31 July 2014

Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel by Kelly Minter

Goodreads | Amazon
This beautiful journey through the Amazon invites readers to search their souls and follow Jesus wherever the river runs – experiencing the adventure of knowing the poor and forgotten people He loves.

In Wherever the River Runs, Kelly Minter invites us on a jungle adventure down a river teeming with piranhas, caymans, a beautiful people, and, especially, God’s presence. Her honest and engaging narrative pulls back the curtain on one of the most captivating places on earth as well as on parts of the gospel we may be able to recite but have never fully believed.

For anyone feeling complacent in their American Christianity, Kelly’s story of the forgotten people of the Amazon and how they transformed her understanding of the gospel is sure to inspire.

Kelly Minter’s Wherever the River Runs is nothing less than a life-changing adventure. She takes her readers along for a wild, wondrous ride through the Amazon, as she recounts her experiences with its forgotten, yet beautiful people that challenged and changed her. These people she encountered live so differently than the typical American, yet they live with inspiring purpose and simple determination and have much to offer in surprising and unexpected ways. Incredible.

As I read story after well-written story, I felt captivated and convicted. While Minter’s stories and reflections are deeply and uniquely hers, her revelations and conclusions still speak convincingly to a broader Christian experience and bring essential, often neglected truths to the forefront. These will not be easily forgotten, and I know they will continue to remind me of the importance of worshipping God through loving and serving the impoverished and the neglected.

Valuable, insightful and honest, Minter’s narrative should not be missed. Don’t hesitate to join her for a trip along the Amazon. I highly recommend it.

Now, enter for the chance to win a copy of Kelly Minter's Wherever the River Runs before the giveaway ends on August 13th. It is open to the U.S. and Canada only. Please, only one entrant per mailing address. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. The winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

30 July 2014

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Goodreads | Amazon
An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier's letters home.

Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.

Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near to You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

I Shall Be Near to You is a stunning debut novel from Erin Lindsay McCabe – a beautiful and poignant story of relationship, set against the gritty reality of war. Inspired by the Civil War accounts of women fighting disguised as men, McCabe brings to life the hardships such women faced through her brilliant central character, Rosetta Wakefield.

A simple country girl with aspirations only to spend her days farming alongside the man she loves, Rosetta finds herself following her new husband to war – not for glory or pride or honor, but simply to be at his side. To stay together, she and her husband must resolutely face the looming danger threatening to break them apart, but for Rosetta, any shared time is worth the risk. In the face of this adversity, their budding marriage shows tender and endearing, and Rosetta impressively proves to be a stubborn, witty and capable woman, while retaining vulnerability and dependence. A believable and fascinatingly real narrator, Rosetta has a highly compelling voice and creates a narrative transportive, captivating and emotional.  

I deeply enjoyed I Shall Be Near to You and would certainly recommend it. I cannot imagine other fans of historical fiction will be disappointed.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I received a copy of I Shall Be Near to You and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Waiting on Wednesday: A Little Something Different

Hosted weekly by Breaking the Spine
to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

Goodreads | Amazon
Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Expected Publication Date: 26 August 2014

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common – they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. 

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  

But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. 

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together…

Why I'm Waiting: It just sounds like a super cute love story. And with fourteen different perspectives, it's bound to be unique.

29 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Own the Most Books From

Hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

Orson Scott Card: 12. I only have read and own his books stemming from Ender's Game, but those alone still nearly take up a shelf.

Agatha Christie: 23. I love her books, so every time I see one of them in a thrift store, I buy it. Admittedly, my collection of Christie novels has gotten a bit out of control.

Eoin Colfer: 17. I fell in love with Artemis Fowl - all eight of his books - and then decided to branch out into other Colfer novels, heartily increasing the collection. 

Ted Dekker: 28. Since he is one of my favorite authors, I have read nearly every book he has written. As soon as I see a new book coming out, I scramble to pre-order it.

Margaret Peterson Haddix: 9. One of my favorite series growing up was Shadow Children, so of course I had to buy and still own them all. 

