31 March 2016

Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

About the Book
Start reading the first chapter here.
The prodigal is coming home. 

It's been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray's Glen, Washington. He's broke, but not broken, and it's time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn't expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest-a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there's more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he's determined to find out what she's hiding... and why. 

Colt's return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam's right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn't thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch's contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray's Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district's wealth and power-or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?

Readers who love cowboys and romance will not want to miss Ruth Logan Herne’s Back in the Saddle. The start to her new Double S Ranch series, this novel introduces a family and a town desperately in need of redemption, reconciliation, restoration and delivers a story full of heartwarming healing and hope. I loved it.

Colt Stafford and Angelina Morales both escape to the Double S Ranch when the mistakes of their pasts leave them with few options. As they contemplate the possibilities for their futures, life at the ranch, filled with hard work, scenic views, and faithful reflection, draws them more and more to it and each other. Their story together steadily unfolds with plenty of emotion, drama, and romance amid unexpected events and important decisions, all the way to a satisfying end. 

From start to finish, Back in the Saddle had me enjoying every moment, and I believe it will leave interested readers feeling very much the same. I recommend it.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of Back in the Saddle 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
Ruth Logan Herne has more than half a million books in print, including fifteen Love Inspired contemporary novels. Back in the Saddle is the first book in her new western romance series. Ruth is a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York. 

Find her online at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The Calling by Rachelle Dekker

Remko Brant had never been so sure of anything as escaping the Authority City with Carrington Hale. But bravado comes easy when you have nothing to lose. Now a husband, father, and the tactical leader of the Seers, Remko has never had so much at risk.

As he and his team execute increasingly dangerous rescue missions inside the city, they face growing peril from a new enemy. Recently appointed Authority President Damien Gold claims to be guiding a city shaken by rebellion into a peaceful, harmonious future. But appearances can be deceiving. In order to achieve his dangerous ambitions, Gold knows he must do more than catch the rebels―he must destroy the hope their message represents… from the inside out.

With dissension in his own camp―and the CityWatch soldiers closing in―Remko feels control slipping through his fingers. To protect those he loves, he must conquer his fears and defeat Gold… before one of them becomes his undoing.

In her anticipated second novel The Calling, Rachelle Dekker returns her readers to the world of the Authority a year and a half after the end of The Choosing and tells another riveting dystopian story filled with suspense, drama, and action. Fans definitely should not miss this Seer novel.

Amidst the many familiar characters and addition of a few new ones, Remko Brant is this story’s focus. He now bears much responsibility to lead and protect, yet struggles to believe the truth of the Seers. Remko faces challenge after challenge, danger and deception lurking at every turn, with the tension between fear, faith, and freedom at the heart of his story. As I followed Remko and his fellow characters through the pages of The Calling, I found it nearly impossible to put down and just had to keep reading all the way to the very end. I loved it every bit as much as The Choosing, and I’m sure other readers will as well. I highly recommend The Calling and cannot wait to discover what the next Seer novel has in store.

Thanks to Tyndale BlogNetwork, I received a copy of The Calling 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.

Q&A with the Author
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. The Choosing is her critically acclaimed debut novel. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair. Visit her online at her website.

1. This book is written from Remko’s perspective. Did you face any challenges writing from a male point-of-view? 
There was definitely a looming pressure as I started to write the book. As a woman writer, I wanted to make sure Remko felt masculine and authentic, so I was constantly aware of how he sounded, and how he reacted. Once I got into a flow with his character though, it started to feel more familiar I didn’t have to think about it as much. 

2. Remko struggles with his anger often throughout the book. Is this expression of anger connected to his fears? If so, how? 
Anger is just a natural reaction to the circumstances Remko faces. Sometimes being afraid can stir up anger because it makes us feel weak or out of control. This is definitely true for Remko in The Calling

3. In the book you talk a lot about surrendering to fear. What does this look like and how does this help us to not be afraid? 
I think sometimes the natural reaction to fear is to hide from it, or try and push it away. It’s the idea that if we can’t see it then it must not be there, but we all know that unless dealt with the unseen things often come back to bite us. The only way to face fear is to walk through it; surrendering to Father God and letting Him reminder us of our true identity. Only then do we really see that the light within us is always greater than the fear we face. 

