Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Purity Is Possible" Blog Tour

One in five Christian women use pornography. One in three visitors to a porn site is a woman. Many, many more women read explicit books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Even more than that write their own pornography - not on paper for publication, but in their heads for their own use.

But no one talks about it. Our churches are silent on it. There are very few books about it. It is the unspoken struggle of thousands of Christian women - perhaps you, and probably someone you know.

But no more. In this refreshingly honest, resolutely hope-filled and gospel-soaked book, Helen speaks the unspoken. In doing so, she shows how purity is better and more satisfying than fantasy and that, whoever you are and whatever your struggles, purity is possible.


 Amazon                            Publisher Website 
 
 
Title: Purity is Possible

The Good Book Company
November 4, 2014
112     
 
 
 
 
My Take:
 
I love to read fiction - especially historical romances - but sometimes keeping my mind out of the daydreams of fiction and grounded in the reality of life can be difficult. My husband and I try to keep each other accountable for what we are reading and watching, and it definitely helps to discuss fantasy versus reality with him.
 
Just as men can get caught up in lust, women can just as easily fall into this trap. When it comes to fantasy, women might not be actively looking at pornography, but it can be just as dangerous to covet another man's husband - even one that is a character in a book.
 
In this small but gospel-packed book, Ms. Thorne takes an honest look at how women can fall into the sin of sexual fantasy - and how they can get out.
 
Purity Is Possible really gets to the heart of the matter and discuss the idols that keep someone from being pure and from being who God created her to be. This book was easy to read and made me realize even more the dangers of engaging in fantasy. It also gave much hope to anyone struggling with purity. There is forgiveness and newness in Christ, and that is a reason to rejoice!
 
I will still continue to enjoy my historical romances - but I will also keep my mind and heart alert to what is true and what is just fantasy.
 
I will give Purity Is Possible ... 4 BookWorms.
 
 




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"A Matter of Heart" Review

Jessica Atherton is tired of only being seen as the spoiled youngest daughter of a wealthy rancher. She is determined to change her ways, but attempting a transformation all by herself is proving to be a difficult task. And the situation is only made harder by the appearance of two very different yet equally interesting young men.

Harrison Gable, a dashing lawyer from Dallas, is everything Jessica dreamed of in a husband. His aspirations will take her out of her small Texas hometown and will never leave her in want financially.

But Jessica is increasingly intrigued by Austin Todd, a former Secret Service agent and current Texas Ranger who has been pulled into a local case involving forged gold certificates. Austin seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, and Jessica feels drawn to him more than she has ever felt drawn to anyone.

As Jessica struggles to find her place in the world, she discovers that it really all comes down to a matter of faith – and a matter of heart.

A Matter of Heart is book three in the “Lone Star Brides” series by Tracie Peterson.

After learning quite a bit about Jessica Atherton in the second book in this series, I was intrigued to find out she would be the main character in this one. I was a bit taken aback at first, since I was not very fond of her character previously, and it is often very difficult to enjoy a novel when you really dislike the main character.

But I found that I actually connected with Jessica fairly quickly, and it was her tremendous growth over the course of the novel that in fact made the book so much more enjoyable. I, too, have struggled with feeling as if the people around you want to keep you from changing and not let you become who you desire/need to be. In Jessica’s case, her parents seemed to be the ones doing this at times. In my case, it wasn’t so much my parents but other people with whom I grew up. In both cases, we had to come to the conclusion that only with God can our hearts be changed, and when that happens, no one can stand in our way.

Even with the amount of spiritual growth that Jessica experiences, she is not the only one to change in this novel. Austin also has much to deal with in his past. (And when I say “much” I mean a lot. So much that it seemed as if it was even a bit too much). While Austin at times comes across as the perfect hero, he still has his demons, and his growth is also significant.

This novel as presented in the summary seems as if it will be a battle between two men for the heart of Jessica Atherton. This is true in a sense, but it is so much more. The storylines that were not completely resolved in the previous novels all converge and come to an ultimate, satisfying conclusion.