"Carolyn Keene": 16. As a child, I went through a Nancy-Drew-buying phase. I'm not sure how many of those books I actually read, but I now have a bunch just sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read someday.

Lois Lowry: 8. Between The Giver Quartet and her Newbery winners and nominees, I have accumulated quite a few of her books.

Max Lucado: 9. More out of control thrift-store purchasing. I love the books of his I have read and now have plenty on my shelf still to read.

J. K. Rowling: 7. Two words: Harry Potter.

Nicholas Sparks: 10. What can I say? I'm not exactly proud that he made this list, but I am a sucker for romance.

28 July 2014

Speak by Nish Weiseth

Goodreads | Amazon
Speak, by popular blogger Nish Weiseth, is a book about the power of telling our own stories and hearing those of others to change hearts, build bridges, advocate for good, make disciples with grace, and proclaim God’s kingdom on Earth today.

Nish Weiseth exhorts today’s Christians to follow Jesus’ example by using story as a vehicle for change. After all, Jesus was a master storyteller. He frequently and effectively used the art of storytelling to communicate deep truths about God, humanity, love, and eternity to a culture on the brink. His stories defied social norms, revealed God’s Kingdom, and fiercely advocated for the least of these.

With examples from Scripture as the foundation, Speak is a call for grace, openness, and vulnerability within the evangelical church. Nish Weiseth encourages those in the Body of Christ to know their own story of transformation and redemption – and to use those stories as a catalyst for change at both a personal and global level.

In Speak, Nish Weiseth advocates, with a perspective from the millennial generation, the importance of both telling and listening to personal stories. There is much transformative power found in a person’s sharing of his or her experiences, and interactions and issues with Christians and non-Christians alike can benefit from a candid beginning with story. Weiseth does a beautiful job of exploring how stories, told honestly and vulnerably, capably overcome debilitating division and effect positive, restorative change. Within her writing, she applies her own ideas and incorporates personal stories, along with other stories shared on A Deeper Story, within each chapter. Well-written and down-to-earth, Speak is optimistic, encouraging, engaging food for thought, and I would sincerely recommend it. I think it’s worth a read.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of Speak and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

24 July 2014

Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot

Goodreads | Amazon
An awkward young woman. 
A haunted young man. 
A forbidden instrument. 
Can the love of music bring them together... or will it tear them apart? 

Bath, England 1810. At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician. 

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal. 

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument... with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick. 

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul. 

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets... just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo...

Camille Elliot’s Prelude for a Lord held me entranced from the first page to the last. I simply could not stop reading it. It is a truly lovely read, which kept me guessing until the very end.

Elliot masterfully maintains the threads of intrigue, hinting at crucial information without revealing the complete details until the perfect narrative moment. Her plot includes mystery and drama and romance with a great collection of musically-inclined characters. The heroine, Lady Alethea Sutherton, captured my heart with her willful and independent spirit, determined not to fit into society’s confining standards, while the hero, Lord Dommick, drew my attention, playing the conflicted gentleman, protective and kind yet emotionally distant. As they uncover the secrets of the violin (and love), their interactions are lively and endearing, and it is hard not to smile at their exchanges.

Prelude for a Lord is a worthwhile read and I definitely recommend it to fans of historical romance and mystery. I look forward to reading more from Camille Elliot.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of Prelude for a Lord and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Giveaway: Enter below for your chance to win an autographed copy of Camille Elliot's Prelude for a Lord.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Welcome to the launch campaign for debut novelist Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin. Romantic Times had this to say: "Alternating points of view skillfully blend contemporary and historical fiction in this debut novel that is almost impossible to put down. Well-researched yet heartbreaking...."

Kristy is celebrating the release of the first book in her three-book series, A Hidden Masterpiece, with a fun Kindle Fire giveaway and meeting her readers during an August 7th Facebook author chat party.


