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January 21 2016 5 21 /01 /January /2016 00:32

      "Until the Dawn" is the latest book in a new series by Elizabeth Camden, published by Bethany House. There is a novella prequel to this story available also.

 

      I've always loved the works I've read by Camden, but lately her stories have gotten a little slower and harder to stick with. This one didn't hold my attention all the way through like it's novella prequel did, and I found myself skipping through portions until the plot picked up, and even then just skimming to the end. I was disappointed that it didn't hold my interest as well as "Against the Tide" or "The Lady of Bolton Hill", and the characters just weren't as likeable. I still plan on continuing to read more books by this author, but just wanted to say that this isn't her best one to date. If you haven't read any of Camden's works before and were thinking of starting with this one, I would recommend going back and reading some of her earlier works.

 

     With that said, I did like the heroine, and I have always enjoyed how Camden's characters will have unique interests that educate me about various hobbies and professions. I can tell that significant research goes into each book, and I appreciate the authenticity that it lends to the stories.

 

     Thank you so much to Bethany House and Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All thoughts are my own and were not required to be positive.

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January 19 2016 3 19 /01 /January /2016 02:17

 

    "With This Ring?" is a new novella collection of four short stories by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears that's put out by Bethany House.  I really enjoyed this collection because it features the stories of some of these authors' minor characters from previous books.  

 

     The first novella is by Karen Witemeyer (The Husband Maneuver) and tells the story of Dead-Eye Dan and Marietta Hawkins.  Marietta has been in love with Dan for years, but he doesn't know it.  She concocts a plan to try and get him to notice her, unaware that he does like her but can't do anything about it due to a promise he made to her father.  I really enjoyed getting to follow up on Dead-Eye Dan from A Worthy Pursuit released earlier last year.

 

     The second is Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings.  I didn't recognize the characters, but it was a very cute story nonetheless.  Josiah Huckabee has a crush on his neighbor Katie Ellen Watson, but  she's not interested in him.  When he goes over to check on her after during a rainstorm, the creek rises too much for him to return to his land, and he's stuck with her.  Unfortunately, her parents were out of town; then a suspicious stranger shows up and they decide to act like newlyweds for their safety.  I thought the situations that the characters got themselves into were really funny, and the awkwardness between the characters made me smile.

 

     The third is Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy.  This one didn't stand out in my memory.  It was the story of fugitive Cassie Halsey, who has to run away from a man who wants to marry her, and of Texas Ranger Big John Conroy, who is sent to save her.  I appreciated how the author weaved in some previous characters, but other than that, I didn't really find anything notable.  

 

     The fourth and final is Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears.  This was a really sweet story of two rivals who have to help each other out and end up realizing that they are a good team.  I am not as familiar with this author, so I'm not sure if any of the characters carry over from any of her previous books.

 

     Overall, I really liked this novella collection.  I've read several collections lately, mostly from Barbour publishers, and I must say that I think this one measures up.  The characters were adorable, and the plots didn't feel rushed as is the case with some novellas that I have read.  I would recommend this collection, and while it works as a stand-alone, it is much more enjoyable if you have read some of the recent books by each of the authors.

 

     Thank you so much to Bethany House publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive. 

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January 11 2016 2 11 /01 /January /2016 03:15

 

     At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings is the second book in the Ozark Mountain Romance series.  It works as a stand-alone, though I have read book one in the series.

     Miranda Wimplegate helps around her family's auction house, which has recently accidentally sold a prized portrait from a customer to an anonymous bidder.  Her family is able to track it down to an auction house out west, so they buy that whole auction house, telling the manager not to sell anything until they get there.

     Wyatt Ballentine doesn't know what sort of fancy people from Boston are coming and messing around his auction house, but he knows that all the cattle inside are getting antsy, and the business can't afford to be put on hold.  Will he be able to explain the situation to Miranda and her aging grandfather? Or will the angry customer from Boston harm the Wimplegate's name before the mess can be straightened out?

      I really liked this book's the chemistry between the characters, and the plot was fun and creative, yet had a hint of mystery.  Overall, I think the action picked up faster than the first in the series.  I would recommend this one, but I'd also say to read the first book, A Most Inconvenient Marriage, because some of the characters overlap.

