31 May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

Hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's TTT topic is "Beach Reads," and since I've been seeing a lot of rain recently here in Colorado, I'm choosing to focus on books (I've read already or hope to read this summer) with covers that help me imagine I'm at the beach:



Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt
Forever Beach by Shelley Noble


The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
The Siren by Kiera Cass


Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon


Summer by Summer by Heather Burch
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

30 May 2016

The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler

About the Book
★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
This captivating, breakout novel—told in alternating viewpoints—brings readers from the skies of World War II to the present day, where a woman is prepared to tell her secrets at last.

Estranged from her family since just after World War II, Mary Browning has spent her entire adult life hiding from her past. Now eighty-seven years old and a widow, she is still haunted by secrets and fading memories of the family she left behind. Her one outlet is the writing group she’s presided over for a decade, though she’s never written a word herself. When a new member walks in—a fifteen-year-old girl who reminds her so much of her beloved sister Sarah—Mary is certain fate delivered Elyse Strickler to her for a reason.

Mary hires the serious-eyed teenager to type her story about a daring female pilot who, during World War II, left home for the sky and gambled everything for her dreams—including her own identity.   

As they begin to unravel the web of Mary’s past, Mary and Elyse form an unlikely friendship. Together they discover it’s never too late for second chances and that sometimes forgiveness is all it takes for life to take flight in the most unexpected ways.

Maggie Leffler’s The Secrets of Flight offers an enjoyably interesting combination of contemporary and historical storylines, as Mary Browning begins an unlikely friendship with  fifteen-year-old Elyse Strickler on her eighty-seventh birthday. These two characters, after meeting in a writing group, work together to write Mary’s memoir and start sharing their personal stories, past and present. Alternating both perspective and time period throughout the novel, Leffler skillfully weaves her chapters together to tell a wonderful story for Mary and Elyse, one full of secrets and drama, love and hope. I really liked it (especially learning about Mary’s past as a pilot during World War II) and recommend it.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I received a copy of The Secrets of Flight 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. To read other opinions of the novel, click here.

About the Author
Maggie Leffler is an American novelist and a family medicine physician. A native of Columbia, Maryland, she graduated from the University of Delaware and volunteered with AmeriCorps before attending St. George’s University School of Medicine. She practices medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and sons. The Secrets of Flight is her third novel.

Find out more about Maggie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

28 May 2016

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
From the New York Times bestselling author of Bittersweet comes a novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake made sixty years ago that threatens to change a modern family forever. 

Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

As I read June, it reminded me of The Hundred-Year House with its combination of an old house, a multi-generational narrative, and plenty of well-kept, dark family secrets - but I can gladly admit I enjoyed Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s novel so much more (though I’m not sure I can fully explain my preference without spilling spoilers). June shares a story divided between years 1955 and 2015, full of passion and suspense, as Cassie Danvers uncovers secrets about her grandmother June. The story is well-paced and intriguing with an interesting cast of characters in both storylines, and I really liked it. For readers who enjoy fiction with multiple storylines, I certainly recommend June - it’s a great choice for a summer read.

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I received a copy of June 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.

27 May 2016

A Daughter's Dream by Shelley Shepard Gray


About the Book
★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
In Shelley Shepard Gray's second book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a young teacher and farmer discover they have much in common, especially when it comes to healing old wounds from the past...and finding love in one another.

Rebecca Kinsinger has always dreamed of being a teacher. But when she's given the opportunity she's been waiting for at Charm Amish School, she's dismayed to discover that teaching is hard work---work she's afraid she's not very good at.

That is, until Lilly Yoder joins the class. A thirteen-year old who's just lost her parents, Lilly is in need of someone like Rebecca. For the first time since starting her new job, Rebecca feels a sense of purpose. But when she meets Lilly's uncle, Jacob, his good looks and sweet, easy-going temperament are hard to ignore. How can she even entertain romantic thoughts of Jacob when his niece is her student?

Suddenly becoming Lily's sole caregiver, Jacob Yoder never thought he'd be a single parent---or a farmer. Having been living in Florida as a carpenter, Jacob feels more at home wielding a hammer than a backhoe. The only bright spot in his life is Rebecca Kinsinger. As Lily and Rebecca develop a bond, Jacob's fondness for the pretty teacher grows, too.

But when a fateful accident brings them together, Rebecca and Jacob must choose between duty and desire. Will they follow the path before them? Or set out to find true happiness...and true love?

