Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tara Randel's Rival Hearts ~ Reviewed

Rival Hearts (Quilts Of Love) [Paperback]
By Tara Randel (Author)
Release Date Apr 1, 2014
Publisher Abingdon Press
Series Quilts Of Love
ISBN 1426773463

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of "Quilter s Heart," and Ben, editor of "Outdoor Adventures," must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he-said, she-said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?"


Rival Hearts is about Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver.  They both work as magazine editors for the same publishing group, Molly being editor for a magazine called Quilter’s Heart and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures. When they both come of up for the same promotion, they are surprised at the proposition their boss comes up with for choosing the “winner:” they are to switch roles for one month and submit an article when they are finished.  Ben must take up quilting, and Molly has to take up kayaking.  While they are both annoyed with each other at first, not surprisingly, they begin to feel an attraction for each other, and even begin to help each other out.  
This was a fun book.  I liked the idea the boss had of having them switch roles and taking them out of their comfort zone, though I would hate being in either of their shoes.  But it’s fun to see other characters go through it! Molly’s character development was a lot of fun to watch.  She reminds me a lot of me.  Once you get in your comfort zone, it’s nice to just stay there.  And being forced out of it is VERY uncomfortable.  But she was an encouragement to me.  This was a fun book!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travis Thrasher's Marvelous ~ Reviewed

Marvelous: A Novel [Paperback]
By Travis Thrasher (Author)
Pages 331
Binding Softcover
Release Date Apr 1, 2014
Publisher Tyndale House Publishers
Series Books Of Marvella
Series Number 1
ISBN 1612916236


Brandon Jeffery's summer started out with a bang--as in, a friend crashed his car and now he has to work two jobs to pay it off. It's at Fascination Street Records that he's introduced to a beautiful but quiet girl named Marvel. She's new to Hidden Cove and looking for a summer job, so Brandon secretly strikes a deal with their boss to work for free so she can be hired.When a classmate is found murdered, however, their summer takes a turn for the mysterious. Brandon's friend Devon is sure he knows just who's to blame: the creepy recluse of the town quarry. But the police have few leads, and Brandon has the sneaking suspicion he's being watched.That's not what's in the forefront of on his mind, though. More than trying to pay off his car to his unemployed, alcoholic father and protecting Seth Belcher from the school bullies, he's determined to date Marvel. He doesn't understand why they seem so close and she refuses to date him, but as the mystery behind her tragic past begins to unravel, Marvel finally confesses her reason: God has revealed she's destined to die saving others--and it's going to be soon.


I meant to give this book to Travis Thrasher's Number One Fan, Michelle Griep, when she recently came for a visit. 

But, instead, I cracked the cover. And then I couldn't stop reading the book. Sorry Michelle, catch ya later. 

Thrasher creates complex, living breathing characters and puts them in some pretty sticky situations. Brandon, the summer before his senior year, is working two jobs to repair/replace the car his friend borrowed and crashed. Marvella is a new, funky girl in town.

The two of them meet at the quirky record store where both need a job. Brandon had already snagged it, but inspired by instant attraction for Marvella, he interviews her and offers her the job. Brandon then has two jobs but only gets paid for one. But he receives another form of payment, time with Marvel and her friendship. And if the story was just that it'd be sweet and adorable, the end.

But that's not the story line. 

Marvel is loaded with dark and twisty secrets that will rock Brandon's world as she shares them as their friendship grows. Brandon has a shameful secret of his own. And unsettling things are happening all around them.  A former classmate is found in the river and it's not an accidental drowning, is there a serial killer living in their small town? Then Brandon ends up on half the football team's whuppin list when he stands up to a gang of bullies. Marvel finally reveals a piece of the puzzle to Brandon, that she is destined to save people and that destiny is galloping toward them. 

Whew. This is a page turner. It could be too intense for younger teens because of the subject matter. However, those who love nitty gritty fiction should adore this one. The writing is tight enough to bounce a quarter off and Thrasher has come up with a page turner. I was so disappointed when Marvelous ended because I now have to wait for the other shoe to drop. Or shoes, there are four books in the series. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jennifer Hudson Taylor's For Love or Country ~ Reviewed

For Love Or Country (MacGregor Legacy V2)
By Jennifer Hudson Taylor (Author)
Binding Softcover
Release Date Jun 1, 2014
Publisher Abingdon Press
Series MacGregor Legacy
Series Number 2
ISBN 1426733852

DescriptionAt the height of the Revolutionary War, Tyra MacGregor is successful at thwarting the British Army with her colonial spy efforts. But her sleuthing ways come to a screeching halt when Captain Donahue Hugh Morgan puts her under house arrest.

Hugh is intrigued by this courageous spy the natives call War Woman. She s more daring than most men and is intelligent in defending her convictions. Even more impressive to Hugh is the strength of Tyra s unshakeable faith in God.

When Tyra saves his life during an attack, Hugh vows to return the favor. Before he can intervene, however, she is caught by his superior officer and imprisoned. Soon Hugh s honor, faith, country, and love are all on the line. Can he risk it all to gain everything?


