Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

Although I didn't reach my reading goal challenge this year I still managed to read a lot of good books. I'm cheating because most people post a top 10 year in books, but I think it is more fun to keep up with the years. So here are my Top 13 of 2013:

Ally Carter has never disappointed me in her writing! This year she published this book and also the last book in the Gallagher Girl series which I sadly haven't been able to read yet. The Heist Society series has been one of my favorites since the beginning. I've said it before, but it reminds me of The Ocean's Eleven movies but with teenagers instead of adults! Check out my review of Perfect Scoundrels.


I know, I know, this is two books. But I couldn't pick which one I liked more for this so you get two choices. There will be several more of these doubles. When I find an author I like I tend to read all that they have written, especially if they have the same characters in them throughout. And I'm a series fan! I'm of the opinion that you cannot go wrong reading a Karen Witemeyer book! These two books are my favorites of hers that I have read so far. Here are my reviews: Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher. The Short-Straw Bride introduces the Archer family men. Karen Witemeyer adds humor, romance and a bit of suspense to her novels that make the pages fly by.


I almost didn't request this book when I saw it on Booksneeze. The cover just didn't grab me, and yes, yes I am all about judging a book by it's cover! I found the story endearing and entertaining. Check out my review: Dear Mr. Knightley


First it is hard to pass up a book written in a California setting since I was born and raised in CA. Second, when I saw so many bloggers reviewing this book I knew I wanted to read it. Thirdly, it languished on my Kindle for far too long after I bought it! And last, I loved it! Check out my review here: A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California


I was part of the cover reveal tour for this book and then was on the tour for reviewing it. I love the cover. There is also a color cover, but this one captures the story so much my opinion! The story is sweet even though the main character is haunted by a ghost. Any book with the name Joy in it catches my attention since that is my youngest daughter's name! I'm looking forward to the next book! Here is my review: Haunting Joy


Mash-Ups always amuse me and this one didn't fail! Mix the dialog of William Shakespeare and Star Wars and the reader is in for a real treat! I loved it and what a fun way to read a Shakespeare play! Check out my review and watch the book trailer video that I posted with it! William Shakespeare's Star Wars


I'm not usually a fan of Amish novels, but this past year I have read several. My favorite being this series by Amanda Flower. I guess I find murder and mayhem in an Amish community interesting. Actually I am definitely a mystery fan and when you add in a characters faith it does make for an interesting read. Amanda Flower also published a children's book this year(Andi Unexpected), which I also really enjoyed. Check out my review of A Plain Disappearance


This is the second book in The Guardians of Justice series. I found it a lot more suspenseful than the first in the series. It definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. Here is my review of Trapped


I'm a little late to the show on this one. I was seeing the series all over the blogs so decided I needed to get my hands on them. My youngest daughter read Divergent first and told me I must read. With the movie coming out in March of 2014 and watching the trailers for that I definitely moved it to the top of my TBR pile. I really enjoyed it! Sadly I haven't had a chance to get to the next two, but hope to remedy that in 2014. Here is my review of Divergent


Brandilyn Collins writes a story that could be pulled from the front pages of a newspaper today. Domestic terrorism, and a woman trying to keep herself and her mother safe. Had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning. Here is my review of Dark Justice


The first two books in the Eyes of E'veria were wonderful novels by Serena Chase. A cross between fantasy/fairy tale/romance these two stories kept me turning the pages quickly. Psst, the next book is going to have pirates in it!! Just sayin'! Check out my reviews: The Ryn and The Remedy


If you are a fan of suspense then you definitely need to pick these books up. The first one is Submerged which I read in 2012. Each one gets better than the one before it! As I've said before, I am a suspense/mystery fan and this series is absolutely one of my favorites. Here are my reviews: Shattered and Stranded


See I told you there would be lots of doubles! I can't help it if these authors write such awesome books! Even though I was late to the Julie Lessman fan club I think I have more than made up for missing the boat when A Passion Most Pure came on the scene(by reading so many of her books and reviewing them on my blog that I won several contests she was holding, including winning a Kindle Fire!). The Heart of San Francisco series is a departure from the O'Connor family in The Daughter's of Boston series and the Winds of Change series. But definitely not a departure from the drama/angst/romance/passion that Julie Lessman is  known for in those series. The Heart of San Francisco series is about the McClare family. They have captured my heart for sure! Even though Julie Lessman is a self-proclaimed CDQ(caffeinated drama queen) and I am a self-proclaimed DB(drama baby), I have found that Julie's books make me laugh, make me cry, make me mad enough at the characters that I want to throw the book across the room, and always always they point the way to a deeper faith in Jesus Christ who passionately desires a relationship with each one of us. Check out my blog for reviews of Julie's books, and here are the links to Love At Any Cost and Dare to Love Again

Now for 3 books on my list of favorites:

Invisible was on my Top 12 of 2012 list last year. But it was released in 2013 so I felt it needed to be in this post. If you haven't read any of Ginny Yttrup's books they are a must. They are so poignant and thought-provoking and beautiful. Here is my review of Invisible

I have read an ARC copy of Cress this year, but the actual book doesn't become published until February of 2014. It will definitely be on my Top 14 of 2014! Isn't the cover beautiful? I loved the story and look forward to the next book in this wonderful series!

