Friday, October 13, 2017

Catching the Wind (By: Melanie Dobson)

Catching the Wind
By: Melanie Dobson

Story Line: 5 Stars
Depth: 4 Stars
Faith: 4 Stars
Love Story: 3 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

Whatever happened to Brigitte Berthold? At 10 years old, she and her best friend, 13 year old Dietmar, barely escaped from Nazi Germany into England. But once there, they were tragically separated. Now, for the last 75 years, Dietmar has spared no expense and spent a lifetime trying to find Brigitte - only to hit dead ends at every turn. As he is now an old man nearing the end of his life, he has one last hope of finding her - an American journalist named Quenby Vaughn, a woman he believes might just have the heart to help him complete his quest. 

Melanie Dobson's writing is superb, weaving together the past and the present, as Quenby uncovers a WWII treason and espionage ring. As she traces Brigitte's footsteps from all those years ago, through England and beyond, the author paces the story perfectly and brings to light just the right amount of information to keep us readers hooked. 

Catching the Wind will take the reader deep into WWII Nazi Germany, exploring espionage plots and the sad reality of many people's living conditions and dangers they faced. In the present, there are issues of abandonment, broken families and poor choices that are dealt with. However (perhaps our favorite part), author Melanie does a beautiful job in reconciling these sad realities with the grace and forgiveness of God. Rather than tying all these little problems up into an unrealistic, neat bow, the characters are able to experience real forgiveness, reconciliation and just let other things go. 

These two chicks highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book to read, but be warned: you may have a few late nights reading in your future!

Find it on Amazon: Catching the Wind

Note: We were given this book in exchange for our honest review.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Blue Ridge Sunrise (By: Denise Hunter)

Blue Ridge Sunrise
By: Denise Hunter

Story Line: 4 Stars
Depth: 3 Stars
Faith: 2 Stars
Love Story: 4 Stars
Overall: 3 Stars

Zoe left Copper Creek five years ago with no intentions of returning. However, now that her beloved grandmother has passed away, she ventures home with a boyfriend and her four year old daughter in tow. Her plan is to stay for the funeral and then get out of there - but she didn't expect to inherit the family peach orchard. She is now faced with the difficult decision to leave behind her career and success in the country music industry to run the struggling business. And to make matters more complicated, her old flame Cruz Huntley is the orchard's manager - not only do they need to work together, but there's a whole lotta baggage and history for them to delicately work through.

When us two chicks see a Denise Hunter book coming out, we get all giddy inside! She is one of our favorite authors who has brought us so many wonderful reads. However, this one fell a little short for us. The faith was very light; we would have liked to see more depth to their relationships with the Lord and more redemption for the characters. The chemistry between Cruz and Zoe sizzles at times, but felt a little shallow; some deeper conversations would have been the cherry on top for these two.

However, we do enjoy this series and we look forward to the next one being released!

Find it on Amazon: Blue Ridge Sunrise

Note: We were given this book in exchange for our honest review.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

To Wager Her Heart (By: Tamera Alexander)

To Wager Her Heart
By: Tamera Alexander

Story Line: 3.5 Stars
Depth: 4 Stars
Faith: 3 Stars
Love Story: 3 Stars
Overall: 3 Stars

These two chicks have been eagerly anticipating this third installment of the Belle Meade Plantation Series! However, although the first two books were worthy of a place on our Golden List, this final read didn't shine nearly as bright. Although the first 75% of the book was written incredibly well - great character development, interesting plots and deep themes of racism in the post Civil War era in the South - the last part of the book fell flat for us. 

Alexandra is a gentle, kind soul and learns to lean on the Lord for courage as she steps out of society's expectations for her and decides to teach at the first freedmen's University in the United States. We admired her love for all people, no matter the color of their skin, and her willingness to give up comfort to do this! Sylas is determined to clear his father's name from a tarnished reputation, and we loved the lengths he went to in his quest.

Like the first two books in this series, Tamera expertly weaves historical details and settings into this fictional story, and it reads along at an even pace. But unfortunately, the end of the book took a bad turn for us. The story became choppy and rushed, and some of the plot lines left us unsatisfied and unresolved. Although we loved the settings and the characters, and even most of the story itself, we kept waiting for a climax but never felt like we got one.

