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Leanna's Choice ~ Review

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah
Leanna's Choice
By Angie Dickens

Leanna McKee's life is not what she expected it to be. Living far from her old life in Boston society she finds herself a widow in the harsh mining town of Castle Gate, Utah and surviving on the slight salary she makes as a school teacher to the children of Greek immigrants. The resentment and bitterness that have made a home in her heart are keeping her from any contentment in her situation.

But when Alex Pappas, a friend of her late husband, seeks her help with his niece and nephew Leanna finds a new purpose in her life and a chance to earn her way out of Castle Gate. But the more she gets to know the Pappas children the more aware she becomes of the prejudices that are held against these hard-working immigrants.

Fear and intolerance have divided this community into two halves. Though there is work and opportunity to grow and improve what they have, distrust of what isn't known has driven in a wedge that is widening the divide. And Leanna and Alex's friendship could be the catalyst to destroy everything. Or it could be the first step in drawing everyone into a community that works together. But when two other choices for the future present themselves Leanna is faced with a decision that only she can make. But which way will she turn - that which she had known, that which she now knows, or the unknown?

This story is set in 1910 and it is interesting to run parallels to today and people's stance on immigrants. Fear that these new people will steal the jobs, the opportunities that belong to others has been a motivation in this intolerance throughout history.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:

Forbidden love challenges Old World
expectations in the coal mining town
of Castle Gate, Utah

Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart...and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him.  When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.


Brush with Love ~ Review

Brush with Love
By Lisa McKendrick

Lana Huish has spent her life feeling as if her heart were frozen. Left as a child in an orphanage in Russia she has always wished to know her mother but has known the life she has wouldn't have been without this loss. From this separation, Lana has found art as a medium to capture and keep that which she wants to never lose.

Lana's talent has earned her a summer internship with acclaimed artist Lefty Zaugg. For six weeks she'll work with him honing her talent. But an unexpected change of plans finds Lana on a plane to Bluegill, Idaho, to study under LeVan Hitchpost. But LeVan, though a talent artist, is no longer able to paint due to his failing mental health.

But Lana's coming is the chance LeVan has been waiting for a chance to live again as he wants. And Lana has to keep his secret from everyone including his grandson Walt. And when she starts spending time with Walt, Lana is left with the discomfort of keeping a secret that would be a gift for Walt - a chance at more time with the man who has been there for him over the years. But LeVan needs this time to create his final masterpiece and Lana is his chance to do this.

Lana's time in Idaho is turning into more than she could have ever expected though worries about her best friend Ingrid have her just a little worried. And when her six weeks are up will Lana's heart finally have thawed? Or will her heart return to the icy state she has always felt it has been in?

This is a delightful contemporary work that deals with life and its ups and downs and the pain of reaching out to another and caring. This is a story of family. A story of community. A story of belonging. The descriptive settings make me want to visit Bluegill and see these gorgeous views though I could do without a flash flood and a dramatic rescue though this added an unexpected touch of excitement.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
Lana, a talented Ivy League artist, is thrilled for a summer internship program where she'll study under an acclaimed artist, but she is soon disappointed to find that she'll be going tp Bluegill, Idaho, for six weeks to study under the brilliant but aging artist LeVan Hitckpost. As she spends more time with him, though (and more specifically with LeVan's grandson, Walt), Lana realizes she may have to choose between following her dreams or following her heart.


The Girl in the Tower ~ Review

The Girl in the Tower
The Winternight Trilogy #2
By Katherine Arden

This is the delightful sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. Picking up where the previous book ended with Vasya returning to the hidden forest home of Morozko. But this is not the beginning of this part of the story.

Remote peasant villages are being destroyed - burned to the ground, peasants killed, and select girls spirited away. But all traces of these marauders vanish almost as soon as they leave as if they had never been. Vasya's brother Sasha with the Grand Prince of Moscow Dmitrii Ivanovich upon receiving a plea for help in hunting this threat head out into the wildness. But nothing of these bandits can be discovered until a lone horse bearing a most unusual and unexpected rider.

Fleeing her home following the death of her father and her sole protection Vasya has determined to see the world that lies beyond what she has always known. Morozko warns against such a dangerous undertaking but Vasya being Vasya pays little heed to his efforts to turn her to home. The world is full of wonders that she never imagined and unexpected dangers. When her path crosses that of her brother Vasya presents herself as the brother that Sasha left behind eight years previous.

Soon Vasya is on the road to Moscow at the side of Sasha and Dmitrii. But disguising herself as a young man comes with its own dangers and more than her life is at risk if she cannot keep her secret. But keeping in the shadows and not drawing attention to her very person is not something Vasya excels at. But Moscow needs Vasya and her gift of sight. For a threat has come to the kingdom and no one seems able to see its true source.

If Vasya's true identity is revealed all could be lost and Moscow could fall into the hands of an ancient foe.

