Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top 14 of 2014

Unfortunately I did not make my Goodreads goal this year of reading 100 books. Funny how when I was working full time I could read at least 120 books in a year but now that my husband is retired and I am home all of the time I can't even get 100 read! Part of the problem was that I took on two huge crochet projects for the year. I decided to make all of the kids in our family and extended family afghans for their birthdays. So I made 8 afghans. Then about 2 months before Christmas I decided I wanted to make all of my Bible study women dishcloths and dishtowels. I then decided that would be the "gift" for several other people and so ended up making 25 sets! So I guess this year instead of reading I made it a crochet year. Maybe in 2015 I can catch up on all of the books I have stacked up in my library room and on my Kindle. Awww, who am I kidding? I'll never be caught up! And I'll keep on collecting!

The books I did finish this year were pretty amazing! As always, it is hard to narrow down my favorites, but I went through all of my reviews and picked my 5 heart reviews and then I read the reviews I wrote and came up with my top 14 of 2014. Have you read any of these? And if so, which ones did you like best?

14. TAKE A PICTURE by Lena Goldfinch and HOW A STAR FALLS by Amber Stokes: I chose these two books for my #14 pick. They were both SWEET short stories that I absolutely adored.

13. UNITED WE SPY by Ally Carter: The last book in the Gallagher Girls series did not disappoint! So good, but so sad that it is the end of the series.

12. NO ONE TO TRUST by Lynette Eason:  I read some great romantic suspense novels this year and this one was so good.

11. THE EMPIRE STRIKETH BACK and THE JEDI DOTH RETURN by Ian Doescher: These two books tickled my funny bone! Loved the mash-ups of Shakespeare and Star Wars. 

10.  RISE & SHINE by Sandra D. Bricker:  Such a cute fairy tale and one I totally enjoyed.

9. OPERATION ZULU REDEMPTION by Ronie Kendig: Loved this four part serial. Lots of suspense. Here are links to the rest of the serial:
Collateral Damage
Out of Nowhere
Hazardous Duty
Act of Treason

8. FALL OF NIGHT and DAYLIGHTERS by Rachel Caine: The last two books of the Morganville Vampire series. So exciting and soooo good! Oh, you must check out the Morganville Vampire video's on Youtube! There are several episodes that cover the first book. I enjoyed it very much as well as enjoying these last two books.

7. DARK TIDE by Susan Sleeman: The last book in the Justice Agency series was my favorite of the series. Susan Sleeman definitely knows how to write a great suspense!

6. KISS OF REVENGE by Debbie Viguie: The last book in the Kiss trilogy. How can you resist a "Christian" vampire story? Loved how the author handled redemption in this series.

5. DECEIVED by Irene Hannon: I think everyone knows that Irene Hannon can write a great suspense novel. Loved this last book in the Guardians of Justice series.

4. FIRE & ASH by Jonathan Maberry: ZOMBIES!! And another ending to a series. This was such an excellent series and this one was probably my favorite out of the four.

3. DELUGE by Lisa T. Bergren: The last book in The River of Time series. It was heart-wrenching and exciting and emotional throughout the whole book. Loved this series so much!

2. SURPRISED BY LOVE by Julie Lessman: I'm beginning to believe that it wouldn't be a favorites post without a Julie Lessman book on it! Once again this was the ending to a series. I loved it as I have the whole series. Loved the final outcome of Cait and Logan's relationship.

1. THE SEAHORSE LEGACY by Serena Chase: PIRATES! You can't go wrong with pirates! I absolutely loved this book to the point of gushing when I wrote the review. I cannot wait for the next one in the series.

It is always interesting to me when I put together my favorites list to see how eclectic I really am when I read. From vampires and zombies to a bit of tongue-in-cheek Shakespeare to some fantasy and a lot of romantic suspense. I love reading and suspect I always will. In 2014 I was a bit more particular of what I read and I imagine that this year I will be even more so. The older I get the busier I seem to be. As much as I love to escape to a pretend world in my reading, my relationship with the Lord, my family and my friends are way more important to me.

So as we leave 2014 behind and look forward to 2015 I pray your year will be blessed and that you have many happy reading experiences!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Collage of Books Read in 2014

I always enjoy doing a collage of the books I read each year. I'm not very good at it, but it is fun to mess with it. Have you ever made a collage? Which program do you use? I used Picasa on my computer. If you have made a collage then share your pic or link in the comments section. Would love to see it!

Come back and visit tomorrow for my top picks of 2014!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

When Abigail Foster's family loses most of their money in bad investments the family is forced to find a more modest place to live. When a solicitor approaches them about moving into the Pembrooke house they readily agree to the terms of letting it for a one-year period.

Not long after Abigail moves into the home to prepare it for her family she starts hearing the rumors of what happened to the Pembrooke family(distant relatives of the Fosters). Also she is warned to keep an eye out for treasure hunters. One of the rumors is that a former family member hid a treasure in a secret room.

Always having given up everything for her younger sister, Abigail finds that at Pembrooke Park she can be herself and not live in the shadow of her sisters beauty. Meeting the young curate William Chapman, Abigail's heart is stirred. But with the Chapman family having such close ties with the Pembrooke family past there is mystery surrounding not only William, but his sister Leah as well.

With all of the family secrets swirling around Miles Pembrooke shows up to add to the mystery of the past. Appearing charming there seems to be an underlying purpose to Miles' flirtations. When Abigail finds him snooping around the house obviously in search of the secret room she is put on her guard.

