A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings

As a war nurse, Abigail Stuart met a lot of soldiers (from both sides of the lines) who needed assistance, but even though she took care of everyone, she did have her favorites.  Romeo (the name they called one soldier by) was one of them.  The books starts out with Romeo telling her that she was going to write a good-bye letter for him to his sweetheart, and then she was going to marry him.  Of course she tells him that he must be “hallucinating” and he wasn’t going to marry her, but he gives her some great reasons that she should – both to help him and his family, and to help herself.  After some consideration (and once she finds out that his real name is Jeremiah), Abigail decides to go ahead and marry him.  They were married just before he died, and she left soon thereafter to make a trip to see his mother and sister, without letting the hospital staff tell them that their son and brother had gotten married before he passed, intending to check in on them and see if all was well before she revealed that piece of information.  Wouldn’t you know that it wasn’t quick and easy… but once she tells them, she has to share with Jeremiah’s former fiance, she puts up with all sorts of mean-ness, and after months of living in that, she finds out that Jeremiah isn’t actually dead!  The man she married was his best friend Alan, who saw him go down, and clearly wanted to help provide for his family by sending her there… but because he didn’t actually fall in that battle, he returned home, and it sent her entire world into a tail-spin.  Not to mention what it did to his mother, sister, and the fiance who had already mourned his death and started up a new relationship!

This author has a great way of telling stories, and really makes them believable.  As a book reviewer, you really hope that books have something “unique” about them though, and this one really did.  I think it was expected that Abigail would wind up with Jeremiah (the real one, of course), but the way they got there (and the challenges they faced along the way!) – those all made for a great story.  Of course the skunk at the end added some fun too!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

A Most Inconvenient Marriage Cover

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A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

When I first started writing book reviews, I had never heard of Jen Turano, but now that I’ve read a couple of her books, I’m seriously hooked!  She has such an amazing way with words, and a really delightful way of storytelling in general.  This book was no exception!

The book opens up with Agatha Watson, a reporter with the New York Tribune, finding a pig in her hotel room.  Seriously.  If that wasn’t enough to grab your attention from the very start, then I’m not sure what would be!  The pig (who is extremely opposed to being called a pig, and has to be referred to by name – Matilda) becomes a very important part of the story, as Agatha has to save her from inevitable doom if she stays in the hotel, and chooses to take her along on her adventures after leaving.  Agatha’s desire to save Matilda says a lot about her character though, and not just that she IS a character (although that’s partially true), but that she really does want to save the people/animals in her life that are facing injustice.  That carries through to everything she does – and is a huge reason why she’s travelling with a bodyguard.  Agatha has written stories that have angered a whole lot of people, because she’s shared things that many people prefer not be shared… and she is trying hard to right the wrongs that have been done by others.  Along the way, she meets up with an old friend, Zayne Beckett, and decides that he needs to be helped.  She drives her bodyguard crazy, finds out that her companion is also a bodyguard, and a whole lot more… the book is filled with surprises, and is a whole lot of fun to read.  While in many ways the ending was “predictable”, the way they got to that point definitely wasn’t.  This book was definitely worth reading, and had me laughing out loud at points – I will be keeping it to read again!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

 

A Match of Wits Cover

365 Moments of Peace for a Woman’s Heart

The introduction says that this book was written with the prayer “that as you read, you will see and understand God’s wonderful plan for you, a plan designed to reveal your incredible worth and beauty.  In seeking, you will find more treasure than you ever imagined.”  I found that prayer to be something that was clearly evidenced in the readings.  Each day includes a verse at the beginning, a different verse at the end, a short devotional, and a prayer that you can make your own.  They are each easy to read, and make it easy to come away with a little nugget to consider throughout the day.  It only takes a few minutes each day to complete, and is great for women who are busy or don’t feel like they have enough time to do an in-depth study on a daily basis.