What a pleasure it is to revisit the community of Charm, Ohio in Shelley Shepard Gray’s A Daughter’s Dream. I really enjoyed this charm-ing second Charmed Amish Life story, and I’m sure it will not leave fans of Amish fiction disappointed either.

A Daughter's Dream follows A Son’s Vow (which I read and liked earlier this year) and spotlights a different Kinsinger sibling, Rebecca, in a delightful romance. Now, Rebecca has the opportunity to pursue her dream to teach, which proves to be a bit more challenging than she expected, and encounters Jacob Yoder, who also faces his share of unexpected problems. Naturally and sweetly, amidst lessons of following dreams and seeking God’s will, romance develops between Rebecca and Jacob, and their story will bring a smile to any reader’s face.

I can easily say that A Daughter’s Dream offers exactly the kind of quick and heartwarming read expected from Shelley Shepard Gray. Again, I really enjoyed it and recommend it - and can’t wait to see more of Charm in A Sister’s Wish.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of A Daughter’s Dream 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. To read other opinions, be sure to check out what other reviewers think here, and purchase a copy of the book here.

About the Author
Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

26 May 2016

Through the Shadows by Karen Barnett


About the Book
★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
As San Francisco rises from the ashes, an age-old battle looms between corruption and the promise of new beginnings.

The devastating earthquake is just two years past, but the city of San Francisco is still trying to recover. Destruction of this magnitude is not so easy to overcome---and neither are the past regrets shadowing Elizabeth King's hopeful future.

Hoping to right her wrongs, Elizabeth dedicates herself to helping girls rescued from slavery in Chinatown brothels, even if it means putting her own life at risk to sneak through the gloomy alleys and rooftops where dangers lurk.

Putting her life on the line for a worthy cause is admirable. But opening her heart is even more terrifying. So when Elizabeth meets attorney Charles McKinley---a man who dreams of reforming San Francisco's crooked politics---Elizabeth begins to doubt: Can she maintain her pretense and hide her past? Or will her secret jeopardize both their futures?

This third Golden Gate Chronicles novel transports Karen Barnett’s readers once again to the San Francisco of the early 1900s. Both pianist-turned-teacher Elizabeth King and lawyer Charles McKinley try to right the wrongs they see in the post-earthquake society around them, and with great historical detail, Barnett tells an excellent (and romantic) story involving social injustice and corruption, as well as courage and redemption. Every aspect of Through the Shadows pulled me through the pages of its story, keeping me reading, reading, reading from start to finish. And just as I enjoyed Out of the Ruins and Beyond the Ashes, I really enjoyed this novel and easily recommend it to fellow lovers of historical (romantic) fiction. It’s an engrossing and satisfying read.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of Through the Shadows 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. To read other opinions, be sure to check out what other reviewers think here, and purchase a copy of the book here.

About the Author
Karen Barnett is the author of Beyond the AshesOut of the Ruins, and Mistaken. Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. When she's not writing novels, she loves speaking at women's events, libraries, and book clubs.

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love? Pharmacist Lillian Avery and Ensign Archer Vandenberg are about to find out in Sarah Sundin's new book, Anchor in the Storm. During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling? As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

Celebrate the release of Sarah's Anchor in the Storm by entering to win her All Hands on Deck Prize Pack!

anchor in the storm - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A signed copy of Anchor in the Storm
  • Nautical tote bag lined with anchor fabric
  • Anchor necklace made from copper reclaimed from the USS Constitution in Boston during restoration
  • 365 Devotions for Hope by Karen Whiting
  • Shine: Nautical Inspirational Adult Coloring Book
  • "Hope Anchors the Soul" journal
  • Set of two nautical tea towels
LF AIS full group 2 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 8th. The winner will be announced June 9th on Sarah's blog.

anchor in the storm - banner

About the Book
★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love?

Nothing slows Lillian Avery down---not her personal challenges and certainly not America's entry into World War II. She finally has a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The demands of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg's attentions only annoy---even if he is her brother's best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves---and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling? 

As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

The second novel in Sarah Sundin’s Waves of Freedom series, Anchor in the Storm shares a story involving page-turning drama, mystery, danger, romance, and World War II history. Fans of historical fiction, read this book!

