Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HEART OF STONE by Jill Marie Landis

Picture someone 9 years old, living in New Orleans in 1853 (having imigrated over with your parents and siblings as Irish laborers). Your parents die and you are forced to live with relatives who really don't want you; so they give your 2 youngest sisters away and then take you and your other sister and drop you off at a brothel house where you become in high demand. Not exactly a good start to life or one that we would ever wish on anyone. Now fast forward to 1874 (21 years have past) and this little girl is now all grown up (her name she has changed to Laura Foster). She has moved to Texas with alot of money she has finally made in the brothel house and wants to start over as a "lady" who has lost her husband. So she opens Foster's Boardinghouse and becomes well known and liked in the community. But can her boardinghouse and new lifestyle really disguise the woman she'd been and the life she has led??

Now enter the pastor in town, Brand McCormick who is a widower with two small children (Janie and Sam who are really hard not to like even though they tend to get in trouble alot). He starts to show an interest in Laura and she tries to tell him nicely that she will never marry. But Brand is a hard man to take no for an answer (and that is one of the reasons I liked him so well). So what happens and who will get hurt?? Hopefully I have sparked your interest and you will want to read the book and find out.

This is the first book I have read by this author and I thought she did a great job of putting you there at the time and helping you really understand these two main characters and what they were going through. There were many spiritual lessons to be learned in this story, like "things don't bring us happiness. Happiness is something we carry in our hearts. Like love." and how people who go to church and say they believe in forgiveness have to really prove it when they have to open their hearts and live the truth they claim to believe. Brand was "cheerful, eternally optimistic and compassionate". He had a quiet confidence and alot of charm. I loved the way he reached out and drew Laura in. Hopefully you will too!

There are two other books in this series, which I hope to read also; Heart of Lies and Heart of Glass.


If you like dogs, then you will fall in love with this author's dog, Stella. I really enjoyed reading about Stella and how she learned to sit, drop it, leave it, take it, let go, come, wait, and many other commands. It was very humerous but loving. There were also lessons along the way that we can relate to when it comes to our obedience to God. I hope to practice some of what I learned on our dog (we will see if you really can teach an old dog new "tricks"!) Stella is a dog I know I would love if we were ever to meet. A job well done Allison Pittman (and Stella).

Saturday, January 28, 2012


This was just a feel good romantic story. I just enjoy reading books by this author, Wendy Davy. They all have a good romantic twist to them, but they also come with a good lesson to learn in each story.

Jordon is concerned about her widowed mother who has found someone to love again and how quickly her mother seems to be moving on the wedding plans. Jordon is indeed a very "reluctant bridesmaid" and arrives at her Mom's soon to be new home intent on getting her Mom to stop the wedding and give this new relationship more time. Jordon didn't plan on liking Tanner, the son of the man her Mom is planning to marry, but after getting to know him, she finds she can confide in him her misgivings and he seems to care and understand. Tanner offers her very good advice about taking her concerns to the Lord and trusting in Him to change things in her or in the upcoming marriage. You can quickly see feeling for each other growing, but it isn't easy for either one of them to trust their feelings.

I liked the honest feelings Jordon had about her Mom's sudden wedding plans. I felt they were very honest and very real. I also liked Tanner's sensible and good spiritual advice he gave to Jordon and also his open and honest reasons for wanting to find the "right" woman for himself. Both these people were very easy to like and appreciate. It was just a nice romantic story, with a little unexpected scene near the end that could have had a whole different ending if the people involved hadn't learned the importance of forgiveness. I enjoyed reading this story and found myself finishing it in one day!

THE LAST KEY by Donna Van Cleve

Donna Van Cleve does a great job of weaving the historical facts of the town of Galveston and the flood/storm that almost wiped the island off the map, and the fiction side which shows the steadfastness of Grace and Finn. Although at times during the reading of this story I felt like she spent too much time on the descriptions of the town, by the end of the book I was ready to pack my bags and go visit this place called Galveston! This is her 5th book of the Taylor family and although you can easily read it as a stand alone, I highly recommend you read them all, because they are all great stories and many of the stories are mentioned in this book (Grace Falling Like Rain, Mercy's Face, Torn Asunder, & Anchor Point).