Because of this, I think it would be easier to follow what was happening if you had read the previous books in the series. It is definitely not a standalone novel. I have read the previous books, and I still had a tough time here and there remembering exactly what had happened and figuring out what was going on. The dialogue was sometimes a bit simplistic and not detailed enough, too.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, it had an interesting romance, and it had enough suspense to keep it moving. There were a few times when the romantic plot fell back onto some predictable and overused points to give it a hiccup, but for the most part, the relationships among Jessica, Austin, and Harrison were done well. I also thought there were a couple of spiritual things thrown in that really didn’t seem to fit with the overall spiritual tone of the story. But since faith in Christ as the way to a right relationship with God was emphasized so clearly, I am willing to overlook those things that seemed to be on the outskirts.

I have increasingly enjoyed each of the books in the “Lone Star Brides” series, and I definitely think A Matter of Heart was my favorite. 

I will give A Matter of Heart ... 4 BookWorms.









A Matter of Heart
by Tracie Peterson
"Lone Star Brides" #3
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: October 7, 2014
320 pages






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Where Treetops Glisten" Blog Tour

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/BwVP9
 
 
 
 

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and is a speaker and blogger. 
 



CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction.
 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.
 
 
 

See what other reviewers are saying here:

Landing page:



My Take:

When I found out that two of my favorite authors were teaming up with a new-to-me author to write a book of three historical romance novellas taking place at Christmastime, I was so excited. Add that to the fact that the stories were to take place in my hometown, and I was literally jumping up and down!

Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of my favorite historical fiction authors over the last few years that I have been doing book reviews. Her attention to the historical details is the best, and she always writes a story in which the characters experience a tremendous amount of growth. I also enjoy reading books by Tricia Goyer, and her “Big Sky” series is one of the best I have ever read. Cara Putman is an author who is new to me, but I was excited to find out that she lives in Lafayette, Indiana! (OK – so I am technically from West Lafayette, but it’s just right over the river!!! Ms. Putman – my book club is reading this book next year in November. Would you consider coming to our meeting when we discuss it?)   

I think one of the best things about this book was how each story fit together with the others. You could tell that each was written by a different author, but the book as a whole was seamless. It is just amazing to me that three authors with varying styles could come together and create three stories that fit together so nicely.

I really don’t think I could say which of the three novellas was my favorite. I liked the detailed setting of Lafayette in Cara Putman’s White Christmas,  I appreciated the growth of the characters in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and I adored the right-in-the-thick-of-things storytelling in Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

On the whole, this book was really good, and it was perfect for Christmastime. I will admit that I am a bit biased towards it since I live in West Lafayette. I know that fact affects my review and rating at least a little bit. These stories are very much on the romantic side and could even be considered hokey by some. While there are some realistic components to the stories, they are definitely fiction, and everything is wrapped up nicely with a big Christmas bow at the end.

Where Treetops Glisten has all of the things that I love about Christmas stories – a great setting, interesting characters, and the warmth and general sappiness that I can tolerate only at Christmastime!
 

I will give Where Treetops Glisten … 4.5 BookWorms*
 
 

 

 

 

 *Extra half rating given because of the setting of Lafayette, Indiana! J
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"The Christmas Cat" Blog Tour

He felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he'd thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.
After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly--especially since he is severely allergic to cats--his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.


My Take:

I’m not normally one who likes to read the sappy Christmas novel that reminds you more of a Hallmark movie than a book. But I really liked one of Ms. Carlson’s previous Christmas novellas – The Christmas Pony – so I decided to give this one a try.

Overall this was a nice, sweet story, but it also had some interesting aspects to it as well. There were a couple of times when I laughed out loud over something a character said or did. That always makes for a great story in my book. I thought it was funny that Garrison’s grandmother was so particular about what should happen with her cats, but it was sweet as well.

Having the story be told from Garrison’s perspective was an interesting aspect and one that really fit with the overall tone of the book. Stories of this type are not usually told from the point of view of just the main male character, and it was a nice change of pace.

Since this is a novella, there wasn’t a lot of time to develop the main characters, but I actually felt as if I got to know Garrison very well. I thought his relationships developed a bit quickly and that the ending felt very rushed, but that is to be expected in this short of a story.

One thing that I thought was odd in this novella was that it was a bit unrealistic for Garrison’s allergies to seemingly disappear once he got “used” to the cats. It was almost as if his allergies ended up being all in his head, and that is just not the case with true allergic reactions.

While The Christmas Cat would definitely make a good Hallmark movie, it was still an interesting story and a nice tale for the holiday season.

