Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lady Emma's Campaign by Jennifer Moore

She would follow him through peace and war.

London, 1811

The London Season is ushered in with a thrilling flurry of invitations, gowns, and parties. But despite her status as belle of the ball, lovely socialite Emma Drake simply cannot fathom becoming entangled with any gentleman of her acquaintance. For in truth, since childhood her heart has belonged to Captain Sidney Fletcher, a man of the sea—and her brother’s best friend. Emma knows that Sidney’s directive to free the Spanish city of Cadiz from French occupation will be dangerous, but when word arrives of his capture, she is frantic. Determined to aid her brother in Sidney’s rescue, she hides aboard his ship and sets a course to Spain. But the realities of war are a far cry from the drawing rooms of London, and Emma finds the man she loves a mere shadow of his former self. When a series of events leaves them trapped together behind enemy lines, Emma and Sidney must embark on a journey fraught with danger—from a bloody hunt for Spanish treasure to the battlefields of war-torn Spain, new threats lurk around every turn. As their flight becomes increasingly perilous, Sidney and Emma must trust each other with their lives—but can they trust the other with their heart?


Jennifer Moore is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  Her first book, Becoming Lady Lockwood, was fantastic and I knew she was an author I wanted to read again.  

We meet Lady Emma and Sidney Fletcher in the first book of this series, Becoming Lady Lockwood.  While they are not the main characters, we get a sense of who they are.  I'm so glad they got the starring roles in this book.  When the book begins, Emma is a girl on the cusp of womanhood.  Sydney loves Emma as he would love a sister.  But Emma loves Sydney as a woman loves a man.  She is just waiting for the day when she steps out into society as a woman so Sydney can take notice.

Emma begins this book fairly naive.  She makes choices led by her heart and finds herself in some serious trouble.  Her lack of worldly experience allows her room for growth though.  The inner strength she has shines through when she needs it the most.  Sydney helps bring out that strength in Emma but it is her gentleness that pulls Sydney through the tortured spots in his soul.  I love that together they are the thing the other needs the most.

This is a clean romance.  Just a really good, clean romance.  The romance develops slowly and it just feels natural.  The book is set in the middle of a war so things get bloody and difficult but provide the exact things this book needs for the characters.  I loved it.  Love, love, love.

I read this book through Deseret Bookshelf.  It magically appeared there for me to review and I'm so glad.  This book was one of my favorites.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom by June McCrary Jacobs + Win a copy of this book!

When her student, six-year-old Mary Noel, survives a car accident over Thanksgiving break, Amber and her new friend, Paul, are determined to cheer her up during the holidays. But Mary Noel’s most painful injury is the loss of her dog. The more withdrawn Mary Noel becomes, the more Amber and Paul need a miracle—a miracle that requires the entire community’s help.

 

The two best adjectives I can think of to describe this novel are sweet and gentle.  It will remind you of all the best things about Christmastime.

This is a story of faith and service- about a caring community who pull together to help a family in need.  Amber is kind hearted and caring.  When she meets Paul, they come together for a common goal and find that their hearts are coming together as well.  The romance is sweet but not really the main focus.

If you are looking for an inspirational short story to fill you with all things Christmas this is a book you will love.  I really enjoyed it.  It had peace and good will oozing from the pages.  This is a Christian based book and there is talk of God and faith.  It's perfectly clean and just right for a cozy winter night.

My thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me to read and review this sweet story.  The publisher, Cedar Fort, has provided an ebook copy of this book for a giveaway.  Thank you Cedar Fort!  Find the details for entering below.

June McCrary Jacobs spent twenty years as a primary grade educator after graduating from California State University, Hayward, with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a multiple-subject teaching credential. Along with writing fiction, June is a freelance designer of sewing, quilting and crafting projects. “A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom” is June's debut novel, though not her first published work. Since 2007 June's original sewing, quilting and stitchery projects and articles have been published in national and international magazines including Stitch, Sew News, Sewing World, Simply Handmade, Sew Hip, Sewing Savvy, Crafts 'n Things and Create & Decorate. Two of her sewing designs for children will appear in the upcoming “101 One-Yard Little Wonders” book published by Storey Publishing. A Californian since age six, June currently resides in the San Joaquin Valley. Learn more about June's writing endeavors and view some of her original sewing projects by visiting her website at www.junemccraryjacobs.com.


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Monday, November 24, 2014

The Berlin Candy Bomber by Gail S. Halvorsen


The Berlin Candy Bomber is a love story-how two sticks of gum and one man's kindness to the children of a vanquished enemy grew into an epic of goodwill spanning the globe-touching the hearts of millions in both Germany and America.

In June 1948, Russia laid siege to Berlin, cutting off the flow of food and supplies over highways into the city. More than two million people faced economic collapse and starvation. The Americans, English, and French began a massive airlift to bring sustenance to the city and to thwart the Russian siege.

