Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage

Every couple who wants a happy marriage will appreciate the revitalizing secrets in Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage. In it, Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley explore the traits of a healthy and thriving marriage.

Based on research of thousands of strong couples across the country, the twelve essential elements outlined are not only biblically based; they also chart a course for a romantic adventure that will last a lifetime.

With practical advice and stories from their own marriage and counseling experiences, Greg and Erin guide couples to find ways to work around roadblocks in their current relationship and to intentionally create communication patterns that will take them to emotionally safe places.

Yes, marriage can have its twists and turns. But the detours don’t necessarily have to lead couples off course. Greg and Erin help couples map out a journey for their marriages so that they can enjoy the passionate and intimate relationship that God has promised.

My thoughts: Life is full of ups and downs, those of which can affect our marriages. In this book, the Smalley's offer sound, biblical based advice in how to weather those storms and changes together. I love that they mix experiences in and research they have aquired. This is a great book to give to newlyweds or couples who have been married for a while. They did a wonderful job of making it applicable to couples in all walks of life.
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Take Ten: books I am most excited about in early 2016

Books I am most excited about that are coming out in early 2016

1. Always Watching, January 2nd

I am super excited about this one, since I have enjoyed her mysteries. This will be a new genre for her, so I look forward to reading it!

2. Where She Belongs, January 5th

I loved her WWII story, so I can't wait for this one!

3. Curio, January 5th

Okay, so I am kind of cheating with this one, since I have already started it.;) So far, I love it, since there is plenty of mystery as one discovers more about the dystopian world the story is set in.

4. You're the one that I want, February 1st

This is the final Christiansen sibling to fall in love, so it will be bittersweet.;) I look forward to seeing how Susan handles the story.;)

5. A Spy's Devotion, February 9th

Another new genre for an author I enjoy! I love Regency style stories, so this one looks particularly fun.;)

6. I am N, March 1st

A more serious book, but one I look forward to nonetheless.

7. A Daring Sacrifice, March 1st

I very much enjoyed the first book, so I look forward to the story continuing with a new heroine.

8. Land of Silence, May 1st

I've enjoyed the other books I have read by this author, since they give a fresh look at Biblical stories. This one is based on the woman who had an issue of blood that was healed by Jesus. It looks fantastic!

9. Anchor in the Storm, May 3rd

I loved the first book! Since you kind of meet the heroine in the first one, I am especially excited to see how her story works out.:)

10. Dawn at Emberwilde, May 10th

Another Regency style story that looks like fun.

What books are you looking forward to in the coming year?

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder

In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city's underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto's premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever--if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

My thoughts: I loved this refreshing historical mystery! It was so nice to pick up a book that wasn't totally predictable with the romance and mystery. The characters are fun and quirky, going against what is expected of them as young, unmarried women in the early 1900's by opening a detective agency instead of pursuing marriage alone. I would of liked a bit more explanation of the mystery at the end, but otherwise, enjoyed the story immensely! The historical aspect was quite interesting.
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Whatever is Lovely coloring book

Color your way to peace and worship.

We live in such a busy, hectic world—but what waits for you inside this cover is a way to quiet the noise, express creativity, and spend some sweet time with God. Each page features an original design from one of a dozen different artists, beautifully illustrating a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, a beloved hymn, or Scripture. 
When we create, we echo the heart of our Creative God who designed everything and gave us the capacity to recognize beauty. 
So go ahead! You have permission to pick up your colored pencil and be reminded of truth in a fresh way. - See more at:

My thoughts: I love the new trend of adult coloring books! The kid in me loves to sit and color, so I'm thrilled to have the chance to color more than just Curious George and My Little Pony.;)
This coloring book is especially beautiful and fun! I will enjoy filling it.
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.


Welcome to the world of a universal cure.

Gordon Harding didn’t ask for the life he has. He didn’t ask to be orphaned. He didn’t ask to go through life with cancer. And he certainly didn’t ask to be pulled into a future world without warning–a world where every human being is controlled by means of a medical implant.

And when he learns that he’s the only one who can destroy the base of operations, he’s faced with an impossibly painful choice: either hide and let the world decay under this mysterious futuristic force, or rescue humanity from oppression, knowing that there’s someone out there who is willing to use any means necessary to stop him.

My thoughts: I was recently given the opportunity to work with Indie Christian authors to promote their Black Friday sale. As a reward/incentive for doing so, they sent me 5 books to enjoy. Implant is one of those stories.
This story was a lot of fun! I like the element of time travel and saving the world from a good thing gone wrong. The characters are interesting and well written, not to mention that I loved the twists and turns in the story! This is an interesting, futuristic story to pick up over Christmas break!

