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Book Review: Driftwood Bay

19 Apr

After tragedy upends her world, Jeannette Mason retreats to the tiny Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor to create a new life. Vowing to avoid emotional attachments, she focuses on running her lavender farm and tea-room — until a new neighbor with a destructive dog and a forlorn little girl invades her turf. But she needn’t worry. Dr. Logan West is too busy coping with an unexpected family, a radical lifestyle change, and an unruly pup to have any interest in his aloof and disagreeable neighbor.

Yet when both Jeanette and Logan find themselves pulled into the life of a tattered Christian family fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria, might they discover that love sometimes comes calling when it’s least expected?

 

Irene Hannon is the best-selling author of more than 35 novels. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Reviewer’s Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine and the Daphne du Maurier Award for mystery/suspense. Irene and her husband make their home in Missouri, USA. Irene invites you to visit her at her website, http://www.irenehannon.com.

 

My Impressions:

Driftwood Bay, the 5th book in Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor series, brings the reader back to the small Oregon town with a big heart. I absolutely love the seaside setting with its sea stacks, quaint harbor town,  and lavender and cranberry farms. The people are special too. Each book in the series focuses on a different couple in the town, but there are a number of recurring characters that add more than extras for the stories. They add heart and soul. Romance and real life issues combine to make this series and Driftwood Bay winners. Recommended.

Driftwood Bay has two story lines that intersect. In each, the characters are dealing with loss, displacement, and grief. I really liked how Hannon explored the varying ways the characters dealt with their circumstances. Some, like Mariam Shabo hold fast to their faith, trusting God for His promises. Others, like Jeanette and Thomma retreat — from the world or their own family. Hannon’s inclusion of the struggles of the two young girls brought a deeper dimension as well. The varying reactions were very real and relatable. At the heart, though, was fear — of further loss and rejection. Hannon’s small town is a great vehicle for exploring how people of faith can reach out to others. The whole town gets involved. I loved that! Love is very much at the forefront of the story, in the depiction of love for others and the sweet romance that builds between main characters Logan and Jeanette. And for fans of the romance genre, you are going to love this one.

Driftwood Bay is a great addition to a wonderful series. It can be read as a standalone, but don’t do it! LOL! Begin at the beginning. And with 5 in the series already published you are in for a real binge-reading treat. I am excited that there will be more to come. Can’t wait!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review (+Giveaway!): The Governess of Penwythe Hall

18 Apr

About The Book

Book: The Governess of Penwythe Hall

Author: Sarah Ladd

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: April 16, 2019

In the first of a new series from beloved Regency romance author, Sarah Ladd, Delia, a governess to five recently orphaned children, would risk anything to protect them . . . even her heart.

Cornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

 

Click here to purchase your copy.

 

About The Author

SONY DSC

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing family and spunky golden retriever. Visit her online at SarahLadd.com; Facebook: SarahLaddAuthor; Twitter: @SarahLaddAuthor.

 

 

More About The Governess of Penwythe Hall

5 things to know about Cornwall, England:

  1. Throughout its early history, Cornwall’s inhabitants called the country Kernow.
  2. Early inhabitants largely spoke their own language known as “Cornish,” which became nearly extinct in the 1800s.
  3. The country has a long and rugged coastline and there were frequent shipwrecks.
  4. Fishing was a major industry, with herring, mackerel, and sardines being common catches.
  5. In 1870, novelist and poet Thomas Hardy called Cornwall “the region of dream and mystery.”

 

Imagine yourself in The Governess of Penwythe Hall with these pictures of 19th Century life in Cornwall

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/gallery/2016/may/19/everyday-life-in-cornwall-captured-in-the-19th-century-in-pictures

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/cornish_nation_01.shtml

https://www.maritimeheritage.org/ports/Cornwall.html

http://www.cornwallgoodseafoodguide.org.uk/cornish-fishing/history-of-the-cornish-fishing-industry.php

 

My Impressions:

