Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review: Serenity to Accept // by Elizabeth Maddrey

Book // Serenity to Accept
Author // Elizabeth Maddrey
Published // 2013 Hope Springs Books

Serenity to Accept is the 3rd book in the Grant Us Grace series by Elizabeth Maddrey.

There's a new E.R. doctor in the hospital where Karin works as a nurse in the NICU wing and Karin thinks he's a hottie! The problem? He's a Christian...and he's clearly stated he won't date anyone who isn't a Christian. Karin isn't a Christian, so she figures she can rule out any possibilities of that relationship ever happening. But when her brother and his fiance practically kidnap her into visiting their church, she starts questioning her own lack of faith. She starts attending church more regularly and soon finds her new relationship with Dr. Jason Garcia to be more than just a friendly interest. As she sorts through the questions she has about God and comes to her own conclusion in her own time, Jason has some struggles of his own. Their relationship grows, but not without its own low points. Jason and Karin both have to decide who comes first in each of their lives. Will they be able to discern God's will for them?

I enjoy reading books with a distinct Christian perspective. Serenity to Accept definitely fits that description. Karin learns to accept God's Word by faith, Jason seeks to honor God in his decisions and in their relationship, and their friends are supportive Christian characters. I liked that the author made the point that just because someone becomes or is a Christian, it doesn't mean that all their problems suddenly go away. The author used situations and characters within the storyline to answer questions that many unbelievers may have about faith and life circumstances.

I will say that it did take me awhile to get into this story. Throughout the first half of the book, the characters seemed a bit more stiff and unrelatable and the dialogue seemed a little forced and dry. I wasn't drawn in from the beginning of the story. However, once the plot really seemed to kick in, I found that I was no longer forcing myself to keep reading and I did end up enjoying the book. There were a few minor editing errors, but nothing that took away from the storyline. I would recommend this book to Christians who enjoy a strong Christian viewpoint in their fiction.

**I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via BookCrash in exchange for honest feedback. I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review: For Love or Loyalty // by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Book // For Love or Loyalty
Author // Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Published // 2013 Abingdon Press

This book made it into my Top 10 Favorites List. It is excellent!

Everything is on the line in this tale. Lauren's father has committed a fatal and very personal crime against Malcolm's family. What begins as an act of revenge leads to a plan to trade Lauren for the freedom of his mother and sister. It won't be without challenges, though. They must cross the ocean together to begin looking for his family and they may not be prepared for the obstacles that wait for them.

As Malcolm's feelings for Lauren begin to change, he questions his original plan, but what choice does he have? By the time he decides he cannot bear to indenture Lauren, she makes a heart-wrenching decision herself and her choice leads to circumstances worse than either of them could have imagined. Now, Malcolm has to find Lauren and a way to rescue her, along with his family.

This book is one of the best books I have ever read and I heartily recommend it to everyone. Jennifer's characters are so real and well-developed and I've found myself missing reading about them since I finished the book. Jennifer carries us through their story so well. Just when things look like they're going to be okay, the next heartbreaking trial enters and we are left wondering how they are going to survive it. While I find most books somewhat predictable, this one was not. When I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I was surprised by what did occur. This book kept me up well into the night because I just couldn't put it down. It's well-written, entertaining, pulls at your heart, and is sure to be your next favorite. I can't wait to read more of Jennifer's books, as this was my first.

**I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for honest feedback. I was not required to write a positive review. I enjoyed this book so much that I want to purchase a printed copy for my library and I intend to read it again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review & Excerpt: Fired Up // by Mary Connealy

Book Name // Fired Up (Trouble in Texas, Book 2)
Author // Mary Connealy
Published // 2013 Bethany House

Review //

Fired Up is book #2 in the Trouble in Texas series by Mary Connealy. I always enjoy Mary's books (my favorite series by her is The Kincaid Brides series) because she brings her stories to life with her quirky, realistic characters and the trouble they often get themselves into. She writes in such a way that, when you finish each book, you miss the characters and wish you could keep reading about them.

Fired Up is about Glynna Greer, a twice-widowed woman who came west as a mail-order bride and has had bad luck with husbands. She's decided to be an independent woman and support herself and her two children by opening a diner in this town full of men. The problem? She can't cook. She's pretty, though, so the men still pay to come by for burnt biscuits, bitter coffee, and blackened roast and business is booming.

Dare Riker is the town's doctor (though he doesn't seem to think so) and is trying to figure out who is trying to kill him and why they seem so bent on doing so. Between that, doctoring, and trying to win Glynna and her children, he's keeping himself pretty busy.

What I enjoyed about this book:
  • I enjoyed watching Glynna's children, Janet and Paul, grow throughout the story. As children who have never had a godly man in their lives, they take a bit of time to open up, heal, and begin to trust Dare. Seeing them move from a place of fear to a place where they can love and give love is beautiful.
  • The camaraderie and trust Dare shares with his friends from the war is incredible. I enjoyed hearing their stories about life in Andersonville.  
  • Dare and Glynna's romance is sweet and persistent, despite the obstacles they face along the way.
  • Watching the mystery unfold was thoroughly entertaining and not entirely predictable. I found that I had my guess about who the criminal was, but I wasn't entirely sure until nearly the end of the story.
What I didn't enjoy about this book:
  • There was one editing error that I found. On page 141, the book says, "Lana felt a surge of relief to see that knife out of Lana's hand..." and in one or two other places in the story, I felt that sections could have been edited differently so the story would have flowed better.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for Mary's fans and historical fiction fans. I did not love the book as entirely as I normally do Mary's books, but it is still a wonderful story and I did enjoy it. I fell in love with Glynna, Dare, and the children and found myself wanting to read more about them after I finished the book.