The God You Thought You Knew

Maybe We've Been Wrong About God All This Time

We call this the information age, but it's also the age of misinformation--especially when it comes to God and Christianity. Many of us believe the Christian God is far away and unapproachable, that we have to be good to be accepted by him, and that the Bible is just an antiquated list of do's and don'ts. But maybe none of that is true. Maybe we've gotten it wrong.

Instead of proofs for God's existence, what we really need are compelling reasons to want to know him, and those reasons are more personal than we sometimes think. Through sharing his own story, author and speaker Alex McFarland shows how the God you thought you knew actually cares about you--about the rejection and loneliness you feel. It's time to replace the half-truths and lies we believe about ourselves with his overwhelming love and forgiveness.

We all want acceptance and purpose. Let this book teach you how to be anchored in the security that comes through knowing God for who he really is.
My thoughts: It's hard not to be impacted by the myths and legends that are predominate in our culture. In this book, the author goes over the myths that have crept into our culture about Christianity and the truth that dispels those myths. I appreciate that he shares his own background and story to set up the chapters. This is an interesting book to use for a study group or for personal use!
I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Wedding Chapel

For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ‘49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.

When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart’s Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.

When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.

My thoughts: I have mixed thoughts about this book. While it is well written and is an interesting story with some unique lessons in it, I didn't enjoy the story as much as the Royal Wedding Series. I felt like it just fell short, but that was partially due to some of the characters and themes of the story. I did like the ending though! I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Take ten: books I would love to find under the tree

1. The King's Scroll by Jaye L. Knight

2. The Awakening by K. E. Ganshert

3. The Gathering by K. E. Ganshert

4. The Wonder if You by Susan May Warren

5. It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren

6. The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rae

7. The Sound of Silver by Rachelle Rae

8. Ravenswolde by Charity Bishop

9. The Secret in Belfast by Charity Bishop

10. Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Shadow of Angels by L. G. Rollins

About the book: After the forest dwellers destroy her home and kill her father, Aerbrin sets off on a journey to find the truth about her people, her kingdom, and the mysterious Zaad stone that contains a power she never imagined. Magic and mystery join forces in this intriguing fantasy world. Full of shifting alliances and twists you won't see coming, it's a can't-miss read.

My thoughts: This story is a fun combination of epic tales and legends, with it's own delightful twists. I feel right into the story from the get go, as Aerbrin deals with the tragedy of losing her father, the mystery of why she is still alive, and a new city full of threats and intrigue. If you enjoy fantasy style stories, or are looking for an interesting tale with lots of twists and turns, then I highly recommend this book!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

At Love's Bidding

After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.

Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.
My thoughts: I was looking forward to reading another book by Regina Jennings, since her other stories have been a fun blend of history, romance, action, God, and spunk. At Love's Bidding didn't disappoint! I appreciated the fun story of a young woman sent out west to right a wrong and clear her family's name, and discovering more than a missing heirloom, finding love and a backbone as well. The story has some great characters and fun twists! I highly recommend it.
I received this book from Lit Fuse in exchange for my honest review.

Green Smoothies

About the book:A collection of 66 illustrated smoothies, juices, nut milks, and tonics to kick-start metabolism, fire up the mind, and promote whole-body health.
An easy-to-follow and informative guide, this book pares smoothie-making back to its essence. Each recipe is presented in a highly visual spread, and grouped ingredients are displayed opposite finished smoothies and juices, providing at-a-glance instruction. Recipes like Dandelion Tonic, Popeye's Juice, Coconut Kale, and Pineapple Twist provide a simple introduction for the new smoothie maker, as well as new inspiration for the experienced blender. A seven-day detox plan with straightforward recipes energizes and invigorates.

My thoughts: This book is incredible! Just the thing to kick illness and the Winter blues after Christmas. I love that there is a wide variety of recipes for fat burning, metabolism boosting, and detoxing (among other things). If you aren't a sweet person, there are plenty of savory recipes, or visa versa. I love that a lot of the ingredients can be found in one's garden (which makes me look forward to next garden season all the more!) or at a farmers market or CSA. My personal favorites are the ones with berries, but I look forward to using this book as a guideline to expand my repertoire.;)
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas: Adventures in Odessey


Tired of the Christmas shopping, the baking and sugar overload, the Christmas festivities that keep you away from your family during the season? Take time special time to spend with your loved ones and invest in your community—with Focus on the Family's help!

