Friday, December 28, 2018

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

A Song for the Stars
By Ilima Todd

Maile is relieved when James Cook and his sailors leave her beloved Hawaiian island; while most of her people believed Cook to be their god, Lono, Maile wasn't convinced and is glad the men are gone. However, the men soon return--and the islanders aren't so welcoming this time. A battle ensues, and Maile's fiancé Ikaika is killed by one of Cook's men; Maile takes that same man hostage when her life is threatened.
John Harbottle has quickly come to appreciate Hawai'i and its people, so he is sickened by the battle and the deaths, particularly the one he caused. Although he killed to protect his captain, he doesn't want any more conflict between the people. Although Maile is wary of him at first, she reluctantly cares for him throughout his healing process. His genuine kindness and interest in her people show Maile there is much more to him than simply being her enemy.

This book was lovely, made even better by the fact that it's inspired by a true story. It was so interesting to see how the native Hawaiians viewed the Europeans and to learn more about their life and culture. The backdrop for the story (both the setting and the plot elements) was really beautiful, and then seeing John and Maile's growing feelings was just fantastic. I loved how it moved slowly, from wariness to appreciation to friendship to love, and I really enjoyed the teasing between Maile and John. This was just a highly enjoyable story from start to finish.

5 stars. One of my picks for the best of 2019.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

A Bound Heart
By Laura Frantz

Lark MacDougalls loves her home on the island of Kerrera. She keeps the bees and works in the stillroom at laird's castle, and while it's a simple life, there's nowhere else she'd rather be. Loyal to the laird, Magnus MacLeish, Lark does what she can to try to help his wife, Isla, bear him an heir, but after multiple miscarriages, Lark feels there's little she can do to help Isla. When Isla dies unexpectedly, Lark is accused of killing her, and Magnus, in his attempt to protect Lark, also finds himself imprisoned. While spared the noose, Lark doesn't know what she'll do when she and Magnus are indentured and sent across the Atlantic to a new world and a new life.

This book was phenomenal! The descriptions and the characters are amazing; from the very beginning, Laura Frantz did a terrific job of transporting me to Scotland alongside Lark. It was just amazing how she drew me into the setting as much as the plot. Everything about the story was so interesting--from the Scottish daily life with the poverty alongside the beauty to the harsh British laws that punish the Scots to life as an indentured servant. There's just so much here to fall in love with--including Lark and Magnus, who were both strong, wonderful characters and they were so well-developed and really felt like real people. I really loved getting to read their story and see how things played out for them.

5 stars. A fantastic book to kick of 2019--this one sets a high standard for everything I read from here on out!

I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Truth about Miss Ashbourne

The Truth about Miss Ashbourne
Joanna Barker

Juliana Ashbourne is working as a governess until she can save up enough money to start her own school for girls. Although her current position is trying--she loves the children but their parents are horrible--she is determined to stick it out. Then she finds out her grandfather, whom she has never met since he disowned her mother when her mother dared to run away with a sailor, a man beneath her station, changed his will to include her--leaving her a large sum of money contingent on her spending one month at the family estate, Havenfield. Juliana doesn't want to go, but she does want the money to start her school, but when her job circumstances change, she reluctantly heads to Havenfield. At Havenfield, though, Juliana finds that her family is kinder and more welcoming than she expected, and the new heir to the estate, William Rowley proves to be a wonderful friend. While he does tease her constantly, he also listens to her and is genuinely interested in her dreams--dreams that might not be quite what she always imagined.

 AH! This book was terrific! I loved the teasing--no, banter--between Juliana and William. They were both excellent characters. The plot and writing were excellent as well. This book captured me from the first page and I really loved it. I'll definitely be looking forward to more books from this author. If you're a fan of Sarah M. Eden or Julianne Donaldson and need something to read, this is definitely the book for you! This is one of my picks for the best of 2018. 5 stars!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Once I Was a Beehive Blog Tour and Giveaway

Book description
Charming, clever, and heart-warming. Carol Lynch Williams' novelization of the motion picture Once I Was a Beehive is sure to be a family favorite. Sixteen-year-old Lane Speer spends her family vacations camping in the mountains, taking the memories for granted until she loses her father to an unexpected bout with cancer. One year later, as Lane is still reeling from her father's death, her mother remarries a guy who Lane hardly knows. To top it off, he's a Mormon. Worst of all, while her mom and new stepdad are on their honeymoon, they arrange to have her stay with her Mormon step-aunt who takes her to a bible-themed girls camp with a bunch of Mormon girls. Confronted with memories of camping with her family, Lane tries to find peace with her new surroundings as she deals with the death of her father. 

Author info:
Carol Lynch Williams, who grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah, is an award-winning novelist with seven children of her own, including six daughters. She has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College, and won the prestigious PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. The Chosen One was named one of the ALA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Best Books for Young Adult Readers; it won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult novel of the year; and was featured on numerous lists of recommended YA fiction. Carol’s other novels include Glimpse, Miles From Ordinary, The Haven, Waiting, Signed, Skye Harper, and the Just in Time series. 

