Monday, April 29, 2013

"The Heiress of Winterwood" Blog Tour

About The Heiress of Winterwood:

Pride goes before the fall . . . but what comes after?

Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend's baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word-even to the point of proposing to the child's father-a sea captain she's never met.
When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting at her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.
Amelia's detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she's forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.
Graham's strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.
Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them.

Purchase a copy:
Meet the Author: Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Find out more about Sarah at

My Take:
Overall, I liked this book. The setting was appealing , the characters were interesting, and the storylines kept my attention. It was really interesting to explore how women of this time period really had no rights at all, at least when it came to owning property, and how many times these women would be exploited by the men in their lives for their inheritance.

I always like when a romantic novel has a bit of suspense thrown in - it just makes the novel feel like it has more of a story to it. This novel had a good amount of suspense that kept the story moving when it could have really slowed down.

As for the romance part of the story, I liked it, especially the fact that Amelia was the one proposing to Graham in the first place! I would have liked for the two of them to have spent a bit more time together, though. The were connected to each other through Lucy, which is a good start for a romance, since they both love Lucy and want to protect her. I just wasn't quite convinced that their romantic notions had a lot of room to grow throughout the novel. It seemed to come out of nowhere closer to the end.

While Amelia and Graham were definitely likable characters, I also appreciated that the "unlikable" characters in this novel were not over-the-top. The villains were definitely 'bad guys,' but they were not so cartoonish that you didn't believe them.

The spiritual aspect of this story was pretty good as well. I liked how the characters grew in their faith over the course of the novel. I would have liked, however, for there to be more mentions of Christ as the way to faith in God.

This is a great start to a new series by this author, and I look forward to continuing with Helena's story in the next novel.

I will give The Heiress of Winterwood ... 3 ½ BookWorms.


See what other reviewers are saying here.
About the Contest:

Sarah Ladd is celebrating the release of The Heiress of Winterwood with a Downton Abbey Kindle Prize Pack Giveaway!
 One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Downton Abbey, seasons 1-3
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 30th. Winner will be announced on 5/2/13 {HERE}.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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."

Friday, April 19, 2013

"The Winnowing Season"

The Winnowing Season

The latest book from Cindy Woodsmall!


Book Two in the Amish Vines and Orchards Series

The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them?

On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.

Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally.

Book 2 of the Amish Vines and Orchards series asks: can the three faithfully follow God’s leading and build a new home and orchard in Maine? Or will this new beginning lead to more ruin and heartbreak?


I haven't started this series by Cindy Woodsmall yet, but I have enjoyed some of her other books. You can read my reviews of the ones I have read by clicking on the links below:

The Harvest of Grace
The Christmas Singing
When the Heart Cries
When the Morning Comes
When the Soul Mends

And you can read the first chapter of The Winnowing Season below!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Secretly Smitten" Review

Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?

Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

Check out the websites of these four authors below!

Colleen Coble -

Kristin Billerbeck -

Diann Hunt -

Denise Hunter -

These authors also have a blog together at -

My Take:

In Secretly Smitten, each author tells the story of one of the women in the Thomas family. The small resort town of Smitten, Vermont, is the setting for each of these tales, and it was fun to revisit this quaint town. (You can read my review of Smitten here).

I thought Smitten was a fun read, and Secretly Smitten was the same. The authors’ writing styles are similar enough that each story flowed into the next one, which made for a smooth and easy read. Each character had her own insecurities to work through, and this was done well, especially considering that this had to basically be done within a novella.

Colleen Coble’s story was my favorite, but this is probably just because I am used to her style of writing, since I have read many of her other books. I also felt more connected with her characters for reasons that I can’t seem to put my finger on.

The mystery aspect to this novel is told well throughout all of the stories, but these stories are mostly based on the romance. As I said in my review of Smitten, this novel was a little bit too perfect and syrupy-sweet at times, but it was a nice diversion from some of the overly emotional and more drama-filled books I’ve been reading lately. And I always like a little mystery added to any story!

Secretly Smitten is a collection of fun, easy-to-read romantic stories with a little bit of mystery woven in.