You can download a fun gift to give to your friends, family, and community! Each Christmas stocking stuffer card directs you to a special place to hear an Adventures in Odyssey Christmas episode. Plus, you’ll be able to read a special excerpt from Imagination Station #12, “Danger on a Silent Night.” Sign up here to download the free cards.

Plus stop by this page for a slew of crafts, recipes, and stories to share with your family during this special time of year!


If you're still looking for one last gift to give your kids this year, give the gift of the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts, and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Take ten: the best of the best (with honors!)

This week's top ten over at Broke and Bookish is the top ten books I have read over 2015.

1. The Gifting

This one was an interesting, dystopian story that I very much enjoyed (and need to get back to the rest of the series!).

2. A Refuge at Highland Hall

This one was bittersweet, as it was the last one in a wonderful series (I do believe it was my favorite of the three books, though they are all good!).

3. Through Waters Deep

So, I didn't really get into Sarah's books until this one. Oh my! It does have a lot going on (perhaps almost too much) on the mystery end of things, but I loved the sweet romance!

4. Side by Side

This one in surprisingly amazing! It was an eye opening fictional story about how the Muslim faith impacts the women in it.

5. Maggie Bright

I will be the first to admit that this one was a bit dry to get into, at first. But, once I was in, the richness of the story and historical aspect blew me away!

6. Always on My mind

This story was so messy, but Susan pulled it off with style! I need to grab a copy of the next book in the series....

7. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

This one is spot on!

8. An Uncertain Choice

Knights and fair maidens. Need I say more?:)

9. Vendetta

Why must I wait so long for the next book?!

10. Chivalrous

Another amazing medieval story.

11. The Shock of Night

This one was an amazing, multi layered, fantasy style story.

12. The Art of Losing Yourself

I can't recommend this author enough!

13. Paper Hearts

This adorable chick lit book had some surprises!

14. The Bronte Plot

This one made me want to pack my bags and head on a literary trip.

15. The Princess in the Opal Mask

This one blew me away! If you haven't read it, you need to!:)

Obviously, 2015 has been a year filled with a lot of great books. I didn't even mention all of my favorites, since I figured 15 was more than stretching the limit of Top Ten Tuesday.;) I generally try to stick with ten, but figured I could break the rules for this one. What books are on your list of new favorites? Are there some I need to add to my list for 2016?

Close to You

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

My thoughts: I was super excited about this book, and it didn't disappoint! I love that both of the characters (and, really a lot of the secondary characters) have a lot of depth to them and grow as the story progresses. I both love and hate that their stories come out in pieces, since you don't get everything up front (which the impatient side of me hates) but it makes the characters all that much easier to fall in love with. The author does a fabulous job of pulling off the relationship between Allison and Jackson. This one is a new favorite!
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.

My thoughts: Over all, I fell in love with this incredible story of a young woman who has grown up going to church but has felt that she fell from God's grace when she finds herself pregnant an unmarried. With her world turned upside down, she begins to truly feel God's love and makes lasting friendships along the way. While the story is messy and the villain was truly unstable, I liked the over all message of this story. I look forward to reading other books by Varina!
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Top Ten new authors (to me) in 2015

2015 has brought a lot of fun, new things with it, including some great new (to me) authors!

1. Patricia Bradley

Even though I jumped in at the end of the series, it really didn't matter, since each book could be a stand alone title. I need to go back and read the rest of series now...

2. Lisa Harris

Oh my goodness! If you are looking for a suspenseful read, then check this one out! I had a hard time putting it down and can't believe I have to wait so long for the second book.;)

3. Dina L. Sleiman

Both of her books are great stories about strong women!

4. Sarah Sundin

Another one that I can't believe took me so long to read, since this story is incredible! I have to wait forever for the next title in the series.:(

5. Alicia Buck

I hope to read more by this author, since she did a wonderful job of retelling Cinderella while making it wholly her own.

6. Mike Boldt

I love this one! His other book that we read together this year is good too, but this one shot to the top of my favorite books to read aloud.;)

7. Mike Austin

Another new favorite! I love how it teaches how to mix colors in a fun way.

8. Rod Campbell

How did I miss this book as a kid? It has totally ruined me at the zoo, since I go around quoting parts of it...;)

9. Karma Wilson

Another great book for teaching colors, this one using nature. I love Karma's stories!

10. Susan Verde

This one is a fun book with famous painting and how they can make the viewer feel.:)
So, what is on your top ten list?