Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

Every Bride Needs a Groom is a cute, often funny story of a young woman named Katie who has been dreaming of her wedding day since she was a little girl.  Growing up in a close knit family and a small town where change is frowned upon, Katie wholeheartedly expects her boyfriend to propose any day.  Going on that assumption, she enters an essay writing contest for the dress of her dreams.  The same day she is notified as the winner, Casey, her boyfriend drops a bombshell.  He is moving out of their small town of Fairfield, Texas and going to Oklahoma.  Not knowing what to do she decides to go ahead and head to Dallas and the bridal shop to let them no she has no groom.  Against her better judgement, she listens to the advice of others to keep the no groom, no wedding a secret and go ahead with the plans of the dress.  What ensues is a hilarious, heartfelt change of heart.  Not just for Katie, but her whole family and even some of the town.  This story had me laughing out loud many times on how hard parents try to hang on to their children and never wanting to go against the norm.  Family is very important, however sometimes it is ok for all of them to let go and follow their dreams, old and new.   And Katie realizes there just may be another one in the running for her groom.  This was an all-around feel good story that had some very poignant moments.   It ended well even and there is a sequel.  Ms. Thompson gives us a little taste of the next one with the first chapter of Every Girl Gets Confused.  I look forward to it.  I received my copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge is a story of love, family secrets, and yummy recipes.   This is the second book in the series, although I did not realize that.  You can read this book without reading the first, however I think I would like to go back and read the first as well.  Juliette and Neil, her love interest, are visiting in Italy and France to find out more about her family history during the time the Nazi’s occupied France.  Finding a treasure of Juliette's Grand-mere’s old letters written to her younger sister gives us more of her Grand-mere’s love story.  Traveling through France and Italy with the characters was like taking a much needed vacation.  Both Juliette's and her Grand-mere’s story lines kept me turning the pages.  Juliette has a lot on her plate trying to start a restaurant, her mother’s cancer, and the long distance on and off relationship with Neil.  Neil captured my heart with his cute Dr. Who reference.   Filled with food, family, and heartwarming moments, I look forward to maybe trying out the recipes and to the third book in this installment.  I really enjoyed my first read by Ms. Lodge.

FTC disclaimer:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine. A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Esther Royal Beauty by Angela Hunt

Esther by Angela Hunt gives us the viewpoint of the story of Esther from Esther herself, and also from the eunuch Harbonah.  I appreciated how Ms. Hunt gave me another angle to look at for the character of Esther and what may have been going on in the harem not to mention more of the Persian culture and their laws.  I have seen a couple of movies where the king is either a madman or they focus much more on a romantic hero.  I very much liked how he was shown in this book.  He was a man who was deeply troubled by his defeat from the Greeks and trying to live up to his father’s reputation before him.  He was a powerful man who was heavily influenced by others to help him make his decisions and especially with the silver tongued Haman, very unwise decrees were sent out.  We saw the king’s character through the eyes of Esther and his personal eunuch Harbonah.  I also liked how she portrayed Esther, as at first a very starry eyed girl who was chosen to be the Queen by her much older husband whom she was very infatuated with.  As she matures, this story has a timeline of several years, she realizes that she cannot change the king but listening to some wise counsel she comes to the conclusion that he was her husband and she was simply to love him.

Staying very close to the Biblical story and using the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus, we have a very interesting story of Esther and how again the Bible fits into history.  Answering questions such as what happened to Vashti and why was the king’s son Artaxerxes so favorable to the Jews during Nehemiah’s time years later.  This is not a romantic tale, but a tale of a young woman who realizes there is more than this world can offer even with all its royal trappings, glamour, and even the fickle love of a powerful husband.   Bravo.  I look forward to how she tells the story of Bathsheba in the next Dangerous Beauty Novel.  I received my copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate was an amazing, wonderful read.  This one is going into my top ten for the year.  There is so much to savor with this tale.  The characters I connected with, the mystery compelled me to continue reading, and the historical information was all new to me and inspired me to also do some of my own research.  This story was like a puzzle, there were a lot of pieces but as they were put together it made for a beautiful picture.  We have Jen Gibbs who lives in New York and has just started her dream job as an editor at Vida House Publishing.  Within her first couple of weeks she finds a mysterious manuscript on her desk.   Not knowing who gave her the story that looks like it has been taken from the forbidden slush pile, she decides to go ahead and start reading it.  Not only is Jen sucked into the story and its powerful characters, but we as readers are also reading that same story and being pulled in.  So along with Jen, we journey to discover who wrote this and to determine if this could be the next big seller.  Along the way, Jen has to start from where she grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains and face her own past that she has been trying to forget.   I have not yet read another author who can so masterfully link up the past and the present in a profound and thoughtful way.  I received a copy for review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: Old Fashioned by Rene Gutteridge