 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 7th. Winner will be announced at The Butterfly and the Violin Author Chat Party. Kristy will be connecting with readers and answering questions, sharing some of the fascinating research behind the book, hosting a fun book chat, and giving away some GREAT prizes. She will also be giving an exclusive look at the next book in the series, A Sparrow in Terezin!

So grab your copy of The Butterfly and the Violin and join Kristy on the evening of August 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 7th!

About the Book

Goodreads | Amazon
And then came war…

Today. Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.

Vienna, 1942. Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshiping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait—Adele—they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.

Upon seeing the cover and reading the summary of Kristy Cambron’s The Butterfly and the Violin, I was intrigued and captivated. As soon as I started reading, I could not stop until the end. A beautiful and moving story. Cambron masterfully connects her characters across decades to tell a single story of beauty and hope in the face of tragedy and despair. This connection between characters by a mysterious painting reminded me of The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes (another beautiful story I loved), but Cambron still crafts a uniquely fascinating narrative. As she explores the brutality of the Nazi regime in Vienna and Auschwitz, highlighting the poignant history of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, Cambron conveys powerful truths that transcend singular moments in time. The Butterfly and the Violin is an engaging, thought-provoking read – one I whole-heartedly recommend to fans of historical fiction – and I look forward to reading more from Kristy Cambron in the future. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Don't forget to purchase your own copy of The Butterfly and the Violin here, and be sure to check out other reviews here.

About the Author
Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with the WWII era since hearing her grandfather's stories of the war. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and received the Outstanding Art History Student Award. Kristy writes WWII and Regency era fiction and has placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and is a 2013 Laurie finalist. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.

Find Kristy online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

23 July 2014

Love Stays True by Martha Rogers

Goodreads | Amazon
Can Sallie and Manfred overcome the distance that the war has put between them and find love?

In April 1865, the day following the surrender at Appomattox, Manfred McDaniel Whiteman and his brother, Edwin, are released in an exchange of prisoners. They are given a few provisions, and they begin a long journey to their home in Bayou Sara, Louisiana.

At home Sallie Dyer is waiting word of her beloved Manfred. Though just a young girl when Manfred left, Sallie has grown into a caring young woman who is determined to wait for her love – despite her father’s worries that she is wasting her life on someone who may never come home.

On their journey Manfred and his brother encounter storms and thieves and are even thrown in jail. Will he make the journey home before someone else claims Sallie’s hand?

Within the pages of Love Stays True, Martha Rogers tells a sweet, historical love story: the Civil War separates childhood sweethearts, Sallie and Manfred, for several years, but with the fighting coming to an end, they soon discover whether their love endured through the complications and obstacles of war. With surprisingly very little action, thoughts and emotions almost entirely keep the plot moving, as Sallie and Manfred wait and hope for the chance to be together. The novel’s pace is slow and leisurely, without much urgency.

Throughout the novel, I found it easy to like and root for these main characters – although I must say they do lack depth. Manfred, a soldier released from a war prison, seems entirely unaffected by the horrors he saw in war and easily relies on his faith in God to keep him safe. While both admirable and honorable, the simplicity of his conflict-free thought processes make him appear a bit one-dimensional. Sallie, on the other hand, easily doubts her faith in God (and Manfred’s love) after one night requires her to do a harsh, burdensome act to protect her family. I understand why the event is traumatic for her, but the way her same thoughts seem to repeat without any change until the very end make her, too, one-dimensional.

Still, Love Stays True is a perfectly enjoyable read. It is nice and simple with a clean, heartwarming romance, so I recommend it to readers looking for just that. Thanks to Booketeria, I received a copy of Love Stays True and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

22 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Want With Me on a Deserted Island

Hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

Even without superpowers, he has gadgets to do just about anything.

Ron Weasley.
He may seem like a blundering fool at times, but he has his moments (and a bit of comic relief never hurts).

Artemis Fowl.
He's a genius criminal mastermind with fairy connections.

Katniss Everdeen.
She's a hunter, a fighter and a survivor.

Hermione Granger.
She's brilliant.

Thomas Hunter.
In the words of my brother, "he's a boss." I can't pass him up.