I was immediately swept up in Sarah E. Ladd’s latest Regency-era romance, The Governess of Penwythe Hall. Ladd has long been a favorite of mine with her beautifully written tales of love and intrigue set in England of the early 1800s, but I think this book has got to be my all-time favorite. Why? I loved the caring young governess who fights fear to protect those she loves. Cordelia Delia Greythorne has lost so much, yet remains steadfast in her faith and loyal to her young charges. She is more than just a governess to the five Twethewey orphans. I also loved hunky hero, Jac Twethewey! He opens his home and his heart in ways that made him a true savior of his nieces and nephews. The wild Cornish coast and its environs as described by Ladd captured my imagination. The sea breezes and crashing waves, and the secretive smuggling that set it apart were vividly portrayed. The setting and storyline could have been enough for a good historical romance, but Ladd adds a faith thread that is relevant to modern readers. The destructive nature of fear and the triumph of faith are explored in The Governess of Penwythe Hall. One minor character had a great impact on main character Delia (and this reader) when she stated Faith is why I don’t fear tomorrow or the next day. I read that line at just the right time. Isn’t it cool how that works out! God’s sovereignty in the midst of the unknown was also a strong theme in the novel. The novel was very fast-paced, and at the end I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough as the main characters faced danger with stalwart hearts.

For adventure, intrigue, history, and, of course, romance, The Governess of Penwythe Hall cannot be beat! Add a timely and timeless inspirational message, and this novel is a real winner!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, April 11

LifeofLiterature, April 11

Moments, April 11

Genesis 5020, April 11

Maureen’s Musings, April 12

The Power of Words, April 12

Mary Hake, April 12

To Everything A Season, April 12

KarenSueHadley, April 13

EmpowerMoms, April 13

For the Love of Literature, April 13

Inklings and notions, April 13

The Avid Reader, April 14

Blogging With Carol, April 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, April 14

Rachel’s Back Talk, April 15

Wishful Endings, April 15

Simple Harvest Reads, April 15 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Kat’s Corner Books, April 16

All-of-a-kind Mom, April 16

Daysong Reflections, April 16

The Becca Files, April 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 17

Blossoms and Blessings, April 17

Remembrancy, April 17

Worthy2Read, April 18

By The Book, April 18

Texas Book-aholic, April 18

Just the Write Escape, April 19

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, April 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 19

Babbling Becky’s Book Impressions, April 20

Tell Tale Book Reviews, April 20

For HIm and My Family, April 20

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 21

Inspiration Clothesline, April 21

Pause for Tales, April 21

Through the Fire Blogs, April 22

Bigreadersite, April 22

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, April 22

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, April 22

Inspired by fiction, April 23

A Reader’s Brain, April 23

Hallie Reads, April 23

Henry Happens, April 24

Connect in Fiction, April 24

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, April 24

janicesbookreviews, April 24

Giveaway

 

To celebrate her tour, Sarah is giving away a grand prize of a finished paperback copy of The Governess of Penwythe Hall!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/de80/the-governess-of-penwythe-hall-celebration-tour-giveaway

Children’s Corner — Gracefull

17 Apr

Hope and Anna love seeing each other at church. When a Sunday grace offering is collected to help lift up Anna’s homeless family, Hope begins to ask questions and has a unique opportunity to learn what grace looks like, both for her and for Anna’s immigrant family. This touching story teaches children that God showers grace that is meant to be shared—allowing us all to be GraceFull!

In this follow up to her first two books, ColorFull and ThoughtFull, Dorena Williamson opens a dialogue on the tough subjects of poverty and homelessness and offers children encouragement to show God’s grace and love to others whose home life or homeland might look very different than their own.

To purchase, click HERE.

Dorena Williamson is a bridge buider, speaker, writer, and worship leader who knows the power and beauty of racial awareness. She and her husband, Dr. Chris Williamson, planted Strong Tower Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and have spent more than twenty years ministering to its richly diverse faith community. Dorena and Chris have four children.

 

My Impressions:

Grace — unmerited favor that God showers down on His people. That grace is the foundation of Dorena Williamson’s book Gracefull, a colorful storybook for kids ages 4-8. In the book, Hope gets a glimpse at the very different life her friend’s family faces. Homeless and needing a big help up, Anna and her family are sheltering at Chen House. I loved that the two girls in the story are seen as peers, not one that has more and one who has less. The storyline revolves around helping others as a response to the grace that God has shared with us. The subtitle, Growing A Heart That Cares for Our Neighbors, summarizes what the book is all about. Williamson tells her story in a natural way allowing kids to see that there are others out their who need our help. The illustrations are bright and bold, and include a diverse group of people. The message is simple, but this book will springboard into deeper conversations. To help guide parents, a scripture passage reinforcing the message and discussion questions to make little ones (and their parents 😉 ) think are include. Gracefull makes a great addition to any home library.

Recommended.