Old Fashioned took me by surprise.  I was expecting a light hearted romance and instead received something different.  Our two main characters, Clay Walsh and Amber Hewson, are attracted to each other and go about courting in an interesting way.  Amber has just rented the room above Clay’s antique shop, and is not one who sticks around when things get tough.  Clay is an enigma to her and she finds herself drawn to him despite his odd ways of dealing with women.  For example, Clay insisting she waits outside while he does a repair in her apartment.   As the story progresses and we witness their courting we begin to learn about their pasts that have put them both on the roads they were traveling in their lives before they intersected.   Besides our two main characters, we also meet a host of secondary ones that are just as broken and mixed up as the couple they can’t figure out.  At times very heartwarming and heartbreaking, this story also made me laugh out loud and I really enjoyed the last chapter.  It was well done and very romantic.  This book is a novelization of the screenplay by Rik Swartzwelder.   I look forward to watching the movie by the same name when it is available on DVD.  I received my review copy from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: The Creole Princess by Beth White

Beth White writes historical fiction just the way I like them.  This is her second book and the first one I have read.  I really savored this one and there were a number of times I had a smile on my face with this read.  I was absolutely delighted with the two main characters, Rafael Gonzolez our Spaniard and Lyse Lanier who is part French, black, and Native American.  I enjoyed their banter and sassiness with each other and watching their love story unfold during the period of the Revolutionary War.  I also liked learning the historical information on what was going on down south, especially in Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida while the colonists were declaring their independence and going to war with England.  This was not only Rafael’s and Lyse’s story but also a story of their extended family and of their friendships.  There is a couple of secondary love stories as well as some of Lyse’s family drama due to the fact that she comes from a very unique family tree.  This story also sheds light on people’s prejudice of the time against others of different color and background and touches on the topic of slavery and of the spying that was taking place.  All in all, this one is a keeper for me and I plan to go back and read The Pelican Bride and any future works by Beth White.  I received my copy for an honest review from Revell.  The opinions stated are my own.

Review: Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon was a phenomenal read.  We have two individuals, Lisa Grant (former Chicago homicide detective) and ex-Navy Seal Mac McGregor, who move to a small town to start fresh and for a quieter life from their previous roles.  They meet for the first time at an unmarked grave that was recently uncovered due to new construction.  Lisa and Mac work tirelessly together to first identify this individual who was buried hastily some years ago, find out what really happened, and to bring to justice any murderers.  So, their investigation unearths a secret that a trio of acquaintances have been trying to keep unknown for many years.  What is interesting is we meet the three responsible for this girl’s demise and actually get into a couple of their heads.   What happens then nobody can guess.  One of the three has worked their entire life to get where they are and they will not let Lisa and Mac’s tenacity to uncover the truth stop them from doing even the unthinkable. 

This was really a great thriller that was at times very creepy and chilling and kept me on pins and needles till the very last page.  This is my first read by Irene Hannon and I really liked how she spun her story and that we even got to see the villain’s point of view.  I also wanted to point out the cover.  Most times I am drawn to the story with a great cover.  This cover just had a great feel to it as the dirt is a bit raised.  I appreciate the extra thought that went into that.  I received my copy for review from Revell and the opinions are my honest ones.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Petticoat Detective by Margaret Brownley

Imagine being a woman in a time where there were not a lot of opportunities for you besides marriage and children.  That is the time period where we find Amy, in the years following the Civil War.  Amy, being a Pinkerton agent, has to go undercover at a bordello in hopes of catching the outlaw named the Gunnysack Bandit.  The first night she is there, she meets a former Texas Ranger by the name of Tom Colton.  Tom has arrived in town to find out information about the Gunnysack Bandit as well, due to the fact that he believes that is who has killed his brother.   That alone hooked me into the story, but there was a lot of depth to this story especially concerning judging others.  Amy, a Christian, has entered a role of a pretend prostitute in order to catch a thief and murderer.  What she finds stepping into this role is that she is on the other end of the town’s cruel judgement and she has seen the depth of pain of the other girls in the bordello.  Amy is also haunted by her past and her nightmares at night begin to return.  This was at times a lighthearted romantic comedy yet there was a bit of a creepy vibe running through the story as well.  By the end of this book I was thoroughly entertained, did not guess who the true villain was, and I learned some thought provoking lessons.  Overall, I look forward to the next in the Undercover Ladies series.  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.