Grace is leaving Waco, Texas and moving to Galveston to take a teaching job after being turned down by her proposal to the man she has loved all her life, Finn. She arrives with a broken heart, but Lucius, her best friends brother who lives on the island, quickly tries to get her to forget Finn and concentrate on him. When the storm starts to hit, Finn decides to re-enter the picture and once the storm hits things start to happen fast! I must say I had forgotten what the weather was really like outside after reading the pages of this book. I felt like I would look out the window and see storm clouds, rain and lots of wind. The author did an excellent job of combining history with fiction. And a special thanks for the actual photos at the end of her book of the actual damage this storm created.

Hardcover: 290 pages
Publisher: Two Story Publishing House (February 16, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1936816008
ISBN-13: 978-1936816002
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

THE KING'S RANCH by Rhonda Rue

This was a book that I didn't fully appreciate until I was done reading it. It was a writing style that didn't flow as smoothly as I would have liked it to. I got to the end and found myself liking the book but can't put my finger on what the story was missing. I really liked the way this author took you on a journey that included the message of salvation and how living the life can have such a dramatic influence upon others. I would recommend this book to others and would enjoy reading some more of this author's work.

Kara Winters has lost her fiance 2 years ago and just can't seem to get over the loss. She meets the fun-loving and courteous Duncan Summers and finds herself falling in love. But it is a long distance relationship and Duncan's former girlfriend keeps showing up and this causes Kara to not totally give her heart to Duncan. There is also a great story about Kara and her folks and her best friend and how they reach out to the older couple "down the road" and how their testimony makes a difference in this couples life. It is a feel good story with a happy ending and I felt refreshed having read "The King's Ranch".

Monday, January 23, 2012

DEADLY CHASE by Wendy Davy

From page one this book got your heart racing and your adrenaline working overtime. Although the whole story wasn't as intense as the first few pages, it did keep you wondering when and how the "bad guy" was going to strike next. Sierra Malone finds herself fleeing a boyfriend who doesn't like the fact that she has rejected him. He figures if he can't have her, then no one else can either. Chase Price is following Sierra in hopes that he can catch her boyfriend, Kevin Eason, in the act of harming Sierra and put him away (since his sister was killed by this same man). After Chase and Sierra finally "run into each other" the chemistry between them is obvious. Chase needs to be truthful with Sierra and Sierra must learn to lean on and trust Chase. Chase shows Sierra that "her life held numerous possibilities, and hope was something she should always keep within her grasp". They both learn that "God makes good things come from bad situations. It's amazing what He does behind the scenes".

I recommend you give yourself a nice block of time so you can sit back and enjoy this suspenseful romantic story that you won't want to put down until you have finished it. Wendy Davy has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time and she has definately written another great story. It keeps you turning the pages as fast as you can to see what will happen next. I liked the way Sierra and Chase interacted with one another and how quickly he became her protector and how she made him feel "ten feet tall". Enjoy!!

DUNKIRK CRESCENDO by Bodie & Brock Thoene

This story only covers a few months of the beginning battles of WWII but it is packed full of drama and suspense. It is I believe the last story in the Zion Covenant Series and I highly recommend you read these stories in the order in which they were written to get the full impact of each story. It is the Spring of 1940 and France is about to be invaded by Germany, who will show no mercy on who it kills. You will see bravery and courage as people rescue children and protect their country. This is not a romantic read, but a history lesson in fiction form where people face death and dying every day and still find the courage to carry on. As the authors stated at the end of the book, "Will evil always have the upper hand?. . . And how can we find the hope and courage to go on in the midst of seemingly overwhelming odds? What can one person do, if anything, to make a difference?" But the miracles come, even in the middle of war and God does not forsake, but is there with these folks as heartache is all around. I found myself overwhelmed at times to realize what people endured during this war and also extreme pride in seeing how people never gave up, but fought for what they believed in and fought also to protect the children during this horrible time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

PARIS ENCORE by Bodie & Brock Thoene

This is book 8 in the Zion Covenant Series and I know all books can be read by themselves, but I would not recommend reading this book without reading the others in the series first. It is a well written story of the first six months of WWII as it was over in France, England and Germany. There is alot going on in this book and alot of characters to keep track of and this is not a book I can read with distractions around me. I had to keep my focus to maintain who was where and what was going on. It gave me a new understanding of those first months on The Western Front and all that transpired before the battles even really began in earnest. There is danger, invasions, evacuations, spies, bombs and the beginnings of love for some and the ending of life for others. Although this is in fiction form, I know there were many who lived this story in real life and Thoenes do a good job of making this story feel very factual.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