Audience: kids ages 4-8 and their family

(Thanks to B&H Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Audiobook Mini-Review: In The Shadow of Denali

17 Apr

Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel outside Mt. McKinley. While John will be expedition and wilderness exploration guide for the wealthy tourists, Cassidy has signed on as a cook’s assistant. Both are busy as the hotel prepares to welcome the president of the United States on his way to drive in the golden spike to officially complete the railroad.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice of a seasoned Alaska mountain guide. Ever since his father’s death climbing Mt. McKinley, he’s worked to earn enough money to make the trek to the Alaska territory himself. His father’s partner blames their guide for the death of his father, but Allan wants to find the truth for himself. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

Tracie Peterson is a bestselling author who writes in both historical and contemporary genres. Her novels reveal her love for research as well as her strong desire to develop emotionally meaningful characters and stories for her readers. Tracie and her family live in Montana.

Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. A popular speaker, she’s shared at more than 2,000 venues across the country. Kimberley and her family’s story have garnered national media attention for many years including ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Montel Williams Show, Discovery Health channel’s Mystery ER, The Hour of Power, The Harvest Show, and over 1,000 other TV appearances and radio interviews. She lives and writes in Colorado with her husband of twenty-five years and their two amazing kids.

Find Kim on twitter and facebook:
twitter.com/kimwoodhouse
author fan page Kimberley Woodhouse

 

My Impressions:

Continuing my quest to learn more about Alaska through fiction, I listened to the audiobook edition of  In The Shadow of Denali, the first book in the Heart of Alaska series by Tracie Peterson and Kimberely Woodhouse. I really enjoyed the journey back to the early 1920s when the railroad leading to the new national park was completed. Denali had been renamed Mt. McKinley, and experienced and not-so-experienced outdoorsmen were flocking to see the wonders of the Alaskan wilderness. I loved this glimpse into the history surrounding Denali. I found the historical details interesting, while the adventure and intrigue kept me saying just one chapter more. The descriptions of the beauty of the area has heightened my anticipation to see Alaska for myself. There is also a wonderful romance for fans of the genre. Peterson and Woodhouse weave a faith thread throughout the book that focuses on the reliability of Christ to care and provide, even in the hard times. Main character Cassidy Ivanoff is the catalyst for many of the characters to discover or grow in their faith. Cassidy’s faith is also tested in ways that felt very natural. The book’s plot line is resolved, making it a standalone, but I am eager to return to Denali to see just what awaits some of the other characters that were introduced in book 1.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Mini-Review: Far From Here

15 Apr

How long do you hold on to hope? 

Danica Greene has always hated flying, so it was almost laughable that the boy of her dreams was a pilot. She married him anyway and together, she and Etsell settled into a life where love really did seem to conquer all. Danica is firmly rooted on the ground in Blackhawk, the small town in northern Iowa where they grew up, and the wide slashes of sky that stretch endlessly across the prairie seem more than enough for Etsell.  But when the opportunity to spend three weeks in Alaska helping a pilot friend presents itself, Etsell accepts and their idyllic world is turned upside down. It’s his dream, he reveals, and Danica knows that she can’t stand in the way. Ell is on his last flight before heading home when his plane mysteriously vanishes shortly after takeoff, leaving Danica in a free fall. Etsell is gone, but what exactly does gone mean? Is she a widow? An abandoned wife? Or will Etsell find his way home to her? Danica is forced to search for the truth in her marriage and treks to Alaska to grapple with the unanswerable questions about her husband’s mysterious disappearance. But when she learns that Ell wasn’t flying alone and that a woman is missing, too, the bits and pieces of the careful life that she had constructed for them in Iowa take to the wind. A story of love and loss, and ultimately starting over, Far From Hereexplores the dynamics of intimacy and the potentially devastating consequences of the little white lies we tell the ones we love.

Nicole Baart is the mother of five children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. Her books have been featured in Southern Living, Country Woman, Book Page, Glam, Brit & Co., and on Yahoo Lifestyle, and her latest release, Little Broken Things, was a People Magazine Editor’s Pick. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.