Connect with Carol:
Goodreads / Amazon author page/ Website

My review:
Lane is still reeling from her father's death and can't believe her mother is remarrying only a year after his passing. To make things worse, her mom and new husband are going on a honeymoon and dumping Lane with her new step-father's sister's family for three weeks. Lane's new aunt Holly and cousin Phoebe are about to embark on a four-day camping trip with their church group, except Phoebe, who has anxiety, doesn't want to go. Lane has a bit of a soft spot for Phoebe and loved camping with her dad, so she agrees to go camping to support Phoebe. Back out in the wilderness for the first time since her dad's cancer, Lane starts to finally find the peace that has been eluding her.

This was a really cute book. Carol Lynch Williams always does such a good job connecting the reader to the character's heart, and that was definitely the case here. I really liked seeing Lane's journey. It's a sweet story without being sappy and was just a really enjoyable read.
4 stars.
I read an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Join us for a blog tour and check out the giveaway below!

Dec 12: My Book a Day
Dec 14: Min Reads and Reviews

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My Brother's Bride

My Brother's Bride
By Rachael Anderson

When Brigston's brother passes away unexpectedly, just shortly after eloping, Brigston knows it's his responsibility to ensure his sister-in-law, Abby, and her unborn child are well cared for. He's all set to do his duty--but what he isn't counting on his falling for his brother's widow. English law forbids him from marrying her, but Brigston can't stop himself from caring for Abby.

 This is the first full-length novel I've read by Rachael Anderson, but it definitely won't be the last. I really enjoyed the story--the writing was really good with no annoying parts or awkwardness, the plot was interesting, the characters were endearing (I loved the banter between Brigtson and Abby!), and this book was just really good. Highly enjoyable. Great choice for those who like clean, well-written Regency romances.

4 stars.

I received a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

I Am A Reader is hosting a blog tour and a giveaway! You can enter to win to win $25 Amazon Gift Code or PayPal Cash!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Lieutenant's Bargain

The Lieutenant's Bargain
By Regina Jennings

Jack Hennessey spent his younger years trying unsuccessfully to get Hattie Walker's attention. Even now, as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, the letters he has written to her haven't received any response. However, when Jack is sent out to take care of things when a stage carrying a payment for the Cheyenne and Arapaho is ambushed, his work brings him right to Hattie Walker.

Hattie was traveling on the stagecoach when it was attacked; she survived and was taken in by the Arapaho--but she doesn't realize they're friendly and is scared until Jack shows up. Grown-up Jack is different from the boy she remembered, and she's grateful to him for helping her, but Hattie's plans don't include Jack; she is on her way to Denver to gain life experience and create a painting that will convince her parents to stop pressuring her to get married and instead let her pursue her dream of painting.

I really enjoyed reading this book. There were parts that had me laughing, and there were other parts that were really sweet. I really liked seeing Hattie's changing perspective and how she came to realize Jack was more than the annoying boy who used to correct her schoolwork. I also liked seeing her gain a deeper understanding of the Arapaho people. The plot was interesting and this was just a really enjoyable read.

4.5 stars.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Christmas Courting

A Christmas Courting

Love and Joy Come to You
By Jennifer Moore
Graham expects that he and his mother, sorrowing over losses in their family, will spend a quiet Christmas at home, but he discovers his mother has invited a friend as well as the friend's nieces and nephews to stay for the holiday. Graham worries that this will be too much for his mother, but as he and Cassie Weatherby work to help his mother and her siblings be happy this Christmas, Graham quickly comes to be glad that Cassie and her family have come to visit.

A Christmas Courting
By Chalon Linton
Keturah doesn't want to spend Christmas in London; she wants to spend it at home. And things get worse when she finds out that her dear friend Christopher, who will be joining them, wants her to give him advice on how to court the woman he loves. With her heart belonging to Christopher, Keturah doesn't know how she will stand to watch him try to woo another.

Mistletoe Memories
By Jen Geigle Johnson
Alice and Patrick had known since they were children that they would wed someday and would work together to effect reform in England. But now, Patrick, returned from two years abroad, hopes to avoid Alice entirely, since he can't stand to face her knowing that she didn't wait for him but has wed another. Even when he realizes she didn't marry someone else, he can't forgive her for even caring for someone else--and yet, he loves her still.

Second-Chance Christmas
By Heidi Kimball
When her long-time friend Gerard proposed, Francie declined. Four months later, he has returned home for Christmas and Francie hopes that they can put everything behind them and continue to be friends. As she watches Gerard's interactions with his houseguests--including a vivacious young woman--Francie starts to realize that she may have made the biggest mistake of her life when she turned Gerard down.

 This is a delightful collection of novellas! It's got everything--interesting plots, great characters, and a Christmas setting. I enjoyed learning more about Regency Christmas customs, and I especially loved seeing how each couple overcame obstacles to find happiness. Great choice for those looking for heartwarming Christmas stories and sweet romances. I read a review copy via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Bride of Ivy Hill

The Bride of Ivy Green
By Julie Klassen

Jane Bell knows she loves Gabriel Locke, but she doesn't know if she can marry him; she enjoys running her inn and fears another childless marriage. But when Gabriel is seriously injured, Jane realizes that marrying him is exactly what she wants. Meanwhile, Jane's good friend Mercy Grove's life is in upheaval. Her brother and his new bride have moved back to Ivy Hill and suddenly the only home Mercy has known is no longer the haven it has always been--and there's no room for the school MErcy ran. Given the opportunity to be a governess to her favorite former pupil, Mercy knows that on the one hand, it would be a step down in life, but it would also give her an escape, Victorine arrives in Ivy Hill to set up a dress shop, and while the ladies are initially excited to have a French dressmaker in town, they soon realize that things aren't quite as they seemed, while Victorine realizes she may be further from achieving her dreams than she had planned.

