Monday, August 30, 2010

Book Review: Jillian Dare by Melanie M. Jeschke

About the book:

Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding?

This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

My thoughts:

This book was a very quick read for me, and frankly, it was a bit too quick.  I had zero connection with any of the characters because this story had such a fast pace.  It was what I would call a surface story, told in the first person, and only giving the basic info of the story without much detail.  I loved reading about the occasional trip to England, and Jillian's sweet relationship with Cadence, but that's really about all I enjoyed.  I would've liked to have seen Jillian and Ethan's relationship develop at a more realistic pace than what it did.  When they suddenly became engaged, I found it, and the drama that followed, just plain unbelievable.

I honestly don't know if I will venture to read any of Ms. Jeschke's other works in the future after reading Jillian Dare.  It did not have the depth that I like to see in novels, and it focused a little too heavily on the divorce issue within the church, in my opinion.  I am giving Jillian Dare a rating of 3 stars.

**I received a copy of Jillian Dare to review from the Goodreads Firstreads program.

Friday, August 27, 2010

CFBA Tour: Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Surrender the Heart
Barbour Publishing (August 1, 2010)

M. L. Tyndall


M. L. (MaryLu) Tyndall grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

She had written stories her whole life, but never had the confidence to try and get any of them published. But as God began to change her heart, He also showed her that writing had been His wonderful plan for her all along!


For the sake of her ailing mother, Marianne Denton becomes engaged to Noah Brennin---a merchantman she despises. But as the War of 1812 escalates, Jonah's ship is captured by the British, and the ill-matched couple learns vital information that could aid America's cause.

Relive the rich history of the War of 1812 through the eyes of Marianne Denton and Noah Brenin, who both long to please their families but neither one wishes to marry the other. Noah is determined to get his cargo to England before war breaks out, and Marianne is equally determined to have a wedding so that her inheritance can be unlocked and her destitute family saved. When their stubborn games get them captured by a British warship, can they escape and bring liberty to their country—and growing love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Surrender the Heart, go HERE.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review: Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

About the book:

The war has stolen Rosalie’s fiancĂ©, Vic, from her forever. But rather than wallow, Rosalie distracts herself by cramming her days full of activity—mainly by shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy.

When a reporter dubs her “Seattle 's Own Rosie the Riveter,” even more responsibility piles up. Her strong arms bear all this, but when intense feelings surface for Kenny, the handsome, kind-hearted, and spiritually unwavering reporter, the fear of losing another love propels Rosalie to leave.

It’s only when Rosalie realizes that God has brought her to this place—and this person—for a reason, the sparkling grace of God compels her to let go of her own strength and lean on His, as well as open her heart to love.

My thoughts:

Now, more than ever before, I'm discovering that I like historical fiction in all its forms, whether it's history from 700 years ago about the Scots, or maybe about the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, or either of the World Wars.  I appreciate now what people endured through those hard times, and what it meant to fight for causes they believed in.  Our culture now doesn't lean toward helping out your fellow man too much, unless there's something in it for you.  That's what makes the history of World War II, as well as all of the other wars, so special.  People banded together for one common cause.  If they had to go without sugar, they did.  If there was more vegetables than meat on the table, so be it.  And so what if you didn't have the newest car produced by Ford?  Big deal.  They understood the greater purpose, and that was to fight for the freedoms we share today.

Another unique thing that happened during World War II was that it wasn't frowned upon for a woman to have a job.  All the boys are doing the fighting; the women wanted to do their part, too.  That's what makes Rosalie's story in this book so special.  She lost her fiancĂ© to the war within a matter of months, and many of her friends had husbands or brothers that were busy fighting, too.  She endured through it all, though, with the help of her job at the Boeing plant working as a riveter.  I could identify with her character because she wanted to do something that mattered, something that helped the greater good.  What she didn't expect along the way was to catch the attention of a certain reporter named Kenny.

