Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rival Hearts

 Rival Hearts
Quilts of Love Series
Tara Randel
Molly and Ben are both in the running for a magazine editor position at the publishing company they both work for. Their boss has come up with a creative way for him to judge their strengths. He proposes they both step into each others world and learn. This means that Molly will need to learn to kayak and Ben will need to sew a quilt. What will happen to their attraction when only one of them can win the position?
This is a sweet story that focuses on trust and sticking to something regardless of circumstances. It also stresses good work ethics, compassion for others, and taking chances. The length is rather short at a little over 200 pages. There were quite a few grammatical and spelling errors that were sprinkled throughout the book. Since my copy is an ARC, I’m hoping this will not be a problem in the published version. I also felt, personally, that the character development was a little weak. But since the book is more a novella size this is probably typical. It's a cute little story for those that like light romances.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Cattleman Meets His Match

The Cattleman Meets His Match
Sherri Shackleford
 John, a cowboy in desperate need of a new crew, is walking through an alley when trouble lands on him. He can't just leave a bunch of orphan girls at the mercy of a crooked deputy so he reluctantly takes them back to camp. Despite all of his protests, he finds himself with a bunch of female cowboys. It wasn't anything like he's planned when he set out with his longhorns. But maybe God has a reason for this strange change.

The plot concept was different. It definitely made the story interesting. The author gave all of the characters their own unique personalities. Because there were so many characters in the story I felt a little overwhelmed with all of the details and directions the story took in such a short time. It made the flow a bit choppy. The book ended with all of the loose ends tied up, but with no real sense of purpose. It was a guy meets girl, there is some conflict, they fall in love, end of story. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't super romantic or gripping.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Orphan Train

The Orphan Train
Christina Baker Kline

Molly isn't like everyone else, a fact that she works very hard to achieve. Only months before she ages out of foster care, she is caught stealing a book at the library. Her discipline is community service. Helping a 91 year old lady clean out her attic isn't exactly her idea of a good time. But its juvenile hall is she can't complete her hours. And this is how a friendship begins between two people who, by appearances, couldn't be more different. But Molly learns that her new friend is a lot more like her than she'd ever imagined.

The story begins with Molly, but then transitions to Vivian, the elderly woman. The story moves back and forth between the two, entwining them seamlessly. The characters had depth and were engaging. I appreciated how she showed the good and bad of foster care without making the book depressing. While I really liked the two main characters, I also really liked several of the secondary characters. The plot focused mainly on the orphan train and made the historical story come to life. I also enjoyed the pictures and pieces of history that was attached to each them that the author shared at the back of the book. The author did her research and it showed throughout the book. The author has a beautiful writing voice and I'm looking forward to reading another book by this author.

You Won!

Congratulations to my winners!

Amanda K. - America's Most Wanted Recipes At The Grill
Amanda G. - The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Kimily - Four Boots One Journey
Susan - Women of the Word

Thank you for participating. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Your Core

Your Core
Callie Grant
Lots of things have cores. Those cores serve a purpose. We have a special core inside of us that serves a purpose too. Our core is where God is. This little board book will delight young children with its colorful pages and rhyming words. It will delight parents with its message of God in our hearts.

The illustrations fit well with the theme and help tell the story.  The spiritual message that is being presented will be understood by the young children, but is full of depth. The book ends with a Bible verse. I noticed that the book helped start a conversation about our hearts with my young daughter. My son, while a bit older than the intended audience, enjoyed the book and wanted to talk about what the words meant. This book would be a perfect start to a young child's library or would make a wonderful gift.

I received this book free of charge from Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Know Your Bible for Kids

Know Your Bible for Kids
What is That?
Donna K. Maltese
Adults sometimes use words or phrases that are confusing to kids. So this book is designed to explain the Bible words in a way that young kids can understand. So open up this book and dive into explanations for over 100 words in the Bible.

Each word begins with the typical definition. But then using colorful bulletin points the word is broken down into “What it’s all about”, a supporting scripture, and “What does this mean to me”. The book size is perfect for smaller hands. The colorful illustrations and pages will make learning fun. The definitions are broken down into age appropriate language and shown in a way that kids can relate to. My son (8 yrs old) loved this book and it prompted several discussions. It’s a fun way to teach the Bible to kids. 

