Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Dream of Home

A Dream of Home is Amy Clipston's third book in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel and my absolute favorite by far! As with the others in this series they can stand alone but I find them more enjoyable to read in order.  It really is readers choice.

In A Dream of Home we are introduced to Madeline Miller. She has served her country with honor as a nurse overseas, where she has seen and suffered tremendous loss, namely that of her fiance Travis. Looking to start over and leave all the difficult memories behind she moves into her Amish grandmother's home. Her grandmother passed away a short time ago and Madeline, or Maddie as her friends call her, was on her way home and didn't make the funeral.  She still feels the loss but finds peace in the farmhouse her grandmother left her. It was almost like she knew Maddie would return one day and she wanted her to have a place in the community she loved. Maddie didn't grow up Amish but her mom did, choosing to leave the community when she was a teenager.  She allowed Maddie to visit her grandparents often and Maddie loved everything about the community.

Madeline's neighbor, Saul Beiler, knows a thing or two about loss.  We first met Saul in book two of the series; A Mother's Secret. He was pursuing Caroline before she fell in love with Joshua Glick. Saul isn't the friendly sort and I didn't care too much for him at first. He is shy and awkward around women and sometimes he is down right rude.  Meeting Madeline is no exception. He is rude from the get go mainly because she is English and he's worried his daughter, Emma, might grow too close to their neighbor and leave the faith. There's no truth to that but Saul is extra cautious because his brother left the faith when he was a teen.  Saul has suffered much loss with his brother leaving, his parents dying, and then his wife being gone. He has erected walls around his heart and his life he won't allow anybody in. Even if it is his new friendly English neighbor.

I loved this book because we get to see two people trust the Lord to help them through their grief. They aren't without their faults, as I said Saul could be downright rude, unintentionally, but they knew who held their future even if they couldn't tell what their future held.  I disliked Saul for most of the book because he was so gruff. His attitude was basically I know what I''m doing and as the dad you have to do what I say, even if it makes no sense.  He flew off the handle when his daughter Emma baked cookies and did the neighborly thing and took some to Madeline.  I didn't see much hope for Saul and really wondered why Amy would write about a  character like him...until chapter 12. Chapter 12 is when I started seeing Saul  the way I believe the Lord would see Saul and that is, as a man who has suffered more than his fair share of tragedy and he's doing all he can to protect him and his daughter from future heartache. Even if it doesn't make sense to us it does to him. He clings to his faith with a death grip and is determined to keep his vows to God and the church.  If that means he can't hang out with his neighbor because she is way to English for him then so be it. He will be the bad guy if it protects Emma.

This book is a wonderful story of love.  God's love for his people and a parents love for their child. So many times as parents we have to do what we believe is right even when nobody backs us up. Whether it's choosing a different faith than the one you grew up with, or forbidding a seemingly innocent friendship because you can see all the pitfalls that lie ahead.  As parents, and followers of God, all we can do is trust Him to lead us where we need to be.  Even if it makes no sense, we should rely on our faith and go where God leads us.  Who knows what great things He has waiting on us if we trust and obey?

A Dream of Home (Hearts of the Lancaster Hotel book 3)

Monday, April 25, 2016

If I Run

If I Run is the first book I've read by Terri Blackstock and I have to say I am impressed. It has everything a reader could ask for: mystery, intrigue, drama and of course love. It captures your attention from the first page and won't let go. I finished it in one sitting, it is THAT good.

Casey grew in a normal family of four, her dad was a cop and they lived in a nice neighborhood. Yet, when Casey was just 12 years old she comes home to find that her dad has committed suicide. She is devastated and fully believes that it is a cover up. Of course no one believes her, they think she is just a little girl who wants to believe the best of her dad.

Imagine everyone's surprise when years later Casey is wanted for murder of her best friend, Brent. The thing is, she innocent, but good luck proving that in a court of law. Her DNA is all over the crime scene, she didn't immediately call the cops and she skipped town. She must be guilty!