Kenny had his own problems in the book.  He held back from entering the service because he made a promise to his dad that he would use his writing skills for the war effort.  Unfortunately, that attempt didn't go as planned.  He's been stuck with more stories than he can count about celebrities and local news stories that had nothing to do with the war.  How will he ever be able to face his father and say that he failed, especially since his dad is fighting in the war?

War stories aren't for everyone, and even though they fire up a great sense of patriotism in me, I find that I have to take them in small doses.  This story was perfect for me in that, there wasn't a lot of "war" in it.  Rather, I knew it was something that everyone was aware of, and all the characters were just trying to make it through another day the best they knew how.  I took with me more than just the romance from this story; I took away pride for my country, and the sacrifices that so many soldiers offered. 

4 Stars

**Many thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to purchase a copy of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington.

**Click here for more information from other readers who enjoyed Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington.

Monday, August 23, 2010

CFBA Tour and Book Review: Masquerade by Nancy Moser

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bethany House (August 1, 2010)

Nancy Moser

Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty inspirational novels. Her genres include contemporary stories including John 3:16 and Time Lottery, and historical novels of real women-of-history including Just Jane(Jane Austen) and Washington's Lady (Martha Washington). Her newest historical novel is Masquerade. Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Sister Circle Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Find out more at and


They risk it all for adventure and romance, but find that love only flourishes in truth...

1886, New York City: Charlotte Gleason, a rich heiress from England, escapes a family crisis by traveling to America in order to marry the even wealthier Conrad Tremaine.

She soon decides that an arranged marriage is not for her and persuades her maid, Dora, to take her place. She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. What begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl wanting adventure becomes a test of survival amid poverty beyond Charlotte's blackest nightmares.

As for Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She lives a fairy tale complete with gowns, jewels, and lavish mansions--yet is tormented by guilt from the possibility of discovery and the presence of another love that will not die. Is this what her heart truly longs for?

Will their masquerade be discovered? Will one of them have second thoughts? There is no guarantee the switch will work. It's a risk. It's the chance of a lifetime.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Masquerade, go HERE.

View the book trailer:

My thoughts:

I have to admit that I had mixed feelings before I started Masquerade.  Stupid me read a few less-than-stellar reviews of this book, and I immediately set myself up for a disappointed reading experience.  Well, let's just call me stupid to the 10th power because Masquerade was an AWESOME book!!!  I've only recently become slightly addicted to everything about the Gilded Age, so this book was right up my alley.

There are so many great things about this novel that I almost don't know where to begin.  Let's start with the fashion.  Nancy did a LOT of research about the clothing and jewelry of this period that it was so easy to visualize, even without the aid of the Harper's Bazaar and Bloomingdale's photos in the back.  I felt for Dora and Charlotte as they had to wear such heavy dresses and undergarments because the "poof-ier" your dress, the richer you were. 

I also loved all the details of what it meant to be a lady in the Gilded Age:  always greet dignitaries by their title (your lordship, your ladyship, etc.), remove your gloves at the dinner table and place them in your lap, do not go out in public without a proper headpiece, etc.  From a young age, Charlotte is taught all of these things that are proper and expected of her.  And then, bless her heart, she's got to teach Dora everything she knows in just a few days so they can succeed with their masquerade. 

Another incredible feature of the book was the experience of New York City as an immigrant.  So many people traveled there to escape bad situations that it must have been like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.  The conditions in the slums were simply awful, and through Nancy's masterful writing, it was not hard to envision.  I felt like I could smell the mustiness of the closed, cramped spaces and the horrid odor of garbage that no one cared to clean up.

Those are just a few snippets of what I loved about this spectacular novel.  Even though I've read several of Nancy's contemporary novels, this is the first historical novel of hers that I've read (hanging my head in shame).  Now, it's a must on my to-do list that I need to pull out either the one about Jane Austen or maybe the one about Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  I can't believe I've put those off!  Oh, and if Nancy decides she needs to write another Gilded Age novel, you better believe that I'll be first in line to get a copy of it!