I received this book free of charge from Barbour Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Princess Bing Bong

Princess Bing Bong and The Birthday Party Blunders
Vanessa Paniccia
Princess Bing Bong has some great ideas for her birthday party. They aren't exactly typical, but it's her birthday, so she can have things the way she wants them.

I have a 5 yr old girl and 8 yr old boy. Both of them enjoyed the story. It was silly and goofy. My daughter wanted to know if there were more Princess books like this one. Even my son who is in to chapter books sat down with us and laughed a couple of times. It's light-hearted, full of silly illustrations, and teaches the message that being different is okay.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Your Family in Pictures

Your Family in Pictures
The Parents' Guide To Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, And Everyday Life
Me Ra Koh
Pictures are such an important part of our memories. Every family wants pictures to capture the important occasions and the everyday parts of life. The author is a well known photographer who has shared her experience and expertise in this easy to read and comprehend book.

I'm a novice at photography, but want to get better. The author approached this book as a friend showing me tips and tricks. The photography is, naturally, gorgeous. The instructions were practical and easy to implement. She covered all of the bases when it comes to different scenarios a parent might encounter when taking pictures of the family. She packed so much into each chapter that I feel like I've learned as much as I would have had I taken a class. But not once did I feel overwhelmed or confused by all of the facts. I loved this book and can't wait to check out the other books by this author. I'll definitely be keeping this book and reading it again.

I received this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Just 18 Summers

Just 18 Summers
Rene Gutteridge & Michelle Cox
You only have your children with you for about 18 summers. And then they are considered adults. Make every single summer (and the moments in between) count. Don't wait until it's too late. Four families are in various stages of realizing that they have to make each moment count. Because you never know when you won't have another chance.

The book started out a little slow and slightly depressing. But within a couple of chapters I was hooked and couldn't put the book down. It had humor, true love, and tons of parenting mishaps. But what grabbed me the most was the authenticity of it. It felt real. Some of the reactions might have been a bit over the top. But since every aspect of the parenting journey seemed to be covered, there will be a place for everyone to feel like they've "been there". It was refreshing and inspiring. I finished the book with the thought that every new parent should read this. It really opens your eyes to the fact that we only have 18 summers to make a difference. Make it count. Loved this book!

I received this book free of charge from Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.

The Family Project

The Family Project:
How God's Design Reveals His Best For You
 Glenn T. Stanton and Leon C. Wirth
Marriage, family, and the importance of these two things are being made light of and even broken apart in society today. But God still has a beautiful plan if we will take the time to learn what His design is for our family.

Focus on the Family has created an excellent resource for families, churches, small groups, and counselors to draw from. The pages are packed with statistics, studies, God's word, and helpful stories.  The way that the book was presented made for some very heavy reading. But as a resource I think this book is excellent. It would be best read in small doses so that the concepts and messages are soaked in and grasped instead of just reading through like a regular book. Each chapter was well written and inspirational in its message.

I received this book free of charge from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Bouquet of Love

A Bouquet of Love
Weddings by Design Book 4
Janice Thompson
Cassia comes from a large Greek family. Her father moved them very suddenly to a Texas island and is insisting that everyone help him with the start up of their 2nd Greek restaurant. But what Cassia really wants is to work in a florist shop. Her father's main competitor is Mr. Rossi, who owns the Italian restaurant across the street. No one in the family is allowed to associate with the "enemy". Small problem. Almost the entire island is either a Rossi or knows them well. That means no florist shop, no friends, no boyfriend. What's a girl to do?

I'm neither Greek or Italian, but the story felt very authentic. One of the unique little touches to the story were the little "You might be Greek if. . ." quotes that were at the beginning of the chapter. They tied in with the story and had me laughing. The story was filled with humor, romance, family, and forgiveness. I've read books by this author before, so I knew I was going to enjoy this story. She didn't disappoint. While the story is part of a series, it can definitely work as a stand-alone. 
The main thread of the story is the fight between the two families and how they work to settle their feud. I would have preferred a bit more to the romantic portion of the story, but what little was woven in was sweet.  Several of the secondary characters were zany and added a lot of life. The author was able to show me the story with her vibrant descriptions and I really felt like I was there in Texas with them.

