October 22, 2016

Restoring Christmas

I am one of those people who count down the days till Christmas. Who can’t wait to find the perfect tree, decorate my home to the hilt, and watch Hallmark Christmas movies beginning in October. But even if you’re not a fanatic like me, I’m certain you’ll enjoy this inspiring and heart-hugging story.

Eight weeks until the final scene at Christmas. Eight weeks that had seemed so short earlier that morning now stretched light-years into her shaky future. ~excerpt, pg. 11

Restoring Christmas, by Cynthia Ruchti, is a sweet romantic story filled with heart, home, and hope. Without being cheesy or sappy, these pages made me laugh and cry. They pulled my heartstrings and then wrapped them securely into a shiny Christmas bow.

Alexis Blake travels to Algoma, Wisconsin to restore an old home in need of a little tender loving care—and a lot of updating. She must film the process, and submit it to the Heart-and-Home Channel by the end of December for a chance at a spot on next year’s Restoring Christmas television special.  If the filmed audition goes well, she might land her own show. Because she will pay out-of-pocket for the entire cost of construction, decorating, and filming, both her career, and sanity, teeters on the next eight weeks being productive and going as planned.

Well, those plans go awry shortly after Alexis arrives in the “Old Country” town. Esteemed videographer, George Langley, suffers a medical setback, and sends Gabe, his witty, slightly irritating, unprofessional looking son in his stead. Though she finds the flannel-wearing man somewhat attractive, in a lumberjack kind of way, what could he possibly know about professional videography? She envisions her career plummeting as fast as her bank account. Why can’t her life go smoothly—for once?

This story is littered with unexpected twists and revelations, and overflows with heart. When things can’t go wrong, they do, and when opposites attract, the light of Christmas shines. I love this story, and I expect you will too.

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Publisher: Worthy Inspired
Pacing: Steady/Fast
Pages: 240
ISBN-13: 978-1617957079
First Lines: Roasted Chestnut Latte? How can that be a bad thing? Alexis Blake shuffled forward in line as two of the three customers in front of her finished paying for their beverages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

October 17, 2016

Everything Beautiful (Coloring Book)

The hope for this book is that, as you color and meditate on the words, you are gently reminded of the beauty that can still be found in the bleakest of moments and that this book becomes a bit of a lifeline to remind you our Savior is always there with us. ~Excerpt from the introduction.

Another inspirational coloring book by WaterBrook Press!

Everything Beautiful (a coloring book for inspiration and reflection) is a thick, softcover book, filled with stimulating and encouraging words and illustrations sure to brighten a stressful or ordinary day.

Not only is the book packed with creative, and uplifting illustrated pages to color, but also affirmative words, phrases, quotes, hymns, and Scripture. 

The full-page illustrations are detailed and pretty, depicting flowers, bird, fauna, and beautiful things in God’s Creation. The thick pages assure no bleed-through, and the perforated pages allow you to frame your finished artwork, or hang it on the fridge.

I suggest using gel pens or coloring pencils, rather than crayons, due to some of the more intricate and delicate designs.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. ~Ecclesiastes 3:11

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
ISBN-13: 978-0735289819
Pages: 96

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Blogging for Books.

A Servant Like Jesus (Children's Book)

A Servant Like Jesus, written by Lee Ann Mancini and illustrated by Dan Sharp, is the newest book in the Adventures of the Sea Kids series! This is such a sweet story about being brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and be a helper to others.

“I could use a teacher’s helper. Would you be my helper?” asked Miss Stella.

The first day of class has begun, and many of the sea kids are uncomfortable in their new surrounding. They initially have problems with shyness, sharing, and missing their parents. Soon the teacher, Miss Stella Starfish, comforts and calms them, and assigns young Charlie to be her helper. This gives Charlie, the young crab, confidence to step out of his comfort zone and even allows him to help a fellow sea kid who gets hurt on a field trip. Lessons are learned, prayers are said, and the first day of school becomes a great success.

This slim, softcover book contains short, easy to read narration, and bold, colorful illustrated pages. The sea kids are fun and loveable, and the gentle message is appropriate and relatable for young readers (and listeners.)