I loved returning to Ivy Hill. It such a delightful setting, and I loved seeing how things played out for characters whom I've loved since the first book, as well as getting to meet new characters. I really loved the ending of the book, and it's a satisfying end to the series...and yet there were enough new characters and even an old character or two who still needs a happily-ever-after that I feel like another book wouldn't be superfluous. The writing is terrific and really conveys the feel of small-town life. This is just a really enjoyable series.
4.5 stars.
I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Searching for You

Searching for You
By Jody Hedlund

Sophie Neumann will do whatever it takes to take care of Olivia and Nicholas; although she may not be related to them by blood, she's the only family they have ever known and she is determined that they will stay together. When she witnesses a murder, she realizes that for her own safety and that of the children, they need to flee, she takes the only option she can find--joining an orphan train heading west. Sophie plans to separate from the orphan group in Chicago, but when Olivia refuses to go, Sophie stays with the children--only to have Nicholas quickly placed with a family who only reluctantly allows Olivia to stay with them. Heartbroken to be separated from the children, Sophie goes to work for a good-hearted farmer's wife who lives nearby. Sophie soon finds that one of her new neighbors is an old friend, Reinhold Weiss.
Reinhold is doing all he can to succeed at farming. When Sophie shows up, all grown up, he finds himself drawn to her, but he needs to focus on his farm and doesn't trust himself not to turn out like his angry, abusive father. He can't steer clear of Sophie, though, especially when she begs him for help with Olivia and Nicholas.

I've been waiting a long time to read Sophie's book, and it didn't disappoint at all. There were times when I got a little frustrated with Sophie's stubbornness, but that also made her such a dynamic and real character; she had flaws and she didn't always make the best choices, but she had a good heart and really was a lovable character. As for Reinhold, well, I've been waiting since the first book in the series for him to get the girl, and while I was a little wary about how I'd feel about him and Sophie (I am highly prejudiced against books where a man once liked one woman but ends up with her sister), but it just felt right to me (which is really saying something about Jody Hedlund's writing, if she can make me enjoy a plot line I normally loathe). I loved the overall message of hope and how even when we make a mess of our lives, God can make something beautiful out of them. Another excellent book from a fantastic author.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Until We Kissed

Until We Kissed
Heather B. Moore

Livvy has always dreamed of marrying a doctor and now she's dating a dreamy doctor, Slade...but that's not working out as well as she hoped because Slade is always busy and they rarely have time together. Then Mason Rowe comes to town. Livvy's the town librarian, and Mason, a famous author fighting writer's block, plants himself in the library to try to get some writing done. As Livvy gets to know Mason, Livvy starts wondering if Slade's the one for her after all.

I have enjoyed all of the Pine Valley romances, but this one might actually be my favorite--which actually surprised me because I don't normally like love triangles or any sort of implication of cheating on your significant other. This book really drew me in, though. Livvy just had a fun personality, and I liked how Mason wasn't afraid to point out that Slade was a crappy boyfriend. The chemistry was great (although not over the top because this is a clean read). This was a just a really great clean romance. (Although this is the sixth Pine Valley book, the books can be read in any order.)

4.5 stars.

I read an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Yuletide Regency

A Yuletide Regency

Always Kiss at Christmas by Regina Scott
Mary Rose's mother's health is failing, and since their estate will pass to an odious relative upon her mother's death, Mary Rose knows what she needs to do at her family's yearly Christmas party: get Julian, her childhood whom she has always cared for, to kiss her under the mistletoe, which will surely get him to realize he wants to marry her...despite the fact that he is focused on his career and not ready to take a wife. However, getting him beneath the mistletoe proves to be harder than she expected.

A Yuletide Match by Sarah M. Eden
Renowned matchmaker Adelaide Northrup has contracted to help Porter Bartum find a wife. As a widower with a young child, he needs a woman willing to love his daughter as well. Mrs. Northrup soon realizes what Porter has failed to see: he already has the perfect candidate for a wife in his friend Chloe, who, if Mrs. Northup isn't mistaken, cares for Porter even more than she does his child. Now the matchmaker just needs to get the two of them to realize--and admit--their feelings.

The Forbidden Duke by Jen Geigle Johnson
The Salsbury and Asters don't mix, as an age-old quarrel has kept the rivals thoroughly at odds. When the Duke of Salsbury mistakes Lady Catherine for someone else, however, and draws her into a dance, he realizes that it's time to find a way to end the feud between the families so he can follow his heart.

Mistletoe at Willowsmeade by Annette Lyon
Eleanor Hadfield and Julian Phillips grew up together--she the orphaned relation, he the gardener's son. Now Eleanor works as a governess for her cousin's children and Julian is a successful Navy captain. When Julian comes back to Willowsmeade for Christmas, Eleanor knows that her hopes of a match between them, something she has wanted for years, isn't possible; he can't lower his station to marry her. For his part, Julian, despite his successful career, knows the gardener's son can't wed the lady, even if she has become a governess.

