Friday, February 17, 2017

Still Life (By: Dani Pettrey)

Still Life

By: Dani Pettrey

Storyline

After being blacklisted by the art community of Baltimore, Avery Tate - a professional photographer - has been working as a crime scene photographer with crime scene analyst, Parker Mitchell. They are quickly attracted to one another, but there's a problem: Parker is still in love with and loyal to his old girlfriend who was murdered a number of years ago. So rather than be continually faced with what will never happen, Avery quits and moves on.

But when she discovers her childhood friend Skylar is missing after having been photographed for an art gallery showing, she suspects foul play. She knows of no one better to help her solve the mystery than Parker - and the two set out to find Skylar.

Also weaved in is a story about a mysterious ship of refugees that arrives in a Baltimore with illegal activities on board. And the question still remains - whatever happened to the gang's friend Luke, who disappeared without a trace seven years ago?

While the plot lines were exciting and very well written, a few places felt choppy and several things were left unexplained. It took us quite awhile to really get into the book. As in the first book, sometimes the many characters and their places in the plots felt confusing and chaotic.


Depth
Avery grew up labeled "trailer trash," and still has a hard time believing she isn't in that life anymore. Unfortunately, this case places her right back in the heart of her childhood. She feels responsible for Skylar's wild lifestyle since she introduced her to it in the first place, and fears that she may have died without ever having changed, like Avery had.

Faith
Faith is this book's strongest quality! Parker and Avery both have a strong faith in God. Parker continually reminds those around him that they can lean on and rely on the Lord. He encourages Avery that she is a new creation in Christ and Jesus has redeemed her from her past. Many characters pray for guidance and live clean lives, pleasing to God in purity and speech.

Love Story
Anyone who loved Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series may be a bit disappointed in this series' romance. Although a genuine and respectable love story is certainly written, the emotions were hard for us to connect with. Parker and Avery have to overcome a few realistic obstacles before they can be together but even then, it didn't feel as though the romantic tension had built enough for us to be terribly excited about them as a couple.

Overall
This is the second book in Dani Pettrey's Chesapeake Valor series and some themes were continued from book one and will continue through the series, which we love! Unfortunately, some parts of the book were disappointing to us and left us a little confused. However, the faith was strong and the general storyline was extremely entertaining. We look forward to the next book in the series, where we can continue to explore the mystery that surrounds the entire series - what ever became of their missing friend Luke.


Find it on Amazon: Still Life

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Note Yet Unsung (By: Tamera Alexander)

A Note Yet Unsung

By: Tamera Alexander

Storyline
Rebekah Carrington is a master violinist and dreams of playing in an orchestra. Unfortunately in the 19th century, it was thought that women were too fragile to attempt such a feat - no matter how talented they may be. Forced to return home to Nashville after having spent the last 10 years in Vienna, she must settle for simply being an assistant to the orchestra leader, rather than showcasing her real talent. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is the Nashville Philharmonic's youngest maestro and needs Rebekah's help writing a symphony - before his own secrets threaten to destroy everything he has worked so hard for.

Classic to author Tamera's usual style, this book grabs you right from the beginning and glides along like gentle rolling, green hills, a satisfying and pleasurable journey for the reader. She adds just the right amount of plot, activity and excitement to keep the reader hooked!

Despite the wonderful storyline, we felt the end came a little too quickly, with some loose ends not fully explained, and without a couple satisfactory conclusions.


Depth
Both Rebekah and Tate have secrets they wish to keep hidden for fear of rejection by others. Issues of loss, grief, relationships with families (especially parents), health problems and going back to one's roots are explored. And as are usual in Tamera's stories, the historical reality of racism and slavery are faced head on, with tact and grace.

Faith
Rebekah caught her faith as a child from the older slaves she loved, as they taught her hymns on the violin. Now that she is an adult and on her own, she often goes back to these hymns and accompanying Bible verses to guide her and help her through rough times. Tate was raised with faith and is beginning to realize how important the role of it in his life should be. Going back to his roots reignites his faith and he allows God to lead him down the unknown path in front of him.

