Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Thousand Shall Fall by Andrea Boeshaar



ABOUT THE BOOK:
A story of love, hope, and healing set in the
midst of the Civil War.

Nineteen-year-old Carrie Ann Bell is independent and spirited. The only thing she really fears are the Union soldiers fighting against her Confederate friends. When her youngest sister runs away from home, brave Carrie Ann is determined to find her and bring her back. Disguised as a soldier, she sets off---only to find she's fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Her childhood friend Confederate Major Joshua Blevins has warned her against these Yankees: they're all devils, ready to inflict evil on unsuspecting young women. When Colonel Peyton Collier arrests her for her impersonation of an officer, it seems to confirm all her fears.

Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel. He rescued her, protected her, and has been every inch the gentleman. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally---and more than that, someone she could love. But the arrival of Joshua in the Union camp as a spy will test her loyalties. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?

MY THOUGHTS:
A Thousand Shall Fall was a bit of a slow book for me. The last third of the book picked up, and I was anxious to read to the end; however, it didn't feel like other books I've read of Andrea's. I wished the beginning had more depth or background to many of the characters and situations.

I know it must be hard to write a book without having too much information. Too much can make the reading tedious. Nonetheless, I would have enjoyed a longer book with a bit more detail to Carrie Ann's younger years (the fire, her relationship with Joshua), and a little more background on Peyton. I liked Carrie Ann and Peyton, but I never really felt their initial attraction in the pages.

Still, by the end, I liked the overall story and especially enjoyed the time Carrie Ann was at Aunt Ruth's house. Will I read book 2 (about Carrie Ann's sister, Margaret)? Probably. I hope a few things from book 1 will also be resolved.

That's what I thought! Click HERE to see what other reviewers are saying!

Thank you to Andrea and Kregel through Litfuse for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White



ABOUT THE BOOK:
When Brook's friend Justin discovers that she may be an English heiress, she travels to meet her alleged father. But will her journey end in tragedy?

MY THOUGHTS:
The Lost Heiress was a well written and very enjoyable Edwardian era story! I really liked Brook. I can be turned off by very strong protagonists, but Brook had just enough sweetness and vulnerability mixed with her independence that I couldn't help but like her. I also really liked Brook and Justin's relationship. Best friends that just weren't sure how, if, or when to go to the next step.

Sprawling estates, spirited horses, snooty and greedy gentry, deceptive maids, loyal friends...ahh, all made for a satisfying story that I wished continued!

Thank you to Roseanna and Bethany House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz



ABOUT THE BOOK:
The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general's past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal--you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

MY THOUGHTS:
Laura has such a wonderful way of writing. She easily draws the reader into her storyworld within the first few sentences! Her attention to historic language and detail is natural and captivating, never overwhelming.

In The Mistress of Tall Acre, she definitely captured my attention in the prologue and held it right until the last word of the epilogue!

Both Sophie and Lily Cate were equally charming and loveable. I wanted the best for both of them! Somewhere around the halfway mark, I guessed the dreaded twist that was coming. I'm not sure I was totally happy with the resolution of it all (hard to say more without giving away spoilers), but the whole situation definitely tugged at my heartstrings!

The Mistress of Tall Acre was the perfect blend of history, love, and mystery. Historical romance readers will love Laura's newest book!

Thank you to Laura and Revell through Revell Reads for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter



ABOUT THE BOOK:
When Lady Miranda Hawthorne starts to develop affections for two men, she inadvertently uncovers secrets that will put more than her heart at risk.

MY THOUGHTS:
Oh! I just love a good Regency and A Noble Masquerade did not disappoint!

I'm not a mystery reader, per se, but the Regency genre naturally lends itself to intrigue and suspense, which I enjoy... and Kristi delivered it well - with plenty of romance to sweetly satisfy.

You'll love her characters, too. I wasn't sure if I'd like Miranda from the first few pages, but she quickly won me over with her journaling letters to Marsh.

And then there was Marlow, the handsome valet... and the mysterious, missing Duke – or is he? Ahh, and Ryland's loyal, unusual servants and greedy family will have you reading faster to see who prevails!