Games of hide-and-seek always help to pass the time.

Sherlock Holmes.
At times he can be intolerable, but he is quite clever - I think it would be worth it.

Ender Wiggin.
If I never make it off the island, at least he could write up the story of my life for posterity's sake.

Mr. Darcy.
With the island needing a bit more classic literary presence, he feels like the perfect choice for sophisticated conversation and good looks.

21 July 2014

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

Goodreads | Amazon
It's April 1861, and the Union Army's Medical Department is a disaster, completely unprepared for the magnitude of war. A small group of New York City women, including 28-year-old Charlotte Waverly, decide to do something about it, and end up changing the course of the war, despite criticism, ridicule and social ostracism. Charlotte leaves a life of privilege, wealth-and confining expectations – to be one of the first female nurses for the Union Army. She quickly discovers that she's fighting more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Corruption, harassment, and opposition from Northern doctors threaten to push her out of her new role. At the same time, her sweetheart disapproves of her shocking strength and independence, forcing her to make an impossible decision: Will she choose love and marriage, or duty to a cause that seems to be losing? An Irish immigrant named Ruby O'Flannery, who turns to the unthinkable in the face of starvation, holds the secret that will unlock the door to Charlotte's future. But will the rich and poor confide in each other in time?

Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey's letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured.

Jocelyn Green's debut novel is endorsed by historians and professors for its historical accuracy and detail, by award-winning novelists for its spell-binding storytelling, and by entertainment journalists and book club leaders for its deep and complex content, perfect to share and discuss with others.

After reading Widow of Gettysburg (the second novel in Jocelyn Green’s Heroines Behind the Lines series) last fall, I knew I had to read Wedded to War, too. Tackling the era of the U.S. Civil War, Green represents the (often overlooked) female role, experience and perspective authentically, hauntingly, vividly in captivating and fascinating storylines. Charlotte Waverly, the admirable and resolute heroine of Wedded to War, serves as one of the first female nurses in the war effort, and the sights she sees and the challenges she encounters are gruesome, tragic and heartbreaking. Knowing that Green based Charlotte’s character on the real-life experiences of Georgeanna Woolsey increased and enhanced the incredible realism of the historically-based, yet fictitious plot. I have read several novels dealing with the Civil War in the past, yet Green still provided me with a new perspective of the infamous and bloody conflict, as well as much insight into the poor medical state of the day. I highly recommend reading Wedded to War (as well as Widow of Gettysburg) for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and I cannot wait to read Yankee in Atlanta, the next in the series, and see what else Jocelyn Green has in store for her readers.

Thanks to Moody Publishers, I received a copy of Wedded to War and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

A Triple Knot by Emma Campion

Goodreads | Amazon
The critically acclaimed author of The King's Mistress brings another fascinating woman from history to life in an enthralling story of political intrigue, personal tragedy, and illicit love.

Joan of Kent, renowned beauty and cousin to King Edward III, is destined for a politically strategic marriage. As the king begins a long dynastic struggle to claim the crown of France, plunging England into the Hundred Years’ War, he negotiates her betrothal to a potential ally and heir of a powerful lordship.

But Joan, haunted by nightmares of her father’s execution at the hands of her treacherous royal kin, fears the king’s selection and is not resigned to her fate. She secretly pledges herself to one of the king’s own knights, one who has become a trusted friend and protector. Now she must defend her vow as the king — furious at Joan’s defiance — prepares to marry her off to another man.

In A Triple Knot, Emma Campion brings Joan, the “Fair Maid of Kent” to glorious life, deftly weaving details of King Edward III’s extravagant court into a rich and emotionally resonant tale of intrigue, love, and betrayal.