30 March 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: A Flight of Arrows & Counted With the Stars

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

Title: A Flight of Arrows
Author: Lori Benton
Publisher: WaterBrook
Expected Publication Date: 19 April 2016

Hearts are divided.
Loyalties will be tested.
The fates of two families hang in the balance.

Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins—during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own. 

No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness—and her love. 

Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies. 

Title: Counted With the Stars
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Publisher: Bethany House
Expected Publication Date: 5 April 2016

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she's only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she's ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

29 March 2016

One Dress One Year: One Girl's Stand Against Human Trafficking by Bethany Winz with Susanna Foth Aughtmon

Goodreads | Amazon
One girl. One dress. One year. For freedom. 

When sixteen-year-old Bethany Winz learned about the millions of men, women, and children around the world trapped in slavery, her stomach churned. How can anyone do that to another human being? she wondered. And why aren't we doing something?

This is the story of Bethany's "something."

Journey with her as she wears the same black dress every day for a year to focus attention on the lack of choices people in modern-day slavery face and raise money to help end human trafficking. As Bethany works to bring freedom to people worldwide, she'll discover how much she too needs freedom. You'll be inspired not only to change the world in your own way but also to experience the life-changing freedom of God's irrepressible love.

The title of One Dress One Year: One Girl’s Stand Against Human Trafficking shares right away much of the book’s perspective and purpose. Bethany Winz decided to wear one black dress for an entire year in order to raise awareness about modern-day slavery and now shares her experiences with the Dress. Her initiative and passion to make a difference shine throughout this book and inspire readers to do something, too. I enjoyed reading One Dress One Year and discovering Bethany’s desire to take a stand. Overall, it’s a quick but worthwhile read.

Thanks to Baker Book Bloggers, I received a copy of One Dress One Year 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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I've Read Recently

Hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

Bride of a Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter
The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Never Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
Night Driving by Addie Zierman

Winter by Marissa Meyer (+ the rest of The Lunar Chronicles, too)

So, tell me - what are some of the best books you've read recently?

28 March 2016

Catch a Star: Shining Through Adversity to Become a Champion by Tamika Catchings with Ken Petersen

About the Book
Goodreads | Amazon
Teamwork. Family. Perseverance. Faith. Community. Excellence.

Growing up, Tamika Catchings suffered from profound hearing loss, bullying, and the anguish of her parents' divorce. But she wasn't about to allow those challenges to determine her destiny. Through perseverance and God's grace, Tamika became one of the top female basketball players of all time.

Catch a Star is her story of overcoming. Of leading the Indiana Fever to its first championship. Of being named one of the WNBA's top fifteen players in history. Of earning three Olympic gold medals. And of founding the Catch the Stars Foundation to help young people achieve their dreams. 

Her story will inspire you to face your doubts and fears and reach for your own dream, no matter what challenges come your way.

Catch a Star: Shining Through Adversity to Become a Champion tells the fascinating story of Tamika Catchings from the challenges she faced growing up to the success she found playing basketball. It’s an inspiring book that motivates its readers to overcome any obstacle and reach for any dream. I really enjoyed reading Catch a Star - though I imagine I would have appreciated certain aspects of the book more if I had more knowledge of basketball. Still, it’s great and worth the read.

Thanks to Revell Reads, I received a copy of Catch a Star 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.

25 March 2016

A Powerful Secret by Dr. Kevin Leman & Jeff Nesbit

About the Book
Goodreads | Amazon 
Sean has always felt like an outsider in his own family.
Now he must risk never achieving what he wants most--his father's love.

