Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

Series: The Seeds of America Trilogy
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
ISBN-10: 1416961461
ISBN-13: 978-1416961468
 Release Date ~ October 4, 2016!

Return to the American Revolution in this blistering conclusion to the trilogy that began with the bestselling National Book Award Finalist Chains and continued with Forge, which The New York Times called “a return not only to the colonial era but to historical accuracy.”

As the Revolutionary War rages on, Isabel and Curzon have narrowly escaped Valley Forge—but their relief is short-lived. Before long they are reported as runaways, and the awful Bellingham is determined to track them down. With purpose and faith, Isabel and Curzon march on, fiercely determined to find Isabel’s little sister Ruth, who is enslaved in a Southern state—where bounty hunters are thick as flies.

Heroism and heartbreak pave their path, but Isabel and Curzon won’t stop until they reach Ruth, and then freedom. 

I have been a fan of this author for years and have been eagerly awaiting to read Ashes, the third book in the Seeds of America Trilogy.   

History came to life within the pages of Ashes. I found the story to be compelling and the characters jumped off the pages to capture my attention from the first page through the last page. I felt their pain, fear, sorrow and joy. I rooted for their accomplishments and grieved with them in their disappointments. Ms. Halse Anderson certainly out did herself with this book! 

Rating: 5 Stars

Thank you to Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books and Edelweiss for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

Series: Tales From Ivy Hill (Book 1)
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
ISBN-10: 0764218131
ISBN-13: 978-0764218132
Release Date ~ December 6, 2016! 
The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora's wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them--and her future--in a different light.

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love? 

Recently I had been looking for a wonderful historical fiction ~ romance novel to just immerse myself in and escape from the day to day world for just a bit.  I was blessed last week to have some time to read a rather fantastic Regency Romance novel ~ The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen.

Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I carried it everywhere with me and kept reading it at every available opportunity.  The story was captivating with it's twists and turns and the characters were truly engaging. The main plot and sub-plots were creative and complemented each other within this story. All in all, this book ended up being just what I needed and wanted to read.

I have to admit I fell in love with the world and the people of the Ivy Hill Inn and I can't wait to read the next book in this series!

Rating: 5 Stars

Thank you to  Library Thing and Bethany House Publishers for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Tell Me Something Real by Calla Devlin - Fantastic Read!

Publisher: Atheneum Books (Young Adults)
Released: August 30, 2016
ISBN-10: 148146115X
ISBN-13: 978-1481461153

 I listened to this book through Audible:
Listening Length: 7 hours and 8 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Release Date: August 30, 2016


Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…


When I first came across Tell Me Something Real I thought ...  " What could be more insidious than cancer?" Well, after reading this book, I have to admit I was wrong ~ there definitely is something more insidious!

This book is phenomenal!

It's a powerhouse of  emotions and is full of surprising twists and turns in the  plot that left me emotionally reeling. It has just jumped to being my #1 read book so far in 2016.  Yep, it's really that good! 

What amazed me the most about this book is how Ms. Devlin captured and clearly portrayed this story's deeper themes so well. The characters were realistic and the raw emotions of this book carried me away as I read this story. 

After I finished Tell Me Something Real, I was  overwhelmed emotionally. I just sat there stunned mulling over all that I had read. I had to wait to write this review because I needed time to process it all. While it was hard facing the issues that this book highlighted, I am SO glad I read it!

5 Stars!        

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

ISBN-10: 0062467255
ISBN-13: 978-0062467256
 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 20, 2016)

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more. 

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.  

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan is definitely the author's gift to all of us who have bookish hearts and enjoy reading romance with a bit of drama and a heap of goodness thrown into the mix! 

I found this book to be delightful and I so connected with Nina's love for books.  The story is sweet, refreshing and I truly enjoyed reading it! 

My only disappointment was a very small one ... I felt the ending was a bit too abrupt; I would like to have followed more of the character's lives. Still, that could very well be chalked up to the fact that I just didn't  want the story to end. I am definitely look forward to reading more of Ms. Colgan's books.

4 Stars! 

If you love books, romance, a bit of drama and anything Scotland ~
 The Bookshop on the Corner is most definitely for you! 

Thank you to William Morrow Paperbacks, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer ~ Waiting on Wednesday
A weekly meme spotlighting soon to be released
books hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's book ...

Release Date ~ April 4, 2017

ISBN-10: 1681190087
ISBN-13: 978-1681190082
 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA


Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past. 

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. 

But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

Love letters at the grave of Juliet's mother? 

Definitely a bit creepy but captivating. Enough to have me read the full book blurb and know I really want to read this book.

I can't wait to find out Juliet's reaction when Declan starts writing her back!

