Great Beach Read

Once Upon a PrinceOnce Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck is a great beach read – light fare that you can put down for a minute while you take a dip in the ocean, then pick up again and enjoy for another hour.  What happens when the guy you’ve been hanging out with, who has been scrubbing toilets at the family eatery, suddenly turns out to be a prince?  It’s every girl’s dream come true, right?

Yet this fairy tale has its modern twists.  Whether it’s dealing with paparazzi or archaic laws, there are bumps in the road for this couple.  Is Nathanial really the man God has planned for Susanna?  What of his family’s wishes for him? 

Even though this is a light-hearted story, there are some valuable truths here.   Is Susanna following her will or God’s will?  Which should be put first, God’s will, duty to country, or love?  Can all three coexist?  You will find these thought-provoking questions throughout the story if you think on it carefully.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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New Thriller from Lis Wiehl and April Henry

A Matter of TrustA Matter of Trust is the first novel in the Mia Quinn series by Lis Wiehl and April Henry, the dynamic writing team that brought us the Triple Threat series.

Mia Quinn works for the King County prosecutor’s office.  She has just returned to work after the death of her husband, and now she is struggling to balance work with being there for her teenage son and 4 year old daughter.  If that isn’t enough stress, she is on the phone with another prosecutor when that woman is brutally attacked.  Now Mia must work with detective Charlie Coleman to solve the case, navigating around office politics and personal issues.

Wiehl and Henry have written another engrossing mystery involving characters who struggle with real-life issues like balancing work and family.  Ophelia Miller from the Triple Threat series makes a brief appearance.  I really enjoy this quirky character and hope that she has her own series someday.

If you’re already a Lis Wiehl fan, you’ll enjoy her latest work.  If you’ve never read a Lis Wiehl novel, this is a great place to start.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Decisive – A New Perspective to Aid Decision-Making

Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, encourages us to change how we make decisions.  Although this book is primarily written from a business perspective, many of the principles can be applied to personal decisions as well.

The Heath brothers teach the reader to expand the approach to decision making using the four-step WRAP process – Widen Your Options, Reality-Test Your Assessments, Attain a Distance Before Deciding, and Prepare to be Wrong.

The Heath brothers’ start off by describing four “villains” that impede good decision making.  They point out that when we make decisions, many of us are asking the wrong questions.  For example, instead of answering the question “I wonder whether or not I should apply for that promotion out of state?” we should ask farther-ranging questions, such as “What are the opportunities for promotion in my company, and which one is the best path for me?”  Sometimes our focus is too narrow, and we miss the best choice because of this.

Another common pitfall is that we consciously or unconsciously favor one choice.   Thus all of our decision-making research is geared toward proving that choice is the right one.  The Heath brothers provide suggestions on how to avoid this and other pitfalls.

I found this book to be very helpful in making a career decision that I had previously felt ambivalent towards.  Now I am curious to see how I might use these principles in the workplace.

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Smitten – A Great Place to Live

Secretly Smitten is the second book set in Smitten, Vermont by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter.  Each author writes a section centering on a specific member of the Thomas family; sisters Tess, Zoe, Clare, and their mother Anna.

The theme throughout the book is the mystery behind a set of dog tags belonging to an old beau of their grandmother. Each novella has a subplot involving romance and conflict for one of the Thomas women.

Because this is the second book in the series, you might want to read Smitten first before reading Secretly Smitten.  While Secretly Smitten can be read by itself, it has many references and spoilers from the first book.

After reading the first book, I fell in love with Smitten; after reading the second, I’d seriously consider moving there.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Great Book for a Winter Day

Come to the TableThere’s nothing I like more on a cold winter day than to curl up with a cup of hot tea and a good book.  And Come to the Table by Neta Jackson is a wonderful book to curl up with.

Come to the Table is the latest book in Neta Jackson’s Souled Out Sisters series.  Kat Davies really has a passion for healthy eating and conservation.  But her passion is unfocused until it is suggested that she open a food pantry.  But Kat isn’t sure.  How can she know if this is God’s will for her?

Meanwhile, Rochelle Johnson and her son Conny are becoming more attached to Nick Taylor, but he has eyes for Kat.  At the same time, Nick is struggling with whether he should be living with Rochelle, Conny, Kat and Bree now that he is a pastoral intern at Souled Out Community Church.