I really appreciated how many versions of the Bible were used in this devotional – not just the ones that are more familiar (NIV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB), but a few that may be less familiar too (God’s Word, NCV, ICB, NLV).  Devotionals tend to stick with the tried and true versions that are commonly used across the board.  It was great that this one used versions that people may not have in their houses or see very often, because it really helps you to consider Scriptures in a different way when you see verses you might “know” in words that are different from what you’re used to.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

While I grew up in Michigan, my parents now live in Galveston, Texas – the same town this book starts off in.  That fact alone caught my attention, but the idea of a book being about a “reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante” definitely helped too!  This book was filled with unexpected twists, things you would never think were coming, and a few things that would be more expected.  It’s a love story, but not just between a man and a woman – it’s about much, much more than that.  It’s about two people who come together through unique circumstances, who bond over something that is not all what two people would have bonded over in that time (the mid-1800’s), and who really become friends.  Ultimately,  that friendship developed into a romance, one that really was a lot of fun to watch unfold.  Of course you also got to see family issues, crazy people fighting over a dagger (of all things), and more.  I honestly think this is the kind of book that would make for an amazing movie.  I’d love to see it if that ever happened!

I found a great interview with the author about this book, and would highly encourage you to check it out.  You learn a lot about an author through the stories they write, but it’s so fun to get to read interviews with them too!

http://www.novelcrossing.com/news/blasts-bravery-bestsellers-interview-karen-witemeyer-20873?showprivate=1

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – all thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

Full Steam Ahead Cover

100 Tough Questions about God and the Bible by Stephen M. Miller

In the introduction of this book, the author tells us that he’s “a journalist covering the Bible beat” and that what he shares in this book will not include his opinion, just the facts.  After reading the book, I have to say that I agree.  There’s a lot that I don’t agree with in it, but not because I disagree with the author, I just don’t agree with what people have said in general.  But the author doesn’t write in a way that makes it all about his thoughts on the questions, it’s really just a compilation of what different people, historical sources, church histories, etc. have thought about in response to the questions being posed.

The questions included in this book aren’t easy ones, and because of that, the answers aren’t easy to read either.  Questions include things like:

God made Eve from Adam’s rib?  Are you kidding me?

Would a loving God really put a good man like Job through horrible suffering just to test his loyalty?

Why does the Bible praise a man who sacrificed his own daughter?

Why would a thinking person believe the story that the reason we have so many languages is because God punished people for building the Tower of Babel?

As someone who grew up in church and who has studied the Bible from the time I was a little girl, I’ve never really struggled with these kinds of questions.  In many ways, I think that’s been good, because some of the responses to these questions seem completely absurd to me.  But at the same time, I was intrigued by the answers to one question: Given what we know today from science, why do so many Christians say the universe was created in six days, a few thousand years ago?  Among the answers to that question are some questions that come from questioning a “literal read of the Genesis story”, and they are questions that I’ve never even thought about.  I believe that creation happened the way it reads in the Bible, but “the scholars” ask a couple questions that I think are interesting.

If God created plants on day three, how did they survive without the sun, which God didn’t create until day four?

Why should we interpret the six days of creation as six twenty-four hour days when God didn’t make the sun and moon – our tools for measuring twenty-four hour days – until day four?

Those questions don’t make me question what I believe, but they absolutely made me think about how God is even more incredible in being able to do things like create the world, given what these questions say.  How did it work?  Does it really matter for us to be able to know?  It creates some pretty fun debate topics, but at the end of the day, how we believe the creation story time-line to work, it doesn’t change whether or not we can be saved.  Praise the Lord for that!  We do have the ability to disagree with each other, and still wind up going to the same place someday.  I think the biggest thing we need to do is respect that we may not all have the same opinion.  And that it’s okay to disagree – at least on things like this.

Overall, I did wonder if this book would be helpful to someone who didn’t have any kind of Bible background, because it didn’t give definitive answers, it just gave information on both sides… or multiple sides, depending on the question.  I think it was an interesting read, and helped me to consider some of the things I’ve accepted on faith, and how people may disagree with that.  But at the same time, I do wish there would have been a few more answers that were clear.  That said, I guess nothing is going to be too clear in life, because people will always have different opinions, and that’s what the author was probably trying to show.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

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Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

This book was one of the increasingly rare books that absolutely held my attention from the moment I started it until the moment I reached the last page.  I now have two young kiddos, so reading a book straight through has gotten more complicated than it used to be.  I’ve learned though that if I read the first couple pages and really love what I’m seeing, I should wait until naptime to read the book.  That’s what I did with this one – I got so into it that I had to wait… and oh boy, was it ever worth that wait!