Love Story
Tate and Rebecca definitely hit it off on the wrong foot which adds for some romantic tension! But as their walls come down and they understand each other more, a tender and genuine love develops between them. Especially sweet in their love story is the side of Tate no one knows about that Rebekah becomes involved in.

Overall
These two chicks have come to expect a lot from Tamera - complex plots weaved expertly together, well developed and realistic characters and a deep faith we can relate to. And sure enough, A Note Yet Unsung did not disappoint! This was the final installment of the Belmont Mansion Series and it was by far our favorite.


Find it on Amazon: A Note Yet Unsung

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rescue Me (By: Susan May Warren)

Rescue Me

By: Susan May Warren

Rescue Me is the second book in the Montana Rescue series and it hit the mark of a great book. Susan is starting off 2017 with a sure to be best seller! We are unsure how she does it, but we were hooked after only a few pages. Create some time because once you open this book, it will be hard to put down!

Storyline
Deputy Sam Brooks is the liaison between the Mercy Falls Sheriff's department and PEAK Rescue. He is serious, determined and responsible, and is used to being the one who rescues others. He believes Sierra Rose is perfect for him - she fits his criteria of what a girlfriend should be. When he gets stranded with Sierra's little sister, Willow, and a group of teens in Glacier National Park, he finds his heart and head battling with each other on what he truly needs in a significant other.

We love Willow as a character! She is positive, always smiling, sees the good in people and wears her heart on her sleeve - which is a problem, considering she has been in love with her sister's boyfriend for as long as she can remember. However, she loves her sister and longs for her to be happy; and what would Sam Brooks see in her anyway? She tells herself to focus on her role with the youth group and keep herself away from Sam. But that is much easier said than done!


Depth
Sam has a complicated history with his brother Pete after the accidental death of their father. Much anger and bitterness exists between these two. Sam feels he always has to be the "mature" brother. Through the story, we watch these two wrestle with the past and while working to create a  connected future.

Willow has a challenging past of her own - often filled with people leaving her. Because of this she fears needing anything from others. But deep down she longs to be rescued - and fears she never will be.

Ultimately, there is one storyline that really gave the depth category a five star rating. Weaved throughout the book are the lives of a few teenagers and we get a genuine glimpse of what many just like them are experiencing. This was a powerful component. Watching Willow interact with them and getting her perspective, along with Sam's, was intriguing. It impacted us for the lives of our own children, some of whom are currently in this uncertain time of life.

Faith
Sam is holding on to anger, but it starts to consume him. He is living in darkness and ultimately has to learn the light he needs is Jesus. If we are always saving others and think we can save ourselves, is there a need for God? So used to rescuing others, will Sam learn he is actually in need of rescuing? 

Willow has a rich faith and we learn a lot about different perspectives from her. She leans on the Lord as her High Rock and understands that God's thoughts are often not our thoughts.

Love Story
Susan is once again a master at writing a romantic story that has just enough tension, heart pounding, and sigh worthy moments that make you lose sleep! You just cannot put the book down. We were kept guessing until the end how the love story would end, and she still has us waiting for more details in the next two books. We are counting down the days until book three lands in our hands.

Overall
Don't miss this second book in the series. It is filled with action, romance, faith and characters you are sure to love. Susan's ability to weave different plots together is second to none. Now we eagerly await for book three that releases in July!


Find it on Amazon: Rescue Me

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Never Forget (By: Jody Hedlund)

Never Forget

By: Jody Hedlund
These 2 Chicks are thrilled to be putting the first book of the year on the Golden List! One of our favorite authors, Jody Hedlund, whisks us away to 19th century Rhode Island for an exciting and heartfelt read.

Storyline
Abbie Watson is contented to spend her days on Rose Island tending the lighthouse and caring for her aging grandfather in his growing senility. But in 1880, women were not allowed to keep lighthouses by themselves and with Gramps' declining health, it looks as though their tenure as lightkeepers won't last much longer. But when a stranger washes up on shore and mistakenly believes himself to be Abbie's husband, she suddenly has a promising reason to be allowed to stay - as long as she can keep the charade going.

