Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Compassion Prayer Partners | Kindness

Compassion sends out a monthly prayer partner newsletter. I love their suggestions of how to pray for our sponsored kids and thought that I would begin sharing these each month. This month's prayer newsletter is from Mark Hanlon, Senior Vice President of Compassion International. Click here to download the August prayer calendar.

Have you ever noticed that children seem to have a knack for knowing something’s wrong — and how they can be so kind in the middle of it all? While they can be seemingly oblivious to bad things going on around them, I’m always surprised at just how perceptive they are. When my son was young, there were times when he would snuggle up next to me, or hug me or even just smile brightly across the room, at the exact moment I needed that small measure of kindness. Sometimes before I even knew I needed it.

The kindness of children is simple — a gift of a yellow dandelion or a prized toy — but at the same time it is profound. In my mind, the kindness of children seems to be a gift from God Himself, a seed He has planted.

But kindness is also delicate. As children grow older, they are often met with unkindness. And for children in poverty, that comes in the form of an all-too-unkind world. Hunger and disease and neglect can batter a child’s natural tendency to see the world as a place to love and be loved.

At our Compassion centers, we lavish kindness on children — and they respond in kind! A child who is loved and protected feels the freedom to show kindness. I can see it in the pictures they draw and the letters they write to their sponsors. In the prayers they pray for their family and friends. Hearts hardened by poverty grow pliable. Kindness flourishes.

This month, I would like to thank you for your own kindness shown to millions of children in poverty around the world. What greater act of love can there be than to lift up prayers and praises to the Father on behalf of each of these precious children. Your kindness is a gift. Thank you for that.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Gritty Military Suspense by Mel Odom

by Mel Odom
Called to Serve series, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Military Suspense
Available June 2013
Tyndale House
400 pages

Buy a copy
Read an excerpt
Find out what others think

About the Book
Having grown up in the foster system, Private Pike Morgan’s rough exterior and problem with authority earn him few friends among his fellow Marines. When he’s not on missions for the Marine Reserve, Pike’s rebellious attitude and eagerness for vigilante justice have the local police regularly at his doorstep. Struggling to set down roots, and nervous of his desire to, Pike’s eager to answer the military’s call for another deployment.

On a peacekeeping mission to Afghanistan, Pike and his squad soon find themselves entrenched in a heated war zone. After an American journalist is kidnapped by known terrorist Zalmai Yaqub, the whereabouts of this al Qaeda leader become a top priority for the American military. But when Yaqub flees to Pakistan, will anyone aid Pike in his hunt, or will this strong Marine find himself without an ally?

My Thoughts
When I first began reading Renegade, I'll admit, I didn't love it. I set it aside and came back to it a couple of weeks later, and I'm so glad I did! While Pike isn't a main character that you immediately fall in love with, the more I got to know him, the better I liked him. (Isn't that true with so many things?!) The author did a fabulous job of unpacking Pike's life story and giving reasons behind his behavior. When he was finally sent off to Afghanistan, I felt like a friend was being sent off to war.

The story alternates between two main stories—Pike's and a terrorist plot in Afghanistan. The terrorist plot wasn't the highlight of the book for me, but it did add another layer and things actually tied up quite nicely in the end (which I was unsure of in the beginning).

Mel Odom is a new-to-me author, and I'm looking forward to reading more by him! Fans of suspense fiction or readers who are looking for a story with some depth to it will enjoy reading Renegade! [4 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Mel Odom is a full-time writer with many published works to his credit. Mel has been inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame and received the Alex Award for his fantasy novel The Rover. Mel has published the Apocalypse series and the NCIS series with Tyndale House. Mel resides in Oklahoma with his wife and five children.

Mel Odom Online
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Teaser Tuesday | A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading
Hop over for details or to link up!

Miss Arabella Beckett had always been proud of the fact she'd never ended up in jail. She could no longer make that claim. (p. 7)
A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano

And this is just how the book starts!

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

What I Read Last Week ...
I participated in another (!!!) read-a-thon last week and read a TON! Here is my wrap-up post from the High Summer Read-A-Thon.

What I'm Reading Now ...
I basically pressed "pause" on everything I was reading, wiped the slate clean, and started brand new books last week for the read-a-thon. So here are the ones I'm "still reading." :)

What I Hope to Read This Week ...
I'm REALLY hoping to finish up a couple of the books on my "currently reading" shelf this week, so I'm not planning to add any new books to the list.

That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?

High Summer Read-A-Thon | Wrap-Up Post

Another read-a-thon has come to an end. Hubs was out of town last week, so I had more time than usual to read. :)

My goals were to ...
Read 7 books
Read 2000 pages
Read 50% of one non-fiction book

 I met all three goals ...
Read 7 books, 1 audio book, and bits of 2 books and another audio book!
Read 2137 pages, 6:20 hours of audio books (est 2504 pages total!)
Read exactly half of one non-fiction book, plus the two audio books were non-fiction!

Here's a quick run-down of what I read this week ...