What books are you waiting for?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wanda E. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook

Spiral-bound: 224 pages
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press (August 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1630588679
ISBN-13: 978-1630588670

(from Amazon)
 This well-organized book is sure to become a treasured resource!
Overloaded with garden produce, CSA shares, or farmers’ market finds?Now you’ll know what the Amish do with these seasonal fruits and vegetables and how they preserve some of them for future use. 

Bring the wisdom of Amish gardeners and cooks into your own home with dozens of recipes and tips from the heart of Amish country in Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook.  


I fell in love with this cookbook as soon as I started going through it! It starts out with  some stories, advise  on planting, weeding, managing bugs in the garden and goes on to so much more.

The recipes are wonderful and the photography in this book is gorgeous! There are chapters for salads, soups, main dishes, sides, deserts, snacks/extras, canning/preserving and even recipes for the freezer.

I have a list of recipes I want to try and so I'll list a few of them here

Pumpkin cookies, Harvest Loaf, Bundt Zucchini Cake,
Canning ~ Apple Pie Filling, Canning ~ Old Fashioned Apple Butter ... don't they all sound delicious?

 Ms. Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook is a treasure trove of recipes! 

 5 Stars

Thank you to Shilo Press, Barbour Publishing and Netgalley for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review.    

The Bible and Me ~ Stories With A Message To Live By ~ Retold by Lois rock; Illustrated by Alida Massari

Age Range: 5 - 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Lion Hudson (August 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0745964958
ISBN-13: 978-0745964959

(from Amazon)
Thoughtfully retold, The Bible and Me begins with the faith stories of the Old Testament that tell of God’s unfailing love. The New Testament describes the coming of God’s son Jesus Christ, who by his life and teaching showed how all people could be reconciled to God.The stories of Jesus’ friends and followers are that of their faith, hope, and love. Each story ends with a prayer, psalm, or passage for reflection. 

The Bible and Me is a wonderful retelling of Biblical stories for children. The stories are well written and  engaging. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and quite captivating with their gorgeous array of colors.

This book would be a wonderful addition for read aloud bedtime stories, devotions, family time and/or self-reading time for older children!

5 Stars

Thank you to Kregel Publishing for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck

ISBN-10: 031034154X
ISBN-13: 978-0310341543
 Publisher: Zondervan (August 16, 2016)
(from Amazon)
 It's the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt's wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart's Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life. 

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley's stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love. 

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck is the third book in The Wedding Series and is full of history, drama, romance, family and faith. I found that I could easily read this book as a stand alone novel. I now can't wait to read the other two books in this series!

I loved the plot, it's characters and most especially, I would have to say I fell in love with the elegance and beauty of the Wedding Shop itself. It was a magical place and through it's owners, the life long impact it had on it's clients was inspiring. 

I also enjoyed how Ms. Hauck wove a story between the past and present that was engaging and whose characters and story came to  life for me as I read this book.  

I walked away from reading The Wedding Shop with a big smile and a warm feeling inside ~ the kind I get when I've read a really good book!

4 Stars!

Thank you to Zondervan Publishing and Netgalley for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy

ISBN-10: 0385348924
ISBN-13: 978-0385348928
 Publisher: Broadway Books (February 9, 2016)

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. 

Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy is  a wonderful mix of contemporary and historical fiction as it is set in both today's world and the Civil War era.  Eden is a modern day woman trying to come to terms with infertility and a rocky marriage. Sarah  lives in the Civil War era and is the daughter of John Brown.  Ms. McCoy does a superb job of blending the lives of both of these women, weaving the past and present together to create this amazing story. 
Ms. Mcoy's attention to detail and unique writing style enriches this book's story. While it's message is poignant and at times emotional, this book shines a light on one of our countries darkest times and brings to life our history and those brave souls that risked all to help change the course of a nation.   
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Mapmaker's Children and especially the history of Sarah Brown and the work of the Underground Railroad. She was such an amazing, inspirational woman. I highly recommend this book!

4.5 Stars!
Thank you  Broadway Books and Blogging for Books for the free gift of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Leave Me by Gayle Foreman

Publisher: Algonquin Books (September 6, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1616206179
ISBN-13: 978-1616206178

(from Amazon) 

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

With bighearted characters--husbands, wives, friends, and lovers--who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?

I've enjoyed reading Gayle Forman's books and was excited when I heard about Leave Me being released.  I was even more excited when I won an ARC copy through Library Thing!

Leave Me packs a pretty big emotional punch while whisking you away on a story that is heart-breakingly honest, shocking and yet exhilarating at the same time. 

The story unfolds through it's believable characters, intriguing plot, witty prose and a writing style that kept me intrigued through the whole story.  At times I felt the story was a bit unrealistic but overall, I found it to be an excellent book.

5 Stars!

Thank you to Library Thing for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.