Nathaniel Winthrop III has no memory of his former life, or how he ended up on Rose Island. He doesn't remember he was once engaged to Victoria Cole (in book 4 of the Beacons of Hope series), or that he was actually known as the Bad Boy of Newport. All he knows is that he is fast beginning to love Gramps and the woman he believes to be his wife. Although he doesn't know exactly what was in his past, he senses he needs to turn over a new leaf and be a man of integrity.

Author Jody masterfully crafts this plot and weaves together intricate details and storylines to make every page interesting! We were swept into this story right from the first chapter. Her writing abilities continually amaze us and this book was the best we have read by her.


Depth
Everyone in Abbie's life has left her, some intentionally and some accidentally. So, without feeling sorry for herself, Abbie has learned to be strong, figuring she is just better off alone. But as she and Nathaniel fall in love, she catches a glimpse of what life could be like in a healthy marriage. Even when the charade comes crashing down around her, Abbie is still determined to always do the right thing - even if it means giving up what she most desperately wants. Issues of abandonment, depression, deception, the reality of Dementia and integrity are dealt with. 

Faith
Even in Gramps' old age, he wants to read the Bible every night, specifically his favorite passage out of Corinthians. As Nathaniel reads this to him, he becomes interested in more of the Scriptures. Although Nathaniel isn't certain what his past holds, he is drawn to the Lord and to living an upright life. He is determined to be a man of integrity and makes some hard choices to do so. Both Nathaniel and Abbie sacrifice their own happiness at different points to be honorable. 

Love Story
The romance between Abbie and Nathaniel is beautiful right from the start. As they live together, he believing they are married and she pretending to be married, they are an inspiring picture of hard work and serving one another together. Abbie sees what a healthy, happy marriage could look like when its done the way God designed. And these two generate some serious chemistry and sparks together! And as we say in many of our reviews, we ALWAYS appreciate authors who put such a priority on purity and remaining faithful in marriage!

Overall

Never Forget is the fifth book in the Beacons of Hope series and it was our favorite! All of these books have been a joy to read, and this final book finishes it off with a bang. Exciting scenes, tender romance, everyday faith and complex characters give this book everything a good story needs. Well done Jody Hedlund!!


Find it on Amazon: Never Forget

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review - Our Favorite Reads

Celebrating 2016 Top Ten Favorites

Wow, we cannot believe it's the end of the year already and time for our annual countdown! You may have noticed our blog was a little quiet this year as we dealt with some unusual circumstances like moving and health issues. But we still found time to read some delightful books and here's hoping we can read even more next year.

So without further delay, here are our top ten favorite books of 2016! 



#10 - Like Never Like Before by Melissa Tagg
#9 - Forever Safe by Jody Hedlund
#8 - So Rare a Gift by Amber Lynn Perry
#7 - Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White
#6 - The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter
#5 - Her One and Only by Becky Wade
#4 - The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson (re-released this year)
#3 - Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren
#2 - You're the One that I Want by Susan May Warren
#1 - The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck
  
Let us know, were these your favorites as well? Do you have a different #1?

Here's to more happy reading in 2017!!!!




Monday, November 7, 2016

A Royal Christmas Wedding (By: Rachel Hauck)

A Royal Christmas Wedding

By: Rachel Hauck


A Royal Christmas Wedding is the fourth and final book in the Royal Wedding Series. We are true suckers for any royal love story, but add in the Christmas season and you have a recipe for a delightful read! Grab a cup of hot cocoa, a cozy blanket and get ready for an enchanting fairy tale.

Storyline
This story has many of the characters we have already come to love throughout this series. Avery, Susanna's younger sister, whom we were introduced to in book one, is our lovely main character along with Prince Colin, cousin to King Nathaniel. Five years ago they fell head over heels in love but were very young. When Colin abruptly cut off their relationship, Avery was left with a broken heart. Now 21, she has finished college and is at a crossroads in life. Having just lost her father and hearing her sister is pregnant, she and her mom head to Brighton for the Christmas season.

Colin is shocked when he spots Avery at a ball. Why is she here in Brighton? And why does his heart still long for her after so many years? Many twists and turns bring these two together throughout the book, and the presence of an age old tradition of a royal getting married on Christmas day continues to press on both of them. But can Avery open her heart and risk having it broken again? Can Colin make up for the past, and overlook his parents' expectation that he marry a Brightonian wife?