5 Stars!!

**Thanks to Bethany House through CFBA for providing a copy for review.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mailbox Monday

It's time again for Mailbox Monday! During the month of August, Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Chick Loves Lit...head on over to her blog to see what everyone's else's goodies were this week!
I must confess that last week was one of the BEST mailbox weeks I've had in a long time!!  :o)  I got a TON of great books, and a lot of them are new or fairly new.  Guess we all know what I'll be doing for the foreseeable future.  :o)

Here's a list of my loot:

Wildflower Hearts by Vickie McDonough
Sarah's Garden by Kelly Long
The Telling by Beverly Lewis
Take Four by Karen Kingsbury
Claim by Lisa Bergren
Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow (didn't come in the mailbox, but was acquired for $3 at Dollar General)  :o)
@Home for the Holidays by Meredith Efken
Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas by Sandra Bricker
The Last Place I Want to Be by P. Buchanan
The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard
Out of Her Hands by Megan DiMaria (have been waiting to get this one for a LONG time)
Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand
Morning's Refrain by Tracie Peterson
Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck

Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman (I have a feeling that I will need more than 1 box of Kleenex for this one.)
When Men Become Gods by Stephen Singular

Woohoo!!  Now it's time to get to readin'!  :o)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cover Attraction: Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Title: Always the Baker, Never the Bride
Author: Sandra D. Bricker
Release Date: 9/1/2010
Publisher: Abingdon Press

About the book:

Thirty-six-year-old Emma Rae Travis has been baking specialty cakes and melt-in-your-mouth pastries at The Backstreet Bakery in historic Roswell, just outside of Atlanta, for the last six years. But here's the rub about her job as a baker: Emma is diabetic. When she tastes her creations, it can only be in the most minute portions. Emma is considered an artisan for the stunning creme brulee wedding cake that won her the Passionate Palette Award last year, but she's never even had one full slice of it.

When Jackson Drake hears about this local baker who has won a prestigious award for her wedding cake artistry, he tells his assistant to be sure and include her in the pastry tastings scheduled at his new wedding destination hotel the following week. And for Jackson, that particular day has started out badly with two workmen trapped in a broken elevator and a delivery of several dozen 300-thread-count bed linens in the wrong size abandoned in the lobby. But when the arrogant baker he met a week prior in Roswell stumbles into the dining room with a platter of pastries and a bucketful of orders, he knows for certain: It's going to be a really rotten day.

Can these two ill-suited players master the high-wire act and make a go of their new business venture? Or will they take each other crashing downward, without a net? And will the surprise wedding at The Tanglewood be theirs?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Doggie Fun

No, none of these dogs are mine, but I sometimes I wonder what my dogs think of me and my hubs.  Here's a few laughs for ya today!  :o)

This pic reminds me of my dog, Bella.  One time (and one time only) I put her in this cute little pink dress that had a little tutu looking thing on the end.  Poor girl, she gave me the most pitiful looks for an entire WEEK!  She wouldn't play, she wouldn't come up to me to get petted, nothing.  Finally, I took it off her since she was so obviously miserable, and it was a complete transformation in her personality!  We have not gone down the clothes road with her since.  :o)

This pic reminds me of Dasher.  Every now and then when either I or hubs is on the internet, he'll weasel his way underneath our arm and act like he want to "use" the computer.  :o)  We call it "checking his dog-mail."

This one reminds me of Dasher and Bella when it's treat time...which guarantees a laugh at least once a day.  :o)

All pics courtesy of

Waiting on Wednesday: For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman scheduled to release 9/1/2010 (not far away...yay!!!)

About the book:

In an effort to escape her stern, legalistic upbringing, Camilla Deardon runs away from home with a handsome young Mormon man, Nathan. Married in the church, they raise their daughters and hope for more children. But their lives take a sudden turn when her husband, whom she loves deeply, is designated for special honor by the church elders. Nathan is given the honor of taking a second wife and soon a new “sister wife” comes into their home.