I received this book free of charge from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Kind of Pet Can I Get?

What Kind of Pet Can I Get?
Myrna Johnson
A little boy is told that he can get a pet. But he can't decide what type of pet he wants. As he ponders different options he weighs the pros and cons.

My kids thought this one was ok. But my son's comment was that "It didn't say what type of pet he decided on." The book was more whimsy than practical. I chose this book because we were getting ready to pick out a pet and I had hoped that the book would help my children decide on what to get. But it really isn't a how-to book. And like my son mentioned, it ends rather abruptly with no real conclusion. So cute and rhyming, but not for choosing a pet.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

The Oyster's Secret

The Oyster's Secret
Traci Dunham
Oyster is sitting on the floor of the ocean working on a surprise. But many of his friends seem to think they are more special than him and swim by to brag of the things they can do. Each time oyster reassures them that he is working on something beautiful.

The illustrations are bright and colorful and fit perfectly with the story. The plot reminded me of a the Max Lucado book about Hermie the caterpillar.  The message is subtle, but very important for children, that we all have something special about ourselves. Sometimes our talents are inside and not always visible. My kids loved the book and have asked for me to read it several times already. 
Another really neat thing about the book is that a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit ACE, a non-profit Christian ministry in the Caribbean. You can read more about the ministry at

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.


Helping Children Embrace Happiness
Color Feeling Series Book 3
Esther Adler
Using colors to explore and understand feelings can help children relate better to what they are experiencing. The author has taken bright, colorful illustrations, and interactive questions to help children understand happiness and how they can recognize the feeling.

My daughter really enjoyed reading the little book. But she enjoyed the exercises and questions even more. Feelings are such a hard concept to grasp when you are young and I think the author has done a great job of associating the feeling of joy and happiness with bright and cheerful colors and animals. This book would work in a home or a school environment.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

How to Sh** in the Woods

How to Shit in the Woods
An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art
Kathleen Meyer
 If you spend any time at all in the great out of doors, you'll need to know how to properly use the bathroom. The author has researched all of the various methods - packing it out, burying it, etc. and has presented the results of her research in a clear, concise, and occasionally amusing book.

I would NEVER have chosen to review this book. But when my husband heard me laughing about the title, he assured me that the book was somewhat famous and purported to be highly amusing. I didn't see anywhere that this was an audio book. I would have never gotten an audio book. I detest audio books. So bear that in mind when reading this review.
The author begins the book with the history of how the 3rd edition came to be (a bit boring) and why she thought this was the best title (okay?!). She then sets out to give her reasoning for writing the book with several amusing stories of people and their "accidents." She then proceeds to explain how and where to properly use the bathroom in the wild. I had hoped for way more funny than I actually received. The reader's voice was amusing, but the content was just way to wordy. If I'd been reading a paper book I think I could have skimmed and would have been a lot less glassy eyed when I finished.
In summery, I wouldn't recommend the audio book. But the paper book might be worth a skim for the avid outdoors men who wants to hear the pros and cons of poop in the woods.

 I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

$10 Great Dates

 $10 Great Dates
Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget
Peter & Heather Larson &  David & Claudia Arp
 If you are tired of going to the same old places for every date, are strapped for cash, or would just like some ideas, check out this little book. It is divided up into sections like adventure, romance, or out-of-town dates. Each section has five or more dates that can be accomplished for $10 or under. Each chapter begins with The Idea. This tells you all about the date. The next sections are Before Your Date, On Your Date, & Talking Points. The before section gives you any preparation advice for doing before the date to make everything run smoothly. The next section gives a few more details about the actual date. The talking points are conversation starters or thoughts about the actual date. The chapter ends with Great Date Takeaway. This is the author's final thought about the date.

The chapters are short enough to read through and implement quickly. There are enough ideas for everyone to be able to find something that will fit them. But the dates are designed in such a way, that every one can be customized to the couple. I enjoyed reading through all of them and have already set some plans in motion for our next date.