This book makes me the proudest of all of the books I have read EVER! This was written by my mom! I practically grew up hearing stories of Lonesome(a stray dog) but they were really developed when my mom would make up a story at the end of her Joyful Cubs class each Wednesday evening to keep the kiddo's quiet until their parents picked them up. Each week she would forget what she had told about Lonesome the week before so she would ask the kids what happened and those kids knew every detail! Years ago my mom wrote the story down for her grandchildren. We have always told her she should publish her story. This year she self-published Lonesome! This is the second book she has published, but it is the one that her family has always encouraged her to write down and get it into a book.

There you have it folks! My Top 13 of 2013 and a few extras just for the record! I love reading and I look forward to seeing what books catch my fancy in 2014. If you have a Top 10 or 13 list share the link in the comments section and I'll go check it out! Happy New Year to you all and may 2014 be filled with blessings, love, happiness and faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ(without whom I am nothing).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

In this retelling of the Cinderella story we have Gisela as the Damsel in Distress, and Valten as Prince Charming. With an evil step-mother determined to keep Gisela from being happy and an evil man bent on revenge The Captive Maiden takes many twists and turns to it's Happily Ever After ending.

As I read The Captive Maiden I kept having flashbacks to two movies:

The Captive Maiden was set during the time of Knights. With tournaments of jousting and swordplay I just couldn't help envisioning A Knight's Tale as I read. Throw in the Ever After version of Cinderella and The Captive Maiden was almost brought to life for me! I compared the villain Ruexner(which I could never figure out how to pronounce) with the villain in Ever After. As with all of Melanie Dickerson novels I enjoyed this one very much. The retelling was different enough to keep me turning the pages and the characters were endearing enough to keep me invested in their story. If you like fairytale retellings then I recommend this one!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman

Allie McClare has had her heart broken more than once so she has no time for another man in her life. Becoming a teacher in the new Hands of Hope school that she and her mother and cousin have opened for young girls living in the Barbary Coast of San Francisco, Allie strives for independence.

Nick Barone("long e") is a bitter young detective. Betrayed by his former debutante fiance' Nick has no patience for the likes of Allie McClare. Especially when upon meeting her she proceeds to hit him with her pointer! Not given a choice, Nick is assigned to protect Allie and teach her Jiu Jitsu as part of her becoming independent. As part of the contract Nick is forced to sign by Allie's Uncle Logan, he promises not to make any advances towards Allie. What "Mr. Cranky Pants" doesn't count on is how different Allie is from any woman of means he has ever known.

My Thoughts:
My new favorite Julie Lessman book!! This second book in The Heart of San Francisco series was amazing! Allie is such a sassy character. I absolutely loved her and Nick. I did send a message to Julie Lessman telling her that if I were Nick I would have taken the stick away from Allie and swatted her backside with it. She was such a stinker to begin with. So stubborn and naive about her safety in the Barbary Coast. But she was also very good in apologizing and being contrite. As with other books that Julie Lessman has written we always get secondary characters and returning characters stories as well. I can't wait to see what happens with Logan and Cait(Allie's Uncle and mother). They have had a bumpy road to get over, but they are so much in love with each other they are meant to be together. We also get to read more about Cassie and Jaime and their coming nuptials. I say this was my favorite Julie Lessman book, but I think I have said this after every book I have read by Julie! If you have never read a Julie Lessman book I highly recommend that you remedy that! Dare to Love Again is one of those books that had me laughing out loud and maybe, just maybe, shedding a little tear.

My reviews of Julie Lessman books:

The Daughters of Boston Series:
A Passion Most Pure
A Passion Redeemed
A Passion Denied

The Winds of Change Series:
A Hope Undaunted
A Heart Revealed
A Love Surrendered

Prequel to the O'Connor Family:
A Light in the Window

The Heart of San Francisco Series:
Love at any Cost

Monday, December 16, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

All growing up Jacob's grandfather has told him stories of a levitating girl, and invisible boy and other "peculiar" children. When he was younger Jacob believed these stories to be real. But now that he is a teenager his parents have convinced him that his grandfather's stories were just that, stories.

