Sunday, September 25, 2011

Patience and a Few Months of Anticipation

We have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of three books since mid-July: The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz, Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin, and Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman.  These are novels by three of our favorite authors, which makes waiting even more difficult.  The Colonel's Lady has been released already, but Wonderland Creek and Forsaking All Others will be released in October.  We pre-ordered each of them in July, but they are all going to be shipped together, thus the delay in receiving Laura Frantz's newest novel.

The Colonel's Lady
This novel has already received numerous rave reviews!  We have no doubt that it will be just as wonderful as Frantz's other novels.
Synopsis from Revell: Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.
Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is--and what he's done?
Immerse yourself in this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness set in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.

Forsaking All Others: 
Since reading For Time and Eternity last year, we have been hungry for the sequel, Forsaking All Others.   For Time and Eternity was extremely poignant; we can't wait to read more of Camilla's story in The Sister Wife Series.
Synopsis from TyndaleCamilla Fox is alive. The last thing she remembers is being lost in the snow after leaving her home to escape the Mormon faith she no longer calls her own. She’s been taken in by the 5th Infantry Regiment of the US Army and given over to the personal care of Captain Charles Brandon. As she regains her strength, memories of her two children she had to leave behind come flooding back, threatening to break her heart. Camilla is determined to reunite with her daughters. But when news of her father’s grave illness reaches her, she knows she must return to the family farm to reconcile with her father. As spring arrives, Camilla returns to Salt Lake City a changed woman, but nothing could prepare her for the changes to the city, to the Mormon church, and to the family she left behind.

Wonderland Creek
A novel by Lynn Austin with a bookworm heroine that promises romance, mystery, and adventure is definitely on the top of our must-read list.  We are looking forward to reading a plot set in the Great Depression and exploring the vivid scenes created through Austin's artistry.
Synopsis from Bethany House Publishers: Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But the happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real one. To top it off, Alice loses her beloved library job because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.
Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books. When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery--and especially romance--may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.
~  ~  ~
A few more weeks of waiting, and then we will face a new challenge: Deciding which book to read first and who will read which first!

Coming Soon: A Wedding Invitation by Alice J. Wisler

Coming in October 2011!
~  ~  ~
Synopsis from Bethany House Publishers:

It's hard to concentrate when the past keeps shoving its way into your thoughts...

After returning home from teaching in a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother's clothing boutique near Washington, D.C. When she receives an invitation to her friend's wedding in Winston-Salem, NC, she's excited to reconnect with her college pals.

But the wedding turns out quite differently than Sam expects. A chance encounter leads to a reunion with Carson Brylie, a fellow teacher and the man who once broke her heart, and Lien, a young Amerasian girl who desperately needs Sam and Carson's help.

But working with Carson might put Sam's tender heart at risk once again. Is she willing to forgive the past and take another chance on love?
Our Thoughts: We are very excited about Alice Wisler's upcoming novel, A Wedding Invitation, which will be released this October!  She is a talented author who writes with depth and realism and creates resonating plots.  We have enjoyed each of her other novels: Rain SongHatteras Girl, and How Sweet it Is.

Read an excerpt of A Wedding Invitation at

Review of Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Rating: 5 Stars
~  ~  ~
Synopsis from  Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one...and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know...and love itself. Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved…

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

You can read an excerpt at

Review: My sister raved about Waterfall after she read it a few weeks ago.  The question was, would I love it too? The outcome...We are both anxious to read the next two novels in the River of Time series.  Although Waterfall, is classified as a young adult novel, it can easily be enjoyed by adults. Its fantasy aspect brings to mind the Twilight series, which of course is popular among many age groups, but I found Waterfall to be more exciting and with more likable characters.

Waterfall is set during the Middle Ages in Italy, and is complete with knights, dungeons, sword fights, damsels in distress, castles, and villains.  I am usually not a fan of novels set in the Middle Ages, but this was an exception.  Bergren balanced the medieval qualities with Gabi's modern day perspective.  As a result, the reader gets the "best of both worlds."  The plot is full of adventure, breath-holding close calls, and perilous situations.  These elements are tempered by the budding romance between Gabi and Marcello, as well as Gabi's growing faith and her struggle with reconciling her medieval life with her life in the present day.  

The time travel fantasy is one not often approached in Christian fiction, but it offers a welcome escape from the real world while conveying meaningful lessons.  I have no idea how the River of Time series will end.  Will Gabi and Lia choose to live in the present or past?  Where will their time travel take them and what new dangers will they face? A journey down the River of Time is one adventure that readers will not soon forget.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Apple Pickin' and Simple Livin'

Ahh, the joys of fall...

The beginning of fall called for a weekend excursion to Carter Mountain Orchard, where we enjoyed apple picking, scenic mountain views, and an escape to simplicity with a friend.  The ground was muddy from recent rains, but it gave us a reason to wear our fun rain boots while trekking around the orchard. Somehow worries drift away with the cool breezes of a pleasant autumn outing.  Of course, no fall trip is complete without some comfort food: fresh baked apple cider doughnuts and hot apple cider.