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

7 Ways To Be Her Hero

7 Ways To Be Her Hero
The One Your Wife Has Been Waiting For
Doug Field
It doesn't take very much for a man (or woman) to feel like they are in love. The key is finding ways to keep that love alive and make your wife feel like she is loved and cherished. The author speaks candidly from his experiences about ways that men can step up to the plate and be a hero to their wives. The book is not meant for women. It's written by a man for a man. The jokes are guy jokes, the presentation is all guy, and the way of looking at situations is from the male perspective.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm a girl and I read this book. I wanted to see if it was something I could pass on to my husband. And ironically enough, the author talks about this being the case. Men don't buy books. Women buy books for their men to read. Well, I did just that. And I'm definitely going to pass this one on. I honestly didn't get some of the jokes or what the author considered humor. But I read the book while my husband and I were on a road trip together. So I read large portions of the book aloud to hubby and he got it. So clearly I'm the wrong gender. But that aside, it's straight forward, practical, Christian advice for the husband. While there are jokes and stories to keep the book amusing, the subject matter is something every guy should read and apply. So if you're a guy looking for solid marriage advice - buy this book. If you're a wife wanting a great book to convince hubby to read - buy this book. It will be worth it.

I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Four Weddings and a Kiss

Four Weddings and a Kiss
A Western Bride Collection
Margaret Brownley, Robin Lee Hatcher, Mary Connealy, Debra Clopton
Gregory, a pastor, had mixed feelings about a woman he was interested in. He couldn't mesh who she was with who he thought the perfect pastor's wife should be. When he shared his trial with some ministers at a ministry meeting, he heard four stories of love amongst unusual and non-matching couples.

I loved the twist of four ministers and their tales of love. It was fun and unique. The stories were sweet, romantic and entertaining. Because of the way the stories were presented, they didn't need to really go together. The only tie-in was the way the couples didn't seem to go together and yet love triumphed. It was a fun and quick read by some of my favorite romance authors.

I received this book free of charge from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

In Perfect Time

In Perfect Time
Wings of the Nightingale Book 3
Sarah Sundin
 Kay is an Army Air Force flight nurse. She has multiple boyfriends and a rather dim view of anything relating to Christianity. So when she meets Lt. Cooper she disregards him at first. He wouldn't be interested in being one of many and is a Christian. But her interest is piqued when he doesn't even seem interested in her. Men always give her a second glance. Can she ever change his mind?

This was my first book by this author and I must say I'm impressed. It has all the elements of becoming a classic in historical Christian fiction. The author was able to pull all of the components of great writing together to make a fascinating story. It has history, romance, a great plot, a strong Christian message, and well developed characters. Kay, the main female character, has the potential to be abrasive and annoying, but the author was able to show her weaknesses and make her likeable. The Christian elements were convicting without being preachy. Any fan of historical fiction will fall in love with the details and authentic feel. I fell in love with the realistic characters and the message of unselfish love. While this was book three in the series, I didn't feel lost or confused. It can definitely work as a stand-alone, but I will be checking out the first two books to see what happened with the other characters.

I received this book free of charge from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, August 8, 2014

There's Reason to be Encouraged

There's Reason to be Encouraged
Paul E. Murrell
If you've ever felt a moment of discourangement, loneliness, or doubt, then you'll enjoy this little book. The author has mixed together short little devotional thoughts, poems, notes of encouragement, and personal stories about himself. The style is a bit like a devotional, but more personal. It felt like I was reading through a scrapbook of thoughts from the author and getting to know him better while also learning more about God.

I want to clarify something before I finish my review. I have no idea who this author is. While our last names are the same, I've never met him and to my knowledge he isn't closely related to my husband's family. His name didn't affect my opinion of the book in any way.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The stories about the author were a nice touch and made the thoughts he brought out at the end more personal and applicable. The book is divided up into eight main sections that talk about different aspects of Christian life. The author had some really great points that spoke to me and encouraged me. I will be keeping the book to read again sometime.

I received this book free of charge from BookCrash in exchange for my honest review.