Follow the River Home by Krista Lynne Jensen
Arabelle doesn't really want to marry Mr. Forbes, the relative who inherited her home, but she's decided she must do it for her family's sake. Then Isaac Linfield, a friend of her late brother's whom Arabelle has known since childhood, comes home from war--injured physically and emotionally--and visits Arabelle and her mother. The more she is around him, the more Arabelle realizes that he, and not Mr. Forbes, is who she cares for, but Isaac feels he's too broken to offer her anything, which may leave her with no choice but to wed Mr. Forbes to help her family.

The New Earl by Heather B. Moore
With her brother's death, Celia knows she must leave her home so that a distant cousin can inherit. Before she has a chance to do so, though, the odious man arrives--except, it turns out Aaron Thompson, the new Lord Banfield, isn't odious after all. He might be overly attached to a scruffy dog would fit better in the stables than in the house, but other than that, he's kind and handsome and intriguing. While Celia helps him learn about the estate and being an earl, others are determined to find him a wife--but Aaron realizes that he might not have to look any farther than his new home to find her.

I really enjoyed all of these stories and can't even pick a favorite. There are great characters and fun plots and the added bonus of a Christmas setting. These six novellas are a great choice heading into the holiday season. Take a break, grab a blanket, and snuggle up for a good read.

4 stars.

I read a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 26, 2018

No One Ever Asked

No One Ever Asked
By Katie Ganshert

When the South Fork school district loses its accreditation, the school district has to provide solutions--one of which is busing students to the Crystal Ridge district, a top-tier district in an affluent community.

Camille Gray, PTA supermom in Crystal Ridge, is worried about how having students with low academic performance and troubled backgrounds will affect her three kids and the other kids in the Crystal Ridge district--but she insists it's not about race. At the same time, her marriage of twenty-plus years is falling apart. All Camille wants is what's best for her family.

Jen Covington, who has recently adopted a daughter from Africa, wants to make sure her daughter has a diverse class and despite living in the Crystal Ridge district is considering enrolling her daughter in South Fork. When South Fork kids are allowed to enroll in Crystal Ridge, Jen sends Jubilee to a Crystal Ridge school, but just getting her daughter a black teacher isn't enough to help her navigate the ins and outs of being a new mom to a daughter who is different, and taking a job as the high school nurse doesn't fill that gap in her heart that she thought being a mom would fill.

Anaya Jones wanted to follow in her father's footsteps and teach at South Fork, but with the district a mess, she accepts a position teaching second grade and coaching high school track in the Crystal Ridge district., knowing all the while that parents like Camille Gray don't want her people--including her high school age brother--in their district. As their lives intersect, all three women will come to see that they have much to learn about life and about each other.

DANG! This is the first book I've read by Kaite Ganshert and it blew me away. This book is so thought-provoking and heartwrenching. I loved seeing how each woman made good and bad choices; they just felt so real and so very human. I loved the message that they (and others) are more than just one bad choice and that learning and changing are possible. This book serves as a great reminder that we need to be really careful about judging people and situations because there are usually so many more factors and details than we realize. I read this by myself but I will definitely be recommending it to my book club because this is the sort of book you definitely need to talk about with others.
 This is one of my picks for the best of 2018. 5 stars.

 I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Night at the Opera--review and giveaway!

Night at the Opera
by Stacy Henrie

Goodreads Summary: From USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie comes Night at the Opera, American Heiress Book 1 (1908).

When American Heiress Gwen Barton aids an injured gentleman in an opera box in London, she shares a kiss with the stranger that changes her life. More determined than ever to be herself in spite of the limp she's sustained since childhood, she will marry for love and not a title. She also resolves to learn the identity of the man she helped--and kissed. Surely he can't be the irritating Avery Winfield, though. But as circumstances continue to throw Gwen and Avery together, she begins to wonder if there is more to this man than she first thought.

While most of London only knows him as the nephew of a duke, Avery Winfield is actually working for the Secret Service Bureau to ferret out German spies from among the ton. It’s a profession that gives him purpose and a reason to remain a bachelor. But the more he interacts with Gwen Barton, an heiress from America, the more he begins to question his plans and neglected faith. Then he learns Gwen is the young lady from the opera box who helped him. Now his most important mission may have nothing to do with saving Britain from danger and everything to do with risking his heart for the woman he met that night at the opera.

My thoughts: This is an engaging story. I really liked Gwen; I love seeing how she has used a trial in her life to become more compassionate toward and aware of others. I also loved how she and Avery didn't hit things off at first and she had to change her initial opinions as she got to know him better. I also liked seeing Avery fall in love against his will; the backstory of why he was reluctant to marry was well-developed, but I always enjoy seeing the heart win out. This is a great choice for those looking for a clean, well-written historical romance. 4 stars.

Amazon purchase link:

Tour schedule

Enter to win here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Healing Hearts

Healing Hearts
by Sarah M. Eden

Gideon MacNamara has been unlucky in love, but as the doctor of Savage Wells and the surrounding areas, he needs help in his medical practice, so he has sent for a mail order bride who is a nurse. When she arrives, however, Miriam becomes the third woman to shy away from marrying him, insisting she was only told about the nursing position, not about the marriage part. His love for the people he serves prompts Gideon to swallow his pride and ask Miriam to stay--as his nurse only. Miriam is a good nurse but she's running from her past--and Savage Wells just might be a place where she can make a home, if she can convince the townspeople, who are fiercely loyal to their doctor, that she isn't a terrible person for not wanting to marry Gideon. As they work together, Gideon is drawn to Miriam, but he also realizes she's hiding something and has to figure out if he can really trust her to help him with his patients.