Emma Campion’s A Triple Knot is quite the tangled, messy, knotted web. I had never before known much about Joan of Kent and the drama surrounding her relationships, but from Campion’s telling, I gained much insight into what her life might have been like in England’s medieval court. At many points, her story verges on dark, with the ever-present undercurrents of suspicion and jealousy, scheming and manipulation that surround her, but Joan is a character full of strength and determination, ever the diplomat yet unwilling to simply play the pawn in the king’s maneuvering. She deserves to have her story told, and I really enjoyed getting to know this portrayal of Joan and the numerous obstacles and challenges she faced and overcame. I would recommend it for readers of historical fiction.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I received a copy of A Triple Knot and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

17 July 2014

Captured by Love by Jody Hedlund

Goodreads | Amazon
It is 1814 and the British have taken hold of Mackinac Island and its fort, forcing American residents to swear an oath of loyalty to the British crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a voyageur – a fur trader who left his family home to find freedom and adventure. He's been gone five years and when he returns, his family's farm is at the mercy of the British invaders. 

Torn between the life he's grown used to and guilt over leaving his brother and mother, he's drawn back into the loyalist fight against the British – and into a relationship with Angelique Mackenzie, a beautiful local girl who's been befriended by the daughter of the British commander. As tensions mount and the threat of violence increases, both Angelique and Pierre must decide where their loyalties rest, how far they will go to find freedom, and how much they will risk to find love.

I love reading novels that bring to life periods of history I had previously neglected, and Jody Hedlund’s Captured by Love certainly does that. In my history classes, I do not remember learning all that much about Mackinac Island or the War of 1812, but Hedlund’s depiction surpasses anything I might have found in my generic history textbooks. She writes the history vividly, interestingly and authentically and doesn’t shy away from the hardships of the time, like the starvation, the quick punishment and mistreatment, the dangerous battle. At every turn, I felt captivated by this look into the past and I learned quite a bit.

In the midst of her fascinating historical representation, Hedlund seamlessly integrates and engages her fictional characters. Almost immediately, I liked the two main characters, Angelique and Pierre, who are well-developed, dynamic and real. The obstacles the war continually presents shapes the course of their relationship, and their banter is fun and witty, their embraces sweet and passionate, their circumstances challenging and complex. Full of unpredictable drama, action, adventure and romance, this story is wonderfully written and perfectly paced.

Overall, Captured by Love kept me captured from beginning to end, so I thoroughly enjoyed my first adventure into Jody Hedlund novels. If this novel represents the quality of her other work, I will most definitely be reading more from Jody Hedlund. Needless to say, I recommend Captured by Love to lovers of history and romance and thank Bethany House for providing me with the novel and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

16 July 2014

Death Takes a Ride by Lorena McCourtney

About the Book

Goodreads | Amazon
It's official. This case is above her pay grade – and Cate's in over her head.

Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Vintage Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there – this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense.

Despite having been merely an unfortunate bystander, Cate finds herself sucked into the case. And the deeper she gets, the more she begins to suspect that the shooting in the H&B office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lorena McCourtney takes you on wild ride in this clever cozy mystery that will keep you guessing.

Lorena McCourtney’s Death Takes a Ride is certainly an exciting ride. No doubt about that. From nearly the first page, private investigator Cate Kincaid (along with the readers) finds herself thrown into an ostensibly simple, yet utterly confounding murder mystery. As McCourtney revealed more and more clues, characters and connections, I continually reevaluated my guessed solution – only to wait until the very end to truly understand all the complexities. Quite the stumper.

I greatly appreciated that even with murder as a major plot point of the novel, the prevalent feeling and tone is not overly dark or sinister. While maintaining the mystery, McCourtney manages to keep her writing light, sprinkling in humorous moments when necessary. It works perfectly for a fun read on a lazy weekend.

Overall, this addition to the Cate Kincaid Files is tricky and delightful. I loved it – even without having reading the two previous novels starring Cate Kincaid. While I am sure those novels help in understanding the personalities and backstories of several characters, as well as minor, passing comments, I never felt I read with a disadvantage. It is able to be read on its own – though I am definitely planning to read the other two when I have the chance.

Thanks to Revell Reads, I received a copy of Death Takes a Ride and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.