When Jacob's grandfather dies in his arms Jacob sees something that causes him to have nightmares and his parents to send him to a psychiatrist. Determined to find the place that his grandfather talked about all of his life, Jacob talks his father into taking a trip to an island so his father can study the bird life and unbeknownst to his father, Jacob can look for Miss Peregrine(the headmistress of the peculiar children).

Unfortunately Jacob isn't the only one looking for the Peculiar's and he may unwittingly open the door for evil to invade their world. 

My Thoughts:

First off, how could a person resist wanting to read this book just from the cover alone? The little girl is levitating! How creepy is that? With the foggy shrouded background and done in black and white, this cover has always caught my attention.

 Now, if you haven't read the book you may not want to read this review any further as there may be a bit of spoilers, although I will try not to *wink*

I found that I enjoyed the story. It started out moving along pretty quickly. I think it bogged down a bit in the middle, but picked up once again towards the end. I found the peculiar children to be interesting. I should say, adults living in children's bodies. Of course they all remembered Jacob's grandfather. Especially Emma, who had a relationship with him when he was among the peculiars. I found her and Jacob's attraction for each other to be a bit weird in that I felt she was seeing Jacob's grandfather instead of Jacob. Throughout the book there are black and white pictures of the different characters which helped give the reader an image of the authors description. I found the loops and such to be a bit confusing. Especially in the end when the children were talking about hopping from year to year. But I'm not up on my time-travel information so someone more savvy than I would probably "get it" better. Also I found the reason why the "Hollows" are wanting Miss Peregrine and others like her a little bit confusing. Hopefully those questions will be answered in the second book Hollow City coming out in January 2014(there's a commercial for you). So, if you like characters that are peculiar(an invisible boy etc.), and you like a bit of time travel or time loops or time warps(whatever the correct terminology is), I would recommend picking up Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher Quirk Books. This review is my honest opinion.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Beowulf by Ronie Kendig

 Tony(Candyman) has been trying to get Timbrel's attention for a while. Timbrel's prickly personality keeps everyone at arms length. Tony can't help himself. Timbrel is beautiful and he is attracted to her, but the only one Timbrel seems to have eyes for is her bull mastiff dog Beowulf. And Beo doesn't like Tony. At all!

Timbrel has secrets in her life that she would rather not share with anyone but Beo. Beo is an explosives detection dog. Timbrel's secrets keep her personality prickly and afraid to allow anyone close in her life. Tony is about to change all of that!

Tony can't figure Timbrel out, but he is relentless in his pursuit of her. Even if her beast of a dog insists on growling and snapping at him every time they are near each other. Just when Tony thinks they may be making some headway in a relationship Timbrel bolts. Running scared Timbrel must learn to break down the walls she has built up around her heart and learn to trust. But it may be too late. When disaster strikes their team while on a mission everything that Tony and Timbrel have fought for in their relationship comes crashing down. Will they be able to pick up the pieces of their lives?

My Thoughts:

First, I love the dog! Beowulf's personality is hysterical! From his drool to his snapping at Tony to his ability to sense Timbrel's moods, Beo makes the story entertaining to read. Through each of the A Breed Apart books you can see the research that went into the story.  I love the way that the dogs are treated just like another soldier. Each dog and their handler have a special bond that keeps them in tuned to each other. I found in Beowulf that I liked the characters, but did get a bit irritated at Timbrel and wanted to reach into the pages of the book and shake the bullheadedness out of her! If you like military books then the A Breed Apart series is a definite must read. Add in some romance and tense combat situations and Ronie Kendig's books keep the reader on the edge of their seats.

I received my copy of Beowulf from the publisher Barbour Publishing Inc. through NetGalley. This is my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Love at any Cost by Julie Lessman: FREE DOWNLOAD TODAY!

LOVE AT ANY COST is a FREE download today on AMAZON and Barnes & Noble and CBD Get your copy today and see if you can find my name in the book! I won a contest to have a character named after me! This is the first book in Julie Lessman's Heart of San Francisco series. Don't miss the opportunity to read this wonderful book!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith

Things are changing around the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Mma Makutsi is going to have a baby! She insists to Mma Romatswe that she will only need a few days off of work. Before Mma Makutsi leaves for maternity leave though the ladies have a client that comes in. She is a lawyer and wants Mma Romatswe to check into a matter of an estate left to a young man that the lawyer insists is not the person he claims to be. Also a new beauty salon opens in Gabarone but someone is determined to put the owner out of business before it is even established. In the meantime Mr. J. L. B. Matakoni decides that he must become a modern husband. He signs up for a class to help him in this endeavor. While Mma Makutsi is home with her new baby, Mma Romatswe finds herself missing her employee along with missing their back-and-forth discussions of a case. She misses Mma Makutsi's input and is out of sorts without her.