Billionaire globe-trotter Sean Worthington is stunned when his older brother suddenly abandons the Senate race in New York and walks away without a backward glance. As campaign manager, Sean's left to handle the media feeding frenzy with no answers. Worse, their father--as usual--backs Will, the "perfect" son.

Frustrated by his father's lack of belief in him, Sean determines to finally move on and forge a unique path. But when a powerful secret is revealed, threatening everything Sean has counted on, he must wrestle with shocking truths…and combat the power brokers behind the scenes who have the Worthington family in their crosshairs.

A Powerful Secret tells a story full of politics, corporate intrigue, and manipulation, as Sean Worthington decides how to move forward when his brother abandons his run for Senate. The Worthington family has an interesting dynamic, making them excellent characters for the storyline, and the well-crafted suspense, drama, and intriguing secrets surrounding them kept me reading page after page to see what would happen next. It’s a satisfying read - I really liked it and recommend it.

I’ll note that since A Powerful Secret is the second Worthington Destiny book, I imagine reading A Perfect Ambition first helps to understand the character and their backgrounds better. However, I managed to easily read and enjoy this second book on its own - though I’m certainly interested to read the first now. 

Thanks to Revell Reads, I received a copy of A Powerful Secret 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.

24 March 2016

The Last Ride by Susan K. Marlow

Andi's newest adventure may be more than she can handle-even with her family's help.

Andrea Carter is turning sweet 16 and life could not be better. She's about to finish school, her sister Melinda is getting married, and her older brother Justin has a new baby to spoil. There will be plenty of time to work with the colt of her treasured palomino horse, Taffy, and best of all, Andi will finally get to work full-time for the ranch she loves.

There's just one problem: a city-slicker cousin named Daniel. Left there by his father, with a cryptic warning that New York City life has done damage to the young man's character, Daniel wants nothing to do with the ranch. He ignores Andi's lessons, walks away from responsibility, wrecks valuable equipment, and even runs away to San Francisco.

The Carter family is in a frenzy trying to keep Daniel under control. When Andi discovers a horrifying secret about him, he forces her to stay silent. But all that changes when Daniel's actions put lives in danger. Andi's anger over her loss threatens to destroy not only Andi but her entire Circle C world. Can anyone break through the wall around Andi's bitter heart and help her find healing?

Loyal long-time readers of Susan Marlow's historical fiction will line up for an older Andi's newest adventure, and her discovery of how powerful love can be.

Andrea Carter has grown up page after page of Susan K. Marlow’s books, and in her latest one, The Last Ride, Andi turns sixteen and enjoys her responsibilities at the ranch, but soon faces a most challenging disruption. I have not read any of Marlow’s previous book, and while I’m sure they would have helped me to understand aspects of The Last Ride better, I still enjoyed my reading experience. As Andi deals with her difficult cousin, as well as her anger and bitterness, she offers readers spiritual encouragement amidst adventure, drama, and a touch of romance. It’s an entertaining and emotional read that I’m sure will not leave fans of Marlow’s series disappointed.

Thanks to Kregel Publications, I received a copy of The Last 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.

23 March 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Almost Like Being in Love & Land of Silence

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

Title: Almost Like Being in Love
Author: Beth K. Vogt
Publisher: Howard Books
Expected Publication Date: 16 May 2015

From the author of Somebody Like You, a RITA finalist, and one of Publishers Weekly’s top ten books of 2014, comes the story of a woman who has everything for a perfect wedding—except the groom!

Winning an all-expenses paid Colorado destination wedding might seem like a dream come true for some people—but Caron Hollister and her boyfriend Alex Madison aren’t even engaged. How is she supposed to tell him she’s won their wedding and honeymoon when he hasn’t asked her to marry him? Being “perfect for one another” seems like the absolute best reason to get married. But what if their supposedly faultless relationship is merely a safe place to protect his secrets and a way to keep their families happy? After quitting her job, Caron accepts her best friend’s offer to visit Colorado. She needs to catch her breath. Who knows, maybe visiting the destination wedding site will make a future with Alex seem like a reality.

