Friday, 21 July 2017

First Line Friday - Week 11

Happy Friday!

Once again we are continuing this month's Canadian theme and I am featuring another book set in Canada. We are leaving the beautiful Prince Edward Island and travelling to my home province of Ontario where we will join two girls on a camping trip in Northern Ontario.

Today's book is: Stormy Lake by LD Stauth

"The man relaxed in the wooden Adirondack chair in the screened-in porch of his cabin rental and stared out across the glistening waters of Lake Williwaw." 
This is a mystery/suspense and I will tell you "the man" is not a good guy. What brought him to Lake Williwaw and what does he have planned? I really enjoyed this book, my review can be found here.

Now it's your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Then join in more First Line fun by visiting these blogs:

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson

Series: PEI Dreams # 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released: October 18, 2016
385 pages

About the Book:

In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He's also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he's falling in love with the island's red shores and Caden's sweets.

When Caden discovers Adam isn't who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he's writing could do more than ruin the inn's chances for survival--it might also break her heart.

Readers will discover hope for the hurting, joy for the broken, and romance for the lonely at the enchanting Red Door Inn.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“You keep trying. That’s the mark of a true hero.”
Book two takes us back to the Red Door Inn on Prince Edward Island, this time the story focuses on Caden, the chef at the inn. I liked Caden from the first book and couldn’t wait to get to know her even more. I was surprised at just how insecure she was. We did see a bit of this side of her in the first book - when Marie offered her the job at the inn she responded by asking if Marie was sure and that there had to be someone more qualified for the position.
Adam arrives at the inn on a forced vacation and quickly makes his way into Caden’s kitchen. I found the banter between Caden & Adam enjoyable and his obvious love for her sweets was fun. I liked how he was intentional in showing Caden that he liked her for who she was and that he kept his distance from Bethany, who treated Caden like she was beneath her. I absolutely loved the meddling of Aretha and Esther, the scene with them talking about Caden’s love life as if she wasn’t standing right there was hilarious, but sure was awkward if you were Caden.
So many of the misunderstandings could have been avoided if the characters had just expressed their thoughts with one another right away. However I did appreciate that Adam and Caden were able to resolve their arguments quickly rather than letting things build.
Adam is plagued with regret and guilt and learns how to deal with these feelings, enabling him to embrace a future filled with grace. Caden really struggled with self-confidence at the beginning, but by the end she has grown and has gained confidence in her abilities without being annoying. I was really drawn both of them and was pleased with the way things worked out.
“But I don’t think there’s anything easy about grace. It’s a call to not carry your hard stuff – your grief, your regret – alone right? It’s a reminder to lay it down and ask someone bigger than yourself to handle it. Giving that up – that’s hard. Asking for help – that’s not easy. But it’s worth it, don’t you think? Because once you realize you’ve been forgiven, you can forgive yourself.”
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Series: PEI Dreams # 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released March 1, 2016
336 pages

About the Book:

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she's hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn't move three thousand miles to work on his uncle's B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian--and to forget about the fiancΓ©e who broke his heart.

The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take everything they've got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It's a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won't you stay for the season?

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“God isn’t a vending machine to ask for the things that we want.
Rather, he gives what is best. He works the things of this world
for the good of those who love him. He’s the foundation of every
blessing, the loving Father who longs to give us sweet gifts.”

There are three main characters, each dealing with their own issues but are trying to work together on a common goal – getting a B&B ready to open. Marie is scared of getting close to people, Seth is hesitant to trust and suspicious of Marie, Jack is dealing with the loss of his wife and is trying to make her goal of the inn a success but is struggling. Marie went through a horrible incident and when her father should have been there for her he tried to use her situation to his advantage. Thankfully Marie meets Jack who shows her what a father's love should look like and shows her how much God loves her. Even though Marie is scared for the consequences of what she is about to do, she puts her feelings aside to do what she can to help Jack when all seems lost. I loved the humor and sarcastic banter back and forth between the characters. The addition of the little notes between two characters was fun. I found myself looking forward to these moments. I feel like I really got to know these characters and grew to love each one of them. The secondary characters of Aretha and Caden added depth to the story, I loved how outspoken Aretha was. I have had the privilege of visiting PEI, it is such a beautiful island and the Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job of portraying the beauty and character of the island. I felt like I was right there with them. With the help of Marie and Seth, will Jack get the inn open on time? Will Seth deal with his trust issues? Will Marie find the family she needs? A must read to find out. I have already begun book 2 of this series.

“Even if you’re having a hard time loving him (God),
he’s not having a hard time loving you.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, 14 July 2017

First Line Friday - Week 10

Happy Friday!

We are continuing this month's Canadian theme by featuring books set in Canada. Once again we are staying on Prince Edward Island with Liz Johnston. This week is the third and final book of her PEI Dreams series.  

Today's book is: On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

"She'd thought it was safe to come back to the island." 

Why is she, Natalie, scared to come back to the island? What made her leave in the first place? What is in store for her? My review will be posted July 27.
Now it's your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Then join in more First Line fun by visiting these blogs:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Genre: Historical & Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: July 11, 2017
352 pages

About the Book:

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration? With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“The best things in life are simple and free.”