Having to give this book (and one of our favorite authors!) only 3 stars is a disappointment, but we look forward to her future books.

Find it on Amazon: To Wager Her Heart

Note: We were given this book in exchange for our honest review.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Novella - Christmas at Canton (By: Tamera Alexander)

Christmas at Carnton
By: Tamera Alexander

We love getting our appetite ready for a new series with a novella to kick things off! Tamera has a new series coming out based around the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee. We have loved her previous series based around other historical plantations and this one has hopes of being just as wonderful!.

This story is set in the time period of the Civil War. Aletta - a widow, a mother to a six year old boy and eight months pregnant, is desperate for hope. She has lost her job and is being evicted out of her home. This war has taken everything from her. Can she find the strength to keep fighting while also encouraging those around her? When she lands a job at the Carnton Plantation for the Christmas season, she falls in love with the people and surroundings but has only been promised the position for a short amount of time. One person in particular has caught her eye - and a part of her heart.

Captain Jake Winston, a Confederate sharpshooter, is now on the injured list. Sent to Carnton on a special task to assist the Women's Relief Society Auction is not what he desires for his foreseeable future. However, soon he realizes these women are fighting their own battles and he starts to have a change of heart. But can his heart handle the emotions a young widow and her son provoke?

We eagerly await this new series and were thankful to have this sweet introduction!

Find it on Amazon: Christmas at Carnton

Note: We were given this book in exchange for our honest review.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Matter of Trust (By: Susan May Warren)

A Matter of Trust

By: Susan May Warren

There is hardly an author who is so masterful as Susan May Warren, at weaving complex characters and intricate plots together through a six book series. She did it before with the Christiansen Family Series (on our Golden List) and is doing it again with this Peak Rescue Series. Book 3, A Matter of Trust, continues the stories of the Peak Rescue Team members and spotlights a few new people we haven't known well up until now. As per her usual style, Susan swept us away into the story almost from the first page!

We finally get to know Gage Watson, former snowboard freeriding Champion, whose fame and success were stripped away three years ago when one of his fans died. Now he serves as an EMT on the Peak Rescue Team. But suddenly Ella Blair - his former love and the girl who betrayed him - shows up in his life again, begging him to rescue her brother off a dangerous mountain expedition. He reluctantly agrees but must wrestle through who he is without all the fame - and see if he can untangle matters of the heart with Ella.

Most of the depth in this book comes from the failures, betrayals, and terrible choices in the past. One thing we appreciate about author Susan May Warren is her ability to write realistic characters - and this book is no exception. There is drama and tension, but grace and forgiveness, messy situations and even some miracles.

Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of redemptions or "come to Jesus moments" for any of the characters, but faith still played a big role in Gage and Ella's journey. As they make their way down the mountain, they are confronted with the fact that God will never leave them and is on their side. Both are slightly hesitant to pray or reach out to God in any way due to the shame from their pasts.

Love Story
Gage and Ella had chemistry right from the moment they met three years ago, and despite all the time that has passed, nothing has changed there. Their journey of rediscovering love and forgiving each other is real, vulnerable, and heart achingly touching at times!

Susan May Warren is fast becoming one of our favorite authors, for the simple fact that we are so swept away in each series she writes. We love the characters and the storylines that weave in and around each book. A Matter of Trust is a solid, entertaining read that flows into the middle of this series. It continues the stories of Ty, Pete, Jess and Gage and introduces us to new characters who are sure to play a part in the coming books. Our biggest disappointment is that we have to wait another six months for the next book!.

Find it on Amazon: A Matter of Trust

Note: We were given this book free in exchange for our honest review.

Monday, June 12, 2017

With You Always (By: Jodi Hedlund)

With You Always

By: Jodi Hedlund

With You Always is the first book of the Orphan Train Series. There is also a prequel novella, An Awakened Heart.

This story starts off in New York City during the 1850's. Elise Neumann is the oldest of three girls, and after losing their parents, she is left with taking care of her family. When a financial crisis hits and jobs are scarce, Elise knows she must do whatever necessary to provide. She hears the New York Children's Aid Society is offering jobs for ladies in the Midwest. Hesitant to leave her sisters, she takes a position knowing this might be their last hope.