     Thank you so much to Bethany House publishers and Net Galley for providing me with an electronic copy of this book to read and review.  All opinons are my own and were not required to be positive.

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January 1 2016 6 01 /01 /January /2016 07:40

1. 

Her One and Only by Becky Wade. I hate to see this series end, but I'm excited for this last installment!

 

2.

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter. I really like both this author and this series (thus far) so I'm looking forward to this!

 

3. Cover Yet to be Revealed 

The Fiery Arrow by Bo Burnette because I'm so excited to discover what it's about and I know he does good quality work!

 

4.

A Spy's Devotion by Melanie Dickerson as well as The Beautiful Pretender because I'm curious and her tales are usually pretty good.

 

5.

A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund. I'm not sure (by the cover) if this will be epic or cheesy, but I've liked, I believe, everything that I've read by Jody Hedlund so far, except for the book preceding this one. Fingers crossed that this will be good!

 

Bonus: Charity's Cross by MaryLu Tyndall.  Releases Feburary 1st and is the fourth book in the Charlestowne Belles series!

 

Side note: In years past I've done one book review post per week, and last year due to schooling I had to change it to one per every two weeks.  While life is still busy, I'm thinking I may be able to post three times a month--once every 10 days.

 

Okay, what are you all looking forward to releasing and hoping to read this year?

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January 1 2016 6 01 /01 /January /2016 06:09

 

       "Counting on a Cowboy" by Debra Clopton is the second book in the "A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance" but the first book that I've read by this author. I didn't find the story hard to follow whatsoever, even though I haven't read the first book in the series, and I must say this was a great introduction to this author's work. Abby Knightly is running from flashbacks of a traumatic past, into the small town of Wishing Springs, Texas, where a advice columist that helped her through her hard times is from. She doesn't know what she'll find, but she sure doesn't expect to almost run over a handsome cowboy.

 

      Bo Monahan is content working on his stirrup company. When Abby Knightly crashes into his life, he can't imagine how much his life is about to change. Soon he discovers he can't function without her, but he doesn't want to scare her since he only just met her. Will he be able to break past all the walls she's put up?

 

     I really enjoyed this book; the characters were relatable and I just purely enjoyed my time in their stories. The plot certainly had several twists and turns that I never saw coming, and overall it is a very sweet setting.

 

      Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson publishers and Net Galley for providing me with a Kindle copy of this book to read and review. All opinons are my own and were not required to be positive.

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January 1 2016 6 01 /01 /January /2016 04:06

I've read about 74 books this year, but I have narrowed them down to 10 favorites.

 

1. 

The Girl from the Train by Irma Jourbet was my all-time favorite book from this year. I got it from the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild.  It reminded me of The Book Thief, which was another story I really enjoyed. Here's the link to the review: http://mybookthoughts.over-blog.com/2015/09/bonus-special-the-girl-from-the-train.html

 

2. 

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade is the third installment in the Porter Brothers series and is probably my favorite so far. I really liked the characters in this story and the themes of healing and unconditional love. Here's a link to my review of it: http://mybookthoughts.over-blog.com/2015/05/a-love-likes-ours.html

 

3.

Anne of the Island  by Lucy Maud Montgomery is the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series. I really enjoyed this book, as Anne is closer to my own age and therefore much more relatable.  It was really nice to read someone else's experiences going into adulthood and further schooling, etc., and I absolutely love her optomistic outlook.  And what's not to love about Gilbert Blythe? ;) I don't have a review for these one aside from what I just wrote as I read this book "for fun".

 

4. 

Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys by Lousia May Alcott is the sequel to Little Women. I don't know if it's treason to say so, but I'd say this sequel is just as good...if not better...than the original.  I just loved the mischief that the boys would get into! This was one that I read for fun, but I also wrote a review for it, which you can find here: http://mybookthoughts.over-blog.com/article-little-men-125432930.html

 

5. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a book that I picked up early this year because I wanted to say that I'd read it. I really liked the characters and the irony of the story, plus I supplemented it with the BBC episodes to help put faces with names. I'd highly recommend both the book and the BBC, and this has sparked an interest in more of Jane Austen's tales. Again, no review for this one...but it's good!