This is a dual-timeline story featuring two writers, one is being forced to marry someone and the other is dealing with writers block while on a deadline. Before beginning I wondered how a desk would weave the stories of these two ladies together but as it progressed I began pick up on some of the hints and loved the way they weaved together.

I was immediately drawn to Birdie’s story, her situation had me hurting for her and rooting for things to turn around. I had to keep reading to find out what happens to her. Even though she ended up marrying the person I was hoping for and she was able to continue pursuing her passion, her life was not easy. She endured many struggles that had me hurting for her, but she was positive and saw the good in everything. It took me a bit longer to connect with Tenley, I struggled appreciating some of her quirks, but she grew on me. She is in a rut and even with the change of scenery she struggles to get out of it, but then she finds something that offers a solution. But it is the right thing? She deals with a few difficult decisions and might not make all the right choices at times, but in the end I was proud of her. She took responsibility for her decisions, tried to make things right, and began to embrace God’s love for her and start to see that He could change her life. The progression of her relationship with Jonas felt just right and not rushed. I loved how welcoming his family was.

The men in the story were easy to love. Eli was torn between his heart and his duty, but decided to put aside his wants to do what was required of him and in the end he was blessed. Jonas also tries to put aside his personal wants in order to do right for Tenley, I enjoyed his personality and his willingness to be there for her even when it was hard for him.

This story will get you thinking about the moral decisions these characters make and what you would do in their place. Another great book by Ms. Hauck that I recommend and it has left me with the desire to watch the tv show Newhart again.

“It seemed so simple. Writing romance. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Something happens and they break up. Boy makes grand gesture and wins the girl’s heart and ta-da, happily ever after.”
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Rescue #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 4, 2017
320 pages

About the Book:

Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to find his footing--or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.
Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret--one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.
When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn't so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.
But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder--and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella's secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other--even when disaster happens again?

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“We shouldn’t base God’s desire to help us on our opinions of ourselves.”
This is book 3 of Ms. Warren’s Montana Rescue series which focuses on the members of the PEAK team. There are multiple storylines weaved throughout the book, some that carry over from previous books, some that leave you hanging for the next book and one that feels completely told over the course of the book. This could be read as a standalone as there is enough background information included that you wouldn’t be lost if you haven’t the previous books, however I would highly recommend reading them in order as you don’t want to miss anything.
Ms. Warren does a wonderful job of sharing God’s love and faithfulness while writing a story that keeps readers intrigued, on the edge of their seat and cheering for the characters.
Gage joined the PEAK team after he loses his snowboarding career due to a tragic accident 3 years ago. He never expected to see the woman he once loved and who played a role in destroying his career ever again. But now she comes to him asking for his help to stop her brother from doing something dangerous and she insists she must go with him. There is a lot of hurt between the two of them because of the past, secrets kept and feelings of betrayal. Now that they are on a rescue mission together they must put their past history behind them and trust one another in order for the mission to be a success. Can they learn to trust each another and rebuild the relationship they once had? There were quite a few times I began to question if they would make it out safely.
I am not a skier/snowboarder (hate the cold) and do not know much about it, didn’t even know there was such a thing as free-riding so there were a few times I was a bit confused with some of the terms used or what exactly they were doing. However this did not take me away from the story too much, I was still able to understand the basic concepts of what was going on.
I found the side stories just as intriguing as the main story (at times maybe even more). I really liked getting to know Ty & Brette and catching up with Pete & Jess. The interactions between the various team members seemed realistic and each character felt genuine. I am sucked into this series and can’t wait for book 4 to be released. I want to know what secret Brette is keeping, what will happen with Jess & Pete and will Ian & Sierra ever get together.
“The problem with keeping a secret is that you don’t give someone a chance to come through for you, to prove to you that they love you unconditionally.”
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, 7 July 2017

First Line Friday - Week 9

Happy Friday! 

We are continuing this month's Canadian theme by featuring books set in Canada. I love Prince Edward Island so much that I have decided to stay on the Island again this week and feature book 2 of Liz Johnson's PEI series.   
Today's book is: Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson 

 "There was only one thing better than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning. The taste of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning."  

With the main character being a chef it's no surprise that food is mentioned quite a bit in this book, and who can resist cinnamon rolls? I have just finished this book and enjoyed it just as much as the first one.  

Now it's your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Then join in more First Line fun by visiting these blogs:  

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: July 4, 2017
416 pages
About the Book:

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.
Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.
Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟 πŸŒŸ  (5 stars)

“Lane still felt like she was playing dress-up in the closet of someone much older, much thinner, and much more professional than she ever felt. And yet she’d mastered the art of playing this part perfectly, as if she were born for the role.”

I really enjoyed this story, it is completely fiction but gives readers so much to think about. Ryan was definitely my favourite character, but I also really liked the Chloe, Lane’s assistant. I was drawn to Ryan right from the beginning; he had a difficult childhood with his mom leaving and an abusive alcoholic father but approaches life with positivity and cherishes relationships with others. He got to know Lane’s family in his teenage years after her father hires him at his shop. As a teen he had a crush on Lane, but they lost contact after he went overseas with the Army and she went to college.