Gail Halvorsen was one of hundreds of U.S. pilots involved in the airlift. While in Berlin, he met a group of children standing by the airport watching the incoming planes. Though they hadn't asked for candy, he was impressed to share with them the two sticks of gum he had in his possession. Seeing how thrilled they were by this gesture, he promised to drop more candy to them the next time he flew to the area.

True to his word, as he flew in the next day, he wiggled the wings of his plane to identify himself, then dropped several small bundles of candy using parachutes crafted from handkerchiefs to slow their fall. Local newspapers picked up the story. Suddenly, letters addressed to "Uncle Wiggly Wings" began to arrive as the children requested candy drops in other areas of the city.

Enthusiasm spread to America, and candy contributions came from all across the country. Within weeks candy manufacturers began donating candy by the boxcar.

In May 1949, the highway blockade ended, and the airlift ended in September. But the story of Uncle Wiggly Wings and the candy-filled parachutes lives on-a symbol of human charity.

Sometimes you read books to escape from reality and go someplace far, far away.  Sometimes you read books to learn something new.  Sometimes you read books to be inspired.  This book gave me all the previous mentioned things plus more.
I love reading stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things.  These things come about because people like Gail Halvorsen choose kindness when a situation is placed before them.  Gail's kindness led to more kindness.  People saw his kindness and wanted to be a part of it.  From there it ballooned into something grand that involved people all over the world.  All because one man extended a kindness one day to a few children who desperately needed some kindness and care.  I love that.
Gail Halvorsen has roots right where I live today.  It was fun to read of his early years in Bear River Valley.  I could imagine him flying right over my house as he trained to be a pilot.  My kids attend the same high school he attended.  It's a small world after all.
I learned more about the events and details leading up to Gail Halvorsen's part in the war efforts and about his life.  I loved all the pictures in the book.  They really helped give me a sense of how things were.  There were lots of pictures!  This book is a great reminder to me that kindness matters.  You never know when a kind act can change the life of someone else.  Kindness is contagious.  People respond to kindness.  Kindness matters.  A lot.
I am grateful for people like Gail Halvorsen.  I'm grateful for their examples that inspire me to be better and do better.  I pay honor Uncle Wiggly Wings and I thank him for telling his story.  I loved it.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

From the Ashes by Julie Coulter Bellon

**This novella is a continuation of Colby and Sophia's story from Ashes Ashes (Hostage Negotiation Team #2)**

As a suspect in Senator DeMarco's murder, Sophia Naziri worked hard to bring the true killer to justice and prove her innocence. But she pays a high personal price trying to clear her name when she's held hostage and nearly killed---and Sophia can't put it behind her just yet.

Matters get even more complicated when classified information regarding the murder is leaked. Sophia is besieged by the press and trapped even further by the memories that won't let her move on. In order to escape the situation, Sophia heads to a secluded cabin with Detective Colby Black so they can lay low and figure out who the leak is. But can Sophia find the peace she craves? Or will the circumstances that brought her and Colby together now drive them apart?

I'm always excited to read books by authors I love.  This little bonus piece is a novella that comes after "Ashes, Ashes", book two in the Hostage Negotiation Team series.  You really need to read that book before you pick up this novella or you will be hopelessly lost.  But if you haven't yet read this series by Julie Bellon, you really, really should.  It is a fantastic romantic suspense series.  The tension never lets up.  It's one of my favorites.

As for this novella, I loved it.  It wasn't so intense in the suspense department but it gave me that P.S., the happily ever after kind of note at the end.  More detail of how things go after the main intense drama and action.  It was the after effects.  What happens when Sophia and Colby come home?  It isn't all sunshine and lollipops but there is for sure some sweetness in there.  :)  This is a super quick read and I hope Julie does more of these for the other books!  So fun.

My thanks to Julie for letting me read and review for her.  I love being a part of her SWAT team!  What could be better than reading and reviewing for one of your favorite authors?  Not much!  Reading is happy.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sam's Christmas Wish by George D. Durrant, Illustrated by Dan Burr

Sam Edwards isn't looking forward to Christmas, at least not this year. Since losing his job six months before, he hasn't had any luck in finding a new one. He isn't sure how he can give his family a merry Christmas, and the last thing he wants is charity from his neighbors. But when he falls asleep in his living room with his shotgun across his lap just to make sure no one attempts to visit him he wakes up to find his front porch laden with Christmas goodies. But when he tries to find out who left the presents, the freshly fallen snow reveals no footprints.

Years later, Sam's wife has passed away and his children are grown. Old and sick, Sam remembers the kindness of the anonymous stranger from long ago and wishes for an opportunity to bless another's life. So on Christmas Eve, when he sees his neighbor's house on fire, he hopes that he can be the means for another anonymous miracle. Sam's Christmas Wish is a story of love, service, and sacrifice.


