Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A PORTRAIT OF LOYALTY by Roseanna M. White, Reviewed by Kim

I hate that this series is over! The Codebreakers is a 3 book series that is connected to the Shadows over England series. All of the stories, six in total, are really good and well worth reading.

I really liked both Lily and Zivon. I liked how their relationship slowly grew throughout this story and how Lily never doubted Zivon. Zivon was so loyal and had such a calm demeanor and I loved how he was willing to do whatever needed to protect Lily. I also really loved Lily’s relationship with her sister Ivy. It was one of my favorite relationships.

This story is so interesting and well written. While I must admit, I sobbed like a baby at one point, it left me completely satisfied at the end. I’m looking forward to whatever Roseanna White writes next!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. The faith element is medium/light. 

BackCover Blurb:
Zivon Marin was one of Russia's top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father's connections in propaganda, she's recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they're unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon's loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple's future dreams--it becomes a matter of ending the war

Bethany House Publishers, Sept. 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:



Sunday, September 20, 2020

CHASING DREAMS by Deborah Raney, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

What if your long-time dreams were not what God had in store for you? Would your hopes and dreams crumble or would you change your perspective? This is what Joanna Chandler deals with in Chasing Dreams.

Phee, Jo and Britt Chandler have purchased land with cabins on it with the dream to turn them into an Airbnb. Jo has ended a relationship and is focused on her job in a law firm and the joint venture with her sisters. She meets Lucas Blaine as the DJ for her sister’s wedding. She is interested in him but takes a step back when she realizes that he has custody of a twelve year old boy. Are all her dreams about to shatter?

I like the way Ms. Raney portrays family. They have their ups and downs but faith and love are what holds them together. She deals frankly with feelings and obstacles when her characters are confronted with grief and sticky relationship situations. It was nice to see the growth in both Jo and Luke as they navigate getting to know one another. You can tell Ms. Raney draws on her own family relationships in the interaction of the sisters. According to her Facebook page Ms. Raney finds treasures in local shops and garage sales. This is mirrored by the sisters as they shop to furnish the cabins. The scene of deciding what games to play is relatable and brings back memories of our own family gatherings.

Ms. Raney shows us what is really crucial in relationships. The foundation of faith is all important. Prayer is essential and forgiveness should be forthcoming.
I enjoyed this book for its realism and the lessons it taught.
*I won this book from the author in an Easter Multi Author giveaway. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* I give this 5 stars. Solid faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
Joanna Chandler always dreamed of becoming an attorney. But when she left law school to help care for her dying mother, stepping away from her single-minded pursuit gave her space to reconsider. The only question is, if not law, what should she do with her life?

To keep her mind off an uncertain future, Joanna helps her older sister, Phylicia, throw an amazing outdoor wedding on the charming Missouri property the three Chandler sisters own together. That's when she realizes wedding planning could be a thriving business of its own. And Lukas Blaine, the handsome wedding DJ, opens her mind to the possibility of love on the horizon.

But there's more to Luke than meets the eye. The young boy he's been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke's ward. Mateo is sullen and angry and needs constant attention. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams--and crush her dreams at the same time.

Kregel Publications, Oct 2019
Available in digital ebook, library binding and paperback:
Buy Chasing Dreams at Amazon
Buy Chasing Dreams at Christianbook.com

Saturday, September 19, 2020

THE CHRISTMAS SWAP by Melody Carlson, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt

"All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas."

Every year I anticipate Melody Carlson's Christmas books! And every year I'm not disappointed because that's exactly what she writes best.

I really enjoyed picturing a snow-covered cabin all decked out for the holidays, warm and inviting. I could see myself sitting in front of the fire, sipping on hot cocoa and gazing at the snowy mountain peaks out the vast windows. That would be a dream Christmas in my book! For the most part, I loved this story. Carlson knows how to paint those vivid setting pictures in a reader's mind, brings her characters to life, and sets you right in the middle of the pages. It's one of my favorite things about the author. Last year, I binge-read almost all of her Christmas books for this very reason, I just could not get enough! 

When I write a review, I also try to be honest, and so this was what I didn't like. I didn't like Gillian, Emma's best friend for fourteen years. I didn't like Mrs. Landers, who had not one single positive thing to say. Gillian was manipulative, scheming, and treated everyone poorly. I found her to be annoying and grating, and don't know how Emma remained friends, let alone best friends with her. The only decent members of the family were Mr. Landers and Grant, the brother—who I eventually came to like at the end. The family arguments left me feeling tense and upset, which ruined the enjoyment of the story. However, I did like the developing relationship between Emma and West and wished the author would have expounded more on that. They had real potential to be a solid couple, so I was looking forward to watching them. The ending was abrupt, so a reader must imagine a happy ending for these two.