Kade Webster just landed the biggest deal of his life with his company, Webster Select Realty, participating in the Colorado Springs Tour of Homes. He never imagined he would run into the woman who broke his heart—Caron Hollister—right when his career is taking off. Seeing her again, Kade can’t help but wonder why Caron walked away from him years ago, leaving him with no explanation. When Kade learns his home stager won’t be able to help with the Tour of Homes, he vaults past all the reasons he should stay away from Caron, and offers her a temporary job helping him on the project. This time, their relationship is purely business.

Spending time with Kade has Caron questioning everything. The man intrigues her—at times infuriates her—and reminds her of what she lost. Has she been settling for what everyone expects of her? Just because others believe she and Alex are an ideal couple, does that mean they should get married? And how can Caron say “I do” to one man when she’s wondering “what if?” about another?

Title: Land of Silence
Author: Tessa Afshar
Publisher: Tyndale House
Expected Publication Date: 1 May 2015

Before Christ called her daughter…

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment…

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body… and soul?

22 March 2016

Season of Glory by Lisa T. Bergren

In the third and final volume of the Remnants series—Seasons of Glory—the power of the Remnants and their people are growing, threatening Pacifica’s careful plans for domination. Among the Trading Union, village after village, outpost after outpost, and city after city are drawn to people of the Way, and agree to stand against those who hunt them. But Pacifica intends to ferret out and annihilate the Remnants—as well as everyone who hasn’t sworn allegiance to the empire—setting the stage for an epic showdown that will change the course of a world on the brink…forever.

Season of Glory brings Remnants fans the exciting conclusion to the addictive series. This book picks up the now familiar and beloved characters soon after Season of Fire and carries them through plenty of good-versus-evil action and adventure to a very satisfying ending. The journey for the Ailith is challenging, dangerous, and emotional, and kept me reading and reading and reading. I absolutely loved it - just as much as I did Season of Wonder and Season of Fire - and I highly recommend it. 

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers, I received a copy of Season of Glory 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: Books I Really Love But Haven't Talked About Enough

Hosted weekly by The Broke and the Bookish.

I have a problem: I read and blog a lot, but don't talk about books out loud and in person. Well, not too often. And only with people I know to be book nerds. But if I wanted to change that, here are ten books (and a few series) I absolutely love and would happily talk about: 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The Christiansen Family by Susan May Warren
From the Start by Melissa Tagg

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Martian by Andy Weir

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Secrets She Kept by Cathy Golke

Thr3e by Ted Dekker
The Zion Covenant by Bodie & Brock Thoene

So, what books (or series) do you love and want to talk about more?

21 March 2016

Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman

Goodreads | Amazon
How do you know God is real?

In the emotionally-charged, fire-filled faith in which Addie Zierman grew up, the answer to this question was simple: Because you’ve FELT him.

Now, at age 30, she feels nothing. Just the darkness pressing in. Just the winter cold. Just a buzzing silence where God’s voice used to be.

So she loads her two small children into the minivan one February afternoon and heads south in one last-ditch effort to find the Light.

In her second memoir, Night Driving, Addie Zierman powerfully explores the gap between our sunny, faith fictions and a God who often seems hidden and silent.

Against the backdrop of rushing Interstates, strangers’ hospitality, gas station coffee, and screaming children, Addie stumbles toward a faith that makes room for doubt, disappointment, and darkness…and learns that sometimes you have to run away to find your way home.

In the pages of her second faith-focused memoir, Addie Zierman’s desire for light and warmth compels her away from the Minnesota winter and into a cross-country road trip with her two young sons. She heads for Florida, stopping for visits with friends and family along the way, and collects a number of humorous anecdotes, expected frustrations, and insightful reflections. As she mirrors her road-trip experience with her progression through doubts and disappoints toward an understanding of a faith that feels different than the expectations of her youth, Zierman’s writing of Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark is beautiful, and it resonates with vulnerability and honesty. Anyone who has struggled to feel the presence of God will surely find this memoir relevant and relatable - I appreciated it and highly recommend it.