I will give Secretly Smitten … 3 ½ BookWorms.

Secretly Smitten
by: Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, & Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson Publishers
400 pages
Release date: January 8, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson. 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, April 17, 2013

"Dandelions on the Wind" Review

When Maren Jensen arrived in America as a mail-order bride, she never expected to find herself alone, with failing eyesight, and without a way back to her home country of Denmark. As the Civil War comes to an end, Maren finds her way to the Brantenberg farm outside Saint Charles, Missouri, where Mrs. Bratenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, quickly take Maren into their home and their hearts.

Rutherford “Woolly” Wainwright regrets the years he spent away from his daughter and his home, partly due to the war, but mostly due to his own inability to deal with the death of his beloved wife. Upon his return to Saint Charles, Rutherford discovers just how difficult it might be to reconnect with the mother-in-law and daughter he has been away from for so long. He also wasn’t prepared to come face-to-face with another facet of his life in the person of Maren Jensen – the possibility of love.

Dandelions on the Wind is the first novella in a series of three by Mona Hodson. “The Quilted Heart” series of novellas is leading up to the launch of Ms. Hodson’s next series, “Hearts Seeking Home,” coming this summer.

Novellas are not always my favorite to read because you usually don’t get to know or care about the characters very well and things normally move too quickly. In this novella, though, I did feel as if I was able to get to know at least the main characters well, even at the beginning. I cared about them almost immediately, and I sympathized with Marin and her failing eyesight. When the author wrote from Marin’s point of view, she really put you in the position of someone who is battling the loss of her sight. Rutherford’s character was not as sympathetic at the beginning, but as I kept reading, I realized that he was flawed, just as we all are. He had made mistakes that he now regretted and was trying to move past them in faith. I also appreciated how both Maren and Rutherford, when presented with difficult circumstances, turned to the Bible for comfort and help.

While I thought this novella was great in the main character development part, the romance part of it moved way too quickly. I realize that this is just going to be a fact of life for a novella – you only have so many pages, after all. But the time for Marin and Rutherford to fall in love was so very fast. I guess I’ll just chalk that one up to page count, circumstances, and the historical time period.

I think one reason that I don’t always enjoy novellas is because they seem to just skim the surface. I actually would have enjoyed a full-length novel with these characters and circumstances!

The historical setting of this novel was very interesting to me. Saint Charles seems like a fascinating city, especially since it was the starting off point for so many wagon trains that traveled west. I also liked the concept of the quilting circle. It was encouraging to see how these women had stuck by each other during the hard time of the Civil War, which had just recently ended. However, I thought the quilting circle aspect wasn’t quite fleshed out enough. There was only one scene that I remember that actually took place during the quilting circle time. The rest of the time it was only mentioned in passing.

Overall, I enjoyed this first offering of three novellas in “The Quilted Heart” series. It was a touching story, and I look forward to reading Emilie’s story in the next one.

I will give Dandelions on the Wind ... 3½ BookWorms.

Dandelions on the Wind
by Mona Hodgson
"The Quilted Heart" Novella Series #1
WaterBrook Press
111 pages
Release date: February 19, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press. 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, April 12, 2013