We also visited a local Clothier Shop at historic Michie Tavern (circa 1784) and were instantly reminded of Laura Frantz, her novels, and her love of period clothing.  Driving through the foothills and mountains, it is easy to see why Thomas Jefferson decided to settle in the area. Monticello is a stunning landmark itself, forever exemplifying Jefferson's visionary talents as an architect, inventor, and Founding Father.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review of Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter

Rating: 3.5 Stars

~  ~  ~
Synopsis from  Sabrina never intended to fall in love with Tucker McCabe, the man she serves coffee to every morning at a Nantucket cafe-especially since he's unwittingly tied to a past she deeply regrets. But she's fallen hard, though she's kept her feelings a secret.

When Tucker learns Sabrina is the research assistant for a local mystery writer, he asks Sabrina to help him with a little sleuthing of his own. . . locating an elusive woman he's fallen for online. If Sabrina accepts the job, she'll spend her evenings in close proximity to a man who can never be hers. If she turns him down, he'll hire someone else-and that would be a disaster. Because if someone sifts through all those letters and finds out the truth, Tucker will discover her secret. . .

Review: I read The Convenient Groom a few months ago and found it very enjoyable.  Last week, I saw Seaside Letters at the library and decided to check it out.  It was the perfect weekend read and a nice last minute "vacation" to the beach as a cold spell settled over my area. The star of Seaside Letters is Nantucket. Denise Hunter's descriptions bring the area to life and lures the reader into the charm of the island.  I've always wanted to travel to Nantucket, and this series has reawakened that dream.

Seaside Letters introduces us to less-than-perfect characters. Both Sabrina and Tucker have flaws and make misguided decisions.  I found myself cringing every time they decided to bend the truth, tell an outright lie, or refused to reveal their secrets.  Denise Hunter definitely shows the reader the implications and tangled web that one indiscretion, and one lie can create.  The plot was twisted, but understandable. Each chapter opens with a quotes from Sabrina (Sweetpea) and/or Tucker (Harbormaster) and offered insight into their characters and hints into what would transpire in the chapter. 

The majority of the first half of the novel is spent with Sabrina and Tucker skirting the truth and their feelings for each other. Sabrina knows her that Tucker is "Harbormaster", and Tucker knows that Sabrina is "Sweetpea", but Sabrina doesn't know that he knows her identity. What's a girl to do when she is too afraid reveal her identity and the depth of her feelings?  The full truth is not revealed until the very end of the novel.  After the secrets that held Sabrina and Tucker apart in the "real world" are uncovered, the resolution seemed a bit fast. Overall, I enjoyed the second half of the novel more than the first, which became redundant at times.  Even so, I recommend Seaside Letters, and will certainly read more of Denise Hunter's novels in the future. 

Lady Antebellum: Own the Night

Lady Antebellum's latest CD, Own the Night, was just released last Tuesday.  The first single, Just a Kiss, is already a can see the video below.  Love is clearly the theme of many of the songs on Own the Night.   My first impression was that the album is lacking in diversity of subject matter.  After the second listen, the songs grew on me.   I'm am not yet sure if I will like Own the Night as much as Need You Now, but it will be in frequent rotation in my CD player.  The overall sound is country enough to appeal to country audiences, but contemporary enough to appeal to non-country listeners.  Lady A has found a balance between the country and pop worlds and developed a harmony that is uniquely their own. Lady Antebellum has solidified its place in the music world, and it is one of my favorite country groups.

Tags: Just a Kiss, Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum Videos

For a more in depth look at Lady Antebellum's rise to success, watch GAC's Backstory: Lady Antebellum. Schedule: September 22, 2011 8:00 PM ET, September 23, 2011 12:00 AM ET, September 23, 2011 5:00 PM ET, September 25, 2011 7:00 PM ET.

I always enjoy watching Lady Antebellum's Lady Hazed segments on their website   They have created several humorous parodies of popular country songs, including Easton Corbin's A Little More Country Than That. Blake Shelton's It's All About Tonight, and Jason Aldean's Dirt Road Anthem.  One of my favorites is their spin on Lee Brice's Love Like Crazy:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review of There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Rating: 5 Stars
~  ~  ~
Synopsis from Thomas Nelson: Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She’s witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will. 

She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will’s travel journal. It’s the place he felt closest to God, and she’s hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.

Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She’s the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.

Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise?
Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she’s been looking for has been with her all along?

Review:   Are you a young adult?  Do you enjoy vampire films? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, you will love Jenny B. Jones' latest contribution to young adult fiction, There You'll Find Me.  If, like me, you answered "no" to one or both of the questions, you will still love There You'll Find Me.  When a book is a worthwhile read, it should not be boxed into just one or two categories, and Jenny B. Jones proves just that as she introduces her readers to Finley, an older teen, whose personal growth is being smothered by the overwhelming loss that she feels since the death of her older brother.  With bits of the trademark humor found in Jones' previous novels, like Save the Date, readers experience the wonders of Ireland, teenage relationships, and self-discovery along with Finley.  In past novels, Jones has tackled issues, like changing family dynamics, illness, and foster homes, but this novel presents the effects of grief and other challenges that many young women battle each day in a realistic manner.  You do not need to be a young adult to identify with both Finley and Beckett.  They struggle with fears and insecurities that are felt by both the young and old alike.  