In a book where nothing is what it seems and you can't trust anybody, there are still those who fight for what's right, and Dylan Roberts is one of those.  He suffers from PTSD and was discharged from the military.  Dylan and Brent were best friends growing up and he is humbled when Brent's parents hire him as a PI to find Casey.  All Dylan knows is that she is wanted for murder and he wants to see Brent's killer brought to justice. This new purpose gives  him something to live for and hopefully will lead to other jobs, but is bringing Casey back really the right thing to do?

I was a little disappointed with the cliff hanger at the end but I absolutely can't wait for the next book!! The characters were complex and the plot was full of twist and turns.  I lost count of how many times my mouth dropped open in pure shock. Terri Blackstock is a talented story teller and you will be missing out if you don't add If I Run to your "to be read" pile. As a matter of fact you might want to put it on top!

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is a delicious mix of The Golden Girls meets the Bette Midler movie beaches.  I laughed so loud in some parts my husband thought I was nuts.  Of course, it wasn't all fun and games and during those sadder parts I cried.  It is an emotional roller coaster of a book and one I don't mind riding again and again.

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is a story about friendship, love, life and loss.  Carrigan, Laine, and Ella Rae have been friends ever since Kindergarten when Ella Rae punched one of the Thompson boys for picking on the new kid, Laine. Laine was the source of calm in their group, the voice of reason, while Carrigan and Ella Rae were her loud and proud soul sisters.  Don't get me wrong, Laine wasn't too shy to say what she felt, she did so often, even if Carrigan and Ella Rae ignored her.

Carrigan has been married to the same man since she was 17 years old. Yes, you read that right 17. She is outspoken, loud and fiercely protective of everyone she loves. She has been that way from the start. She reminds me a lot of Sophia from the Golden Girls. No one is going to hold her down.  She has a quick wit and a smart remark for just about everything. Needless to say, this gets her in trouble more often than not and when she gets in trouble she really gets in trouble! Thankfully she has her two best friends,Laine and Ella Rae to bail her out.

Ella Rae is a nice combination of the two.  She is fiercely loyal, as they all are, but she is outspoken and boisterous like Carrigan.  She has a tender side like Laine but more often than not her antics get her into trouble and gain her more than a few stares from the local busy bodies. She lives life on  her own terms and couldn't give a hoot what other people think about her, except her family and her two closest friends.

I absolutely loved this book! I didn't think I would with the way Carrigan was always carrying on and getting into one mess after another. I quickly found myself loving not only Carrigan but the other two as well.  They are a true example of what friendship is all about. You don't always have to agree with one another but you do have each others backs. Like when Carrigan was convinced Jack was having an affair, Laine offered a voice of reason and did her best to convince her that Jack was one of the good guys.  Or when Laine found out she had cancer, Carrigan was ready to take on the world and knock down whatever door there was to get Laine the best care possible and Ella Rae held her hand and told her it would all be all right.  They were more like sisters really.  No matter how close they were though, Laine refused to reveal the secret to her hummingbird cake.

I just can't say enough how much I thoroughly loved this books and those three ladies.  There were a few four letter words, but not enough to make me feel reserved about recommending it. I think you should grab you a copy of The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale and a big slice of hummingbird cake and dig in.

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

Monday, April 11, 2016

Kissed by a Cowboy

Who says you can't go home? Cassidy Starr did just that when she decided to end her sham of a marriage.  Well, ok, it wasn't home per se but it was the only place that ever felt like home; Aunt Roxie's place.  Kissed by a Cowboy is the third book in Debra Clopton's Four Hearts Ranch Series but it can stand alone. I haven't read the others, yet, but was able to follow along just fine.

