Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander (A Belmont Mansion novel)


"But the fact remains, you are a woman." (38)


Title:  A Note Yet Unsung
Series: Belmont Mansion, Book 3
Author: Tamera Alexander
Publisher:  Bethany House
Release Date:  January 31, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction


A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah's hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor--determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music--bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah's new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville's new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse--and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head--he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city's new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music--his father, who is dying. As Tate's ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman's trust when you've robbed her of her dream?


As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women's hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history--but the hearts of men.

Book Review: The Heart of Marriage edited by Dawn Camp, Foreword by Edie Wadsworth


"Contrary to how easy it is to dissolve this till-death-do-us-part union, marriage was never meant to be disposable." (18)


Title:  The Heart of Marriage
Editor: Dawn Camp
Publisher:  Revell
Release Date:  February 14, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Non-Fiction 


The best marriages are not perfect. Marriage is about walking together through all of life's ups and downs, its challenges and triumphs. And no relationship offers more chances for personal and spiritual growth, love and support, and just plain fun.

Collecting true stories from some of today's best writers, Dawn Camp invites you to reflect on the heart of marriage. With beautiful photographs and poignant prose, this collection is perfect for the good days, the hard days, and all the days in between.

With stories from
· Crystal Paine· Lisa-Jo Baker· Alexandra Kuykendall· Holley Gerth· Shaunti Feldhahn· Renee Swope· Richard Paul Evans· Kristen Welch· Mo Isom· and many more

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Annie's Year-End 2016 Young Adult Favorite Reads + Giveaway


Welcome to my very late Year-End 2016 Favorites!!

My year end favorite reads are books I've read in 2016 for the first time (and not necessarily all reviewed here - eek! or reviewed in 2016 - a few were posted in January 2017).  They are also not all published in 2016, but majority am. 

To start it off, here's what's going to happen. Every day in through February 28th (minus Sunday) at 6:00 PM EST
  1. I will tell you my favorite reads in the category of the day through their covers (you know how I love covers) and 
  2. Remember, you can see my review of the book (in a new window) by clicking on the covers. 
  3. Then you come back and fill out the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a prize! 


Book Review: Rescue Me, Montana Rescue Book 2 by Susan May Warren


 "...God is watching over their lives, even if they feel like they're lost, or alone, or overwhelmed . . ." (110)


Title:  Rescue Me
Series: Montana Rescue, Book 2
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher:  Revell
Release Date:  February 1, 2016
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction 


When Deputy Sam Brooks commits to something, nothing can sway him--not just on the job but in his private life. He's the one who stuck around to take care of his mother after his father's accidental death. And he's the one--perhaps the only one--who believes Sierra Rose is the perfect girl for him. Safe, practical, and organized, she's nothing like her hippie, impulsive, bleeding-heart sister, Willow.

Willow, however, has been in love with Sam Brooks for as long as she can remember. But she wants her sister to have a happy ending. Besides, Willow has other things to focus on--namely, nabbing the job of her dreams. Best thing for her to do is to purge Sam from her heart.

Neither can predict the events that will bring them together in a fight for their lives in the forbidding wilderness of Glacier National Park. Stranded, injured, and with the winter weather closing in, Sam and Willow will have to work together to save a crew of terrified teenagers. As they fight to survive, they might just discover a new hope for love.


Book Review: An Amish Home Novella Collection by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller & Ruth Reid


Title:  An Amish Home
Authors: Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid & Kathleen Fuller 
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Release Date:  Ferbruary 7, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Amish Fiction



A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman—Sarah Lantz always dreamed of the perfect home, the perfect husband, the perfect family. When she married Abram, she knew she was on her way to securing her perfect life. All of that changes in one moment when an accident leaves her unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, dashing all of her dreams. As Abram starts to transform their home, Sarah begins a transformation in her spirit, and she begins, once again, to see her cup as half full.

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston—Down on their luck and desperate after they are evicted from their small apartment, Chace and Mia O’Conner reluctantly take Chace’s Amish boss up on his offer to rent them the daadihaus located on his property. They are certain they will never feel at home in the rustic cabin without any modern conveniences, and they start to blame each other for their seemingly hopeless situation. But with the help of their new Amish friends, Chace and Mia begin to enjoy their cozy cabin and realize that home really is where the heart is.

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller—Faith Miller knows that carpentry is an unlikely hobby for a young Amish woman, but she loves the work and it keeps the memory of her grandfather alive. So when her cousin asks Faith to build the cabinets in her new home, Faith is only too happy to take on the job, even if it is the most ambitious project she has ever taken on. The only catch is that she has to work with her ex-fiance, Silas. As they work to build Martha’s kitchen, can they put the past behind them and start to build faith in one another again?

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid—Fifteen years ago, Thomas and Noreen King were blissful newlyweds. Young, naive, and in love, life was rosy . . . for a while. Then trials and tribulations rocked their foundation, shattering them emotionally, and soon, their marriage was in shards. All hope for restoring their previously unshakable union seems lost. When a fire destroys their home, Thomas and Noreen are left to sift through the rubble. As uncovered items from the remains of the house shake loose memories of the past, Thomas and Noreen begin to draw closer and a flicker of hope—and love—is re-ignited.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Annie's Year-End 2016 AMISH Fiction Favorite Reads + Giveaway


Welcome to my very late Year-End 2016 Favorites!!