Hard-working, determined, and full of gumption and insecurities, both Lillian Avery and Archer Vandenberg want to prove they are much more than meets the eye, and a problematic drug ring gives them the perfect opportunity to do so. Working together to investigate allows Lillian and Arch the time to get to know and understand each other, so a heartwarming and smile-inducing friendship-to-romance relationship naturally develops - only to then test their trust in one another and in God.

Challenges and dangers abound throughout Anchor in the Storm, but Lillian and Arch prove to be strong, admirable, and wholly likable characters (with undeniable chemistry and a penchant for clever, humorous banter). It was an utter delight to discover the story within this book’s pages, and I loved it. Undoubtedly, I recommend it to interested readers in need of a good historical romance - it will not disappoint.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of Anchor in the Storm 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. To read other opinions, be sure to check out what other reviewers think here, and purchase a copy of the book here.

About the Author
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, In Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

25 May 2016

The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home by Alison Hodgson

★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
“What if a wheezing, sneezing, allegedly house-trained, ticking time bomb of an orphan pug is the key to helping a family feel at home again, after an arsonist set their house—and life—on fire? If you asked me, I would have said it’s a bad idea; we can do better. Unfortunately no one asked me, and The Pug List is my family’s story.”

In the fire’s aftermath of insurance battles royal, rebuilding plans, parenting in the face of life’s hard questions and a scorching case of post-traumatic stress, now is absolutely the worst possible time to adopt a dog. But to Alison’s seven-year-old daughter, Eden, it’s the perfect time—and The Relentless Campaign begins.

Until one day Alison peeks inside Eden’s diary—dubbed “The Pug List”—and realizes in one fell swoop that her girl’s heart is on the line, and resistance is futile (“The pugs make me happy FOREVER.”).

Enter “Outrageous” Oliver, and the hilarity, healing, and irresistible hope that follows.

I’m not particularly fond of dogs, but i enjoyed The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home all the same. This book shares Alison Hodgson’s family’s story of a fire, a dog, and plenty of faith, and I just flew from the first page to the last. It’s a heartwarming and quick read, full of heartbreak, healing, and hope (with several hilarious moments). Again I’ll say that I really enjoy it, and to interested readers, I certainly recommend it.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of The Pug List 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.”)

Waiting on Wednesday: Forever Safe & A Haven on Orchard Lane

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

Title: Forever Safe
Author: Jody Hedlund
Expected Publication Date: June 2016

Will she ever be able to stop running, even when she believes she’s finally safe?

Heiress to a vast fortune, Victoria Cole has everything she wants, including the perfect fiancĂ©. Having left two other men at the altar, Victoria is sure that now she’s found her true love and will finally live happily ever after. As her wedding draws near, however, Victoria’s life is threatened. To keep her safe, Victoria’s father hires a bodyguard.

Tom Cushman’s number one priority is protecting his clients, which means no personal entanglements. But he’s never guarded someone as beautiful and winsome as Victoria. After a near-kidnapping, the wedding is cancelled, and Tom hides Victoria at Cape Cod’s Race Point Lighthouse until her attacker can be found. Appointed as assistant light keeper with Victoria posing as his wife, Tom believes the isolation of the lighthouse will keep her safe.

As Victoria struggles to live without familiar luxuries, her heart betrays her with growing feelings for her protector. Determined to help Tom stop fleeing from his haunted past, can the runaway bride learn to face her own fears? With the attacker closing in, will both of them ever be able to stop running and find the safety they long for?

Title: A Haven on Orchard Lane
Author: Lawana Blackwell
Publisher: Bethany House
Expected Publication Date: 7 June 2016

In difficult circumstances, Charlotte Ward, once a famed stage actress, tries to restart her career-only to experience disaster. Against her better judgment, her estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village.

Charlotte is grateful to get to know Rosalind after years apart. As one who has regrets about her own romantic past, it's a joy for Charlotte to see love blossom for her daughter. For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching-and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her. And what could be more complicated than romance?

Together, mother and daughter discover that healing is best accomplished when they focus less on themselves and more on the needs of others.

24 May 2016

The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher


About the Book
★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
The Stoltzfus family faces serious problems, both in the church and at home. Everyone in the community expects minister David Stoltzfus to fix things--fast. But David doesn't work fast. He prefers to wait for God to work in individual hearts. However, even he is left wondering if the solution to their most pressing problem might be a Quieting.

When David's mother arrives, uninvited, more upheaval is in store. She has matchmaking plans for everyone in the family, including David and her eligible granddaughters--and especially for David's niece Abigail. When Abigail stumbles onto a curious connection during her genealogical research, it could help David solve one problem--but will it create another?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher takes fans back to Stoney Ridge, delivering the twists, turns, and romance they adore.