Gideon is a total sweetheart; I love seeing how he cares for his people and how they care about him in return. Miriam is a sort of prickly, but understandably so, but also really wants to help people, and her backstory is so interesting and opened up some really fascinating (and sad) insights into medical treatment for women in the 1800s. The secondary characters are great, too; I love how Sarah Eden always gives us so many people to care about.

If you've read the first book in the Savage Wells series (which you don't have to do before reading this one; it can stand alone), you might expect a lighter tone than this book has; the first book was funnier and had a lot of banter and stuff. This book still has funny moments but it has a darker tone (which is totally appropriate to the story).

Great plot, snappy dialogue, and realistic, well-developed characters are hallmarks of Sarah Eden's writing, and they're all here. Another great book from a terrific author.
4.5 stars.
I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Roses of Feldstone

The Roses of Feldstone
by Esther Hatch

Rose Davenport used to enjoy going to Feldstone Manor, where she and William, the earl's youngest son, enjoyed a fond friendship. The past two years, however, have changed William, who is arrogant, disdainful, and nothing like the kind young man she used to know. Once his older brother was disinherited and William became the heir, he has done all that he can to show how much he dislikes Rose. Determined to aggravate him as much as he does her, Rose enjoys getting under his skin--but when she manages to catch a few glimpses of the old William, she can't help but wonder if things could be as they once were. When William, in an attempt to drag his mother out of her doldrums, promises to find a bride within six months, Rose knows it's time to put hopes of a renewed friendship behind her and decides it's time for her to make a match as well. Upon returning to London, though, she finds herself crossing paths with William once more, and he doesn't seem to like her choice of beau.

This a fun, light-hearted Regency, where it's obvious to the reader that William is being dreadful to Rose because he's trying to distance himself since he loves her but can't marry her and that Rose loves him just as much and is trying to shield her wounded heart. There were a few times it got a little tedious that Rose couldn't seem to figure that out, but since she's the vested party and not a bystander like the reader, I guess that's understandable. I really liked William, with his kindnesses that he just can't hold back even though he's trying to distance himself and the little ways Rose tortures him without even realizing it. Nice choice for those looking for a gentle but somewhat humorous Regency.
4 stars.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Shipbuilder's Wife

The Shipbuilder's Wife
by Jennifer Moore

Lydia Prescott's future seems bright despite the War of 1812 waging not far from her; as the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, she has received a proposal from her beau, who owns a plantation not far from her home. However, a British raid on her family's property leaves Lydia wounded and scarred, and her fiancé cries off.
Jacob Steele, a shipbuilder and a spy for the American forces, rescued Lydia from a burning building, and when he finds out her fickle fiancé has ended their engagement, he convinces Lydia's father to allow him to marry her instead.
Although Lydia's plans have taken a drastic turn from what she expected, as she sets out on a new life with Jacob, she tries to make the best of it--but Jacob works long hours and doesn't seem to want to open up to her at all.
Jacob is drawn to Lydia, but at the same time, he can't bring himself to trust her--after all, lives are at stake and someone is clearly giving the British information. With the fates of their country and their marriage at stake, can Lydia and Jacob learn to trust one another?

I love Jennifer Moore's books; she always introduces me to aspects of history that are so fascinating. I haven't read many books about the War of 1812, so I loved getting the chance to read about that era and what life was like for the Americans at that time. I also thoroughly enjoyed the espionage angle; it moved the plot along quickly and was very interesting. I really loved Jacob's character--he's one of those super good guys with a strong moral compass who can't really face his feelings. He's both realistic and endearing. Lydia starts out seeming like she's spoiled and flighty, but it doesn't take long to see she has more depth and goodness than it initially appeared.

Another terrific read from Jennifer Moore--a great choice for fans of gentle romances and historical fiction.

I read an ARC of #TheShipbuildersWife via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 17, 2018

One House

One House by Sarah MacNeill

This adorable board book features animal friends building a new home for a friend. This rhyming countdown features toucans making plans and bears building stairs, as well as a bunch of other cute animals. This is such a fun book! Kids will enjoy the cute creatures, the countdown, and the construction.

I read a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

4 stars.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shelter of the Most High

Shelter of the Most High
by Connilyn Cossette

Eitan has spent eleven years in a Kedesh, a City of Refuge, and more and more, he wants to be able to leave, to be able to protect his family and his people and to do more than just make weapons as a blacksmith. When Sofea and Prezi, the sole survivors of a raid on their Sicilian village, are brought to Kedesh, Eitan is immediately drawn to Sofea, even though they don't speak the same language. Eitan is determined to be patient as Sofea learns about his language and his religion and hopes that once she does, she will care for him in return, even when he tells her about the secrets of his past.

Sofea is the daughter of a pagan priest, so she initially wants nothing to do with the Hebrew God; she knows He must be just another blood-thirsty god to whom priests offer human sacrifices; in fact, she's afraid she and Prezi will be the next sacrifices. However, as she spends more time with Eitan's family, she comes to see that Yahweh is vastly different--and that with Him and with Eitan, perhaps she can find peace like she never has before. Before she can truly find out, though, Sofea and Eitan are betrayed and their very lives are threatened.

