Saturday, November 26, 2016

Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by Various Authors

Last Chance Christmas by Julie Lessman

Grace O'Malley is in Last Chance, California hoping to start a new life. Hoping that her old friend will welcome her in her home Grace arrives unannounced and in for a surprise.

Newly widowed Pastor Colton McCabe is in need of some serious help. When Grace arrives on his doorstep he takes it as the miracle it is and gives Grace a home in exchange for her caring for his motherless children and his aunt who is none too happy to have Grace in her home.

If Colton knew when Grace arrived that she had no experience running a household he may have changed his mind. But Grace loves his children even if she burns every meal! Grace is eager to leave her past behind and find love with Colton, but Colton has a promise to fulfill for his first wife and doesn't think he can love another woman.

Last Chance Christmas is the first novella in this collection. And the author is one of my favorites! So of course it made me excited to read it. In true Julie Lessman style there is drama abounding in this novella. There is even a bit of danger which caused me some heart palpitations! With a bit of humor to lighten the mood and the "Happily Ever After" that I crave in all my reading, Last Chance Christmas was a wonderful beginning to this Four Historical Novellas read.

A Cowboy For Christmas by Ruth Logan Herne

A fire has ripped through the community that June Harper and many other poor people were living. Widowed, June must now provide for herself and two young daughters. Joining with two other women June goes to work on a local farm picking potatoes. When she is assaulted by the foreman June stands up to him and brings the plight of her homeless community to the attention of the boss of the farm she is working on.

Hugh Stackman may have turned his back on God long ago, but he still has a heart and responsibility to his fellow neighbors. Hugh and his brother Jacob come up with a plan to provide for June and the rest of the homeless community through the winter while their town and businesses are being rebuilt.

Hugh and June are attracted to each other from the start, but June has already been married to a man that had no faith and she refuses to be involved with another. Hugh cannot put on a false faith just to please June, will he be able to surrender his bitterness and anger to a God he feels let him down?

I thought this was a sweet story. Of course being a novella the attraction between June and Hugh happens quickly. I loved how Hugh jumped right in to help those less fortunate than himself. Even though his heart was hardened towards God, throughout the story we could see that his heart wasn't hardened towards people. I loved June's ability to stand firm in her faith even when her heart was breaking. Great addition to this novella compilation!

Longhorn Christmas by Mary Connealy

Netty is on her own raising her son Jeremiah and trying to eke out a living by capturing wild longhorns and selling them to provide for her and her son.

Roy came back from war to find his family and farm gone. The girl he was engaged to moved on to greener pastures so Roy is now wandering not sure what he is looking for.

Roy comes upon Netty just in time to save her from one of the longhorns she is trying to round up. Roy agrees to stay and help Netty gather up longhorns until Christmas. The problem is that Roy is a wandering man and Netty just might capture his heart.

I enjoyed Longhorn Christmas. There were several scenes that had me laughing out loud. I loved Netty teaching her son Jeremiah about the Nativity, and I especially enjoyed how Netty and Roy seemed to be the perfect match to help each other heal and start a new life.

Connie's Christmas Prayer by Anna Schmidt

Connie and her mother have moved to Arizona Territory when Connie's father dies and leaves them in debt. Connie's mother is now the owner of the local diner and Connie works with her to help make ends meet. Connie's one desire is to be able to move back to St. Louis her former home.

Isaac knows the moment he lays eyes on Connie that she is "the one" for him. He now has to persuade Connie. He enlists the help of Connie's mother who is all for the match. Can Isaac hope to win Connie's heart and change her desire to return to St. Louis?

Connie's Christmas Prayer is the last story in Cowboy Christmas Homecoming. I thought it was a sweet addition and enjoyed reading it.I liked the characters of Connie and Isaac. I enjoyed how independent Connie was even though she didn't seem to know exactly what she wanted in her life. I also liked Isaac's character in how he was decisive and intuitive and went after what he wanted. A cute story.

I enjoyed all of the stories in Cowboy Christmas Homecoming and look forward to reading other stories by these authors.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Haunting Joy 2 by Lena Goldfinch

Joy is very startled when another ghost makes his appearance known to her. This time the ghost is a boy named Kyle. He doesn't remember how he died. There are other differences as well that unsettle Joy. For one thing it seems that Kyle is able to communicate better with Joy than Beth(her former haunting) was.

Joy is all set to get Kyle to the afterlife and quit being haunted. But it isn't so easy to figure out what has kept Kyle tied to this earth.

One of the first things I loved about this book was that even though Kyle is dead the story isn't a downer. There are definite amusing parts that had me laughing out loud. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some poignant moments that also had me in tears. I loved that even though Joy got exasperated with Kyle she was still willing to help him figure out why he was still here even though he had died. I also loved all of the teen angst that Joy was going through in her life. Almost 18 and still no cell phone, are her and Nick a couple or not, when will her parents quit nagging her about cleaning her room, and most importantly of all, which college will she choose to go to? All in all Haunting Joy 2 was a sweet haunting that I definitely enjoyed reading(two times in a row!). If you haven't read Haunting Joy I definitely recommend remedying that, it is well worth the read!

Check out my review of Haunting Joy

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Christmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman

First Response Commander Jake Marsh is on the scene to help childcare owner Rachael Long when a masked man breaks into the daycare and tries to kidnap one of Rachael's children. Determined to keep the man from taking the child and also determined to identify the man, Rachael rips off his mask! Now Rachael is in danger and Jake is determined to do all he can to keep her safe.

Both Rachael and Jake have lost people in their lives that have left them feeling guilty and unworthy to be loved again. Both have thrown their energy into their work. Now that Jake is protecting Rachael they both feel the attraction that they instantly have for one another, but neither one is ready to open their heart to love.

Christmas Conspiracy is the last book in the First Responders series and it definitely kept this reader on the edge of my seat! Christmas Conspiracy starts off with heart-pounding action and that action continues throughout the whole story. I love Jake's character. He is protective and tender with Rachael and willing to give up his life in order to keep her safe. We are able to catch up with the rest of the team and see how the other relationships have developed. Although I am sad that the series is over I have enjoyed each of the team members stories. If you are a romantic suspense fan like I am then don't miss out on this fantastic series!

My Reviews of the First Responders Series:
Silent Night Standoff
Explosive Alliance
High-Caliber Holiday
Emergency Response
Silent Sabotage

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Redeeming Grace by Ward Tanneberg

Image result for redeeming grace by ward tanneberg

Seven years ago Grace Grafton experienced the worst night of her life. Set to graduate from college Grace and two of her friends are having a weekend away. When offered the chance to spend an evening with one of the richest men in the world and several of his friends, no strings attached, the girls are excited and ready for the adventure. What happens while with these men will change Grace's life forever.

Now 7 years later, Grace's old life is about to catch up with her. The only problem is that not only is Grace in danger, but those she loves most have been kidnapped. The men that have taken her loved ones will stop at nothing to ensure Grace's silence. Will Grace be able to save her fiancé and his children while taking down the most powerful men in America before it's too late?

I thought this was a good story although it was rather long, 597 pages long to be exact! That would be my only complaint about this book. I thought that the story line moved along at a good pace, but there were several elements of the story that I think could have been removed to shorten the book. I think that the author managed to keep the reader engaged in Grace's plight and had enough action to keep the reader turning the pages in order to find out what happened next. I found that I was invested in what happened in the characters lives even though at one point I was getting confused because too many other characters got introduced. Everything was tidily wrapped up and left me with a sense of peace about the future of the characters. If you don't mind a long book and you enjoy a good suspense then I definitely recommend this one for you.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Guest Post by Amanda Flower

Buy a mystery and help feed a community!

By Amanda Flower


Six years, twenty published books. It’s a staggering statistic for any author, and it’s still hard to believe that it’s mine. I’m living my version of a fairy tale. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been blessed. I’ve worked incredibly hard. But I wouldn’t be where I am without the kindness of others. My agent, my family, my friends, my editors, and my readers have all been on this incredible journey with me, and in honor of all those people, in honor of you, I’m giving back to a local food pantry with the release of my twentieth novel, Prose and Cons. I hope you will join me!


Pre-order or purchase any edition of Prose and Cons, the second novel in the Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, between now and Tuesday, December 20, 2016, and I will donate $1 for every book sold to a local food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio.


My brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Nicole Flower, manage the Landing in the basement of Akron Christian Reformed Church with a group of dedicated volunteers. The food pantry feeds over sixty families in its neighborhood on $200 a week.



The Learned Owl will donate $1 to the Landing food pantry for every copy of Prose and Cons it sells before or at my book signing there on December 10th in addition to the $1 that I will donating to the Landing for every copy of Prose and Cons sold by any bookseller by December 20th. For those of you who cannot make the signing, the Learned Owl is also selling PERSONALIZED AND SIGNED copies on the novel. They can ship anywhere.

Image result for prose and cons by amanda flower 




Buy a mystery and help feed a community! And as always thank you for reading! I hope Prose and Cons brings a smile to your face.


Enter to win one of four $25 gift cards to Barnes and Nobel or Amazon. Winner’s choice. Visit to enter!



Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is librarian in Northeast Ohio.

Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Julie's review of PROSE AND CONS:

Violet is in the middle of another murder! This time one of the women in the Red Inkers group is found dead on the back stairs of Charming Books. Violet’s shop neighbor Sadie is a suspect in the murder, and Violet is determined to prove that Sadie is not the murderer.
With suspects coming out of the woodwork Violet investigates during the busiest time of Cascade Springs year. The Food and Wine Festival is going on in the little village and provides an entertaining backdrop for this murder mystery.

Violet finds herself getting into several scrapes that Chief David Rainwater is not happy about. There are hints of something developing between the two, but Violet isn’t ready to go there yet. Being the caretaker of the magical tree in the bookstore causes Violet to pause and think before entering a relationship with the chief. He’s already asking questions about the tree. Plus Violet’s old flame Mayor Nathan Morton is still holding out hope for a rekindling of their relationship.

Prose and Cons is a fast read that kept me entertained throughout the entire reading. I kept thinking, “I’ll read one more chapter” and then I’d get to the end of the chapter and have to continue just to see what happened next. The mystery was solid and the murderer was definitely a surprise. Charming Books’ mascots Emerson the cat and Faulkner the crow were entertaining as always! Their antics had me laughing several times while reading. I love that the bookstore helps Violet and her grandmother place books into the hands of readers and also helps Violet solve the mystery (I loved the references to Edgar Allen Poe that were used), and I also love that Violet is embracing her role as caretaker. I look forward to the next installment of the Magical Bookshop Mystery series as there are still several things that need to be resolved in Violet’s life and I can’t wait to see how the bookstore helps her out.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Emma Read-Along Discussion 4-Wrap Up

We have come to the end of the read-along. I think we all limped along to the end! For some reason this was a difficult read. Definitely not my favorite Austen book. Head over to Amber's blog at Seasons of Humility to check out her wrap-up post. Amber, thanks so much for hosting this read-along. I do look forward to another one! And I loved the use of Mrs. Stokes in this read and this quote made me laugh, "but is Mrs. Stokes to be trusted? I doubt it. I do not know her, even by sight." ha! I hope Amber that you are more trustworthy than this Mrs. Stokes appears to be! ha! As soon as I saw the name I thought of you! How fun to find ones own surname in a book.

If you have read Emma feel free to comment your thoughts on the story. I look forward to the next read-along. It is always fun to read with fellow bloggers.

Final Questions:

1. What did you think of Mr. Elton's choice in a wife? And do you believe Mrs. Elton truly cared about Jane Fairfax?

I did not like that woman AT ALL! She was rude and thought herself above her station. ha!

 2. Which scene of the story stood out to you the most? Perhaps one that made you chuckle...or one that melted your heart...or one that made you cringe with embarrassment.

I think the scene that stood out the most to me was when Mr. Elton proposed to Emma. That just cracked me up. As painful as it was for Mr. Elton, Emma's being so indignant cracked me up. ha!

 3. Were you content with the matches that were made by the end of the story? Do you think everyone ended up in the right relationships?

I still am confused about Jane and Frank Churchill's relationship. I guess I just don't get the whole deception thing, but whatever. Of course I think that Emma's match was perfect and so was Harriet's. Poor Harriet!

 4. Have you read any other Jane Austen novels? If so, which is your favorite, and how does Emma rank on your list?

Yes, I have read all of Jane Austen's novels, and my favorite is Pride and Prejudice. It has been from the first time I ever read it. Emma was hard for me to get into the first time I read it and this time it was just as hard. I don't know, maybe the long chapters threw me, or the drawn out dialogue. I just can't pinpoint it, but even though it had it's moments, there just seemed to be something lacking for me in this story. It didn't touch me like others have.

Favorite Quotes:

"Emma was not required, by any subsequent discovery, to retract her ill opinion of Mrs. Elton. her observation had been pretty correct. Such as Mrs. Elton appeared to her on this second interview, such she appeared whenever they met again, --self-important, presuming, familiar, ignorant, and ill-bred."

"She was nobody when he married her, barely the daughter of a gentleman; but ever since her being turned into a Churchill she has out-Churchill'd them all in high and mighty claims: but in herself, I assure you, she is an upstart."

"Ah! ma'am, but there may be a difficulty. Pardon me--but you will be limited as to number--only three at once." Oh, shame on you Emma for hurting this poor woman's feelings!

"and it really was too much to hope even of Harriet, that she could be in love with more than three men in one year."

Words That Interested Me:
Penury: Extreme poverty; destitution.
Gaiters: A garment similar to leggings, worn to cover or protect the ankle and lower leg.
Insuperable: impossible to overcome.
Puppyism: Referring to puppies I believe. ha! Comparing his behavior and character to puppies. Not a compliment. ha!
Tippet: A woman's long cape or scarf, typically of fur or similar material.
Connivance: Willingness to secretly allow or be involved in wrongdoing, esp. an immoral or illegal act.
Ostensible: stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.
Preferment: promotion or appointment to a position or office.
Hautboy: Not sure what this word means. It is an archaic form of OBOE.
Pertinacity: Holding firmly to an opinion or a course of action-pertinacious.
Volubility: speaking or spoken incessantly and fluently-voluble.
Extenuations: Make(guilt or offense) seem less serious or more forgivable.
Palliage: Make (a disease or its symptoms) less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause.
Tautology: The saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style.

So there it is...The end of Emma. Let me know what you thought and what is your favorite Jane Austen book.