I will give The Christmas Cat … 3.5 BookWorms.








The Christmas Cat
by Melody Carlson
Revell Publishing
Publication date: September 9, 2014
176 pages




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishing through Revell Reads. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 14, 2014

His Kids United Christmas Vol. 1 - Blog Tour

 
His Kids United Christmas, Vol. 1

Tailor-made just for kids ages 5-14, this highly anticipated His Kids United volume features young voices bringing a renewed energy to holiday classics along with four contemporary originals. Includes "Away In A Manger," "Jingle Bell Rock," "Light of Christmas," and more.

 
 
 
 
Product Information
 
Format: Compact disc
Vendor: Capitol Christian Music Group
Publication Date: 2014


Find out more about His Kids United here - http://www.hiskidsunited.com/about-his-kids-united.html



My Take:

This is my first time getting to review an album, and I really enjoyed it! It was especially fun to review a Christmas album, especially since Christmas decorations are going to be going up very soon in my house.

My first impression of this album was that it was kind of all over the place genre-wise. There were so many different genres of music represented all in one album – pop, hymns, jazz, techno, and even rap. While this does tend to give everyone something they might like, I thought it was a little much, especially the synthesized style of some of the songs.

Here are a few words about each song on the album:

Here We Come a Caroling – Nice traditional song. It was well-done, but I didn’t really like the ritardando on the chorus.

Light up the World – Catchy; a more upbeat, pop sound, but it was pretty good.

Jingle Bell Rock – felt as if the singing wasn’t as well done on this one as on the other songs. I don't know if it was because they were intentionally sliding their voices or if they were not quite on pitch, but it was not as clear as the other songs. This song has a techno feel to it, and overall it was OK.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – one of my favorite Christmas songs. This version kept to the traditional hymn and was very good. I really liked the arrangement of this one, and it is my favorite song on the album.

All I Have to Give – A little bit too pop/Hallmark Christmas special for my taste. I prefer the more traditional Christmas songs.

Light of Christmas – I’m sure some kids would like this, but I am just not a fan of rap at all, especially in a Christmas song. Even so, it was very catchy and upbeat.

Jingle Bells – Probably the most techno version of Jingle Bells that I have ever heard! I’m also not a fan of this version being pretty much in half time compared to what we are all used to (at least on the verses). And I realize that people think it is so cute to have a really little kid (who can’t carry a tune) sing on children’s CDs, but I just find it annoying. There are plenty of really young kids out there who sound young and cute but who can actually sing.

No Better Holiday – Very pop-sounding, which is not my favorite, but the lyrics were encouraging, and the singing was well-done.

Away in a Manger – This one was good, nice arrangement. Should have had one of these kids sing the solo part for Jingle Bells.

Christmas Time Is Here – A very familiar song of the Christmas season made famous by the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. This version was pretty well done and stuck to the original.

I Hope This Gets to You – I was not fond of the “love song” style of this song. I don’t think it is the best thing for pre-teens to be constantly thinking about dating and “love” and the flirty-type things that were in this song. I’m not really sure how this fit with the rest of the album.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – I prefer a traditional version of this song. This one was too techno for my taste. The singing was good, though.

 
Overall this album might appeal to the 9-12 set, but (apart from the three traditional carols) it was too over-the-top for the grown-ups in my house and had too many unfamiliar songs for my 5-year-old.

 

I will give His Kids Christmas Vol. 1 … 3 BookWorms.
 
 

 






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Capital Christian Music Group through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"The Christmas Promise" Blog Tour


Title: The Christmas Promise

  
The Good Book Company
November 4, 2014
32


A captivating retelling of the Christmas story showing how God kept His promise to send a new King. Superb illustrations by Catalina Echeverri and faithful, Bible-centered story-telling by Alison Mitchell combine to make this a book that both parents and children will love.
 
A long, long time ago so long that it's hard to imagine God promised a new King. He wasn't any ordinary king, like the ones we see on TV or in books. He would be different. He would be a new King; a rescuing King; a forever King!
 
This book helps pre-school children discover exactly how God kept His Christmas Promise.
 
Amazon                Publisher Website




My Take:
 
It's the first week in November, and already the Christmas music can be heard in my house. This is mostly due to my husband who would gladly put our Christmas tree up in October if I would let him!
 