I can't wait to see what Kristi writes next!

Thank you to Kristi and Bethany House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke



ABOUT THE BOOK:
All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah determines to unlock the secrets of her mother’s mysterious past and is shocked to discover a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father is quickly ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, and a proper marriage for his daughter could help advance his career. Lieselotte is in love―but her beloved Lukas is far from an ideal match, as he secretly works against the Reich. Yet Lieselotte never imagined how far her father would go to ensure her cooperation.

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who is hiding wartimes secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past and how their legacy will shape her future

MY THOUGHTS:
I have really enjoyed Cathy Gohlke's books. Secrets She Kept was very unique, covering two storylines – one modern (albeit set in the 70's), one historical. It was a hard book to put down!

I was really drawn to Lieselotte (beautiful name as well!!) and loved that the Ten Boom sisters were tied in to her experience (I have always loved their story)!

Hannah's chapters will have you leaning forward, trying to figure out the strange mystery surrounding her grandfather and his friends. Her visits to the Jews that her grandfather wronged were both eye-opening and heartbreaking. A perspective that I never really gave thought to before.

Though a satisfactory end, the story itself brings some sadness to know that issues were not resolved while people were living. A good lesson on truth...and regrets.

Thank you to Margaret and Thomas Nelson through Litfuse for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin



ABOUT THE BOOK:
When a misguided suffragette hands a white feather of cowardice to an English spy, neither could have imagined the dangerous consequences that follow.

MY THOUGHTS:
Somehow I misread or misunderstood the blurb for this book. I thought it was a WWII book, which any of my regular readers know I love.

Well, I was off a war. ;-) Not by Sight is set during WWI...and I thought it was great! I don't want to give anything away that you will learn of within the first few chapters! But, I found it refreshing that Kate wrote about a love that dealt more with inner beauty than outward.

She also had me googling 'WWI splatter mask,' so that I could correctly picture the 'Tin Man.'

Not by Sight was a most riveting story filled with history, emotion, treason, true friendship, and true love.

Thank you to Kate and Bethany House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander



ABOUT THE BOOK:
Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life. Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow. As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

MY THOUGHTS:
It has been a long time since a book has kept me reading late into the night. Where Treasure Hides can account for some of my tiredness today! ;-) I couldn't put it down.

The story had just what I enjoy in a WWII novel – intrigue and fear. Accounts of hiding and escapes. Hearts torn between love and loyalty. Even though the main character is an artist, and the story revolves around much of the stolen/hidden art during Hitler's regime, I didn't feel it was as 'artsy' as some of the past novels that have talked about the Monuments Men. I liked that. The art of WWII is a fascinating subject, but I can get easily bored if the artsy side gets too detailed.

Instead, the story focused more on the characters and their experiences and feelings. It was good. Really good.

The story is very long (almost 400 pages!), and yet it could have been even longer! The author skips whole years with some chapters. I guess the book could have dragged then, but I enjoyed the characters enough that I wondered what went on during the passed over time.

But, oh, the epilogue!! Oh! I can't tell you, of course, without giving it away, but...oh!! I thought and hoped for what was revealed in the epilogue...but not as it truly was in the epilogue! Confused?! Haa! You'll have to read it for yourself! It was a sadly satisfying ending.

I will definitely watch for more from Johnnie Alexander!

Thank you to Johnnie and the Tyndale Blog Network for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd



ABOUT THE BOOK:
Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She's done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother's death made him heir just as his father's foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

MY THOUGHTS:
The Curiosity Keeper had all the right elements for a story that kept me turning the pages. Perhaps it is because movies during this genre are so popular, but Mrs. Ladd's descriptions of a cluttered shop, dank and dirty back alleys of London, and verdant gardens of the British countryside made me feel as if I were right in the places she pictured.

I fully enjoy the polite and proper, yet dark and mysterious side of a Regency era tale. And, The Curiosity Keeper had all of that, showing that no matter your station, greed will corrupt all around you.

