Monthly Archives: May 2015

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“Marisa St. George is devastated when she is a victim of downsizing and has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it’s a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow’s End resort. The only silver lining is Blake Kendall, a new guest who is making her believe in love at first sight. But will her dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers who he really is?”

My thoughts:
I was excited to go back to Rainbow’s End and see what was new there! I was not disappointed and got to follow up with Kate and Greg from the first book in this Texas Crossroads series, At Bluebonnet Lake. As always, I found Amanda Cabot’s writing style so easy to follow and enjoyable. I really enjoyed Lauren’s story that was included too. Marisa’s mom was fun to get to know better and her story. I found some of the character transformations to be a bit hard to believe, although pleasant. As with the first book, this isn’t a thriller, so don’t expect it to be, but it is a nice, fun, relaxing read with good messages!

I give In Firefly Valley 4 out of 5 stars!

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author: Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, Christmas Roses, and At Bluebonnet Lake. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at http://www.amandacabot.com.

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Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas with a GIVEAWAY!

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:

“When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother’s helper, she’s always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn’t care about his troubles.

Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.”
My thoughts:
I was excited to read Until the Harvest because I read the first in this series, Miracle in a Dry Season and enjoyed it. It was neat to see how things changed for the characters through time and I loved that this book was set in the 1970’s. It seems rare to find books set during that time, so I really enjoyed that part of Until the Harvest. I think to get the best understanding of these characters, it is best to read this book after the first, but the story itself would probably be okay to follow if you didn’t.

The beginning was a bit slow and this isn’t a dramatic, suspenseful novel, but I never knew when Henry’s actions would get him in trouble or when he would scrape by. It always kept me guessing, and that is always fun!

The first thing that really strikes me with this author’s writing is how she makes her characters. They seem so life-like and realistic. Almost every single one shows some sort of flaw or negative reaction to something, rather than being filled with bubbly, fake happiness. They seem like people I sat down and had coffee with, rather than characters in a novel.

The second thing that I love about her writing is the theme she runs through her book and how she does it. Until the Harvest focuses on love and how we should love people as Christians, friends and more, and also how forgiveness goes along with love.

I give Until the Harvest 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for those looking for a thought-provoking gentle read.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, releases August 2014. Married with one dog, she now lives in Western North Carolina, which is almost as beautiful as West Virginia.

Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can visit her at http://www.SarahLoudinThomas.com.
There is a free novella to start off this series! You can download it from here: http://www.amazon.com/Appalachian-Serenade-Novella-Blessings-ebook/dp/B00KQS1DJ8/ref=la_B00GC23UNE_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1432822528&sr=1-3
I somehow received two copies of Until the Harvest and I want to pass on the brand-new, never read copy to you! To enter, comment with your favorite part about Miracle in a Dry a Season if you have read it, or tell me why you want to read this series, along with your name and email address (non-spam format) and I will randomly draw a winner on June 15th and notify them via email! You must be a US resident for me to mail the book to you. Good luck!

As Love Blooms By Lorna Seilstad

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturalist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park–and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

Against a lush backdrop of early twentieth century Saint Paul, Minnesota, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to please. Tessa’s young romance opens like a rose, stealing readers’ hearts and filling their senses with the intoxicating fragrance of dreams come true.”

My thoughts:
I requested to review this book when I saw where it takes place, in the great state of Minnesota! I live about as far away from St. Paul as possible while still living in Minnesota and I love learning about some of its history through good novels.

The beginning was really fun with laugh-out-loud moments. I love Tessa, the main character, and her lovable, fun, quirky ways that really reminded me a lot of myself. I can’t help but love a character that struggles with some of the same things I do. I liked the friendship basis for Tessa and Reese and how their relationship “bloomed” 😉 rather than a love/hate relationship or love-at-first-sight relationship, because I feel those two are over-used in Christian romance.

About mid-book one character really bothered me and their hypocritical ways, but it was done for a reason with the plot and I can understand that. I loved God truths and messages included through As Love Blooms.

I loved the suffrage portion and the Minnesota history of both political and natural resources and the time period. There was some mystery and intrigue and suspense thrown in, especially towards the end, that made this a fun read.

I give As Love Blooms 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
About the author:
A history buff, antique collector, and former high school English teacher, fan favorite Lorna Seilstad is the author of When Love Calls, While Love Stirs, and the Lake Manawa Summers series. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Lorna lives in Iowa with her husband. Learn more at http://www.lornaseilstad.com.

Together with You by Victoria Bylin

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs…

When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall’s PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly’s past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny–and Penny’s handsome father–tugs at Carly’s heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny’s nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?”

My thoughts:

I have found Victoria Bylin offers the most realistic, gritty, down-to-earth, real-life-like situations and people in Christian fiction that I’ve read so far. It’s not all a wonderful life and everybody is almost perfect with a few little flaws, there are some pretty ugly life-truths…. and I love how she incorporates all of that into her writing. I read her first book and really enjoyed it, but I like this one even more. I was surprised a few times with some of the events and the timing of them. I had no idea that FAS could be traced to a father, so this book was really eye-opening for me also. The message with Together with You on FAS is huge, along with other great messages that make the reader think and reflect. If you are looking for Christian fiction that has more realistic characters, I think you should give Victora Bylin a try.

I give Together with You 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend Together with You and after this book, I think Victoria Bylin is now on my must-read list of authors where I plan to read everything they write.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:
Victoria Bylin writes contemporary and historical romances acclaimed for their true-to-life characters and stories. Her work has finaled in contests such as the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and the Reviewers’ Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her website at http://www.victoriabylin.com to find out more.

No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“It’s not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can’t believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she’s determined to find him and help him clear his name. The FBI wants him captured. The bad guys want him dead. Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.”
My thoughts:
I became a huge Lynette Eason fan with the first book in this series and have had a blast reading each book in this Hidden Identity trilogy. The action starts on the first page and doesn’t let up until the last. I didn’t want to put No Place To Hide down once I started reading it. Besides the non-stop action, Eason favors the book with a little bit of romance, and of course a Christian, biblical message/theme. I loved reading about some of the characters from the other books in this series and seeing where they are now. I am sad to see this series end, but I am now looking forward to whatever else Lynette Eason writes in the future.

I give No Place to Hide 4.5 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend it to Christian suspense fans!

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the author: Lynette Eason is a bestselling author and you can visit her website http://www.lynetteeason.com