Cassidy Starr has had a rough life. From being tossed about by her parents, to a revolving door of step parents, who stayed only long enough for her to get attached then left, to marring a man who thought fidelity was a type of pasta.  She decided to divorce her husband and move to Aunt Roxie's place, which was left to her in the will.  She is going to grow organic strawberries and turn her house into a B&B and never look back.  If Aunt Roxie could rock the single life and be perfectly happy then she could too.  Besides, focusing on her to do list will keep her mind occupied and keep her from focusing on her hunky cowboy neighbor.

Jarrod Monahan lives his life with few regrets but he does have one.  Kissing the daylights out of Cassidy Starr when they were teenagers and running off to Montana. Boy, that was dumb.  By the time he managed to come to his senses and make it back home to Texas, she had up and married somebody else.  It must be for the best, but man it hurt.  Of course, he would never admit that to anybody, not even his brothers.  Now a days, he and his brothers spent their time looking out for their grandpa, Pops, and making the ranch successful again after all the damage their dad had done. He doesn't have time for rustlers much less the beautiful spunky neighbor next door.

Kissed by a Cowboy is a funny romantic comedy that everyone should read.  It is full of twists and turns and colorful characters.  I would love to visit Wishing Springs, Texas and meet everyone, They already feel like family.  I'd love to go to the Cut Up and Roll Hair Salon and not only get my hair done, but catch up on the gossip with Reba and Clara Lyn.  Of course, I'd go over and see Doc and see if he had any animals to adopt. Wishing Springs is a place where once you're here you are family and everybody looks out for one another.
This is the first Debra Clopton book I have read but I will definitely be reading others.

Kissed by a Cowboy

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Newsmakers

How far will one go to report the news? Are you willing to risk life and limb? What about those of your family and colleagues? The Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl takes you inside the cut throat world of journalism to show you what it takes to be a star.

Erica Sparks is an up and coming field reporter who has a heart for the truth.  She catches the eye of GNN's founder Nylan Hastings. With his company currently operating in the red he needs a  new fresh face to help launch his network to the top. Erica is just that person! She has charisma but isn't cheesy, she is sincere at very honest.  She will stop at nothing and I mean nothing to uncover the truth.

I really liked Erica;she has gumption. To overcome an abusive and neglectful childhood, to becoming an alcoholic and losing her daughter, and now being a broadcast journalist.  That doesn't happen on a whim. That takes grit and determination which Erica has boat loads of. She still struggles with the voices of her past and inner demons, but is determined not to go down that slippery slope again.  When good things start to happen to her she is very cautious. This is not how her life goes and when sensational news stories start happening all around her; she finds it a bit odd.  She reassures herself that it's just her own hard work paying off, but is it? I mean, does lightening really strike twice much less three or four times?

Erica has a heart for the truth so when beloved politician Kay Hastings drops dead right in the middle of her exclusive interview Erica demands answers. Kay did a great deal of good for people of all races and religions so when they find out her death isn't merely a heart attack but murder, Erica is chomping at the bit to bring justice. But at what cost?

Nylan Hastings is a self made millionaire. He doesn't like failure and refuses to accept it. He thrives on power and he will do anything to keep that power. Because with power, you can control the masses and make them submit to your every whim. He runs a tight ship, it's his way or the highway. He makes no excuses for his demanding personality, he sees no reason too. After all GNN is his company and he will run it anyway he sees fit.

Newsmakers will keep you up at night trying to reach the end. It's a fast paced, action packed novel that leaves you guessing to the end.  There were a few things I didn't enjoy about it though. The way the author made Erica doubt herself so much.  I'm sure she had insecurities based on past experiences, but I do not believe she could have made herself into anything being that insecure. Other than that it was a wonderful book and I will definitely be recommending it to my friends and family.

There is one quote from the book that I think sums it up nicely and embodies the essence of Erica Sparks,  "Journalism is about putting one foot in front of the other in an inexorable march toward the truth. There's no place for ridiculous imaginings, wild conjectures, off-the-wall theories. Facts are the only valid measures."

So, what are you waiting for? Run out and get your copy of Newsmakers today! There's exciting news just waiting to happen!

Newsmakers by Lis Wiehl