I’m so pleased with this entire series and the Christian messages taught to our young ones. Communicating love, understanding, acceptance, and the Gospel, these short reads guide children toward a common goal—faith in Jesus and His teachings.

A fun tidbit on the last page prompts the reader to go back and search for the hidden Bible pictures on each page—a purposeful reminder for the reader to examine the illustrations as they learn the story.

This is a powerful and fun addition to any child’s library or bookshelf, and makes a meaningful and educational gift.

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Publisher: GLM Publishing LLC
ISBN: 978-0986360480
Pages: 32
First lines: It was the first day of school at the Fish-Care Cove School. Miss Stella Starfish waited at the door to greet her sea kids.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, via BookCrash.

October 14, 2016

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens

Title: Twilight at Blueberry Barrens
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN-10: 1401690300
ISBN-13: 978-1401690304

“Set on the beautiful coast of Main, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens brings together suspense, romance, and the hope that one day new life will come again.” ~back cover

I’ve read many of Colleen Coble’s books, so I couldn’t wait to read this final book in the Sunset Cove Series. Ms. Coble expertly designs deep, emotional characters that I easily fall in love with. Her descriptions of Maine create an atmosphere of familiarity, though I’ve never physically visited the state. Her stories are inspiring, and crafted with exciting romance and mystery, and each conveys a unique and significant message. As I’ve stated in most of my reviews of her books—she’s a master storyteller.

“God always provided a way out of her difficulties. He wasn’t going to fail her now. And the thought of leaving these blueberry barrens behind felt a little like a fresh start—something she desperately needed.” ~excerpt

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, by Colleen Coble, is book three of the Sunset Cove Series. If you haven’t read the other books in the series, you can still fully enjoy this book as a stand-alone. You won’t be dumped with backstory, or left wanting in any way at all. It’s no wonder it’s a USA TODAY Bestseller!

Wow! This book is jam-packed, from cover to cover, with a myriad of goodies—fascinating and flawed characters, jaw-dropping surprises, strained relationships, crimes, threats, and more. There are also sweet, tender moments that give the reader a well rounded, sustaining experience. Upon reaching the final page, I needed a moment to catch my breath. What a satisfying tale. There’s no shortage on suspense, and a tide of romance courses throughout.

“He passed a blueberry field and turned away from the water to take a better look. He’d always heard of the Maine blueberries, but he hadn’t expected the leaves to look red.” ~excerpt

Kate Mason and Drake Newham are captivating characters. Both are at a crossroad in their lives where they’re forced into beginning their lives anew. Fresh starts aren’t always easy, especially when you’re surrounded with mysterious happenings, danger, loss, and uncertainty.

The secondary characters are just as impressive, adding depth, fullness, and realness. I love Kate’s sister Claire, and the close bond that they share, and Drake’s girls, Phoebe and Emma, are charming additions that add a central innocence to the story.

Along with knee-buckling suspense, this tale also carries an undercurrent of remarkable emotions. Colleen Coble does a phenomenal job of revealing how our lives are often narrowed by the walls we put up. We limit ourselves by what others think, and let our history, failures, families, locale, etc., define us.

“It was better to assure Claire rather than tell her how she’d checked the locks and the new security system three times before going to bed the past two nights.” ~excerpt

If you enjoy clean-reads, romantic suspense, and Christian mysteries, then look no further. And if you haven’t yet read the other two books in this series, I recommend you delve into those as well. Smell the salty-sea air, walk the craggy cliffs, and meet the intriguing folks of Folly Shoals, Maine.

As someone who initially judges a book by its cover (gasp!) I must comment on the lovely cover art.  It creates a tantalizing atmosphere, and instantly draws me in.

Extra! Extra!
About the Author: Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice and the Booksellers Best.

She has more than two million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana.

5 Stars

Cover: Love
Title: Love
Pacing: Steady/Fast
Pages: 352
First Line: Melissa’s breath came hard, and the pressure in her ears built as she sprinted up the slope toward the top of the cliffs.

         I received a complimentary copy of this book.