Depth
This book, unlike some of the others, was rather lighthearted. We have come to love the depth of Rachel's stories but this one lacked somewhat in that area. It was a fairy tale of second chances that needed forgiveness, healing and hope to reach happily ever after! Set in a charming foreign city - too bad it's fictional! - and being surrounded by loved ones made this read delightfully enchanting.

Additionally, some of the main characters either have a broken past to deal with or currently have great pain to contend with. Broken families, past mistakes, and unfulfilled dreams are addressed.

Faith
One of our favorite aspects of Rachel's writing is her willingness to be bold in her faith, to not shy away from miracles and the presence of angels. Many of her books offer these in the storyline and this one is no exception - sometimes things are "God moments" with no other explanation. Both of our main characters lean heavily on the Lord's leading and must choose to trust and follow His path, rather than relying on themselves.

Additionally, the true meaning of Christmas is continually threaded into this story, demonstrating the emptiness of celebrating the holiday without remembering the birth of Christ.


Love Story
Once upon a time Avery and Prince Colin were madly in love, but both have now suffered broken hearts, years apart and thousands of miles separating each other. What will it take to bring their hearts and souls together to reach their happily ever after? These two have many sweet moments together as you watch their journey unfold..

Overall
What a joy it has been to travel through each of the books in this series. The characters will stay with us and we may still dream of going to Brighton one day! This final installment, though lacking a little in depth, wraps things up nicely and we are sad to see it come to an end. We look forward to whatever Rachel Hauck brings us next!


Find it on Amazon: A Royal Christmas Wedding


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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tangled Webs (By: Irene Hannon)

Tangled Webs

By: Irene Hannon

Storyline 
Finn MacGregor is finished with his career as an Army Ranger, and just wants a little peace and quiet to figure out what he is going to do for the rest of his life. When he rents a secluded cabin deep in the backwoods of Missouri, he figures the solitude and lack of cell phone coverage won't be hard to get used to. And maybe he can get his secrets and demons figured out while there. But when a woman's terrified scream pierces through the night, he finds himself back in rescue mode to his beautiful neighbor - who has secrets and demons of her own to wrestle through.

Dana Lewis plans to stay at her own secluded cabin indefinitely. That is, unless a mysterious prankster can convince her to leave by frightening her off the property. As Finn and Dana work together to figure out who is behind the pranks and why they want her gone, these two troubled souls learn to trust each other - both in solving the mystery and in their personal lives.


Depth
Finn and Dana both have damaged souls from their pasts. As they very slowly learn to trust each other, they must learn to let go and have the courage to move forward in their lives. Also addressed in a side storyline is the very real issue of absolute truth, absolute right and wrong. What do you do when the only answer (it seems) to a tough situation is unethical - at best? Author Irene does an excellent job detailing how quickly that decision can become a tangled web of lies, deceit and cover ups.

Additionally, some of the main characters either have a broken past to deal with or currently have great pain to contend with. Broken families, past mistakes, and unfulfilled dreams are addressed.

Faith
The best faith storyline in this book actually comes through the wrestlings of one of the perpetrators. He is a church-going, Bible-believing, man of honor who makes one wrong decision - and continues to walk in it as he descends further down into the tangled web of its consequences. His conscience tries to kick in, but after ignoring it enough times, that voice becomes harder to distinguish. It's a good reminder to the reader that every choice, no matter how small, will either bring you closer to or further away from God. Thankfully, even after walking in a way contrary to God, He will always be there, waiting for us, ready to offer forgiveness and redemption

Love Story
Finn and Dana are instantly attracted to each other and have a few sparks as they get to know one another, but ultimately their love story is wrapped up in the mystery and depth of the story, so the romance isn't overpowering.

Overall

We have enjoyed the Men of Valor series, and it was good to finally hear Finn's story. The first half of the book was a little slow and didn't really have much meat to its plot, which accounts for this less than stellar star rating. The second half of the book picked up the pace however and concluded in a satisfying ending.


Find it on Amazon: Tangled Webs


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