My year end favorite reads are books I've read in 2016 for the first time (and not necessarily all reviewed here - eek! or reviewed in 2016 - a few were posted in January 2017).  They are also not all published in 2016, but majority am. 

To start it off, here's what's going to happen. Every day in through February 28th (minus Sunday) at 6:00 PM EST
  1. I will tell you my favorite reads in the category of the day through their covers (you know how I love covers) and 
  2. Remember, you can see my review of the book (in a new window) by clicking on the covers. 
  3. Then you come back and fill out the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a prize! 


Book Review: One Part Plant by Jessica Murnane


Title:  One Part Plant: A Simple Guide to Eating Real, One Meal at a Time
Author: Jessica Murnane
Publisher: Harper Wave
Release Date:  February 21, 2017 
Genre: Healthy Lifestyle, Cookbook




"This book is joyful, playful, delicious, and guess what? It will also change your life. I invite you to follow Jessica into the vast green wilderness." —Lena Dunham

Wellness advocate and podcaster Jessica Murnane is the friend you never knew you had. And she's here with a cookbook to help you make a change you never thought was possible.

In One Part Plant, Jessica has a friendly request: that you eat just one meal plant-based meal each day. There's no crazy diet plan with an anxiety-inducing list of forbidden foods. Or pages filled with unattainable goals based on an eating philosophy that leaves you feeling hungry and deprived. Instead, Jessica offers you the tools to easily and deliciously make plants the star of your plate--no matter how much junk food occupies it now.

Jessica knows what it's like to have less than healthy eating habits. Just a few short years ago, her diet consisted of three major food groups: Sour Patch Kids, Diet Coke, and whatever Lean Cuisine had the most cheese. But when her endometriosis — a chronic and painful condition — left her depressed and desperate for help, she took the advice of a friend and radically overhauled her diet. Within months, her life dramatically changed — her pain started to fade and she felt like herself again.

With a unique style and playful tone, Jessica shares what she’s learned on her way to healing her body through food. She keeps it simple and, most importantly, delicious — with 100 allergy-friendly recipes like Creamy Mushroom Lasagna, Easy Vegetable Curry Bowls, Triple Berry Skillet Cobbler, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Featuring her top ten pantry basics, practical advice, and colorful and bold photography, One Part Plant is an inspiring and educational guide to eating real and feeling your best.


Book Review: The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata + GIVEAWAY


Title:  The Mermaids of Lake Michigan
Author: Suzanne Kamata
Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Release Date:  February 14, 2017 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction




Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal--the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana--has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one's allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Annie's Year-End 2016 Laugh Out Loud Favorite Reads + Giveaway


Welcome to my very late Year-End 2016 Favorites!!

My year end favorite reads are books I've read in 2016 for the first time (and not necessarily all reviewed here - eek! or reviewed in 2016 - a few were posted in January 2017).  They are also not all published in 2016, but majority am. 

To start it off, here's what's going to happen. Every day in through February 28th (minus Sunday) at 6:00 PM EST
  1. I will tell you my favorite reads in the category of the day through their covers (you know how I love covers) and 
  2. you click on them to see my review of the book (in a new window). 
  3. Then you come back and fill out the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a prize! 


(NOT in any specific order!)

Author Interview with Carrie Turansky, author of Shine Like the Dawn + Giveaway

As many of you might know, I first met Carrie Turansky at last year's Christian Fiction Readers Retreat, and she was just the sweetest! I'm so thrilled to have the opportunity to read her latest release, Shine Like the Dawn and have her stop in for a little chat! And Carrie was so sweet to offer a signed copy of Shine Like the Dawn for one of my readers! Giveaway is at the end of the interview, but before we get there, her's a little about Carrie for the readers that don't know her.


CARRIE TURANSKY is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has been the winner of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award, and a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and the Maggie Award of Excellence. A prolific writer of contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals, Carrie lives in central New Jersey with her husband Scott. They have five adult children and four grandchildren.