"Unrivaled" Review

Lucy Kendall always dreamed of helping her father in the family’s candy-making business. She and her father both have a passion for creating recipes for candy that are beyond compare. When Lucy returns to St. Louis in the fall of 1910 after a year-long tour of Europe, she discovers that her father has been struggling with his health and that her mother plans to sell the company. Against the advice of her mother and without her father’s knowledge, Lucy sets out to make the best candy St. Louis has ever tasted.
After discovering that her son has been involved in some questionable business practices, Charlie Clarke’s mother sends him to St. Louis to work for the father who abandoned him years before. Upon arriving and discovering that his father is king of the candy industry, Charlie must navigate the baffling world of the St. Louis elite. It doesn’t help that the girl who has caught his eye is the daughter of his father’s rival.
As the competition intensifies, Lucy and Charlie’s attraction to each other deepens as well. Are they willing to risk everything for the dream of being the best?
To begin with, it took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that the ‘candy war’ presented in this book was such a big deal. To me it seemed trivial. I had to remind myself that candy during this time period was somewhat of a luxury – one that was becoming more and more a part of the popular culture – and that big companies and advertising was coming into its own. It actually sort of reminded me of the Coke/Pepsi wars of the 1980s, except on a smaller scale.
The events that occurred in this novel, however, sometimes seemed as silly as those cola wars so many years ago. At times I grew weary of Lucy’s immaturity as she tried anything and everything in order to save the business. What was supposed to be portrayed as passion came off as desperation. This made for good story-telling and plot movement, but as far as personal growth, I felt it was a bit weak. It seemed as if Lucy ultimately recognized that she needed to put her complete faith in God, but I would have liked for that area of the novel to have been explored more throughout instead of just at the end. Charlie’s growth over the course of the novel was a bit better. His inner struggles felt more realistic, and his actions were a bit more understandable.
As for the romance between Lucy and Charlie, it was nice and sweet (I had to throw that in there somewhere…), and that was about it. The progression of that part of the story was somewhat disjointed, but it was enjoyable.
In this novel, the reader is given both sides of the story (Lucy’s and Charlie’s) but each side is written in first person. At first I thought that this would be really confusing, but the author was somehow able to keep each voice distinct so that I never got confused. The writing is sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, which is always fun.
The historical aspect of this story was spot on. It was fun to fall into the world of candy making and to see inside a candy factory in the early part of the 20th Century. It was really interesting to see just how much time and effort and thought went into developing just one kind of candy.
Even though I felt the spiritual aspects of this novel didn’t quite go deep enough and that the romance was somewhat shallow, it was still a fun read. I actually kind of felt like I needed a break from some of the heavier stuff that I have been reading lately, so this book came at just the right time for me.
Unrivaled is a light historical romance that takes the world of sweet treats to a whole new level.
I will give Unrivaled … 3 BookWorms.


by Siri Mitchell
Bethany House Publishers
Release date: March 1, 2013

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, April 8, 2013

"The Gospel-Centered Woman" Blog Tour

The Gospel-Centered Woman: 
Understanding Biblical Womanhood through the Lens of the Gospel
by: Wendy Alsup
About the Study:
Many Christian books written to women claim to present God's good instructions for their lives. Some expound on the value of marriage and children. Many extol the virtues of the Proverbs 31 wife. A good number teach the value of love, submission, and respect in Christian marriages. Though this book deals with these topics, The Gospel-Centered Woman addresses women from an entirely different perspective. The most important part of the Bible's instructions to women center around the gospel. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection brought about a seismic shift in our understanding of Scripture. After His resurrection, His disciples understood words written thousands of years before with a clarity they never had previously. The good news of Christ illuminates all other Scripture, including instructions to women. 
Link to buy the book:      
About the Author:
Wendy Alsup is a wife, mom, and math teacher. She is the author of "Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives" and "By His Wounds You are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman's Identity". 
Find out more about Wendy at 

My Take:
From the moment I started reading the introduction to this study, I knew that I was going to like this book. The writing was easy to read and seemed to come straight from the heart of the author. It also met me right where I was - and this was only the intro.
As I kept reading, I enjoyed it more and more. I didn't read it every day, but the days I did found me digging deeper into my Bible than I have in quite a while.
One thing that I liked so much about this study was that it was so refreshing. I have read many devotional or study books that are written for women. Many are good, but sometimes I would feel that there was something missing from them. At times I would almost feel worse when I finished the book (I felt as if there was no way to live up to the expectations presented, i.e. - the Proverbs 31 wife) instead of encouraged.
After reading this book, I realize that what was missing was the Gospel. Now, I am not saying that previous books I have read completely left out the Gospel, but many of them did maybe gloss over it more than they should have. While this book points out that the Proverbs 31 wife is a great example from the Bible, she should not be the ideal - Christ is. My identity does not revolve around how well my life as a wife and mother measures up to her example - my identity is found in Christ alone and what He did for me. How freeing!
Of course this identity in Christ does not mean that we as women should just sit around and do nothing since it's all been done. Rather, we are free to live the lives Christ has for us. I am encouraged to try to get out of the habit of "trying to do everything right" (which is usually dictated by influences other than the Bible) and instead experience the freedom and joy of living my life for Christ.
Another thing that I liked about this book was that it was written very intelligently. There were so many things to think through, and each point was backed up by Scripture.
The only issue I had with this study was that the discussion questions for each chapter are at the end of the book. This is just a preference, but it would have been easier to answer them if they had been placed at the end of each corresponding chapter.
I am debating between a 4½ and a 5 BookWorm rating for this one. I'm going to give this book another read in a few months and come back and update my rating then.
To see what other reviewers are saying, click here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author 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."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Fix-It & Forget-It" Holiday Cookbooks