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

18 March 2016

Playing the Part by Jen Turano

About the Book
Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but must abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, seizes the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to safety at her eligible grandson's estate. 

At first glance, Bram Haverstein appears to be a gentleman of means-albeit an eccentric one-but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows. 

While Lucetta has no interest in Abigail's matchmaking machinations, she can't ignore the strange things going on in Bram's house and the secrets he hides. As the hijinks and hilarity that Bram, Lucetta, and their friends are swept into take a more dangerous turn, can they accept who they are behind the parts they play in time to save the day?

Abigail Hart strikes again! In Jen Turano’s third novel in A Class of Their Own, Abigail can’t resist the opportunity to matchmake for another young friend, actress Lucetta Plum - who happens to have no interest in finding a man - and a delightful and humorous romance ensues.

When Lucetta must flee New York City to hide from a threatening, cunning, and determined gentleman, Abigail unsurprisingly leads her into the safety of her grandson’s castle. Her grandson, Bram Haverstein, spent years infatuated with the beautiful Lucetta, but a series of Turano’s expected quirky and humorous scenarios, interspersed with dangerous drama and secrets, quickly reveal her to be quite different from the woman he imagined. Still, the more time the two spend together and define the roles they want to play, the more the attraction between them becomes inevitable and heartwarming, and it’s hard not to love every bit of their story.

Needless to say, Playing the Part offers a read perfect for any of Turano’s fans. It’s highly entertaining, charming, and sweet, and left me with a big smile on my face at the end. I really, really enjoyed it, and I easily recommend it.

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity Group, I received a copy of Playing the Part 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
Jen Turano, author of the Ladies of Distinction series and the A Class of Their Own series, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. 

Find Jen online at her website and Facebook.

17 March 2016

Flirtation Walk by Siri Mitchell

West Point history comes alive in this warmhearted romance.

Trying to escape the shambles her con-man father has made of their reputation, Lucinda Pennyworth arrives in West Point, New York, determined to land a husband from the military academy. Campbell Conklin is first in his class and preparing to embark upon a storied career in the U.S. Army. Lucinda thinks Campbell will make the perfect husband…as long as he does not find out about her father.

Seth Westcott also has taken a liking to Lucinda. He's kind, smart…and working extremely hard to graduate last. Tradition states that the worst cadets are assigned to the cavalry out west. And west is where Seth must head to track the swindler who stole all of Seth's mother's money. Seth is smart enough to vie for the top spot, but life isn't fair and this is his chance to catch the man who ruined his family. It's too bad Campbell is all shine and no substance, but Lucinda will surely see through all of that, won't she?

It does not surprise me how much I enjoyed Siri Mitchell’s newest novel, Flirtation Walk. Not only does it contain her charming storytelling, but also a historical setting that fascinated me, since two of my brothers have attended West Point. She brings the history of the military academy to life with great detail amid believable characters and entertaining circumstances, and I couldn’t help but love it. 

Lucinda Pennyworth, the reforming daughter of a notorious con man, and Seth Westcott, the top-ranked cadet nobly trying to place last, make for a somewhat odd but still delightful couple. Both have familial challenges to face and overcome and do so, despite a few missteps, with admirable spirit, determination, and growing faith, as well as a little help from their friends and family. Their story together is both humorous and heartwarming. 

Fans of Siri Mitchell’s books, as well as readers of historical romance, will not be disappointed with Flirtation Walk. It’s a wonderfully fun and historical read, and I definitely recommend it. (And after reading Flirtation Walk, be sure to stop by Siri Mitchell’s website and sign up for her newsletter to read the free short story about one of Seth’s friends!)

Thanks to Bethany House, I received a copy of Flirtation Walk 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.