Author Julie Klassen always writes such a great gothic tale. The Secret of Pembrooke Park is no exception. The mystery surrounding the Pembrooke estate and family keeps the reader involved. The relationships between family and servants and neighbors is intriguing. The romance keeps the heart pitter-pattering. I did read in the Author's Notes that this was the longest book to date that Julie Klassen has written, and truly while it did take me a while to read it(because of the holidays) I would have gotten through it quite quickly it was that enjoyable. If you are a fan of the gothic tale, love a good mystery and romance then definitely give this one a read.

**I received my copy from the publisher Bethany House Publishers through NetGalley for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Biggest Brag by Mike Berenstain

I think Mike Berenstain is following in his parents footsteps just perfectly! I'm quite the fan of his Living Lights series of the Berenstain Bear books "helping children learn how God wants them to live every day". In this installment Brother and Sister try to outdo each other in everything and their bragging becomes quite unBEARable, especially to Gramps who teaches them a lesson about pride. I especially like the back inside cover where questions for your child are asked and lead to some really good discussions for a great teachable moment. Also thrown in are a couple of ways to apply the lesson learned. I've always been a fan of The Berenstain Bears and now that both Jan and Stan have passed away I think their son is doing a great job continuing the Bear family traditions!

The New Inductive Study Bible

Today I finished up my reading through the Bible in a year program. Each year I pick a schedule and a version of the Bible to read and each day I read from God's Holy Word. For 2014 I picked a plan that I knew early in that I wasn't happy with. BUT I decided to stick with it because I do like to try different things and read different versions. In 2014 I picked a plan that had a different book of the Bible to be in each day of the week. It was a 52 week Bible Reading Plan. On Sundays I read from the Epistles. On Mondays I read from The Law. On Tuesdays I read from History. On Wednesday I read from The Psalms. On Thursday I read from Poetry. On Fridays I read from Prophecy and on Saturdays I read from The Gospels. I found that even though it changed things up each day of the week there was no cohesion in my reading and that frustrated me. So for 2015 I will be reading straight through the Bible starting with Genesis and ending with Revelation. I will be reading on my Kindle and will be reading the English Standard Version.

Have you ever read through the Bible? If not, I challenge you to give it a try. Someone challenged my husband and I in a class we took at church about 16 years ago, and both of us have read through the Bible each year since.

May your 2015 be filled with many blessings and a closer walk with our Savior Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sleigh Bells & Mistletoe A Short Story by Lena Goldfinch Plus GIVEAWAY

About the Short Story

What's a wife to do when her Christmas plans fall apart?

Join Becky and Isaac from The Unexpected Bride in a romantic short story complete with sleigh bells, mistletoe, and sweet holiday surprises.

It's Christmas Eve, and smoke isn't just rising from the chimney—it's pouring from the stove due to yet another batch of burnt biscuits. Becky wants everything to be perfect for her family, but a ruined meal spells disaster for all her high hopes. Will the night end in despair...or with a happy Christmas dream?

Reconnect with your favorite characters from Book 1 of "The Brides" series and learn more about Jem (the hero of Book 2) in Sleigh Bells and Mistletoe. Includes an excerpt from Book 2, The Bartered Bride.

Short Story 1.5 in The Brides Series
Sweet Historical Western Romance / A Mail-Order Bride Short Story


I really enjoyed visiting Becky and Isaac again. Poor Becky wants everything to be perfect for Christmas and it just isn't happening. I have so been there! Love the lesson that is learned from words of wisdom that Isaac speaks to her. A quick read with a sweet message. I pretty much enjoy anything that Lena has written! 

Now available in Kindle format for only $.99!


About Book 2, The Bartered Bride

What’s a confirmed widower to do when he finds a bride in need of rescue?

James (“Jem”) Wheeler just wants to get back to the ranch in Colorado and make a fresh start after the loss of his wife. But when his train stops at a town in the middle of nowhere, his 2-year-old daughter runs off—straight to a mute young woman and a puppy. Before he has a chance to reclaim little Mae, he overhears an itinerant preacher preparing to sell off the woman to the highest bidder. It’s an injustice he can’t ignore, no matter the fact that he’d never planned on remarrying.

From a young age, all Annie has wanted is to belong. Abandoned and cast aside by those who should have loved her, and with no voice to protest against the wrongdoings she’s witnessed, her hope is but a faint flicker. When Jem steps into her life, she simply tries to get him to save the puppy—never expecting him to save her too.

Could a bartered bride and a grieving widower ever make a happy home together?

Book Two in The Brides Series
Sweet Historical Western Romance


There is a two chapter teaser at the end of Sleigh Bells and Mistletoe for The Bartered Bride. Oh my, I am so hooked and cannot wait for it to come out! Just in those two chapters I'm invested in the characters. We have met one character already in Jem from The Unexpected Bride. I am looking forward to reading his story after he rescues a woman being sold to another man. Do I really have to wait until 2015? Oh wait...it depends on WHEN in 2015 it will be published as 2015 is just around the corner! 

Coming 2015


LENA GOLDFINCH writes romance and fantasy for adults and teens. She’s a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel, novella, or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Elements of romance, fantasy, and mystery
have a way of creeping into her writing, even when she's writing historicals or something light and contemporary. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She lives in a scenic small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two kids, and a very spoiled Black Lab. Visit Lena at www.LenaGoldfinch.blogspot.com.


Rafflecopter Giveaway

Deck the halls and bring on the books! One winner will receive mistletoe earrings from the LuvlyMint Etsy shop, as well as a signed paperback copy of The Unexpected Bride, Book 1 in “The Brides” series. This prize is only available to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Three runners-up (can be international) will receive one e-copy each of Sleigh Bells and Mistletoe.

a Rafflecopter giveaway