bit grouchy so I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind when I started reading this book. 

By the end  though, I  was smiling and relaxed  and felt all was right with the world.  There is nothing like reading a good, clean romance novel! 

Book Rating: 4 stars

A big thank you to Booklook Bloggers for the opportunity to review this book. My review is an honest reflection of my reading experience and my feeling about this book.