 

My Impressions:

I am going to Alaska in a few months, so I’m listening to audiobooks that are set in Alaska. Kind of trying to immerse myself in the culture and setting before I get there. I’m also trying to read varying genres to get a wide variety of viewpoints and experiences. So, I found Far From Here by Nicole Baart, a women’s fiction novel which is partially set in Alaska. Let me first say this is not an Alaska novel. A few scenes are set in that state, but the majority of the novel takes place in the main character’s small Iowa town. Alaska is a big symbol, though, for Danica Greene the young woman who is at the center of Far From Here. It is the place where her hopes and dreams of the future vanish. This novel is labeled as Christian fiction (its publisher is a Christian imprint), but it is far different from the traditional offerings found in CF. This novel is edgy, to say the least. The characters’ lives are really messy. They drink, swear, and sleep around (albeit off the page). And while the center of the novel is the disappearance of Danica’s husband, the novel is really about the lies, half-truths, and deceptions we tell others and ourselves. I really liked this book. It was not an easy read — for most of the book despair and depression dominate. But the hope found in the end was well worth all the angst along the way. This book made me think; it would be a great book club selection. Far From Here is told in the first person recollections of Danica and in an objective third person voice. This style allowed the reader to get in the head of the main character, while at the same time understand all that was actually going on. The audiobook employed two readers to great effect.

As I stated, I liked this book. Would I recommend it? Yes, but with a caveat for those who just don’t want to read a book with adult language and situations.

Recommended (with a warning for language and adult situations.)

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchase the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Children’s Corner — Easter Is Coming!

11 Apr

Mommy and her little ones are settling in for story time, and this time it’s the biblical story of Easter that she’s telling. As the youngsters hear God’s tale unfold with its sometimes somber notes about sin and death, they are softly and continually reminded, “But Easter is coming!” By the end of the book, the anticipation has built and the children can celebrate the ending and the glory of Easter Sunday.
 
In a time when children’s Easter excitement often focuses on only egg hunts and candy, this book offers a different — and true — reason for joy and expectancy. It’s designed to be read and reread on the days leading up to Easter, telling the greatest story and building a sense of anticipation and celebration in little hearts.

To purchase, click HERE.

Tama Fortner is a freelance writer whose credits include God Is Always Good and 100 Things God Loves About You. She has collaborated on such bestselling titles as Indescribable, Jesus Calling for Kids, and Grace for the Moment for Kids. She lives just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, two kids, and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a footwarmer.

 

My Impressions:

Easter Is Coming! by Tama Fortner is one of the best children’s books I have seen that fully explains God’s redemption plan in an easily understood, kid-friendly way. From the Garden to the Resurrection, kids learn that God always had a plan for people to come back to Him. The repeated message is, that while many didn’t understand or acknowledge that plan, Easter was always coming. The message is spot on, and the accompanying illustrations are bright, bold, and beautifully detailed. For parents, there are bonus materials available online to help with questions and discussion that are sure to come up. This book is perfect for family reading time during Holy Week (or really any time) or for early readers to test their skills. It would also be great in an Easter basket.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: kids ages 2-6.

(Thanks to B&H Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Glory Road

11 Apr

The only thing certain is change — even in a place as steady as Perry, Alabama, on a street as old as Glory Road.

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants — operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo. When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions — particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future. Once again, Jessie feels her protected and predictable life shifting.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, The Hideaway, was a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, Hurricane Season, released in spring of 2018. Her third, Glory Road, will release in February of 2019.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

My Impressions:

Glory Road is the third novel for Lauren K. Denton, an author who adds Southern style and flavor to her women’s fiction. I have read all three of her novels, but have to say that Glory Road is my favorite. It shows a deepening maturity for this talented writer. The complex characters became like family to this reader. I hurt for them, laughed with them, and sighed with satisfaction at the ending (or should I say beginning) of their stories. For fans of women’s fiction, this book is an excellent choice. Highly recommended.

Three generations of women provide the voices of Glory Road. The first person perspectives of Jessie, a thirty-something single mom and business owner, Evan, her 14 year old daughter, and Gus, Jessie’s mom, provide insight and a complete picture of the dynamics of the women and the life they share. While Jessie’s viewpoint was predominant, I loved how Evan and Gus bring a completeness to their stories. The novel is set in a small Alabama town notable only for its sameness. They live a content life, yet there is feeling that all three need a little more. Glory Road is a slow-paced novel great for extended time in a favorite chair sipping something cool while contemplating the ways of life and love. I loved the day-to-day aspects of the novel and how the little things in life prepare a person for the big things. Making the most of second chances life brings is a strong theme.

I really, really liked Glory Road. Perfect for book clubs, this novel is one you will want to talk about.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to TLC and Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)