You can read the first two chapters of Fired Up here and you can purchase your own copy of Fired Up here. Enjoy! =)

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. My review and opinions are truthful and entirely my own.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review: If the Shoe Fits // by Sandra D. Bricker

Book Name // If the Shoe Fits
Author // Sandra D. Bricker
Published // 2013 River North

Review //

If the Shoe Fits is a lighthearted, easy read by Sandra D. Bricker. Julianne is a bright young attorney who has just opened her own law firm with her partner and life-long best friend, Will. The two of them are happily single with no love interest in each other…well, at least Julianne doesn’t have any interest…or doesn’t think she does…well, you never know. Will, on the other hand…

The story begins with Julianne rescuing the tool box (and boot) of a handsome and heroic dog rescuer from the threat of the merciless oncoming traffic. The guy ran into that traffic to rescue the poor animal, so he must have a kind, animal-loving heart. Actually, he’s practically Prince Charming. At this point, Julianne is convinced he’s the man for her. Never mind that he never did see or speak to her. She’ll take care of that. We don’t really have much time to think about it right now, though, because we’re too busy following Julianne into court with a live goldfish. We’ll get back to that in another chapter.

I found myself thoroughly amused by all of Julianne’s humorous (and endearing) quirks and antics as she and Will figured out what everyone else already knew about them…they belonged together. Of course, they had to go through quite a lot before they figured it out, but along the way their firm makes it into a tabloid, Julianne is nominated for a prestigious award and acquires a new member of the family (named Charming, of course), and Will discovers something about himself through a couple other gals he’s known. Overall, the book is slightly unrealistic and completely entertaining. I had no problem reading through it in one day and never did want to put it down! I thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a way to read the afternoon away with a smile. 

buy the book: print // kindle // free sampler

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: The Secret Keeper // by Beverly Lewis

Book Name // The Secret Keeper
Author // Beverly Lewis
Published // 2013 Bethany House

photo courtesy of
Review //

In this delightful tale by Beverly Lewis, we get to see a glimpse of what it would be like to join an Amish community as an “Englisher.” For those of us who spend our days inundated by electricity and media and busyness, the simple, wholesome life of the Amish can seem quite appealing when we read about it in books. I am sure that I am not the only person who has read a story set in an Amish community and sort of wished I could live there with the characters. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not ready to trade in my cozy fall clothes and my curling iron, but a life without phones and Internet and cars, spent working the land and growing pure food and building a community with neighbors really does have a sort of desirable charm. Jennifer Burns certainly thinks so in this new story.

Jennifer never did quite fit in with her family or friends. She was always described as someone with “an old soul” and her love for simple life and vintage treasures eventually led her to Lancaster County, PA. It was there that she met Marnie, an Amish girl who lived there with her family, and the two began corresponding. Now Jennifer has made a life-altering decision. She has sold her car and almost all her possessions (she never did have a cell phone) and is moving to Hickory Hollow to join the Amish community there. Her pen-pal has arranged for a place for her to stay and be mentored during the time of her “proving” and everything seems like it’s going to go smoothly. While much of it does, Jennifer soon finds out that not all Amish are as accepting of her as her friend Marnie. The trials she faces vary from small to great and she still hasn’t told her family where she is. Will she be able to restore her relationship with her own family? Will the Amish people accept her? How is she going to be able to do what she wants to do if she has to carry the weight of secrets? And what of the young Amish bachelor (Andrew) who seems to have taken an interest in her?

When I first started reading this book, I thought that it moved along pretty slowly. I felt that I was reading so much about doing laundry and cooking food and doing routine chores…things that I find pretty uninteresting to read over and over again. I found that the characters were not especially likeable, with the exception of Andrew, who, it seemed, we rarely saw in the book. I wanted to see more interaction between Andrew and Jennifer and when their time together was so spread out and brief, I was kind of disappointed. That being said, I eventually realized that this book is not primarily about a love story. It is about a young woman learning a new culture and striving to navigate through her new life. The love story is only a secondary theme within the book…maybe not even that…maybe more of a filler. So as I was reading the book expecting it to be about how Jennifer fell in love with an Amish man and found her happily ever after, I was irritated that I didn’t get to see more of that happening. When I adjusted my mindset (and expectations) and realized that’s not what the story was primarily about, but was rather more of a bonus for Jenny, I found the book much more enjoyable. I would recommend this book as an enjoyable and insightful read, but I would also suggest that you read it without the expectation of a primary love story theme. As a book about a young girl who experiences a variety of realistic circumstances that go along with joining an Amish community as an outsider, this one is excellent. 

buy the book: print // kindle

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

47 Free Christian Fiction EBooks for your Kindle or Kindle App

 All of the Christian fiction books below are free at time of posting (be sure to note the price before purchasing to make sure it's still free). Some of these were also on last month's list, but many are new.