TO CONNECT WITH CARRIE:   websitefacebookpinteresttwitterinstagram

Just Commonly – Q&A with Carrie Turansky

1. Happy Release Day, Carrie! Tell us a little about Shine Like the Dawn - a one sentence spiel. 
Separated by an inconceivable tragedy, can faith and love reunite childhood friends and light the way to a brighter future?
2. What was your inspiration? What made you think you had to write this story?
Searching for a setting, I came across beautiful Cragside estate in Northumberland. When I looked into the background of the house, I learned it was the first home in England to be lit by hydroelectricity and the owner was a marvelous inventor. He also was really interested and transforming the barren landscape into a beautiful garden. That gave me an interesting setting and family background for my hero. I’ve always liked stories where the hero and heroine were childhood friends who fell in love as they grew up, but I’ve never written one, so that was a fun element to include. I enjoyed the book and TV series, North and South, so I borrowed some of those elements for the town and issues faced by my heroine and her neighbors. Mixing all those things together with lots of prayer and brainstorming with two author friends, I came up with the plot and characters for Shine Like the Dawn.
3. It's always interesting to see where authors find their inspirations! How is Shine Like the Dawn different than your Edwardian Bride series?
Shine Like the Dawn has some of the same elements readers told me they enjoyed in The Edwardian Brides Series - family drama, romance, inspiration, set in Edwardian England, with a large cast of characters from different backgrounds. But it is also unique in that it include a mystery that the hero and heroine must solve together. Also the heroine, Maggie, is more strong and determined than most of my previous heroines. She was a fun and challenging character to write.
4. Let’s play character match up, if you could introduce one of your characters to any other character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think Nate, the hero in Shine Like the Dawn, would enjoy meeting Alex Goodwin, the hero in A Refuge at Highland Hall. Both have a military background. As Shine Like the Dawn opens, Nate is returning from serving in the Royal Navy during the Boer War in South Africa; and Alex served as a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service in World War I. I think they would have a lot to talk about and probably become good friends.

Book Review: Shine Like Dawn by Carrie Turansky


"A storm had come..." (5)


Title: Shine Like the Dawn
Author: Carrie Turanskey
Publisher:  Waterbrook & Multnomah
Release Date:  February 21, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Historical Fiction 


Separated by an inconceivable tragedy, can faith and love reunite childhood friends and light the way to a bright future? 

In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart and she wonders if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident. When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son Nathaniel returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll, and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend. Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate—and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?


Monday, February 20, 2017

Annie's Year-End 2016 Kids & Middle Grade Favorite Reads + Giveaway


Welcome to my very late Year-End 2016 Favorites!!

My year end favorite reads are books I've read in 2016 for the first time (and not necessarily all reviewed here - eek! or reviewed in 2016 - a few were posted in January 2017).  They are also not all published in 2016, but majority am. 

To start it off, here's what's going to happen. Every day in through February 28th (minus Sunday) at 6:00 PM EST
  1. I will tell you my favorite reads in the category of the day through their covers (you know how I love covers) and 
  2. you click on them to see my review of the book (in a new window). 
  3. Then you come back and fill out the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a prize! 


Kids: Books that are tailored for kids, ages toddlers to age 7
Middle Grade: Books tailored for kids ages 8 - 14

Love Letters with Laura Frantz, author of A Moonbow Night

Just Commonly welcome authors to drop by and share with us their take on a book that embodies a predetermined Word of the Month!  For the full year of 2017, every Monday at 7:00 AM EST, a new post by a new author will be live!



Today with have Laura Frantz to start the week for us! What book will she share with us and what does "love letters" have to do with it?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Review + Book Excerpt: The Sisters of Sugarcreek by Cathy Liggett


"Kindness, when given away, keeps coming back." - Amish Proverb


Title:  The Sisters of Sugarcreek
Author:   Cathy Liggett
Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Release Date:  February 7, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Amish Fiction / Contemporary



Many lives were changed the day a fire burned down Faith Community Church, devastating the small town of Sugarcreek, Ohio.

Now a young Amish widow, Lydia Gruber faces an uncertain future. Her husband, a craftsman and volunteer firefighter, always took care of everything, keeping her isolated from others in their community. Without anyone or any skills, how will she survive?

With the death of her beloved aunt Rose in the fire, single mom Jessica Holtz inherits Rose’s Knit One Quilt Too cottage. Though determined to keep the shop open in her aunt’s memory, she doesn’t know the first thing about knitting and quilting and begins to see her aunt’s dream slip through her fingers.

When Liz Cannon lost her dear friend Rose, she also lost her partner in the Secret Stitches Society—the name they gave themselves while delivering gifts of hope to troubled folks in the dark of night. Liz convinces Jessica to keep the anonymous society going, despite the younger women’s inadequacy with knitting and sewing needles. But soon Liz has problems of her own as the life she has rebuilt for herself begins to crumble again.

When Liz and Jessica choose Lydia for their first mission, the three women cross paths and form an unlikely friendship in the aftermath of tragedy. As they walk together through triumph and heartbreak—through grief and new chances at love—they begin to discover that with friends by your side, a stitch of hope can be found anywhere.

Book Review: Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God by Ben Patterson


Title:  Praying the Psalms: Drawing Near to the Heart of God
Reflection:   Ben Patterson
Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Release Date:  March 1, 2017
Genre: Devotional



Learn to speak the language of God’s own heart.
Have you ever tried to pour out your deepest feelings to God, only to discover that you can’t find the words? We want to feel connected to God, but sometimes it seems like we’re not speaking the same language.

There is no better place in all of Scripture than Psalms to learn to be with God. Praying the Psalms includes 50 selections from this book—songs of praise, cries for help, glad rejoicings, and humble offerings—accompanied by inspirational devotions that will open a divine window in your prayer life.

Adapted from God’s Prayer Book; now in a deluxe LeatherLike binding.