Fix-It and Forget-It Holiday Appetizers, Finger Foods, and Beverages

Fifty scrumptious and savory slow-cooker recipes for the holiday season

Present your friends and family with a holiday meal they’ll never forget using these time-tested, easy-to-manage recipes for appetizers, snacks, and beverages. Including tips for putting together a flawless feast, this collection of recipes—drawn from the Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook—features delicious treats and drinks such as:
  • Creamy Artichoke Dip·     
  • Cranberry Meatballs·     
  • Caramel Peanut Butter Dip·     
  • Orange Cider Punch
  • And much more!

Fix-It and Forget-It Holiday Main Dishes and Sides
Fifty delicious and practical slow-cooker recipes for an unforgettable holiday feast


Preparing the perfect holiday meal for loved ones can be stressful, but these delectable slow-cooker main dishes and sides will make it easier than ever. Culled from the Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook,these recipes—ranging from elegant entrĂ©es to comfort food—include memorable dishes such as:
  • Winter Pork Loin·     
  • Creamy Lasagna·     
  • Turkey Fajitas·     
  • Barbequed Black Beans with Sweet Potatoes
Complete with ten tips to help manage everything from gift-giving and decorating to neighborhood caroling, this collection is a must-have for any holiday season.
Fix-It and Forget-It Holiday Sweets and Desserts
Fifty delectable desserts to complete the perfect holiday meal, all easily made in your slow cooker

From Apple Cranberry Compote to Chocolate Pudding Cake, the tasty treats in this holiday cookbook—drawn from the Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook­—include sauces, puddings, cakes, brownies, and more. All have one thing in common: They can be prepared in the slow cooker, saving valuable oven space. In this delicious recipe collection you’ll find temptations such as:
  • Eggnog Gingersnap Custard·     
  • Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Pie·     
  • Graham Cracker Cookies·     
  • Seven Layer Bars
Complemented by hosting ideas and tips on how to make the most of your slow cooker, Fix-It and Forget-It Holiday Sweets and Desserts is guaranteed to be both useful and satisfying.    
  • Publisher: Good Books (October 30, 2012)

  • My Take:

    I absolutely love to use my slow cooker. I even use it to just cook chicken to shred and use in other recipes.

    Winter, summer - it doesn't matter what time of year - the slow cooker is an easy way to make a home-cooked meal.

    It can be especially useful for cooking during the holidays, and this is where these Fix-It and Forget-It cookbooks come in handy.

    I realize that these cookbooks are focused on the winter holiday season, but I got a bit behind on some of my reviews. So I'm sharing my review now. Since I use my slow cooker all the time, then it doesn't really matter anyway. And my husband would celebrate Christmas every day if he could! J

    I haven't had the opportunity to make all of the recipes in these books, but the ones we did make were good. We especially enjoyed the sweets and desserts book. We often forget to use the slow cooker for desserts, too! My husband really liked the Easy Chocolate Clusters and the Cherry Cobbler (though we used peaches!)

    There were a couple of places where the formatting of the ebook was not great and we could not tell what some of the measurements were, but these were few and far between.

    I will give these Fix-It and Forget-It cookbooks ... 3½ BookWorms.


    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Good Books. 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."