I love Christmas picture books.  I love books with a touching message.  This Christmas book is one of my new favorites.  The illustrations are beautiful- so life like and rich.  I absolutely loved them.

I have quite a collection of Christmas books.  Every year I wrap them up and put them in a basket for the month of December.  Then, every night we open a book and read it at dinner.  This is a tradition I love because all of these books bring the spirit of Christmas into my home.  Peace, love and joy.  This book will be a beautiful addition to my collection.  It's about giving and receiving.  It's about love and generosity.  It's about miracles brought through service and sacrifice.  This book brought out emotions in me.  In the beginning I was a bit upset at a father who would deny his children Christmas because of his pride.  But that father learns a valuable lesson and all his life seeks to return the Christmas miracle his family experienced to someone else.  It was so touching.

I love, love, love this book!  My thanks to Shadow Mountain for allowing me to read and review this title for them.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter

She daydreams of whipping up sauces and souffles in her own restaurant. His heart is set on helping foster children. Both dreams are at stake. So are their hearts.

With grand plans to open her own bed & breakfast in Chapel Springs, PJ McKinley can't afford the most crucial part: the brick and mortar. But when the owner of a local historic home announces a contest and promises her property to the worthiest candidate, PJ makes a fervent wish and tosses her name into the hat.

Cole Evans is cool, confident, and successful, but he'll never forget his roots. He's thankful for how far he's come and knows his life could have turned out drastically different. If he can win the stately old mansion, he'll turn it into a home for children aging out of the foster system.

When the eccentric house owner narrows the entries down to only two applicants, she extends the contest, giving PJ and Cole one year to prove which one of them can make the best use of her beloved home. As the pair competes in close proximity, something deeper than rivalry sparks between PJ and Cole. And in this battle, they're likely to lose their hearts.


Whenever I see a new book by Denise Hunter coming out, I grab it on NetGalley if I can.  I love reading anything by her.  If you are looking for inspirational, clean romance then you should read this book.  Or any books in this Chapel Springs series, really.  I've enjoyed them all.

PJ and Cole have a very interesting first meeting.  You will love PJ from the very first few moments of this book.  Cole may take you a few chapters longer but you will love him too.  He is determined to do the right thing all the time.   As Cole's story unfolds, it will break your heart.  Both PJ and Cole are determined and have worthy dreams and goals.  The sparks fly between them from the start and we all know where sparks lead, right?  

If only that stalker-ish ex boyfriend would go away.  If only PJ and Cole could forgive themselves.  If only.

This book was easy to read and a great diversion.  I loved the time I spent with PJ and Cole.  I was sad when it was over because I really wanted more!  

Look for this title to be released December 9th.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Painting Kisses by Melanie Jacobson

Lia Carswell is good at what she does, even if it isn't as glamorous as her old artist life in Manhattan. The popular waitress works hard in a small Salt Lake City diner, with the goal of easing her sister's financial strain. And with her witty personality and good looks, she's something of an enigma to the male customers who vie for her attention. Ever the professional, Lia keeps her distance, with one exception. Aidan is a breakfast regular, and his gentle, clever teasing draws Lia's attention and builds an easy rapport between them, though Lia would never let their relationship get serious, especially since he's not the only one trying to catch her eye. Her handsome neighbor Griff has been hinting that he wants more than a neighborly relationship.

Then her old New York artist life comes knocking, and an offer is made for a series of commissioned paintings. Lia knows it would ensure financial security for her family, but she doesn't know if she wants that life anymore. When she undertakes one final project, she reawakens her heart and soul. And as she finds herself falling in love and needing an outlet more and more, she realizes her paintings might be her saving grace.


I am a Melanie Jacobson fan.  I admit it.  I am.  I love her books and I love her style of writing.  She knows how to write a clean romance with humor and wit.  Her books suck me in and I never want to put them down.  This book was no exception.  I've been wanting to read this book since I first saw it.  Yay for the day when it popped up in my Deseret Bookshelf to read and review!  I love book gifts sent to me through Deseret Bookshelf!!

Lia is such a likable character.  I just love her.  I love how she devotes so much to her niece and her sister.  Lia's interactions with Aidan will make you smile.  Well, it made me smile anyway.  :)  I love how Lia returns to a love of painting.  The whole process and how it is described make me feel like I was missing out on something grand.  

Aidan and Lia are two imperfect people who definitely don't really understand each other until they break down the walls and listen to each other- which made me want to strangle them both at one time or another, but the tension and the build up are both parts of what make this book really good.  I really loved it.

This was a fantastic diversion for me.  I love picking up a book, getting sucked in and not wanting to put it down.  Entertaining, romantic reads are my favorite.