Lane is career focused and glued to her phone, after being hurt by those who were suppose to love her she has set her focus on success thinking work can’t hurt her. However just as she is about to present the pitch she feels will get her the promotion she is aiming for a call comes from her family that her brother, Nate, has been in an accident. She hasn’t been home in a few years and has no desire to return to Harbour Point as it holds bad memories for her. But Nate is the one family member she was closest to and so she tries to set aside her feelings and returns home. Lane was easy to relate to, she struggles with self image and valuing herself. I was frustrated with the way that some of her family and town residents talked to her. I could understand why she has stayed away so long and why the hurt still feels so raw.

Ryan and Lane reconnect during Lane’s visit to Harbour Point and Ryan discovers he still has feelings for Lane. They begin to rebuild the friendship they once had with Ryan being an anchor for her during this stressful visit. Over time their friendship begins to turn into more, but can Ryan show Lane that she is worth so much more than how work defines her and can he get her to slowdown and appreciate the beauty that is in front of her. I loved his determination to help her.

This story will make you contemplate what really matters in your life. Do you spend too much time buried in work, your phone or the computer, or do you look up and cherish the beauty that surrounds you and the interactions you have with others? Where is your focus?
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A Companion for the Cowboy by Liz Isaacson

Series: Brush Creek Brides #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: AEJ Creative Works
Released: July 4, 2017
136 pages

About the Book:

Cowboy and professional roper Justin Jackman has found solitude at Brush Creek Horse Ranch, preferring his time with the animals he trains over dating. With two failed engagements in his past, he's not really interested in getting his heart stomped on again. But when flirty and fun Renee Martin picks him up at a church ice cream bar--on a bet, no less--he finds himself more than just a little interested.

Renee's living with her cousin in Brush Creek, having just graduated from college. She's not ready to be an adult, has no idea what she wants to do for a career, and generally wishes everyone would just let her figure things out. She starts working for Dinosaur National Park, which has an hour-long commute that she spends thinking about Justin. With a decade separating their ages, she comes to realize that they're from different generations.
His Gen-X attitudes are attractive to her; her Millennial behaviors drive him nuts. Can Justin look past their differences and take a chance on another engagement? And if he does, will Renee be mature enough and ready for a serious relationship? Justin and Renee will have to figure out how to pray and how to listen to God to find a way to their happily-ever-after.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ  (3 stars)

“He believed God would lead him too, if he’d let go
of the reins and exercise his faith.”
Renee is pressured to ask Justin out as part of a bet from her cousin but Justin is hesitant of relationships. However he agrees to a date to get him out an awkward position. What happens between them is beautiful and encouraging. I really liked Justin and could understand his hesitation to get involved with Renee after being left not once but twice. Renee felt really young for him at the beginning but she seemed to mature over time with his influence. I also liked that Renee brought out a fun side of Justin. I enjoyed their text message conversations and his constant teasing about her picking him up in a bar (it wasn’t). I didn’t like that we never find out what really happened with his past relationships even though they are referred to quite a bit throughout, and what happened between him and Leah (Renee’s cousin). This was an enjoyable light read with a happy ending. I laughed quite a few times throughout.
“She’d have gone to church anyway; it was the one place
where she never felt out of place, never felt overlooked,
never wanted to hide.”
(I received an ARC of this book from the author; opinions expressed
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Sunday, 2 July 2017

My Recent Faves (April-June)

It's been three months since I last shared my recent favourite reads, so I thought it was time to once again highlight those books that have captured my heart over the past three months. I have read a lot of really good ones so it was hard to chose a top 10, instead I am sharing my top 12 (in no particular order).             

My Review: Heart on the Line  //  All of You  //  Stormy Lake


What have been some of your favourite reads recently?
Do you have any recommendations for me?

Saturday, 1 July 2017

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Barbour Books
Released: July 1st, 2017
256 pages
About the Book:

Journey now to Mackinac Island where... A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds.
Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel.  While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders—including Maude—and he digs deep for his story. But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ  (2 stars)

“Everything you have comes from God, by His will, and for His glory only. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that anything here on earth truly belongs to you.”
I struggled with this story; I had a hard time connecting with the characters and following the storyline. It felt choppy when it switched between points of view from one character to another. Also there were a parts that made no sense to me such as Maude taking the job at the Grand to prove herself to her dad except she didn’t want him to know she was working there, so how was this suppose to prove anything to him? And why was he so against her taking over the inn? The progression of the romance between Maude and Ben felt like there were chunks missing, they first meet at the docks and are instantly attracted to each other but I didn’t feel like they really got to know each other before declaring their love. What was their love really based on? There were so many secrets being kept by various characters, some are revealed early on, others take some time to be found out. I don’t feel like I even know what some of them were. What I did like about the book was the descriptions of the island views I felt like I could see what the characters were seeing. I also liked that Maude was a strong female and was willing to work to achieve her own dreams. I hate giving a bad review but I just couldn’t get into this book.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)