In a world in which women were expected to marry or enter the convent, Vasya is an oddity. She refuses to be something other than what she wants to be but her defiance could cost her everything. This is a medieval Russian fairytale that is filled with a hidden spirit world that is losing ground in the minds of the people. But Vasya's life has been filled with the listening of these tales and unlike most she believes.

The Girl in the Tower is for those who have a fondness for tales of folklore and impossible love. Set in Russia before the days of the Czar this story has a feel about it that captivates the reader as Vasya learns who she is at her heart. Morozko is a character that one can't get a true feel for but he is of two personalities - the being Vasya knows and the being of lore.

If you have not yet read The Bear and the Nightingale it is a must to read this book first. Without this background, one will not fully grasp the story or the characters and how they fit together in this setting. With winter soon to be upon us what better way to appreciate a warm cup of cider and a cozy blanket than to enter the world of the winter-king.

I was provided an advanced review copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a review positive or otherwise. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

Cathadeus ~ Book Spotlight with Giveaway

Book Details:

Book Title: Cathadeus (Book One of the Walking Gates)
Author: Jeff J. Peters
Category: YA Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Release date: Dec 8, 2017
Tour dates: Dec 4 to 15, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (fighting scenes)

Book Description:

It has been six hundred years since the Alchemists fused together men and beasts to form strong, mindless slaves. Now, their most vicious creations have attacked the mystical Walking Gates, slaughtering their Keepers and isolating their cities. Wounded in the brutal attack, Braxton Prinn’s mother is on the verge of death and he makes a desperate journey to find the reclusive elven master who can save her. But when he discovers an ancient magic, Brax is caught up in an even greater struggle and soon finds himself hunted for his power. Drawn into the chaos of an impending war and pursued by enemies on all sides, Brax must fight to save his mother and her race from slipping into darkness. Though his untamed magic may be the greatest threat of all . . .

What Readers are Saying about Cathadeus:

“Jeff J. Peters’ strong cinematic writing style allowed me to easily visualize the story and feel that I was right there alongside the characters.”
- Alison W.

“Jeff J. Peters’ writing is so smooth and easy to read – I can’t tell you how much of a pleasure it was…and how quickly you end up being drawn into the story because of it.”
- Amanda R.

“Cathadeus is the best kind of fantasy story - you get to learn along with a flawed main character while you get lost in a richly designed world. You can’t help but keep reading. A cleanly written pairing of characters you wish you could spend more time with and an enthralling world built around them. Cathadeus is the kind of story that plays perfectly off of your imagination, with characters grounded in reality to make it feel like you could really be there.”
- Ryan N.

“Jeff J. Peters definitely has storytelling skills...The story stayed on my mind when I wasn’t reading it. Young readers will be drawn in this imaginative story, while they relate to Braxton’s struggles with temper, insecurity, and young love. Cathadeus is dramatic, with an anxious tone—at times bleak, as the story keeps you wondering until the final battle if good will prevail.”
- Elizabeth C.

Buy the Book:

Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author:

JEFF J. PETERS was born in South Africa and immigrated to the United States as a teenager, where he fell in love with all things fantasy. He obtained degrees in digital electronics and computer science and worked as an IT professional for more than twenty years. In 2014, he left his corporate position to focus full-time on writing. Cathadeus is his debut novel. He is currently working on the sequel.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook

Enter the Giveaway!
End Dec 23
Win a print copy of Cathadeus by Jeff J. Peters.
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(open internationally - 2 winners)

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Imperfect Justice ~ Review

Imperfect Justice
Hidden Justice #2
By Cara Putman

Kaylene Adams was so close to escaping the situation she found herself in and with the help of Emilie Wesley she would get the security she sought. But something went wrong and Kaylene is making the news as the woman who took her own life and that of one of her daughters. Her youngest daughter in the hospital recovering from her own gunshot wound.

Emilie can't believe that the police have the whole story but she has no proof. And her knowledge of Kaylene isn't enough for the police and she has been ordered by her boss to let this go and focus on the clients that they can still help.

But Emilie can't let it go and when Kaylene's brother Reid Billings asks for her help in fulfilling Kaylene's final request of him she has a reason to pursue justice. But can they find enough evidence to have Kinley removed from her father's custody and placed with an uncle? With time against them, they are determined to do all they can. And proving that Robert Adams isn't the broken-hearted father that he is presenting to watching world isn't going to be easy.

But Emilie has a problem that those around her think is just paranoia from a traumatic accident earlier in the year. But Emilie is sure she has a stalker and in her line of work that is a distinct possibility. The only question is it a former client or the ex of a client? Can she stay two steps ahead long enough to determine who is shadowing her? Or will she become a victim too?

This is the second book in the Hidden Justice series and this book is just as good a read as the first. The high-stakes legal cases that are being pursued are ones that have a personal investment involved in them as these lawyers fight with their heart. The story has an intensity that builds as everything Emilie is dealing with comes together right at the end. And believe me when I say it could go either way. If you like good fiction or legal thrillers this is one book you can't skip. Haven't read the first book Beyond Justice? That's okay this book is easy to get into and the main characters are different though they are in both books. And when you finish one you can start in on the other one.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher through BookLook Bloggers but there was no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
The police say the woman was a murderer. 
Emilie Wesley knows they can't be talking about 
her client . . . can they.