LONDON REFRAIN by Bodie and Brock Thoene

I had forgotten what a good series of books this, The Zion Covenant, was when I read books 1-6 years ago (not knowing until recently that there was 3 more books in this series). As I was reading this book I found myself feeling like I had been dropped into the middle of a very intense story with alot of characters and alot of little stories going on inside one big book. The more I read the more I remembered from reading the first 6 books, but I felt like I missed alot by not reading these books all the way through from book 1-9. This book takes place as the German Nazis first invaded Poland in 1939. It was very well written, but hard to read at times because of the senseless and cruel killings and hatred and the sadness of no other country stepping up and doing something about the way Germany was killing and taking over a country. There was a love for those people who endured hardships and kept their hope alive, of people who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of helping others escape. I am overwhelmed at times to realize what some people have lived through and appreciate the way in which Brock and Bodie Thoene made this time in history come alive to me. This is a series I highly recommend.

Monday, January 9, 2012


This was a delightfully funny, romantic read and I liked the way this author has written this book. It is the story of Lucy Binoche and her quest to find the perfect guy for her as she approaches 30 years of age and is still single. Her singles group at church decides to go on a week's vacation to Snowball, Arkansas and enjoy the great outdoors in Winter. Lucy wasn't going to go (she is a luxury hotel/Starbucks kind of girl), but when the new Justin Gerard decides to go (and Lucy thinks he must be her perfect man) she decides to sign up, along with her best friend forever, Matt. The hilarious part is reading about Lucy trying to fish, camp, go caving, horseback riding and sledding. She seems to attract disaster and her best friend Matt gets a little irritated with her trying to be someone she is not, in order to impress Justin. Who will love Lucy for who she really is??? Read the book and find out.

I loved the little "prayer journal" of Lucy's at the end of each chapter. There was alot of fun in this story but also alot of truth in the message coming across, of being yourself, and being open to who ever the Lord has for you; NOT trying to make something happen. It was a refreshing, fun read!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


This was a fun romantic story for me. I found myself laughing out loud at a couple of quirky things said in this story. It takes place in Dwadlo, ND in the early 1900's. Mae Wilkey is a postmistress in a small town that only exists because of the railroad that stops in their town. She has a mentally challenged brother she adores, and a neighbor Pauline, who she watches as Pauline is getting old and needs some looking after. As Pauline starts to need more and more care and her health continues to decline Mae tries to find some relative to come and take care of Pauline. She comes across a name and address in Pauline's drawer and writes to Tom Curtis, who she is hoping will come. Tom Curtis works for the railroad and doesn't know of any relative in Dwaldo but is curous enough to go meet the lady. Tom is just an all around nice guy who, even though he doesn't believe Pauline is any relation, he finds himself wanting to care for her anyway (and also to find some excuse to stay in town and get to know Mae better - even though she is practically engaged to the town lawyer). You will find yourself enjoying the folks in this story. The ending kind of took me by surprise, but I enjoyed it. You will find quirky people, frustrated relationships, an elephant, lots of dogs, a train derailment and winter weather, all wrapped up to bring you a delightful story with a message of love blooming in the Winter.

A special thanks goes to Harvest House Publishers through NetGalley for sending me this book to review.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 934 KB
Print Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

THE THREE GIFTS by Lynn Bulock, Irene Hannon, Lenora Worth

This was my first book that I have read in this new year and it was a great book to start the year off with. This book really surprised me because usually 3-books-in-one are okay to read because they are quick and an easy read. But I just fell in love with all three of these stories and felt like I was reading the best work of each of these authors. Okay, there was no mystery about how each of these stories would end. Girl meets boy and they work out their problems and end up together. What made these so real and good for me was the message behind each story; the healing power of love, finding the faith you thought you lost, and being willing to trust and truly love someone above yourself. Each story had a secondary character who had a defining moment in the story and seemed to convey the real meaning and message behind each story. I am very glad I read these stories and this is one I will keep and hopefully read again.