For Love Our Country takes place at the height of the Revolutionary War.  Tyra MacGregor’s Father and brothers are colonists, fighting for their freedom.  While they are away, she is secretly working as a spy for the colonists, hoping to thwart the British Army.  In the meantime, her Native American friends and protectors capture and would a British soldier, Captain Hugh Morgan, who is trespassing on MacGregor land, and bring him to her home.  The family does their Christian duty in tending him.  In the meantime, he gets assigned to their home to keep watch over them. Not surprisingly, the two develop an attraction for each other. However, as the war intensifies, and the British become more suspicious of Tyra, both Hugh and Tyra must choose between their love for their country and their growing love for each other.
This was a great book!  I don’t believe I’ve read many books that take place during the Revolutionary War and I really enjoyed it.  I enjoyed Tyra’s character a lot.  She was strong and willing to do physically whatever it took to protect herself and her family, yet she put her trust in the Lord as well.  I would highly recommend this book!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Anne Clinard Barnhill's Queen Elizabeth's Daughter ~ Reviewed

ISBN: 0312662122


From the author of At the Mercy of the Queen comes the gripping tale of Mary Shelton, Elizabeth I’s young cousin and ward, set against the glittering backdrop of the Elizabethan court.

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.


This is a fantastic read as a history lesson. And yes, the title is super intriguing because Elizabeth never had a you'll have to delve into this to figure out why they credit her with one.

The story, however, is pretty predictable. Sometimes that's a death knell, as in my case, but many readers don't mind it, and in fact, like to know where the tale is headed. Such is the case in this novel.

One big heads up...the bedroom door is left open several times. If you don't like premarital sex in a book, then you probably don't want to pick this one up.

Other than those two bugaboos, I loved the fancy dresses and castle life.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jolina Petersheim's The Midwife ~ Reviewed

Jolina Petersheim
Binding Softcover
Release Date May 1, 2014
Publisher Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN 1414379358
Pages 383


Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she's been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents' decision to end the pregnancy--and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia's due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.


The Midwife is the story of Rhoda Mummau.  She was baptized into the Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen House, dedicated to helping young women who are pregnant and don’t know where to go.  She finds herself torn between keeping Hopen House as it is and using it to hide from her past, and getting help from the “outside world” to make improvements to help the young women that come. We also learn about Beth Winslow, a graduate student who is still grieving after giving up a baby for adoption.  In her grief, she agrees to help her professor by becoming a surrogate for him and his wife.  In the process, she finds herself falling in love with this baby, while the parent’s decide to terminate the pregnancy due to the change of the baby being abnormal.  Beth panics and runs away to Hopen Haus, hoping to find the refuge she’s looking for.  As we read, we find Rhoda and Beth’s lives coming together in a series of unusual circumstances. 
This was a WONDERFUL book!  I loved how it kept taking twists and turns, and you didn’t always know what was going to happen.  I had a really hard time putting it down!  I highly recommend this book.  It was WONDERFUL!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jocelyn Green's Yankee in Atlanta ~ Reviewed

Jocelyn Green
Pages 320 
Binding Softcover 
Release Date Jul 1, 2014
Publisher Moody Publishing
Series Heroines Behind The Lines
Series Number 3
ISBN 0802405789


When soldier Caitlin McKae woke up in Atlanta after being wounded in battle, the Georgian doctor who treated her believed Caitlin's only secret was that she had been fighting for the Confederacy disguised as a man. In order to avoid arrest or worse, Caitlin hides her true identity and makes a new life for herself in Atlanta.
Trained as a teacher, she accepts a job as a governess to the daughter of Noah Becker, a German immigrant lawyer, who is about to enlist with the Rebel army. Then in the spring of 1864, Sherman's troops edge closer to Atlanta. Caitlin tries to escape north with the girl, but is arrested on charges of being a spy. Will honor dictate that Caitlin follow the rules, or love demand that she break them?


Yankee In Atlanta is Book 3 in the “Heroines Behind the Lines, Civil War” series.  This book follows Caitlin McKae.  She disguises herself as a man and enlist in the Union Army, only to end up fighting with the Confederate Army as a spy.  After being wounded, she wakes up in an Atlanta hospital, and her secret is out.  Unable to go back home to the North due to the war, she becomes a teacher in Atlanta.  When the school closes due to the war, she finds herself a job as a governess for a fellow teacher, Noah Becker, when he decides to enlist to fight for his home.  Caitlin quickly falls in love with his little girl, Ana, and, surprisingly enough, begins to care for Noah, even though he’s away….and the feelings are mutual.  In the meantime, we also learn more about Ruby O’Flannery, whom we were introduced to in book 2.  She has a job as a domestic, but begins to care for a young clergyman, Edward.  The feelings are mutual, however, Ruby is haunted by her past, even though she now knows Jesus and knows her sins have been washed away.      
I was so excited to get this book.  I loved the other two in this series and was not disappointed.  I loved how it tied in the characters from book 2, and even brought in a bit about the characters in book 1.  I had a hard time putting it down.  I really admired Caitlin’s character.  She went through so much, yet stayed strong.  And watching Ruby and Edward’s relationship grow was bittersweet as well.  This was a WONDERFUL book.  You won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith ~ Reviewed

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith
By Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Crown & Covenant Publications
ISBN B0097G05F8


Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department's curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down-the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a "train wreck" at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could.


First off, I'm not usually a non-fiction reader. Oh, I slog through several a year because "they're good for you." Whatever. This one, however, didn't take much slogging because it reads more like a story.

Probably because it is.

The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert reads like a piece of fiction because it is the story of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield's life. She is a highly intellectual woman with the skill of breaking down lofty thoughts into words that the average Joe can understand (no offense to any Joseph's out there). Coming from a lesbian background, she tells about her conversion to Christianity. It's quite the life changing event.

She offers insight on many topics besides homosexuality, such as worship, homeschooling, and adoption. If you're looking for a fresh perspective on these issues, give this book a whirl.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep