Friday, April 26, 2013

The House that Love Built

Book Review

The House That Love Built is by Beth Wiseman. My initial impression of the book was incorrect. The story begins rather slow and while I thought that it was “OK” I felt that it would probably take me quite awhile to read. It just did not have the special “something” that kept drawing me back and I did not let other things go just so I could read. But sticking with it turned out to be an excellent idea. This book is a love story – pretty obvious – The House That Love Built – but it is so much more.

There is much to like about this book. If you enjoy reading about charming small towns, Wiseman describes Smithville, TX with an old-fashioned postcard picture feeling. Smithville is a lovely town, complete with architecturally beautiful historic buildings. It is a place where children can walk places alone and where excellent restaurant meals can be had at a café that is not a chain. If you like rehabbing and restoring a beautiful old house this story will resonate with you. As someone who has been involved in several housing projects, the disappointment in having a paint color that looked great on a paint chip look absolutely awful when translated to a wall struck a chord with me. Who knew that purple could look that dark and foreboding? Then there was the disaster of discovering that the old roof leaked like a sieve during a hurricane. But it all is worthwhile when you feel the thrill that comes with bringing a rundown historic home to its former beauty, refitted for contemporary living.

Several story lines play out in this book, giving the plot a complexity, knit together in a beautiful, complete whole. The book takes the time to “fill out” the characters with descriptive passages that bring them to life. This is the love story of the protagonist, a young widow and an embittered divorced man, Booke and Owen. Brooke comes into the novel with no thought of marriage in her mind and Owen just wants to rehab his house to spite his ex-wife. It is also the story of Brooke’s parents whom after years of separation, discovered love just in time. Through historical information revealed on Owen’s rehabbing project he discovered a tragic love story of the couple that built the house back in the World War I era. They were parted forever by the war. This is juxtaposed along with the contemporary love story and brings the old renovated house to life.

Other secondary story lines flesh out the book with an added richness. This is a story of love and redemption for the town’s “bad boy” who finds family and completeness.  Also, about a bachelor in his 70’s who finally fulfills his ultimate bucket list in Smithville. Plus it is a story of a newborn girl who wins everyone’s heart.  And finally, most importantly, a message that God’s love continues through even times of great difficulty. That is a lot of love.

So besides enjoying reading of small town life and the descriptions of a beautiful renovated house, I was touched by the redeeming message of what genuine caring did for a teenage boy who had never had an adult love and care for him. The ability of a tiny, newborn baby to draw a disparate collection of people together was pretty neat. And the reconciliation in Brooke’s family was satisfying. And I loved being reminded of God’s faithful, unconditional love.

Different threads with different characters have storylines in this book but the diverse strands are all drawn together through love, a common theme. I definitely recommend this book. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions are my own.

Brooke has only loved one man, her late husband. Owen's rebuilding after a painful divorce. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?

About the Book

In the charming town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising two young children on her own, supporting them by running the family hardware store. The last thing on her mind is falling in love. But she's intrigued when a stranger moves to town and buys the old Hadley mansion. She's always heard that house holds a secret-maybe even a treasure-and she can't wait to see inside. When she meets the new owner and they spend time together, she can't deny the attraction. Could God be giving her another chance at happiness? Or is she betraying her late husband's memory by even thinking that way?

Owen Saunders bought the Hadley place to spite his cheating ex-wife. She'd always wanted to restore an old house in Smithville. Now he's going to do it without her. But if anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart. Then he meets Brooke and her kids and finds himself tempted by love. Can he bring himself to trust a woman again?

Throw an eccentric uncle into the mix, along with the town's teenage troublemaker, and even a finicky cat-and one thing becomes clear: God is bringing them all together for a reason.

About the Author

Beth is a Carol Award Winner, Inspirational Readers Choice Winner, INSPY Winner, and the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. All of her books have held spots on the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller list and the CBA (Christian Book Association) bestseller list. She grew up in Houston, Texas and now resides in a small town west of Houston with a population of around 300.

She lives with her
husband, two dogs, two cats, two pot bellied pigs, two chickens and a pygmy goat. Her two grown sons also live in Texas. Beth has been writing in some capacity for most of her life. She's a former award-winning journalist with eleven honors, including 'First Place News Writing' for The Texas Press Association. However, writing love stories with a spiritual message is where her heart is. When Beth isn't writing (which is seldom these days) she enjoys traveling, cooking, fishing, reading, or just settling in for a good movie. Her best times are spent with family and friends!

Learn more about Beth at:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Heiress of Winterwood

Book Review

The Heiress of Winterwood is the first book of a new series, Whispers on the Moors by Sarah Ladd. The story is set in England in 1814.

I was reminded of college women in history classes as I got into this book. I remember being young and shocked to discover that women had been treated like chattel property. Amelia Barrett, an only child is the heiress to her family mansion and fortune. However, before she inherits the family fortune she needs to marry. If she is not married by her 24th birthday her uncle inherits the entire estate. Also, when Amelia marries the fortune passes to her new husband. Amelia had no rights. She was a bright young woman who could certainly take care of her own inheritance; but she was treated like a child who could not be expected to know anything about money. She was a few months from her 24th birthday and time was running out. Her uncle handpicked her fiancé, a man that gave Amelia cause for serious misgivings.

As I read, the rewarding thing for me was watching Amelia take charge of her life and do an excellent job.  I found that the story kept my attention. There is a surprising love story with a hero, a kidnapping, a totally evil fiancé who Amelia sends packing, and an arduous trip by coach and horses. For me, the part I loved was reading about a young woman who turned the mores of her culture upside down and came through with a man she loved, the baby she wanted to raise, her home and her fortune. That was satisfying.

I do recommend this book. I received a copy of the book in return for a review. All opinions are my own.

About the Book

Darbury, England, 1814

Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.

Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend's baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word-even to the point of proposing to the child's father-a sea captain she's never met.

When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting at her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.

Amelia's detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she's forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.

Graham's strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.

Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them.

About the Author

Meet Sarah: Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Find out more about Sarah at

Sarah Ladd is celebrating the release of The Heiress of Winterwood with a Downton Abbey Kindle Prize Pack Giveaway!
 One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Downton Abbey, seasons 1-3
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 30th. Winner will be announced on 5/2/13 {HERE}.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sweet Santuary

Book Review

Kim Vogel Sawyer’s new book Sweet Sanctuary makes a good read. First of all, it depicts the beauty of letting God take over a life and truly letting Him lead. I loved observing how the two protagonists, Lydia and Micah, were able to to change the world, doing great things, by following the leading of their Lord.

Secondly, reading about the Jewish plight during World War II was powerful. Sawyer focuses on one of the most vulnerable populations: Jewish children. She writes about people risking their lives to help these innocent children. It made me realize anew how important it is that we do not forget this part of our history.

Lastly, the reader is introduced to two very charming, loveable children. Sawyer uses words to bring them alive; and it is a joy to read. Nicky and Justina, both had little hope for their future. However, because of Lydia’s and Micah’s willingness to trust, the two children face a bright future. I fell in love with both Nicky and Justina.

There is more to like: this is a beautiful love story, it shows the redemption of a dangerous drug addict, and reading about the change in Lydia’s father is inspiring. It also describes an important time of our country’s history accurately and it makes interesting reading.

I definitely recommend this book. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

About the Book

Lydia Eldredge longs to provide sanctuary for her young son, Nicky. But a constant threat comes from Nicky's drug-addicted father, who wants the boy and seems willing to do whatever it takes to get him.

Dr. Micah Hatcher faithfully serves the immigrant population of Queens, New York. But under cover of darkness, he has a secret mission that challenges everything he thought he wanted out of life.

When Lydia and Micah's paths cross, they are sudde
nly wrapped up in each other's callings. Together, they seek a refuge of safety-for Nicky, for themselves, and for the needy people God puts into their lives. Amid turmoil and discord, can hope and love prevail?

About the Author

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of twenty-one novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Find out more about Kim at

To celebrate the release of  Sweet Sanctuary Kim Vogel Sawyer is giving away a Cupcake Club membership (monthly cupcake delivery!) from the amazing Magnolia Bakery in New York and hosting a Facebook Author Chat party {4/30}!


One "sweet" winner will receive:
    • Cupcakes from NYC’s Magnolia Bakery delivered to your door every month. (Eat them all yourself or share!)
    • Sweet Sanctuary by Kim Vogel Sawyer for you and four of your friends. (Start a book group — cupcakes and a "sweet" read!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the "Sweet Sanctuary" Author Chat Party on 4/30. Connect with Kim, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of Sweet Sanctuary and join Kim on the evening of April 30th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 30th!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Noble Groom

Book Review

Annalisa Werner is a picture of how difficult life could be for an immigrant woman in the United States in 1880. Jody Hedlund’s protagonist in her book A Noble Groom portrays the difficult situation of a young widow in an immigrant farming community in Michigan. In my community, a woman left pregnant, with a two-year old child, and no money would be a tragedy, but it is unlikely she and her child would face starvation. Hedlund portrays a situation where Annalisa’s survival is at stake. Her only reprieve is to quickly find another husband. And to underscore her problem, she must accept a groom that her father finds for her.

Hedlund sets up a conflict between Annalisa’s desire for a husband that treats her with kindness, love and respect and her father’s choice for a husband. When Annalisa meets the man who is to help her with her farm work until her new husband arrives from the Old Country, she is introduced to a type of male that is completely foreign to everything she has known. Hedlund describes Annalisa’s shyness and brings out a picture of a character that has never been able to speak for herself or give her opinion on any aspect of everyday life. As a reader, it is rewarding to observe the growth and changes in Annalisa as the story progresses.

Hedlund brings vibrancy to her characters that draw the reader into their lives. I found myself cheering for Annalisa, hoping she would have the courage to stand against tradition and choose the man who would not only make an excellent father but would give Annalisa encouragement to be more than a household slave. Besides the authentic characterizations, the author describes the hardships the community faces in a way that makes the reader understand the difficulties. The desperate condition caused by a lack of food seems very real, begging the question how can a person work so hard without an adequate diet? And the devastation of a drought becomes a life and death situation.

A Noble Groom is an accurate and fascinating description of life in a 19th century immigrant community. It is also a romance with the drama of drought, wild fire, and dangerous evil men who took advantage of new arrivals to the community. I do recommend this book. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions are my own.

Buy the book for $11.18

About the Book

Michigan, 1880

Annalisa Werner's hope for a fairy tale love is over. Her husband failed her in every way and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm. She needs a plentiful harvest. That, and a husband to help bring it in. Someone strong, dependable. That'll be enough. A marriage for love...that's something she's given up on.

So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
Then a man appears: Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany and a former schoolteacher---or so he says. He's looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.

With time running out, she accepts his help, but there's more to this man than he's admitting. He's also gentle, kind, charming---unlike any man she's ever known. But even as Carl is shining light into the darkness of her heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day.

About the Author 

Meet Jody: Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of "The Doctor's Lady" and "The Preacher's Bride". She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

Find out more about Jody at

Jody Hedlund is celebrating the release of A Noble Groom by giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting a Facebook Author Chat Party {5/8}! 

One "noble" winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A copy of A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 7th. Winner will be announced at the "A Noble Groom" Author Chat Party on May 8th. Connect with Jody, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways -- gift certificates, books, and more!

So grab your copy of A Noble Groom and join Jody on the evening of May 8th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 8th!


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