I can't even explain why I love this series! I love the complex yet simple way that Mma Romatswe thinks. She knows human character but yet always wants to give the benefit of the doubt to a person. I love her relationship with Mr. J.L.B. Matakoni! He loves her, she loves him, and they have such a special bond to each other. He wants to become modern to help her out around the home yet he doesn't realize that he is already  more modern than most men! And of course Mma Makutsi's baby will always measure up to and exceed Mma's 97%  rating! If you haven't ever read a No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency book I definitely recommend them.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl


Paris, France

Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.
Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?
Coming April 25, 2014


 Isn't it beautiful? I love the colors! They are so vibrant. Not trying to read too much into it(because I am really not good at that), but the model does look as if she is gazing off into a distant time. This definitely would be a book that I would pick up just because of the cover.


Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

Check out the Book Page: 


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Samantha Moore has a problem being herself. Shuttled from foster home to foster home Sam has sheltered her heart from pain by escaping into the world of her books. Hiding her real self in quotes from famous characters, Sam goes through life cut off from any true friendships.

When a grant opens up an opportunity for her to finish graduate school Sam is less than thrilled that the stipulations require her to enter journalism and to write regularly to her anonymous benefactor who goes by the pseudonym Mr. Knightley.

Samantha feels safe baring her soul to Mr. Knightley through her letters. The agreement being that he will remain anonymous and never write her back. We as the reader get to follow Sam's journey of self-discovery and maturity through reading her letters to Mr. Knightley.

My Thoughts:

I think that sometimes in writing my own synopsis for a book I might tend to overshare and I don't want to give anything else away in the book so I will stop with that tid-bit up there. Dear Mr. Knightley had me invested in it from the very beginning. I loved the characters. Samantha with all her prickly flaws, the young boy she befriends and becomes a running partner with and the instrument in helping Sam open up her heart(oops, oversharing again). And the mysterious Mr. Knightley whom Sam feels safe with and shares her most intimate thoughts and feelings with. All of these characters make Dear Mr. Knightley an entertaining and engaging read and one in which I will miss the characters for a while after finishing it. Even though Sam used quotes from her favorite authors to mask her insecurities I found those quotes to be entertaining and amusing and added to the charm of the read. I definitely recommend Dear Mr. Knightley.

An Aside:

While I have seen mentions of people loving the cover of this book I have to admit I'm not a fan and it almost kept me from requesting the book. To me it just looks a bit plain. But after reading the story I see the whimsy of it and am kind of drawn to it now.

I received my copy through Booksneeze.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Love's Refuge by Sandra Leesmith: Blog Tour

About the Book:

Skye Larsen loves her peaceful life on Leeza Island in Puget Sound – the tranquility, the friendly neighbors, and especially the safety from big-city dangers. So when cruel pranks start to escalate and changes threaten to overtake the island, Skye is determined to fight for her haven. The presence of a handsome vacationer and the unexpected feelings he awakens can’t distract her from her goal.

Danny Fraser doesn’t realize how desperately he needs a rest until he meets Skye. By allowing him to glimpse her simple way of life, she helps him reorient his priorities – and steals his heart in the process. But his work and home in Seattle keep Skye at bay.

An isolated island girl with painful memories. A dedicated city boy with a wild past. What will it cost for them both to find a refuge from their storms?

About the Author:


Sandra Leesmith loves to travel in her RV and explore all of nature’s beauty, discover America’s history, and fellowship with the wonderful people she meets while on the road. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, swimming, and pickleball. Learn more about Sandra and her books at

Where to Connect With Sandra: 

You can connect with Sandra on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. You can also find her and her talented writing buddies at the Seekerville blog.   

My Thoughts:

I thought Love's Refuge was a sweet romance. I really liked Danny's character from the very beginning of the book. I had no patience for Skye! While realizing that she had a lot of hurdles to overcome, and having a great reason to cut herself off from the world, I found after a while that instead of feeling sympathy for her I just wanted to shake her and tell her to get a grip on reality! And you know what? Eventually she did get a grip on reality! I liked her slow move in faith towards God and how she reached outside of herself and helped a troubled young girl. Both characters grew throughout the book and I enjoyed seeing how they helped each other. Danny definitely needed the relaxation and calmness that Skye and her  island were able to bring him and Skye needed Danny's strength and patience to help her overcome her fears. I liked that faith played a much more prominent roll in Love's Refuge than it did in Love's Miracles. And yet it didn't venture into preachy, but showed that God is our ultimate refuge. I also have to give some cover love here! The picture on the cover of the book depicts the couple so well! As I read the book and would read about Skye's braid or Danny kissing her forehead I had the cover image right there to help with the mental picture I had. 


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