Though I give him a hard time about loving Christmas so much, I was really excited to start receiving Christmas books to review this year. And I love reviewing children's books so much - and so does my daughter! We immediately read this one, and we have read it several times since it arrived at our door.
 
What I like most about this simple book is that it is packed with truth. My five-year-old daughter really liked it, and I think it would be good even for toddlers. The writing is straightforward and engaging, and the pictures really make the story come alive.
 
I absolutely love the Bible passage references at the back of this book. So often children's books about the Bible don't even reference the Bible! I think it is great to have story books about the Bible for children, but if we never direct our children to read from the ultimate source of truth - the Bible, God's Word - then I feel we are doing them a disservice.
 
The only thing slightly negative that I have to say about this book is that some of the print was a bit hard to read since it was black ink on a dark background. Overall, though, The Christmas Promise is an excellent addition to our library of children's books.
 
What a great reminder that Jesus is the King.
 
The New King...
The Rescuing King...
The Forever King!
 
 
I will give The Christmas Promise ... 5 BookWorms!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"The Daughter of Highland Hall" Blog Tour


The Daughter of Highland Hall
 
What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor . . . what if it isn't enough?

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain's elite.
 
When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London's East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love---and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.
 
 
Book 2, Edwardian Brides (Waterbrook Multnomah, October 2014)

Learn more, purchase a copy, and read an excerpt: http://ow.ly/C7LAY
 

 
About the author: 
 
Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has written contemporary and historical romances, women's fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Scott, and they have five adult children and four grandchildren.

Find Carrie online: website, Facebook, Twitter
 
 
 
 
My Take:
 
When I requested this book for review from Litfuse, I was not aware that it was book two in a series. Fortunately, the author gave enough background information in this book that I never felt totally lost. There were times when I would think - "I feel as if I would know that character better if I had read the first book." - But for the most part, it was fine.
 
I thought the setting for this book was really interesting. I had no idea that there was still so much emphasis placed on status and society in England during this time period (Edwardian era - around 1901 - 1910). The pomp and circumstance associated with Katherine's debut and the details surrounding that part of the book were done well. It was easy to envision all of the events that were taking place.
 
I also thought that the spiritual side of this book was something that was well-written. It's not easy to weave faith throughout a story without it coming off as preachy, but I thought. Ms. Turansky accomplished this feat. It is also a huge pet peeve of mine when a Christian book seems to have absolutely zero Christian elements to it. Thankfully, this was not the case with The Daughter of Highland Hall.
 
This novel has a very Upstairs/Downstairs, Downton Abbey feel to it, which I feel will appeal to many readers. There are so many story lines going on in this novel! At first I didn't really like that the book came at you from so many angles. Towards the end, however, it kind of grew on me, and I was able to appreciate the various storylines, which did seem to keep the novel moving.
 
The romance in this novel is sweet - I liked Jon as a character, especially - but some of the things that kept them apart were kind of old plotlines that were a tad contrived. I'm sure that it's difficult as an author to mix in something new to a romantic plotline. After all, humans are humans, and there is really "nothing new under the sun." Even with the somewhat predictable romantic storyline, the main characters did experience growth throughout the novel - as individuals and as a couple - which redeemed it overall for me.
 
Ms. Turansky is a new author for me, and I enjoyed my first foray into her stories. I might just have to go back and read the first book in the Edwardian Brides series!
 
I will give The Daughter of Highland Hall ... 3.5 BookWorms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Multnomah Books through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Playing By Heart" Review

After many years of hard work, Lula Bowman has finally landed a collegiate teaching position and a prestigious scholarship in mathematics. As a woman, neither of those were easy to come by, but Lula has proven herself to be worthy of such an endeavor.

But when she receives a frantic phone call from her sister, Lula reluctantly returns to her hometown of Dunn, Oklahoma.

Giving up her scholarship and her teaching position at the university, she agrees to the only position she can find – high school music teacher and girls’ basketball coach. The music side of things Lula can handle. She has a talent for playing the piano, and she had a real passion for music when she was younger. But she knows nothing about basketball and has to turn to the boys’ coach for help.

Chet Vaughn currently teaches math at the high school as well as serves as coach for the boys’ basketball team. With his brother away fighting in the Great War, Chet is left to care for their widowed mother. The new music teacher should have been the last person to turn his head. After all, he had fended off every other eligible girl trying to get his attention in the last few years. But something about Lula catches Chet off guard, and he doesn’t really know what to expect.