Jenny B. Jones' beautifully demonstrates the bridge between generations by introducing Mrs.  Sweeney.   While Mrs. Sweeney is a supporting character in this novel, her story and its impact on Finley adds a depth to the novel that is emotionally stirring.   In the acknowledgments of There You''ll Find Me, Jenny B. Jones writes, "this book kicked my tail,"  but I believe that it is her best work to date.   Only the most talented authors can successfully craft a novel that incorporates romance, humor, grief, illness, and family relationships that remain relevant to any age group. It is clear that Jenny B. Jones knows and understands teens, but she also knows that we always remain part of who we were yesterday.    

I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above 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.”

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review of A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

Rating: 4 Stars
~  ~  ~
Synopsis from Revell: Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. While Allie has nearly resigned herself to that fate, Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas.

Walt and Allie meet and begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

Book 1 in the Wings of Glory series, A Distant Melody is an exciting and tender story of love, courage, and sacrifice during World War II.

Review: I read A Memory Betweeen Us last year, so I already knew the basic story between Walt and Allie in A Distant Melody.  Both Walt and Allie are likable characters that I connected with much more easily than Jack and Ruth in Book 2 of the series. I enjoyed seeing the friendship and innocent love grow and develop between Walt and Allie, and I understood their insecurities and doubts. The first half and second half of the novel when Walt is at home moved at a steadier pace than the middle portion when Walt is fighting overseas.  Sarah Sundin captures the danger and intensity of the war without graphic details or violence.  The action is exciting, but at times I found myself lost in the technical details of planes and flight maneuvers. I have been impressed with the abundance of details that Sundin included in A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us, which shows her passion for writing and researching World War II and building inspirational novels around historical facts. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review of Worlds Collide by Alison Strobel

Rating: 4 Stars
~  ~  ~
Synopsis from Waterbrook Multnomah: While the headlines screamed “Hollywood Heartthrob Marries Girl Next Door,” the public relationship of Jack Harrington and Grace Winslowe never revealed the private struggles that threatened to pull them apart–and when celebrity biographer Jada Eastman starts digging, she discovers that there’s more to this couple than anyone could guess.

Their relationship began like a scene from one of Jack’s movies. Leaving behind a dead-end relationship and the bitter Chicago winter, Grace had moved to Southern California to start a new life. Meanwhile, Jack had established himself as an up-and-comer with considerable acting talent, and a private heartache. When a fateful accident pulled the two of them together, they couldn’t avoid their initial attraction or the vast differences in their values and lifestyles.

Now, against the backdrop of Beverly Hills and the 24/7 nature of the entertainment world, Jada grapples with her own beliefs as she encounters the spiritual chasm of this famous couple. Can Grace and Jack face the consequences of their own personal histories–and can the biographer avoid being affected? As the three of them examine the couple’s bittersweet story, it becomes clear that everyday decisions can carry lifetime consequences when individual worlds collide.

Review: Worlds Collide by Alison Strobel was a pleasant surprise and unlike any novel that I have read in the past.  The plot, structure, and characters are intriguing and pull you into the novel and resonate after you finish the last page.  It is both heart-rending and triumphant, key ingredients for a worthy read.  

Unlike most Christian fiction novels, which are generally "Rated G," I would classify this novel as "Rated PG-13" because of the subject matter and lifestyles portrayed.  Ultimately, the themes of faith, redemption, and unconditional love shine through.  Strobel formats Worlds Collide like a biography, told from the perspectives of three main characters: biographer, Jada Eastman; Hollywood star, Jack Harrington; and Jack's wife, Grace.  Each individual is realistic, flawed, and searching for fulfillment.  

Strobel paints a vivid picture of Jack Harrington's loose Hollywood lifestyle and clearly illustrates that money and fame cannot buy contentment.  As Jake and Grace reflect on their lives, we watch them become Christians and change not only their lives, but the lives of countless others. Their conversion, struggles, pains, and doubts are tangible and relevant.  The glimpses provided into their former, more worldly lifestyles, especially Jack's, make the reformations even more significant and satisfying. 

I enjoyed watching the relationship blossom between Jack and Grace. The progression to their first meeting is slow at times, but lays a strong foundation for the challenges and successes they face later in their relationship. Jada's role is much more secondary, offering occasional reactions and insight into the story we are hearing along with her. We don't learn very much about Jada's life, but she provides yet another example of a life changed by the Harrington's faith. 

Worlds Collide is a modern-day Cinderella story, and while the ending is not fairy tale perfect it is very real.  As I overhear the latest Hollywood scoop, I realize that Hollywood and the world, in general, needs more people like Jack and Grace.  More worlds should "collide" with these two fictional characters created by Alison Strobel.

Worlds Collide is available for purchase at the following locations:
Christian Book DistributorsAmazonBarnes & Noble

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Multnomah/ WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above 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.”


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...