 

6. 

Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter is the fourth book in the "Chapel Springs Romance" series, and I liked the twist about how the characters had already been married to each other.  I thought this was really cute; check out my review for it here: http://mybookthoughts.over-blog.com/article-married-til-monday-125572953.html

 

7. 

How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck is the third installment in the "Royal Weddings" series and is my favorite of the series. It's also a story of two characters married to each other, but this time they fall in love while trying to sign annulment papers. Here's a link to the review I wrote for it: http://mybookthoughts.over-blog.com/article-how-to-catch-a-prince-125548325.html

 

8. 

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.  This was another "bucket-list" item that I wanted to read; I read it for school and would listen to the audiobook as I went along.  I really enjoyed it, despite the tragedy. The play did have several good poetic sections that I recognized, as well as some good moral lessons.  No review for this one either, but I think everyone knows how it goes! 

 

9. 

The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection by various authors and published by Barbour publishing.  All of these nine novellas were just so adorable and I really enjoyed reading them.  Be on the lookout for my full review in the coming weeks.

 

10.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I'm still not sure what I think about this novel, but when you've read a book like 4 or 5 months ago, and you're still thinking about it, that's probably a sign that it was a good, or at least thought-provoking book.  In addition, I read this during a really rough patch I went through this summer, and themes in the book like loving someone while you still have them really struck home.  Sometimes...well...mostly, I wait and "withhold" love or affection to others because people have hurt me previously, so I expect to be hurt by others.  This book really helped me to see that it can be worth it to love people even if they don't stick around; that loving them while you (and they) still have the time is stronger and more courageous than barricading your heart.  I don't agree with a lot of the theology, physical intimacy, and language used in the book, but to have a story illustrate a lesson that powerful, I thought it was worth it.  (I just wouldn't necessarily recommend it to younger readers.)

 

Okay, well, that sums up my year! Top 10 Favorite Books of 2015.  If I do say so myself, that's a lot of classics mixed with modern writers, historical fiction and contempory.  I think I could work on reading some more nonfiction ones though! I did read nonfiction this year, but none of them were my favorites :). Maybe a biography or something is in order for 2016!

 

What are some of your favorite reads, this year or just all-time? Let me know in the comments below!

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December 24 2015 5 24 /12 /December /2015 05:23

 

     "Love in the Details" is the November addition to the "Year of Weddings" novella series, which can be read in any order, and is the first novella by Becky Wade.  I was very excited for more of Mrs. Wade's writings while waiting for the fourth book in the Porter family series, and a novella was just enough to tide me over while I wait.

 

     This novella picks up with Holly, whose boyfriend's mother had pressured her to break up with Josh at the end of high school so that he will go on to succeed in college.  She does so, out of sacrificial love for him, but doesn't tell him her reason for breaking up.

 

     Eight years later, Josh has gone on to be very successful, with offices all over the world and a house in Paris.  Holly is an author in the same Texas town.  The two of them have never stopped thinking of each other, day after day. When a friend's wedding brings Josh back into town as best man, how will they face each other again?

 

     I enjoyed this little story; the characters were still well developed, and while I didn't really like the secrecy, I understand that it was a major part of the plot.  Overall I really enjoyed this story.

 

     Thank you so much to Harper Collins publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a Kindle copy of this book to read and review.  All opinons are my own and were not required to be positive.

 

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December 16 2015 4 16 /12 /December /2015 22:38

 

      I once read a novel by Colleen Coble, several years ago now, and while I hardly put it down, for some reason I never read anything else by the author. There was nothing wrong with the book; I just didn't look up anything else she had written. Recently, the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild sent me a two-novella combo by Colleen Cobke called "All Is Calm, All Is Bright". I was glad for another opportunity to try out this author, and had been eyeing this collection anyway. (I'm going to take a moment here to just stop and marvel over how the Fiction Guild reads my mind and sends me exactly what I've been wanting to read. I'm so amazed!)