Thornton Quincy, son of one of the wealthiest families in New York, is on a mission. His father has offered a challenge to his twin sons, in light of his declining health, to see who will inherit the family business. He requires them to do accomplish two objectives within six months: they must each build a successful town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and they must get married. Thornton didn't factor Elise into his plans but as they get to know one another, she challenges him and he must decide whether to fight to win or fight for what is right!

One piece of historical knowledge the reader will gain is getting a vivid picture of what life was like for women and orphans during this time period in New York; not pretty. Dangers, separation from family and poverty abound for them, and each of Elise's sisters feel the pain with different circumstances.

Elise and Thornton both feel inadequate. For Elise, this means continuing to fail at fulfilling her dying mother's last wish - and realizing she cannot do it on her own. Thornton continually feels as though he doesn't measure up to his twin brother. He desires to make his dad proud and longs to hear him declare it before he passes away. Both characters battle insecurities and worth, but in time take on different perspectives.

After living through many painful experiences, Elise has pushed God away - feeling as if He has abandoned them. She comes to learn that she was the one who walked away. Bad things will happen in life and we all will face trials, however, God promises to walk through them with by our side and will never leave us. Elise and Thornton both experience God's faithfulness. We always appreciate how well Jody weaves faith into her stories!

Love Story
Thornton and Elise have a very up and down relationship. Thornton is practically engaged to a lady back in New York that would be a perfect fit for him, according to society. His head knows it; but he cannot get his heart to believe it. Elise and Thornton battle feelings of wanting the other, yet are plagued with wondering if it could ever work. We experience many sweet and tender moments with these two! Will it last? Or will they give in to what is expected and let their hearts suffer?

This book was a little slow at times but overall it was enjoyable and we look forward to reading more in the series.

Find it on Amazon: With You Always

Note: We were given this book free in exchange for our honest review.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage (By: Denise Hunter)

Sweetbriar Cottage

By: Denise Hunter

Josephine Dupree runs a hair salon, and tries to ignore the whispers behind her back about her reputation. From an abusive childhood to being used as an adult, her years have mostly been isolated, lonely and full of bad choices. Except for one time in her life - when she was married to Noah Mitchell. He actually made her feel lovely on the inside and perhaps worthy of real love. Life was good and hopeful - until that all fell apart as well.

Noah Mitchell has purchased a farm up in the mountains and rarely comes down to town. Too many memories, especially when he passes Josephine's hair salon. But when he learns from the IRS about a mistake in their divorce paperwork, and the two of them are actually still married, he has no choice but to face her again. In an attempt to correct the problem, the two get stranded together in the worst snowstorm of the decade. Neither of them wants to face the problems of the past - but they must if they are to move forward.

Josephine has some pretty awful things in her background that have shaped who she is today. Her flirtatious demeanor is the only way she knows how to protect herself. Noah never really bothered to find out about her past while they were married, but if they are to reach a place of forgiveness and understanding he must face the ugly truths. Issues of child abuse, betrayal, forgiveness and worth are dealt with.

Noah has a strong faith in the Lord and lives like it. But he has a lot to learn about extending God's forgiveness to others; he frequently prays about it and allows God to speak to his heart. On the other hand, Josephine keeps her distance from God because she figures He couldn't possibly care about someone like her. As she faces her past throughout this book, she realizes that God has been right there waiting for her the entire time.

Although it's clear Josephine makes her peace with God, these two chicks wish we would have been able to read more insight into her "coming to Jesus" moment!

Love Story
Noah and Josephine have some serious chemistry! They have never stopped loving each other, even after the divorce and it's obvious right away when they come face to face again. Although the heat is turned up on these two, Noah is sure to still treat their relationship right and keeps purity at the forefront of his actions. These two have a lot to work through, and author Denise masterfully writes the complex intricacies of such a relationship.

This book was very, very good and came close to being a five star in our book! The one thing we wished for, however, was seeing more of a spiritual "come to Jesus" moment for Josephine. Although it is clear she makes her peace with her past and with God, we aren't given a front row seat to her conversion. Bummer! However, the rest of the book had all the right elements to make this a must read for those who love a good story of redemption and forgiveness.

Find it on Amazon: Sweetbriar Cottage

Note: We were given this book free in exchange for our honest review.