I loved the twist of Camille's mother. *spoiler alert: I guessed her role early on...but was still surprised at the depth of her involvement.*

Overall, great story!

Thank you to Sarah and Thomas Nelson through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason



ABOUT THE BOOK:
At Irish Meadows horse farm, sisters Brianna and Colleen struggle to reconcile their own dreams with their father's demanding marriage expectations.

MY THOUGHTS:
This book didn't have as much of the 'Irish' element that I was expecting, though the religious aspect of Catholicism and works definitely fit that genre.

I enjoyed the overall theme of love beneath your station, thus familial tension, and the beautiful horse farm setting, but I was surprised that I didn't really like Brianna by the end of the book. Colleen really showed a changed attitude from beginning to end, but Brianna just got more and more shrewish. True, she admits that herself in the book and works on mending her relationships, but instead of endearing herself to me, I only found her less and less likeable as the pages turned. It's too bad, because I felt her and Gil's story was the main draw of the book.

Although good, Irish Meadows didn't make 'great' for me and doesn't fit a top favorite for the books I've read so far this year.

Thank you to Susan and Bethany House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

The Flower Brides: A Collection by Grace Livingston Hill



The Flower Brides is a collection that tells about three different woman: Marigold wants to fit in with 'in' crowd; Diana struggles when her father marries her manipulative, wicked cousin; and Camilla accepts the help of a handsome stranger for her sick mother.

Though some may think GLH's books are dated, the lessons are timeless and biblical. Each moral conundrum that the main character faces is presented with truth from God's Word. The salvation message is almost always woven throughout her books, as well as clear verses on Christian living.

I enjoy almost every GLH book I read...and, though each 'flower bride' was engaging and entertaining, I liked Camilla's story best!

Thank you to Barbour Books through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer



ABOUT THE BOOK:
A teacher on the run. A tracker in pursuit. Can Charlotte and Stone learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

MY THOUGHTS:
Karen delivered, once again, a perfect blend of romance and drama with Charlotte and Stone's story. Stone, like all of her heroes, is rugged, handsome, and full of honor and integrity. Neither does her heroine disappoint. Charlotte is strong and brave in the face of obstacles and danger, but willingly surrenders her heart when protection – and ultimately love – is offered.

I loved 'Dead-Eye Dan' and 'Hammer Rockwell.' Dan and Stone's offense to these characters added a light touch of humor to the story. And the children were easy to love. The reader couldn't help but want them to find understanding, loving homes.

Karen's books are ones I always close with satisfaction and recommend – and I do so again with A Worthy Pursuit!

Thank you to Karen and Bethany House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best Ever Honey Whole Wheat Bread!



I have been making this bread for over 3 years...and have been meaning to blog about it for just about that long! It took several months to gradually adjust a recipe I found until I was satisfied with the results: a soft, light-tasting, no-white-flour, all whole wheat bread.


I have found that I prefer this bread to have a short stay in the freezer before cutting, seems to tenderize the crust even more. As this is the only bread we now eat (no more store stuff!), the freezer time isn't a problem. I make a batch or two a week, always being sure to have a loaf or two or more in the freezer!

Because I make this bread so often, I mix up the flour and gluten beforehand and place in quart bags. This helps evenly distribute the gluten throughout the flour – if you don't, you can end up with gluey glops in your bread. Ick. This also cuts down my preparation time (I've got my recipe memorized), and I can quickly grab a bag and put a batch together in my bread machine in the morning.


And, this bread really must have the gluten. Gluten helps keep whole wheat bread soft and tender. Make this bread without, and you'll notice the difference!!