     This book has two stories, as I've mentioned, and they are not related to each other, but I get the impression that they are related to some of her other series. They are packaged as a Christmas combo, and while there is nothing distinctly Christmassy about either of them aside from the mention of them being set in and around December, I liked that they grabbed by interest right away, and were short enough to read in one sitting. This aspect of it is perfect for the holiday season, when we may not have enough time to read a full novel, but have an afternoon to read a novella. Both of these stories are action-packed mysteries, and they had significant amounts of drama which was right on the line of being over-dramatic, since the stories were so short, but they were still good. The characters were solid and the plot well thought out and executed in such a tight amount of pages, and the Christmas setting was nice to read about this time of year. I would recommend reading this book this season, and perhaps considering purchasing it for someone else for Christmas.

     Thank you so much to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

 

Bonus Giveaway on Facebook! Click here: https://www.facebook.com/tnzfiction/app/385055231574188/

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December 11 2015 6 11 /12 /December /2015 22:31

 

"A Respectable Actress" by Dorothy Love is a stand alone novel, and the first one that I have read by this author. I received it from the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild, who sent me "The Girl From the Train".

I really enjoyed this book! Two for two, Fiction Guild! Mainly, it was an intriguing mystery in historical setting, but there is a little bit of romance thrown in. I appreciated that it wasn't predictable, and had many plot twists that were creative.

India Hartley (what a cool name!) is an actress on tour with a company since her own father's company went bankrupt. The tour was performing Savannah, Georgia at the time when her co-worker was shot onstage, and she became a top suspect.

Philip Sinclair is the lawyer hired to defend India in her case, but he has a history of his own. After his unhappy wife's death, he has worked to build his law practice and rebuild his plantation on St. Simon's Island.

I loved the history in this story, especially in regards to the setting of Savannah and St. Simon's. I was also really drawn to India's character, and found myself rooting for her innocence to win out in court. The plot didn't become slow at any point for me, and nearly every chapter ended with a cliff-hanger (which is a little annoying, but does at least keep you reading), even though many of them were false alarms. Overall, I would totally recommend this book, and might even read it again. This makes a great Christmas present.

Thank you so much to the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan Fiction Guild for picking out this book for me to read and review. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and all opinions are my own.

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December 10 2015 5 10 /12 /December /2015 03:52

 

     "The Golden Braid" by Melanie Dickerson is the latest fairy tale retelling that is loosely connected to her other novels, but works as a stand-alone.  I was excited for this plot, as I love Rapunzal, but I felt it this followed the Disney version "Tangled" more than it did my memory of the original story.  When a story is adverstised to be a spin-off, I tend to assume it's a spin-off of the original, not a spin-off of a spin-off.  Of course, that could just be my error.

 

     Rapunzel has learned many things over her years: painting, distrust of men, and knife throwing.  But the one skill she desires most, she can't find anyone to teach her: how to read.  When a local village boy asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Rapunzel's Mother Gothel decides it is time to leave and go to another village.  On the way, they are attacked by bandits, but thankfully a knight comes to their rescue.  A very arrogant knight that Mother Gothel refuses to trust.

 

     Sir Gerrick, whom some readers may recognize as one of the knights from "An Uncertain Choice", stopped along the road to help some women who had been robbed.  For some reason, even after he rescued the poor damsels in distress, they will not talk to him, much less even look at him.  What he doesn't know if he has a skill that Rapunzel desperately wants.

 

     I have enjoyed other fairy tale retellings by Melanie Dickerson; ones I've read have been creative and captivating.  This one did not hold my interest; in fact, it never caught my interest.  I couldn't stand Sir Gerrick; he was arrogant and rude.  Rapunzel's character had two interesting aspects to hook a reader in: she could throw a knife but couldn't read.  Being set in a medival time period, I'd guess that could've been said about a lot of people.  The plot picked up a little around three fourths of the way through, but quite frankly, this just wasn't Melanie Dickerson's best book.  I'd still recommend her works, and this one tied in fairly well with her others, it just didn't seem to be held to the same standard as her previous novels.

 

     Thanks to Net Galley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.. All opinions are my own and were not required to be positive.

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