This story didn't live up to Carlson's reputation as a writer in my opinion, it certainly wasn’t her best yet. I was surprised because she is one of my must-read authors when it comes to yearly Christmas books. The beginning was better than the ending and I was really disappointed! It also lacked a light faith theme which she usually includes. So for me, this wasn't my cup of tea. However, I will continue to read her future books in spite of not liking this one.

*This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews. A favorable review was not required and all opinions expressed here are mine alone.*

BackCover Blurb:
All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can't find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there's someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet--or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house's caretaker. But when Emma's friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

Fan favorite Melody Carlson is back with another delightful Christmas tale to warm your heart on those cold winter evenings.

Revell Publishing, Sept. 2020
Available in digital ebook, and hardcover:


Friday, September 18, 2020

COURTING CALAMITY Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Arresting stowaways isn't my job." - Lady and the Tramp by Jennifer Uhlarik

How could it have gotten so complicated? Take eight orphaned children on a train, find her brother's property, and live happily ever after . . . or . . . . survive a train wreck, meet a handsome Wells Fargo Detective, get kidnapped, and survive to tell the story. Which would Mattie Welling choose?

" . . . . there was no reason he should be soaking wet and shivering. He jumped up and turned around. There stood the reason. And she was stunning. " - The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y'Barbo

What an introduction! Or, it was actually a chilly re-introduction to the man that Lizzie Cooper had figured would marry her sister. She had planned on it, as a matter of fact. But the best laid plans . . . Abigail was gone and Lizzie was left gaping at her not-going-to-be brother-in-law. So, that left both of them in a doozy of a conundrum.

"I have prayed God would spare me until I could ask you to marry Sofia and care for her once I am gone." - The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer

What an impossible request . . . or was it? Charles Alexander's beloved mentor was dying, and his beautiful granddaughter needed the protection of a husband. Was it possible that God had ordained this strange, but seemingly wonderful introduction? If so, Sofia was going to need help navigating her way into one of the most recognized industry names in the country. Can Charles convince her to not only take his name, but to claim his heart?

"What's love like?" . . . . "It's not like in the dime novels. . . . all sighs and roses and moonlit walks. It's hard and scary, because life is. But it's real. And when it's real, you know you've found someone to journey battles beside, not matter where that journey takes you." - Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt

Who knew that a simple conversation between sisters would one day mean so much? Against all odds, Meggie and Aileen O'Connor have traveled to America in search of a better life. And they may have found it, having secured employment in a large New York shirtwaist factory. Working long hours with limited breaks and unfair payment policies, they get caught up the formation of unions. Along the way, Aileen meets a handsome, kind, charming young man; Lorenzo Faveros, whose admiration will be tested through the fires of adversity.

Four enjoyable, engaging, and inspiring novellas!
3.5 stars *I purchased this collection and was under no obligation to provide a review.

BackCover Blurb:

Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress

Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero.

Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik
California, 1874
When outlaws steal a deed from Mattie Welling, her dreams for her eight orphan charges from New York City are dashed. Can Wells Fargo detective Jake Hickens be trusted to pick up the pieces?

The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Texas, 1890
When Zeke Wyatt returns home to Polecat Creek intent on making good on his promise to marry his childhood sweetheart, he finds she’s run off in his absence, leaving her kid sister to care for her aging parents and the mercantile. Can Zeke finally settle down, or will he leave another sister with a broken heart?

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer
Minnesota, 1900
When wealthy lumber baron, Charles Alexander, unexpectedly finds himself married to an Italian immigrant, Sofia Bellini, he must do all he can to protect her from the society she’s ill-prepared to navigate. But when he falls in love with his pretty bride, he will have to make a difficult choice: will he go through with the annulment they had planned?

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt
New York City, 1909
Irish immigrant Aileen O’Connor is willing to work to make a life in America. But even the land of opportunity is paved with hardship, as she discovers firsthand the injustices faced by factory workers. When she meets Lorenzo Favero at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, her heart is stirred by the kindness he shows her. When tragedy engulfs the city, will their newfound love survive the flames?

Barbour Publishing
Available in digital ebook and paperback:



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