As Chet and Lula spend more and more time together, they each try to combat their growing feelings. God is working in the hearts of both of them, and He might just be leading them in a direction hey never would have expected.

Set during World War One in a small Oklahoma town, Playing By Heart is a novel filled with warmth, hope, and faith in a God who gives us the desires of our hearts – even if those desires were not what we thought they would be.

I was really excited to pick up this book and read it since I have enjoyed several of Anne Mateer’s novels in the past. I was also excited about reading this book because the book I read previous to this one was so depressing and so terrible (I couldn’t even finish it) that I was craving something nice and fun and uplifting to drown out the awfulness that had saturated my brain. (The awful book was not a review book. It was for my book club, and it’s not even worth mentioning the title!).

So it was with great joy that I dove right into Playing By Heart, and it met almost all of my expectations.

One of my favorite things about the book was how well I got to know the characters of Lula and Chet. The novel alternates between the viewpoints of the two, and each is written in first person. At first I thought this might be a bit awkward, but it actually wasn’t, and it helped me to really identify with the main characters well. I guess I identified with Lula the most since she had a passion for music – piano specifically – as well as an interest in academics. Her struggle to achieve what the world sees as success (college, math) rather than allowing her identity to be rooted in Christ was something that hit close to home for me. Lula and Chet were both intelligent characters that were strong without being overbearing.

I also thought the secondary characters were fleshed out very well in this novel. The boys and girls on the basketball teams were so fun, and the characters of Lula’s sister and Chet’s mother were so real. The other characters in the book really gave it a balance that was appropriate and refreshing.

The setting in this book was unique, which kept the plotlines from being completely cliché. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a book set during World War One that focused mainly on a love interest that revolved around high school basketball. I’m a huge sports fan and this part of the story really sold the plotlines overall for me.

While the plot was interesting – mostly because of the secondary characters and the basketball angle – there were things about the romantic plotline that were somewhat disappointing. There were some external factors and situations that kept Lula and Chet from discovering/declaring their interest in each other too early in the book, but most of what kept them apart was the much-used transgression of just not sitting down and talking to each other like adults. Their conversations were sometimes stilted and just downright frustrating.

Even though the romantic angle wasn’t quite to my liking, the rest of the book was. The message of faith was not extremely deep, but it was clear and woven throughout the novel and into the hearts and lives of the people in this small Oklahoma town.

And in case you're wondering, Playing By Heart was just the thing I needed to rid my mind of that previous atrocity of a book!


I will give Playing By Heart … 4 BookWorms.










Playing By Heart
by Anne Mateer
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: September 16, 2014
320 pages






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"With Every Breath" Review


Kate Livingston is working as a government statistician in Washington, D.C., when she is surprisingly contacted by a former classmate and offered a new job. Trevor McDonough, a Harvard-educated doctor, is working in a tuberculosis wing at a local hospital and is determined to rid the world of this terrible disease. Kate is reluctant to accept Trevor’s proposal as the two were always such fierce academic rivals during their school days, but she is curious as to why Trevor would want her for the position.

As Kate and Trevor begin to work together, more and more of Trevor’s past comes to light. Kate realizes that she may have misjudged this intense, passionate man. But someone is determined to discredit Trevor and all that he has accomplished, and that might not be the only thing standing in their way.

Set in 1891 with the nation’s capital as a backdrop, With Every Breath is a novel based on the messages of overcoming fears and embracing life and joy.

I really like it when books really grab me from the start, and With Every Breath definitely did that. I absolutely loved how this novel began with the scholarship competition between Kate and Trevor. It was unique and was a great jumping off point for the eventual relationship between the two main characters.

I also really enjoyed the beginning of Kate and Trevor’s relationship – both their friendship and their romance. Their witty banter was fantastic, and I absolutely adored how Trevor was attracted to Kate as more than just a pretty face. He was attracted to her attitude and her intelligence as well. At one point, Trevor thinks to himself, “By heaven, was there anything more attractive than watching a pretty woman tackle a thorny mathematical equation?” That’s just awesome.