Camilla is heartbroken and remembers the faith of her childhood. She begins to question this revelation and is charged with unfaithfulness to the Mormon teachings. She enters a struggle for her life when elders call for blood atonement for her disobedience. Forced to abandon her children, she leaves them in the care of a Paiute Indian woman who shares her faith. Camilla knows they’ll be safe until she can return for them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays are hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 
Well, it's been AGES since I participated in this awesome meme, and hopefully, I can get back in the swing of things bringing you guys snippets of some great books.  :o)

This week, I'm featuring The Mark of Salvation by Carol Umberger.  This is book 3 in her Scottish Crown series, and let me just tell ya....these are some GREAT books!!  I don't typically venture out to read Scottish, Irish, or English history, but when I find some books that are great, I just can't seem to get enough of them.  That's what's happened with this series.  Obviously, I highly recommend all of them, even though I've only read the first 2 thus far.  :o)

Here's my teaser from page 37:

"She sobbed as she found the silver chain beneath John's surcoat.  Gently she lifted his head, removed the precious cross and wrapped her fingers tighty around it.  Orelia clung to it, held it to her own chest as she fought waves of despair and anger at John for leaving her like this."

Oh, I just can't wait for more!!  Be sure to visit MizB for lots more great teasers today!  :o)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book Review: Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless by Melody Carlson

About the book:

With MIA parents, overdue rent, and no one to turn to, Adele is forced out of her home. She strives to maintain the pretense of a “normal” life while struggling to finish high school, all the while concealing that she is homeless. But is she strong enough to keep up the act?

Every teenage girl has a secret. And every teenage girl loves hearing someone else’s secret. But some secrets are big enough to detour, derail, or even destroy a young person’s life.

Each of Melody Carlson’s Secrets novels will propel readers into a world where promises are broken, life is not fair, and challenges can make or break them, while ultimately helping readers discover that solid faith, loyal friends, and a persistent spirit will see them through.

My thoughts:

This novel shares a heartwrenching story about a teenager with a loser mom and a runaway dad.  While most of us don't have to deal with the drama of deadbeat parents, we probably even less have thoughts of having to live on the street or out of our cars.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to be totally alone and homeless, I really give Adele a lot of credit for sticking it out as long as she did before turning to the only One who would be able to change her life. 

The biggest lesson that I took away from this book was that lies always find you out in the end.  In Adele's case, one of her "so-called" friends discovered the truth on her own, leaving Adele to fess up to her lies and the consequences.  And poor girl, just when she decided to start being honest, she got another realization of just how unfair life sometimes is.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the ending.  I didn't like that it ended up "several months later," and instead, would've liked some of the first portion of the book to have been shortened just a bit to allow for a more fleshed out conclusion.

Other than that, I thought this was another excellent book perfect for teenagers that's got a lot of lessons on honesty and genuineness.  I'm anxious to see what the rest of the Secrets series has in store.

4 Stars

**Many thanks to NavPress for providing a copy for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday: Best of the Year So Far?

Faith and Fiction Saturday is a weekly discussion about the intersection of faith and fiction. .

Here's what Amy's asking today:

The year is a bit more than halfway over and it's time to start thinking about the best books we've read so far!

What has been your favorite faith driven book of the year and which book are you most looking forward to before 2010 closes out?

My answer:

So far, I'd have to say my favorite book of the year would be Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. It's been sooooo long since Francine has written a full-length novel that I could barely contain myself when I knew this one was coming out this year. I have a review you can read here.

My other favorite novel of the year would have to be one I just read recently--Predator by Terri Blackstock. This is one of those novels that you tell everyone you know about because while it may be just another fiction tale, there is so much truth in this book. Just about everyone now is involved in social networking of some sort, and this book shows that you can never be too cautious. Trust me, it's not a book to miss. My review of it is here.

Before the year is out, I'm most anxious to read the sequel to Her Mother's Hope called Her Daughter's Dream. I'm pretty sure that when it arrives in my mailbox, whatever else I'm reading will be pushed to the side temporarily. I'd also like to get Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist read before the year's over, too.