I love how Connilyn Cossette can take a little bit from the Bible (the refuge cities) that I've never given a second thought and make it completely fascinating. It's so fascinating to see how she portrayed life in one of those cities--and the desire to be able to escape. I also loved seeing, through Sofea, the contrast between the pagan gods and Yahweh and His love; it was sweet (but not at all sappy) seeing Sofea's realizations about Yahweh and her own worth and seeing both her and Prezi heal. The plotline was really interesting--twists and turns and excellent pacing--and I loved the characters. This book was just beautiful; I really loved it.

Although you probably don't have to read the first book in the series before you read this one, you totally should because it's a fantastic book as well.
5 stars. One of my picks for best of 2018.
I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Blog Tour/Giveaway for Long Journey Home by Sarah M. Eden

You may have already seen my review of Long Journey Home; if so, you know how excited I am about this book (it is quite possibly my favorite of ALL the books I've read this year!)--and now you have a chance to win a copy! Read through the post and then look for the contest info below.

From Sarah M. Eden, the USA Today Bestselling author of the Longing for Home series, LONG JOURNEY HOME is a new romance novel set in the beloved world of Hope Springs. 

Widowed by war, Maura O’Connor has raised her son alone under the weight of poverty in the unforgiving slums of New York City. That harsh and difficult life has taken a toll on them both. Desperate to save her son from the misery around them, she moves them both to the tiny western town of Hope Springs, where her late husband’s family lives, hoping that the decade of silence between them does not mean she and Aidan will be rejected outright. Her son needs family, and she would endure anything to see him happy. Ryan Callaghan has worked the land belonging to the late Granny Claire for years, dreaming of one day claiming it as his own. Living in his brother’s home affords him no freedom, no stability, no joy. The arrangement is even harder on his mother, whose health is quickly deteriorating. A risky investment in the land has finally begun to pay off, and he is at last in a position to secure a better future for them both. When use of the home is, without warning, offered to a newly arrived widow and her son, that future is entirely uncertain. Both Maura and Ryan desperately need the Claire farm, for their own futures as well as those of the loved ones who depend on them. Neither can remain in Hope Springs without the house and land, but only one can claim it in the end. 

Longing for Home Series: 

Longing for Home 
Hope Springs 
My Dearest Love 
Love Remains 
Long Journey Home    

Find Sarah M. Eden online:
Sarah M. Eden on Facebook:

Enter the contest here:
Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Louisiana's Way Home

Louisiana's Way Home
By Kate DiCamillo
Louisiana Elefante is cursed--it's a curse of sundering passed down through her family, and because of that curse, her grandmother wakes her up in the middle of the night and drags her to the car. Louisiana's granny has pulled plenty of stunts before, but when Louisiana realizes Granny plans to leave Florida behind for good. When they get to Georgia, they wind up in a motel as Granny recovers from having all of her teeth removed, and it's there that Louisiana's life falls apart--and comes together again.

Kate DiCamillo is one of the best storytellers of our day, and this book is just as fantastic as all of her others. First-person-narrator Louisiana is fabulous--I love her life lessons and getting the chance to follow her on her journey. There are humorous moments, bittersweet moments, heartrending moments, and hopeful moments. There are characters you'd like to slap upside the head and characters you wish you could take right off the pages into your own family. This is a beautiful book, and I highly recommend it.

5 stars. One of my picks for best of 2018.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Long Journey Home

Long Journey Home
By Sarah M. Eden

As an impoverished widow, Maura O'Connor has done her best to care for her son Aidan, working and living in the slums of New York City. Realizing that Aidan is miserable and that she has the dreaded "brown lung" from working in a factory, Maura decides to join her deceased husband's family out west in Hope Springs. Maura has been estranged from the O'Connors for years, but she hopes that the family will welcome them at least a little and that they'll be a family to Aidan when she dies. Arriving in Hope Springs, Maura is amazed and delighted that the O'Connors give her a home to stay in.

Ryan Callaghan has been working Granny Claire's land for years, planning that soon he'll be able to buy it outright and move his mother from the cramped home they share with his brother's family. Before he has the chance, though, Maura O'Connor arrives and is given use of the home, thoroughly upsetting the plans. Ryan needs the home for himself and his mother, but he also can't be the one to put out a widow and her son, especially as he comes to know them better.

Do you ever read a book and then because it was so good, you just want to bask in it rather than moving onto one of the many other books on your to-read list? This is one of those books. I finished it in the morning and had a lot of time during the day when I could have picked up another book, but I just couldn't do it because I had to hold onto this one. I love, love, love it. It's fantastic.

What makes it so great? Well, for starters, the O'Connor family. I think if I could pick a book family to be mine, I would pick the O'Connors. I just love them. Next, Sarah Eden is the BEST at character development. Her characters are so terrific--she really knows them and their personalities and quirks and stuff and that comes through to the reader. I love that, because the characters are consistent, which in turn makes them extra-lovable. (Drives me nuts when I read a book and the characters are all over the place and I can't really get a feel for who they are.) I loved Maura and Ryan from the get-go--both strong, good people that you can't help but root for. (And with the addition of some new characters, I'm excited for the possibility of books about them in the future!) The plot was fresh and interesting, and the setting is terrific--you feel like you're right in Hope Springs, wrapped up in the Irish culture there.