Neta Jackson has written an engrossing tale about real people who are struggling to discern God’s will in their lives.  The characters are very human, and flawed; just like most of us are.  That is why I think it is easy to relate to them.  I’ve never lived in a homeless shelter, but I can relate to Edessa struggling down 3 flights of stairs with laundry and being upset that the dryer is malfunctioning.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Westerville Whiskey Wars Brought to Life

History comes alive in Lovelier than Daylight by Rosslyn Elliott.  The story is set in Westerville, Ohio during the Whiskey Wars of 1875-1879.  Susanna Hanby is searching for her nieces and nephews.  Her sister Rachel has disappeared after giving the children to an orphanage in Columbus.  Rachel’s husband, George, has destroyed their family with his alcoholism.  Susanna and her uncle Will Hanby are in favor of keeping Westerville a dry town in part because of George and others like him.

But Henry Corbin plans to open a saloon in Westerville, and has Johann Giere, son of a Columbus brewery owner, helping him bring in the lager.  When Johann and Susanna cross paths, sparks are sure to fly.

Rosslyn Elliott brings the Westerville Whiskey Wars to life, blending fictional and historical characters to weave a delightful story.  Without taking sides, she shows the emotions that eventually led to the 18th amendment to the US constitution.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Redemption and Forgiveness at Christmas in Victorian Scotland

Liz Curtis Higgs presents a wonderful Christmas story of forgiveness and redemption in A Wreath of Snow, framed in a setting of Victorian Scotland.  Our heroine, Meg Campbell, is taking a train from Stirling to Edinburgh, fleeing the city of her birth after a nasty scene at home on Christmas Eve.  Gordon Shaw is on the same train, having been forced by his work to visit Stirling after a twelve year absence.

Gordon recognizes Meg from an encounter just prior to his departure twelve years ago, but she doesn’t recognize him.  When circumstances force them together, he introduces himself as “Mr. Gordon”.  How will Meg handle it if she learns his true identity as a childhood enemy?

This is the perfect book for taking a break from Christmas preparations.  Grab a cup of hot tea and a seat by the fire and enjoy!

I received this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah’s Blogging for Books program in exchange for my review.

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Gripping Story of Emotional Healing

Prayers of a Stranger by Davis Bunn is subtitled A Christmas Journey.  While the story does take place in December, its message of healing makes it appropriate for any time of the year.

Amanda Vance is the personal assistant to the director of a major Florida hospital.  She is a former nurse who took the assistant position after a personal tragedy.  Her neighbors, Emily and Frank, are looking forward to a trip to Israel, but when Frank is unable to travel, Emily invites Amanda to take his place.  Frank volunteers at Amanda’s hospital, but she has never really gotten past being an acquaintance with Emily.

Their first few days in the Holy Land are a whirlwind, and when they stop to catch their breath, each has a personal pain that is revealed.  In Amanda’s case, the kindness and prayers of a stranger lead to her healing, while Emily finds healing closer to home.

This is an engrossing, heartwarming story that grips you and won’t let go.  It would be a great read after a hectic day of Christmas shopping.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Thoughtful Novel about Discerning God’s Plan for Your Life

In A Path Toward Love, Cara Lynn James has written a thoughtful novel about forgiveness and discerning God’s plan for your life.

Katherine Wainwright Osborne has always been one to flaunt society’s conventions.  In 1905, New York society daughters did not elope to marry someone outside their social circle.  They did not run Florida orange groves, which Katherine chose to do after the untimely deaths of her husband and father-in-law.  Proper society women spent their summers in the Adirondacks and their winters in the city.

Katherine has done her best to run the orange groves, but her husband had left her little money, drinking and gambling away the rest.  In order to save her beloved groves, she agrees to return with her father to the Adirondacks for the summer in exchange for a loan.  Katherine plans to return to Florida in the fall, but her mother is conspiring to marry her off to Charles Clarke, the eligible son of her mother’s best friend.

Complicating matters is Charles’ cousin Andrew, who works for Katherine’s father, and Harriet Roles and her son.  Katherine gets conflicting advice from her mother and her Aunt Letty, and must decide what path God would have her tread.

I found this to be a very enjoyable read, with more spiritual meat than James’ previous novels.  Katherine has difficult choices to make; in fact, a number of characters must choose between a comfortable path and their true calling.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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Earn Free Books with Tyndale Rewards

Tyndale House Publishers has just announced a new rewards program to allow readers to earn free books.  There are many ways to earn points, such as writing a book review of a Tyndale House book on a retail web site, signing up for e-newsletters, or filling out surveys.  Points can be redeemed for selected Tyndale books.

I’m always in favor of free things, and wanted to share this with everyone.  To get started earning rewards, sign up at www.tyndalerewards.com

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