These days, I never pass up the opportunity to return to Stoney Ridge in the pages of a new Suzanne Woods Fisher book. With its many familiar characters (mixed with excellent new ones, of course) and its various forms of drama and romance, it’s a community I always enjoy visiting.


The second Bishop’s Family book, The Quieting picks up its Stoney Ridge story after the events of The Imposter. (I think it helps to read these books in order - The Imposter before The Quieting.) Since I really enjoyed The Imposter, this new book easily pulled me once again into the drama surrounding the Stoltzfus family. As can be expected, the characters encounter plenty of challenges and surprises, and Fisher delivers their story in a manner both entertaining and heartfelt. It kept me emotionally captivated from the beginning to the end (and left me wanting, of course, to pick up The Devoted soon).


It’s easy to conclude that fans of Suzanne Woods Fisher and the genre of Amish fiction will not be disappointed with The Quieting. It’s a quick story with a lot to offer - I very much enjoyed it and now recommend it.


Thanks to Celebrate Lit, I received a copy of The Quieting 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
Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at her website and follow Suzanne on Twitter.

Guest Post From Suzanne Woods Fisher
Twenty years ago, my husband and I attended a large church with a dynamic senior pastor. Each Sunday, we would sit spellbound during 40 minute sermons—he was that good a preacher. And then a terrible thing came to light—this very man had been taking advantage of vulnerable women during counseling sessions. Fourteen women, it turned out, and the pastor remained unrepentant. As issues were dealt with, our entire church suffered. We were a hurting community. The sins of one affected all.

As I plotted out ‘The Bishop’s Family,’ I wanted to borrow the theme of how a leader’s sins hurts the church community. (Now, I need to clarify that this is not a novel that addresses sexual sin. However, it does address unrepentant sin in an ordained leader.) First, I spoke to some Amish friends to see if my story idea had any merit. Was I was on the right track? To my amazement, a similar situation to my novels had occurred in one Amish friend’s church, and it resulted in a “quieting.” That’s an Amish phrase that means revoking the responsibilities of an unrepentant ordained leader. Just like it sounds–he is, essentially, “quieted.”

In this novel, you’ll see the behind-the-scenes of Amish church leadership, and get a sense of how a community is hurting. And how it begins to heal, too.

This series began in the Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania community with The Imposter. More twists and turns are coming to Stoney Ridge after The Quieting—so stay tuned for The Devoted to hit bookshelves in early October. Just in time for autumn reading by a warm fireplace!

Warmly, Suzanne

Blog Stops

Giveaway
To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a grab bag of Amish-made gifts worth over $100! Click here to enter to win.

23 May 2016

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

Inheriting the new title of margrave means Reinhart has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise? Find out in the new medieval fairy tale, The Beautiful Pretender, by Melanie Dickerson. Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Join Melanie in celebrating the release of The Beautiful Pretender by entering to win her Once Upon a Kindle giveaway!

beautiful pretender - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of The Beautiful Pretender
  • A Kindle Fire tablet
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • The choice between a Funko POP Disney Beauty or Beast doll
beautiful pretender - prize collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 7th. The winner will be announced June 8th on Melanie's blog.

beautiful pretender - enter banner

About the Book
★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
What happens when a margrave realizes he's fallen in love with a servant?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble-born ladies from around the country to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina is only responsible for two things: making sure her deception goes undetected and avoiding being selected as the margrave's bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse---far deadlier---consequences. Will Avelina be able to stop the evil plot? And at what cost?

Melanie Dickerson’s latest fairytale retelling pulls elements from both “The Princess and the Pea” and “Beauty and the Beast” and then combines a little bit of everything - action, adventure, romance, drama, suspense, humor - into an entirely wonderful story of true character and nobility. And at the center of it all, the masquerading Avelina and the gruff margrave make an excellent and spirited couple to root toward love, in spite of their many (quite dangerous) obstacles. 

The Beautiful Pretender is sure to keep lovers of fairytale retellings, like me, entranced from beginning to end. I completely and simply loved it (though I’ve realized I’ll most likely love any book by Melanie Dickerson), and I highly recommend it.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of The Beautiful Pretender 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. To read other opinions, be sure to check out what other reviewers think here, and purchase a copy of the book here.

About the Author
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer's Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader's Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.