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams snapped and killed her daughter and then was shot by police. However, attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story. Kaylene was a nurturer at heart looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive marriage. Kaylene's death shakes Emilie's world and her belief that she can make a difference for these women. Self-doubt plagues her, and she finds herself struggling to continue her work in the wake of tragedy.
Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned of the manner of her death. He receives a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would take on his case, but Kaylene's letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.
Thrown together in the race to save Kinley Adams from a father who isn't all that he seems, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. But if they can hang on to hope together, maybe they can save Kinley—and find a future for themselves in the process.


The Most Important Women of the Bible ~ Review

The Most Important Women of the Bible
Remarkable Stories of God's Love and Redemption
By Aaron Sharp and Elaina Sharp

The Most Important Women of the Bible covers the lives and key moments of 31 different woman who can be found in the Bible. These women are found in both the Old and New Testaments. Some have entire books carrying their names such as Ruth and Esther. Others are known only by their location of residence or their societal status. Some were Jewish while others were Gentile. But they all had one thing in common God felt that they were important to His story.

Overall this is an interesting book. I like how each chapter opens with a quoted statement about each featured woman and then the Scripture reference that they are found in. A short biography follows with a how they are important in the plan of humanities redemption.  

If you are someone who likes to read a devotional a day this book would be perfect for a month-long study. Another possibility is for this book is a group Bible study that meets once a week or month where several of the women would be discussed at one time. I highly recommend this book for, however, you plan to read through it. This would also make a nice gift for anyone who enjoys reading and studying the Bible.

I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher Bethany House with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

About the Book:
Powerful Stories That Reveal God's Love and Mercy
The Bible is the story of God's relationship with people--Jews and Gentiles, saints and sinners. From well-known characters like Eve and Esther to those less known like Jochebed and Zipporah, women play a vital role in the biblical drama. Authors Aaron and Elaina Sharp highlight three dozen of the most important women in Scripture, each handpicked by God to play a crucial part in His plan to redeem humanity.
Discover how each woman fits into the overall narrative of God's good news, and let it remind you that their story is also the story of His powerful love for you.
Read the short, lively chapters day by day as a devotional, or use them as a Bible study on your own or with a group.

About the Authors:

Aaron and Elaina Sharp
 are both Master of Theology graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary. Aaron works for Insight for Living Ministries, and Elaina owns and operates a small business.
Aaron is the author of Everything the Bible Says About Parenting and Children and What Does God Say About That? Elaina writes and develops curriculum for ministries such as Cru. Aaron and Elaina Sharp live in Little Elm, Texas, with their three children.


The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon ~ Review

The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon
His Earliest Outlines and Sermons 
Between 1851 and 1854  Volume 2
Edited with introduction and notes by Christian T. George

This book is heavy and I don't mean just the subject matter - this book weighs just over 4 pounds. But when one considers the treasure found between these covers it is hard to believe it weighs so little.

The introduction that opens this book allows the reader to understand the world in which these sermons were written. Surgeon's strong stance against slavery understandably made him an unpopular person in the American South. Don't skip this as it is really interesting and there are some really interesting charts that offer a breakdown of the sermons that are in this volume.

Now you are probably wondering about the sermons. Well, in my opinion, this is what makes this book so great. The original notebook which Charles Spurgeon wrote out his outline and notes is scanned and shown in its current condition. The facing page is the same content typed out so that the reader can easily read what Spurgeon put to paper. There are footnotes following each sermon to explain Surgeon's notes or where further references could be found in other sermons.

This is a great book for one who wants to delve into a study of Spurgeon, his sermons, and his thoughts. And when you first pick up this book ignore all the notes and just read. I went back and forth while reading and if you just read the sermons the first time through it is amazing just who powerful some of these messages are. Read the footnotes and such on a second time through. The book is over 565 pages in length. And don't you just love the artwork of the dust jacket? Well, it is inspired by the actual cover of the notebook that Spurgeon used for these sermons. Rather appropriate don't you agree? And the picture of the front and back cover can be found in this book.

This book is for those who want to read all of Spurgeon's work, the student of Christian history, and pastor who has a library that he uses on a regular basis. This would also make for an interesting Bible study resource. There are two indexes in the back of the book one for Scripture references and the other for subjects. 

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher BH Academic with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book:
In 1857, Charles Spurgeon—the most popular preacher in the Victorian world—promised his readers that he would publish his earliest sermons. For almost 160 years, these sermons have been lost to history. In January 2017, B&H Academic will begin releasing a multi-volume set that includes full-color facsimiles, transcriptions, contextual and biographical introductions, and editorial annotations. Written for scholars, pastors, and students alike, The Lost Sermons of C.H. Spurgeon will add approximately 10 percent more material to Spurgeon’s body of literature and will constitute the first critical edition of any of Spurgeon’s works.