About the Author
Lorena McCourtney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won a Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), Dying to Read, and Dolled Up to Die. She resides in Oregon. Learn more at her website.

15 July 2014

A July Bride by Beth Wiseman

Goodreads | Amazon
Can she forgive the man who left her at the altar?

Alyssa Pennington dated Brendan Myers for three years before she accepted his proposal. For almost a year, Alyssa's friends and family helped her plan a lovely wedding to take place in the church she'd grown up in. It was the happiest day of her life when she walked down the aisle to be united with the man of her dreams. But when Brendan left her at the altar, Alyssa was consumed by humiliation, embarrassment, and a broken heart that wouldn't allow her to trust anyone. Especially Brendan.

Brendan Myers knows he will spend the rest of his life regretting what he did to Alyssa, the only woman he's ever loved. Without her, his life is empty. In one fateful moment, he'd panicked, destroyed their future, and ruined everything. Now he plans to win her back.

But winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. And even if he does get her to the altar again, will she think turnabout is fair play?

Beth Wiseman’s addition to A Year of Weddings, “A July Bride,” fits wonderfully into the romantic collection. Distinguishing her novella from the others, Wiseman throws her characters into an unexpected love triangle, which kept me on edge while reading, wondering who exactly would end up at the wedding altar. I hoped for Alyssa to make certain choices, but a few twists kept the plot interesting and a bit unpredictable. “A July Bride” is a sweet, heartwarming story, and I recommend it along with all the other novellas in the collection. I look forward to reading more from both Beth Wiseman and A Year of Weddings in the near future. Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a free digital copy of this novella and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Movies & TV Shows

Hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

Five Movies:

Five TV Shows:

14 July 2014

The Extravagant Fool: A Faith Journey that Begins Where Common Sense Ends by Kevin Adams

Goodreads | Amazon
At the height of financial success, Kevin Adams had it all. A thriving marketing business with more work than he could get to, investments spread out between two luxury homes, various residential and commercial real estate, and hefty retirement accounts. But in the last 100 days of 2008, Kevin watched in silent amazement as his house of cards came tumbling down. By January 2009, he had lost everything.

The Extravagant Fool is an underdog narrative. It is the story of a man with a choice: Do what he had always done – work harder – or let go and lean on God. In the face of lawsuits, foreclosures, potential homelessness, and his family's doubts, Kevin took the unlikely position of stopping every effort to survive and resting instead at the feet of Jesus.

In a style akin to Blue Like Jazz, Kevin chronicles a very difficult three-year period during which he came to know true helplessness and true intimacy with God. The process of trust is a gamble that only the Extravagant Fool is willing to take. Readers will emerge from this breathtaking story with a transformative new understanding of what it means to walk by faith.

Kevin Adams’ The Extravagant Fool is a truly inspirational story. As he tells of his sudden and complete financial loss and the subsequent hardships, Adams writes transparently and bravely of his personal flaws and failings and the challenges he helped to create for his family. Though many readers may not have had the same drastic change in circumstances, his story is relatable and relevant from cover to cover. In the midst of the glaring and overwhelming difficulties, Adams, falling to his knees before God, finds lessons and reminders of His reliable character and providence – valuable material for any Christ follower. It never hurts to be reminded to live Christ-centered rather than Christian-centered, and I know I definitely pulled a lot of insight from The Extravagant Fool. It is not only inspirational, but also entirely encouraging and thought-provoking.

However, I did have a bit of a problem with Adams’ chosen writing style. In the given blurb, his style is likened to Donald Miller’s in Blue Like Jazz. While I can see some similarities, I do not remember stumbling over so many of Miller’s sentences. Adams writes poetically, filling paragraphs with metaphors and imagery, and to me, many parts just seemed confusing. Several times I read paragraphs over again to try to understand how he connected certain sentences, ideas or images together and still could not quite grasp it.

Despite the at-times problematic writing style, I think Kevin Adams’ The Extravagant Fool is a worthwhile read, and I recommend it. I thank BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a copy of this book and the opportunity to honestly review it. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own. (I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)