So, I have to say, I was a little afraid I wouldn't love this book--because I loved the third book in the series so much. Tavish, the main character in that one, is my favorite and I was worried the series would peak with his story. However, I'm happy to report that this book is just as awesome. I loved everything about. This is one of my picks for the best books of 2018! Emphatic 5 stars.

I read a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Lucy Tries Hockey

Lucy Tries Hockey
Written by Lisa Bowes
Illustrated by James Hearne

When Lucy is ice staking with her family, she sees a hockey game going on and decides she's like to try playing hockey. Enrolling in a hockey clinic, Lucy starts learning hockey basics and has fun playing a new sport.

Bright, colorful illustrations and simple text encourage kids to try sports and to be active. I love the fact that this is a series of books featuring an athletic girl trying out a variety of sports. I hadn't read any of the Lucy Tries books before, but I'll happily be looking for more now.

I read a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

4 stars.

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Worthy Rebel

A Worthy Rebel
by Jody Hedlund

Lady Isabelle doesn't want to marry Sir Thomas Neville, but she's trying to reconcile herself to it in order to save her people--she must marry well in order to provide for the peasants who depend on her. But when she visits his castle and sees that his true nature is even crueler than she realized and that he intends to take the land her peasants live on to create hunting parks for himself, she knows she needs to get away. Her plan is to escape to her sister Olivia's home, but the servant who is supposed to help her is captured and Isabelle gets hurt and lost in the forest. When Cole Warwick, a handsome peasant, finds her and takes her to his home to heal, Isabelle hides her identity--first because she's trying to escape Sir Thomas but then because she learns that Cole hates nobility.

Cole Warwick has been training fellow peasants so they can rise up against cruel Sir Thomas. When he finds Izzy in the woods, he can't not help her, especially when she tells him she's running away from an unwanted betrothal, but he needs to find a cover story for her presence and winds up saying his father and hers arranged their marriage. Although he and Izzy are only pretending to be engaged, Cole's feelings for her are real--and he can't help but hope that she'll stay with him.

I really enjoyed this story! The romantic element was terrific, the historical details were interesting, and the plot was engaging. I also really liked seeing Isabelle come to understand some of her strengths and purposes and work on not comparing herself to her sister, which was a good message that was wrapped up in a great story. Really enjoyable.

4.5 stars.

I read a copy from the author; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Promises and Primroses

Promises and Primroses
By Josi Kilpack

Lord Elliott Mayfield's family has, for the most part, lived scandalous lives, and Elliott hopes that he can rectify that situation by offering his nieces and nephews certain enticements if they marry successfully and live more circumspect lives. Elliott's oldest nephew, Peter Mayfield, is one family who has always lived a respectable life and wants no part in Elliott's plan. As a widower, he doesn't plan to marry again--but what he does need is to find a governess for his two daughters. When he interviews candidates, he immediately knows he will not hire Julia Hollingsworth. While she's well-qualified, she's too young and too attractive. However, when his other options fall through, he does hire her, and while she's a great fit for his household, he soon finds that Julia's mother, Amelia, objects to Julia working for the Mayfield family and, having had her heart broken by Elliott years ago, will do all that she can to break Julia's connection with the Mayfield family.

I wasn't sure how much I'd like a book with essentially four main characters (I like delving deep into the characters and wasn't sure there'd be enough depth with that many voices), but it worked really well. I liked seeing all of them, with their stubbornness and flaws and their goodness and their growth, too. I don't think there were really any big surprises, but there were unique and interesting elements to the plot (like Peter breeding dogs). Great choice for those who really like character-driven stories. I'm really interested to meet more of the Mayfield family in upcoming books!
4.5 stars.
I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.


I'm so excited that there will be a new Timeless Romance Anthology in time for Christmas, and I'm excited to share the cover below. Isn't it gorgeous? I can't wait to read it!

From the publisher of the USA TODAY bestselling & #1 Amazon bestselling Timeless Romance Anthology series in Clean & Wholesome Romance, comes A YULETIDE REGENCY. Six brand new Regency romance novellas by Regina Scott, Sarah M. Eden, Jen Geigle Johnson, Annette Lyon, Krista Lynne Jensen, and Heather B. Moore.

Release date: November 2nd, 2018!

You can pre-order on Amazon here.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf here!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Wedding Wagers

Wedding Wagers

This is a collection of three terrific novellas!

A Wager for Love by Donna Hatch
No one ever sees Phillip as more than a duke's younger brother, so when he meets a young lady who doesn't care at all about his familial connections, who is kind and interesting and pretty to boot, he's determined to get to know her better--in fact, he makes a bet with a friend that he'll marry her and sets out to win her heart. That turns out to be more complicated than he anticipated, as Meredith seems determined not to like him. Meredith has been duped before--not once but twice have men pretended to love her when that wasn't the case. Now, acting as a companion to her cousin, Meredith is on the lookout for other men praying on innocent girls, and she definitely won't fall for a charming but deceitful man again. When Phillip, the brother of a duke, seems interested in her, the daughter of a mere factory owner, she knows he must be up to something, and she won't be taken in.

This was a really captivating, well-written story. It drew me in very quickly. I loved seeing Phillip's appreciation for Meredith and how he continued to pursue her and show her his true feelings.