Autumn Kingsley is the owner of an inn that has been in her family for quite awhile, one that she was kind of forced to take over.  She’s anxious to go see the world, and can’t believe her luck when someone that she thinks is a potential investor comes to visit, and she’s sure that it means her dream of getting to head to Paris has finally come true.

Blake Hunziker has a history in town, and sadly, it’s not quite the history that endears him to everyone.  When he comes back after a five year absence, he is shocked to have a job offer – contingent on whether or not he’s successful at pulling off the Christmas festival (an annual event in town).  While he has a lot of talents, organizing a party event for the town isn’t something he feels like he has the ability to do.  So he enlists the one person that he thinks could help – Autumn.

The Kingsley and Hunziker families definitely do NOT get along, but Autumn and Blake work out a trade that will help each of them with things they need.  Blake needs help coordinating the festival, and Autumn needs maintenance help with her inn.  It takes  awhile for them to be able to work together with any sense of “team”work, but they do get over their issues with each other and, as tends to be the way these books work out, they wind up together.  But it takes some time, while they both have their own baggage and “pasts” to deal with.  Autumn isn’t planning to stay, Blake doesn’t plan to leave.  Autumn has a good reputation in town, Blake, well… his isn’t so good when he comes back.  Autumn wants to leave town, but as she’s starting to repair and update, she actually had a bathtub fall through the floor and land on the dining room table.  While she’s having a dinner party.  It was really pretty funny to read about, but absolutely heart-breaking for Autumn!  I actually laughed as I read about that, but smiled as I watched her deal with the aftermath of that experience.  The book was a great one for showing true emotions, with people who had to deal with situations and were being very real about it.  I think it takes a special author to do that!

This was a really great book, and made me want to read more by her.  I’ll be excited to see what she writes next!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  I was in no way required to write anything positive – the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

 

Here to Stay

 

Loves Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

Siri Mitchell is an author I have really come to enjoy, so when I saw the opportunity to request one of her books, I jumped at it.  I wasn’t disappointed!

What made this story fun was how the main character, Ellis Eton, pretended to be her friend, by doing her job for her while she needed to be away.  Forget about the fact that she didn’t really know how to do the job, and forget that she actually was awful at it for awhile… she looked so much like her friend that she actually got away with it!  The story lines were a little bit hard to follow at times, because you had the friend (who came and went), Ellis, Griffon (who was not exactly a friend to Ellis for the better part of the book), and family members with their own peculiarities.  Overall though, it was a really great book to read!

On her first day doing her friends’ job, she overhears a conversation and believes that the two guys are talking about how they’re going to kill someone that she knows.  The rest of the book is all about how she’s trying to figure out who the two guys were, when they’re going to do it, and how to stop it!  Of course she keeps running into people who call her by her real name, and that makes it hard for her to keep the pretense of being her friend, but while that was a challenge for her at times, it really did go well overall.  She’s able to do the two weeks she promised, more time when her friend lets her know that she’ll be gone even longer, and ultimately is there when the story plays out.  Spoiler alert: no one dies.  What she heard was NOT a plan to kill someone, but to injure them.  But the way she “jumps in” to try to keep anyone from dying is very well written.  I really enjoyed that part of the story!

The book is filled with funny situations, and it ends with a proposal that’s accepted (which makes for one very happy couple!).  I would absolutely recommend that you pick it up and read!

At the end of the book is a note from the author, explaining how she was very intentional about giving Ellis the kind of mind that would later be described as ADHD.  She “was curious to see what her era would have done with a person who just couldn’t concentrate no matter how hard she tried”.  I thought it was all very well explained, and that whole section of the book had all sorts of information I had never heard before.  I appreciated that it was included.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  I was in no way required to say anything positive, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.

 

Love Comes Calling