BEST EVER HONEY WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

In bread machine place:
1-1/3 cups warm milk
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola (or olive) oil
1/3 cup honey
1 egg, lightly beaten

Thoroughly combine and add:
3-3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I've used every brand and found that Gold Medal has the best results!)
3 tablespoons gluten (find this in the baking aisle – I use Bob's Red Mill)

Make a small well in flour and place:
1-1/4 teaspoons yeast

Choose your bread machine's dough setting. When cycle is complete, turn dough out onto a greased or floured surface (I use a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray – keeps my countertop clean, too)! Divide dough in half. Press one half into a rough rectangle (see pictures) and roll tightly towards you. Pinch and turn ends under. Place dough in greased loaf pan. Repeat with other half of dough.
Cover bread with cloth and let rise in a warm place until edges just begin to round the edge of the pan (this can take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity of your house, the season, etc).

Once dough has risen, you can brush the top with a light egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp of water), if desired (I don't even bother with this step anymore)! Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

When cool, package and freeze...or slice and eat.

Best whole wheat toast and sandwich bread...ever!! Ever.



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**DISCLOSURE: Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Last Heiress by Mary Ellis



ABOUT THE BOOK:
Bestselling author Mary Ellis (A Widow’s Hope) presents The Last Heiress, a new romantic standalone that intertwines the lives of a British manufacturing heiress and an American merchant caught in the turbulent time of the War Between the States.

MY THOUGHTS:
First of all, I really thought the cover of The Last Heiress was beautiful. I was also very interested in the Civil War time period.

However, The Last Heiress moved really slow for me. In fact, I got one-third of the way in and put it down. I didn't pick the book back up for over a week. I then restarted it and was able to feel a little more interest in the story. But, once I got past that same first third of the book, several pages dragged again.

I'm not sure if it was the plot or characters – likely a little of both. I could never tell if Jackson was good or bad? Perhaps just a spoiled, rich kid? Because he seemed to be a kind husband, but unpleasant in most all other dealings. Same with Abigail and Amanda – whom I had difficulty keeping straight! Sometimes sweet, sometimes snooty? (I guess we can all be like that...)

The war obviously disrupted Amanda's plans to acquire cotton, but I felt that that storyline ended too abruptly. She didn't seem to be busy finding other suppliers like she continued to claim she was in America for; instead, she was making excuses to meet up with Nate.

For me, The Last Heiress didn't quite match the beautiful cover. The story was too slow and choppy for me to enjoy.

Thank you to Mary and Harvest House through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Outlaw Takes a Bride by Susan Page Davis



ABOUT THE BOOK:
Johnny Paynter flees Denver to escape being hanged for a murder he didn't commit. At his brother's ranch in Texas, where he thought he could take refuge, he finds his brother, Mark—dead. Taking advantage of his strong resemblance to his brother, Johnny assumes Mark's identity. Soon Johnny discovers that Mark had been corresponding with a widow named Sally in St. Louis, and she's en route to be a mail-order bride to Mark. Seeing no other option, Johnny makes a fateful decision to go through with the wedding, posing as his brother. But Sally has secrets she's hiding, too. How will a marriage survive with so much deception?

MY THOUGHTS:
Mail-order bride stories have always fascinated me – I mean, it's hard to believe some woman would just answer an ad and travel for days, or weeks, to marry a man she has never met, even if they did correspond for awhile. I guess it was just a precursor to internet dating?!

Outlaw had a great twist! Of course, no good relationship can be based on lies...and poor Sally unknowingly gets herself mixed up in Johnny's mess. As we all know that one lie can lead to another and then another – oh what a tangled web we weave! – it was almost painful to watch Sally's confusion and Johnny's rejection of her. You just wished you could shake Johnny to 'fess up, but again, another good lesson: peer pressure doesn't go away when you leave your teenage years behind!

Peer pressure, fear, lies, guilt... ouch.

My suspicions of whodunit was right on, but it didn't ruin the story. Instead, I was just waiting to see when the truth would finally come out.

Quite honestly, I wasn't ready for the story to end! I wanted just a few more chapters, as I'd really come to like Sally and Mark/Johnny and I felt their story ended just a bit too abruptly.

If you enjoy mail-order, western type stories, you'll want to pick up The Outlaw Takes a Bride!

Thank you to Susan and Shiloh Run Press through NetGalley for sending me a copy to read and review!

Did you find my review helpful? Please rate it on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**
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