The Final Wager by Heather B. Moore
When an old school enemy enters his club and demands a game of cards, Victor doesn't want to gamble with him--because he knows he'll win, which his opponent can ill afford. As expected, the game goes badly, but things get worse when Victor discovers Southill, deeply in debt, has lost his London home. The honorable Victor travels two hours to take Southill to his family estate--where he meets Southill's lovely sister, Juliet. Victor bets Juliet that she'll garner three proposals and then arranges a house party where she can meet several eligible young men. This might not a be bet Victor wants to win, though, as seeing other men appreciate Juliet leaves Victor wishing his dictatorial father hadn't made clear who Victor must marry if he wants to keep his inheritance.

Another really enjoyable story. I liked seeing Victor and Juliet overcome the obstacles between them--I particularly enjoyed seeing Juliet stand up to her brother and seeing Victor realize he'd been all wrong about marriage.

An Improbably Wager by Michele Paige Holmes
When he's only twelve years old, Eli Linfield, a common servant, bets his wealthy, titled friend Sherborne that he's going to marry Emily Montgomery someday. Years later, Eli is working as stablemaster for the Montgomery family when Sherborne, in need of a bride with a good dowry, returns to his family's holdings in order to court Emily. Emily, although not particularly taken with Sherborne, wants to please her family and plans to go forward with marrying him.

I really liked Eli, who just had this sweetness about him. I liked seeing how this story unfolded--not necessarily the way I expected. I also liked how even the aggravating characters had their redeeming moments.

This is a great collection of stories! They're all well-written and very entertaining. Highly recommend!

I read a copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Picky Eater

The Picky Eater
Written by Betsy Parkinson
Illustrated by Shane Clester

Piper is a picky eater--with her particular palate, she prefers provisions that start with "P." What will she do when her parents persist in presenting her with uninviting options?

This colorful book makes a situation many families face humorous, giving families an opportunity to talk about being willing to try new foods. The illustrations are appealing, and my picky eater was eager to read this book with me.

I read a copy via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

3.5 stars.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Place for Pluto

A Place for Pluto
Written by Stef Wade
Illustrated by Melanie Demmer

When Pluto is told that he is no longer a planet, he doesn't know what to think. He must belong with someone--but as he talks to comets, asteroids, and meteoroids, he finds he doesn't fit with them, either. Surely, there must be a group for Pluto!

My kids and I loved this book! We love reading books about outer space, and this one, with awesome illustrations and fun text, personifying Pluto and other objects in space, was a lot of fun to read. Information at the end of the book helps to explain why Pluto was reclassified. A great choice for families or classrooms and space lovers.

I read a copy from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

4.5 stars.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Caught by Surprise

Caught by Surprise
by Jen Turano
Apart from the Crowd #3

After running into her childhood friend Gilbert Cavendish, Temperance Flowerdew has decided to throw off the meek, quiet, wallflower persona she adopted after her parents' death and loss of their fortune forced her into the station of unwanted familial obligation in the household of her relations. She quickly finds it a good thing that she has returned to her spirited self, as she is abducted off the streets on New York, stuffed into a coffin in a Pullman car, and taken to Chicago. While she manages to free herself of her captors, that's only the beginning of her adventures. She soon crosses paths with Gilbert, who was sent to Chicago to rescue the damsel in distress--only to find that the damsel he thought he was finding, Temperance's cousin Clementine--isn't there and that Clementine herself may have had a hand in the abduction gone awry.
When a society matron sees Gilbert and Temperance together, straight-laced, rule-loving Gilbert knows they must do the proper thing and wed--and he finds himself becoming more and more interested in marrying his friend. Free-spirited Temperance, however, rejects him time and again, insisting that the gossip will blow over and that they're not suited for each other. Back in New York, besides trying to convince Temperance to accept his suit, Gilbert also finds himself trying to protect her and himself as they are embroiled in mystery and mayhem that go far beyond a kidnapping attempt. As Gilbert throws aside some of his lists and rules and stuffiness, and even as he uses them, Temperance comes to see that maybe their differences aren't that great--and maybe those differences actually balance each other out.

Okay, how can you not love a book that has such gems as these:
"I don't think anyone in their right mind would consider what you've gone about as being even remotely close to a marriage proposal."

"You think she'd change her mind about marrying me if I got her a puppy?"
"How did you get that solution out of what I just said?"

"One would have thought you'd become less contrary with age, not more."
"I spent three years not being contrary at all. I'm simply trying to make up for lost time."

"And that right there," Gilbert began, "is why I'm thankful my mother never had any other children, especially daughters. They seem to turn scary as they age."

"I'm going to see to it that you acquire the love of your life, and I'll hear no argument about that from you, if you please."

"You [...] sit around talking about unmentionables?"
He nodded. "We also talk about romantic gestures."
"You've apparently not picked up many pointers about those."

Seriously, there are SO many spots where you'll be laughing so hard (actually, if you're the type to snort with laughter, I would advise reading this book in complete isolation in order to prevent anyone thinking you're crazy).
This book was just tons of fun to read. There's never a dull moment; it moves quickly and is highly entertaining. I liked seeing the mystery element unfold nearly as much as I liked the romance (which is saying something because I don't do mysteries). My one quibble is that the characters, while they all have their distinct quirks and traits, tended to sound alike sometimes. All in all, though, this was so much fun to read, and I'm eagerly looking forward to more of Jen Turano's books.

I recommend reading this series in order so you can get a proper introduction to all the characters. There is a delightful cast of characters, and you don't want to miss out on any of them.

I read an ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

4.5 stars.