To purchase on Amazon click here.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Plain Love Song

A Plain Love Song
Kelly Irvin
Adah feels the most like her true self when she's writing songs. Small problem, she's taking classes to join her Amish faith. And they don't believe in writing and singing secular music. She doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin. She soon makes choices that may take her away from everything she's ever known. Does she have the courage to seek her own way, whatever that may be?

The story started out a bit slow for me. I was frustrated with Adah and the restrictions that seemed to be placed on her with her religion. It felt so legalistic. The battle between good and evil is prominently displayed throughout the story. It showed the conflict that we, as humans, have with temptations. About 2/3 of the way through, the story picked up and the reasoning for things was explained much better. The author has a nice writing style and I wouldn't mind reading another book by her again. But I think I'll steal clear of the Amish fiction.

I received this book free of charge from Goodreads in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Give-Away Time

Authors and publishers will often send me a book called an ARC to review. This simply means that the book hasn't been published yet. They might change the cover slightly and every once in a while some errors are found and corrected. But basically it is the same book. These are the books I'm going to be giving away today, because if I like the book I'll support the author by purchasing the book once it's been published. So now I'm passing on these books in hopes that you'll find a new author to read too.
The rules:
1. Go through the list of books and pick ALL of the ones you like.
2. In the comments section list the books you like in the order you would like to receive them.
3. If I do not know you personally or your sign-in name doesn't match your real one, please leave an email address so I can contact you when you win.
4. The deadline is August 20th. Sharing this will get your name moved to the top of the list if you want the same book as someone else. So please share and then comment again where you shared!
 Once the deadline has passed, I'll go through and give the books to the people who have requested them. If multiple people request the same book I'll use to select the winner. Chances are pretty good you'll get at least one book.
Four Boots One Journey
A Story of Survival, Awareness, and Rejuvenation on the John Muir Trail
Jeff Alt
My review is here.
Women of the Word
How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds
Jen Wilkin
My review is here.
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Lori Benton
My review is here.

America's Most Wanted Recipes At The Grill
Recreate Your Favorite Restaurant Meals In Your Own Backyard!
Ron Douglas
My review is here.

Spreading Joy Daily
Marie Wikle
This book is not an ARC. It was given to me to give away on my blog.
My review is here.

A Place in His Heart

A Place in His Heart
The Southold Chronicles
Rebecca DeMarino
Mary wants to marry for love. But her father is pressuring her to marry a young man that repulses her. So impulsively she marries a widower who doesn't love her, but needs her for a mother. She hopes that like her sister, they will grow to love each other over time. But her world might come apart when she learns that he husband plans to move them to the New World to escape persecution for his beliefs. Mary isn't sure she can survive being so far from her family, especially when she can't seem to have a baby of her own.

The first few chapters were about the relationship between the two main characters. I thought the book might be about their romance. But then the story took a turn and became more of a historical saga. The author was able to aptly convey the hardships of life in the New World. The story spanned almost a decade and gave a glimpse into the lives of the early settlers. The drama between the two characters was a bit difficult at times, but I appreciated the wife's loyalty and devotion.
I enjoyed the glimpses into the friendships that Mary formed in her new home. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy sagas, historical fiction, and stories of unending loyalty.

I received this book free of charge from Book Club Network in exchange for my review.

All for a Sister

All for a Sister
Allison Pittman
Celeste has lived an almost perfect life. Her family is wealthy, her father's work in the film industry has guaranteed her a place in the movies she wants, and her looks can get her anything else she wants. But one day a woman comes into her life that is the complete opposite. Raised in poverty, accused of murder, and just now out of prison, they couldn't be more different. Yet as a secret journal uncovers secrets that will change both of their lives.

The story is written from several different points of view. It is also told in several different styles. I found this to be a bit confusing at first. I had to pay close attention at the beginning of each chapter to find out who/when/where the story was talking about. But I was able to look around this to see that the plot was interesting, the characters were well fleshed out, and the imagery was perfect. I didn't get the feeling that this was a Christian fiction at any point while reading, in fact there were quite a few references to infidelity all throughout the story. But if you want an unusual look at the roaring 20s, I'd check out this book. I liked it well enough to try another book by this author.

I received this book free of charge from Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.