As their relationship developed, however, I kind of got bored with that part of the story, and it’s hard to explain why. I was glad that the reasons that kept them apart were valid and that those reasons didn’t feel contrived, but I guess I just felt as if there was too much back-and-forth – will they get together or won’t they? – and it became tiring. The mystery part of the story, however, was appealing and made up for some of the things lacking in the romance.

While the romance might not have been as interesting as I had hoped, the historical and medical aspects of this novel were fascinating. The author pays such attention to detail when it comes to the setting and to the feeling of being right there with the characters. I have read other historical novels where a character has tuberculosis, but I had never understood what a toll it takes and the medical history behind it. The medical aspects were a bit grisly at times, so if you are at all squeamish, be forewarned.


Although this book had a great story and an interesting historical setting, the Christian aspect of this book just didn’t go far enough for me. Kate did experience some spiritual growth in the fact that she ultimately had to come to terms with her fears and to trust God. This was one of the biggest messages that came through in this story - that constantly succumbing to her fears was also keeping her from experiencing great joy. But apart from that, it felt as if the book came from the vantage point that everyone who dies will go to heaven. Jesus coming to die for our sins, our admission of that sin, and our acceptance of His righteousness as our own did not come into play whatsoever.  Since the main focus of the book was tuberculosis, death was a major theme, but what happens after death was not. It just seemed very vague to me, and since death was at the forefront of the subject of this novel, I expected more.
While there were some aspects that kept me from liking it fully, it was still an enjoyable novel overall.

I will give With Every Breath ... 3.5 BookWorms.











With Every Breath
by Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: August 5, 2014






Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Love's Fortune" Blog Tour

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.

As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.


About the Author: Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Available September 2014 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Find out more about this title here - http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/love-s-fortune/329680



My Take:

After reading the first two books in this series, I was interested in reading the third because of the characters and the legacy if not for the stories themselves, which I thought were too drawn out. (You can read my reviews of the first two novels in the series here – Love’s Reckoning and Love’s Awakening).

In this installment, I was once again drawn to the characters and to the legacy of the Ballantyne family rather than the actual events that were taking place in their lives.

However, the characters that drew me in were not necessarily the ones to whom I was supposed to be drawn - at least I don't think that was to be the case.

The main characters – James and Wren – were not my favorites. They were often contradictory, and they did not always come across in the way in which they were portrayed. The reader is told and shown in some ways that James is strong and capable and able to stand up to anything. But he is unwilling to tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The reader is told that Wren is independent and unwilling to bend to the pressures of society – that her heart is pure and that her love is true. But she constantly goes against who she is in order to please society and some of the members of her family, and she lets her assumptions take the place of reality. It was very wearying after a while to read about a character being described one way yet acting another.

Another thing that was contradictory was how some members of the Ballantyne family (the “good” ones) overlook the horrible things that other members of the family (the “bad” ones) do as if there is nothing they can do about it. It is as if those “good” members of the family are just constantly saying, “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about him or her. We’ll just ignore it.” – without ever speaking truth to them. There is even a case of possible murder by one of these “bad” characters in this book, and the “good,” supposedly Christian, characters never really make much mention of it. It’s as if the book comes from the view that some people are bad and will never come to repentance, rather than coming from the view everyone - even the "good" ones being in need of a Savior.

The interesting thing is that even though the two main characters in this novel – and some of the other Ballantyne characters from the past novels – were not terribly engaging in this book, some of the more minor characters were. I absolutely fell in love with Izannah and Mim and even Malachi Cameron. I almost think this book would have been better if it had focused more on Izannah and Malachi, since they were interesting characters that pretty much stole the show, in my opinion.

While the overall story in this novel was decent and some of the minor characters were good, the book itself was once again just too long. There were some bright spots in the story here and there – the visits to the orphanage, the descriptions of Pittsburg and the steamboats, the continuing abolitionist plotline, the violins – but most of the book seemed to be high-society filler. I appreciate that the author was probably trying to make the reader feel as if she had been thrown into Pittsburg high society right along with Wren, but it was just too much.

Ultimately the two main characters do finally live up to the manner in which they were drawn, but it just took way too long to get there, and it was jarring when it did.


I will give Love’s Fortune … 3 BookWorms.









Love's Fortune
by Laura Frantz
Ballantyne Legacy #3
Revell Publishers
Publication date: September 16, 2014
400 pages






Love's Fortune - Behind the Cover video.









Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of
Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."