 The Cowboy's Sweetheart by Brenda Minton - FINISHED! - 224 pages
Bride Wanted by Renee Andrews - FINISHED! - 224 pages
Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry - FINISHED! - 306 pages
Love in Bloom - Arlene James - FINISHED! - 224 pages
The Secret of the Indigo Moon by G.P. Taylor - FINISHED! - 304 pages
Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn - FINISHED! - 320 pages
Lonestar Homecoming by Colleen Coble - FINISHED! - 336 pages
Seriously ... I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres (audio) - FINISHED! - 1:20 hours / 95 pages
The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni (audio) - FINISHED! - 5 hours / 272 pages
The Outlaw's Redemption by Renee Ryan - 59 pages
Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle - 121 pages

Friday, July 26, 2013

Trinity: A Military War Dog by Ronie Kendig

Trinity: Military War Dog
by Ronie Kendig
A Breed Apart series, Book 1
Christian Fiction / Military Suspense / Romance
Available September 2012
Barbour Publishing
352 pages

Buy a copy

About the Book
A year ago in Afghanistan, Green Beret Heath Daniel’s career was destroyed. Along with his faith. Now he and his military war dog, Trinity, train other dogs and their handlers. Though his passion is to be back in action, the medical discharge has forced Heath—and Trinity—to the sidelines. Military intelligence officer Darci Kintz is captured while secretly tracking the Taliban. Only one dog can handle the extreme conditions to save her. Trinity. Only one man can handle Trinity. Time is running out on the greatest—and most dangerous—mission of their lives.

My Thoughts
I'm a little new to the military suspense genre. I've heard wonderful things about Ronie Kendig's talent for story-telling, so I decided it was high time to check her out. Although, I'm not a huge dog lover (don't hate me!), I thought Trinity sounded like an interesting book. The story was great! I liked Heath from the very beginning. He's struggling to figure out what to do with his life after suffering a traumatic brain injury and jumps at the chance to go back to Afghanistan—even if it's simply to talk to the troops. All of his challenges seemed so realistic, and I had such compassion for him! Darci was a unique character as well. It took me a while to warm up to her, but once I did, I loved her! The back and forth between Heath and Darci and the action-packed story made for a great read!

There were a few things that kept me from completely falling in love with the story. One, the vast number of characters! I had a really hard time keeping everyone straight—even more so because many of the characters went by multiple names. The Chinese operatives had such similar names (some even overlapping between first and last name!) ... it was too much for me to keep straight. The story also jumped through so many different people's perspectives that I often found myself having to go back to re-read to refresh what was actually going on; the transitions were not clear. Finally, I found the background story to be a little convoluted. I eventually gave up trying to figure it out and just focused on the current happenings, which helped me keep moving.

Even with these "negatives", the good out-weighed the bad and I enjoyed the book! I will definitely read other books by this author. Now I just have to decide which one to read next! [3.5 stars]

I received a temporary e-copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and two dogs in northern Virginia. Author and speaker, she loves engaging people through her Rapid-Fire Fiction.

Ronie KendigOnline
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Love Colleen Coble's New Romantic Suspense!

Rosemary Cottage
by Colleen Coble
Hope Beach series, Book 2
Christian Fiction / Romantic Suspense
Available July 2013
Thomas Nelson
336 pages

Buy a copy
Find out what others think

About the Book
Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there’s a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island…. 

The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She’s even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It’s always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben’s disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder. 

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine’s father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can’t help being drawn to Hope Beach’s new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina. 

Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other…and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?

My Thoughts
I'm a huge fan of Colleen Coble's romantic suspense novels, and Rosemary Cottage did not disappoint! I liked Amy and Curtis right away—even if they didn't like each other! Both of them were struggling to deal with the deaths of their siblings, which added a deeper dimension to both of them. There was so much chemistry between the two of them as well. It seemed that every time they talked, they alternated between intense attraction and heated arguments. Of course, their fierce loyalty to their respective siblings didn't help in the midst of those arguments!

My enjoyment of the novel was probably enhanced a little as I read about half of it during a power outage due to a thunderstorm. Nothing makes a suspense novel more suspenseful than reading it in a dark room, by flashlight, with a storm raging outside. Feel free to re-create this scenario when you read Rosemary Cottage! :)

If you enjoy suspense novels, you are sure to love Rosemary Cottage! I highly recommend!  [4.5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Colleen Coble Online
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fabulous New Novel from Krista McGee

by Krista McGee
Anomaly series, Book 1
Christian Fiction / Young Adult / Dystopian
Available July 2013
Thomas Nelson
320 pages

Buy a copy
Read an excerpt
Find out what others think

About the Book
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…

My Thoughts
I jumped on board for this blog tour because I'm a huge fan of Krista McGee's previous books. But then I got nervous about reading the book. It's a huge departure from her other novels—genre-wise at least—and my exposure to dystopian YA is limited to The Hunger Games trilogy (which I loved, but stil!) Silly, I know. Well, thank goodness, I got over myself because Anomaly was fantastic!

The book starts off with Thalli counting down the last few minutes of her life. What a hook! At that point, I knew I wasn't going to be able to put the book down. Krista is an incredibly talented author. She managed to create an entire world in the future, develop characters that I adored, and tell a story with so many twists and turns I was never sure what was going to happen next. And the best part was that it all seemed so believable. Futuristic novels are usually hard for me to buy into because they seem so ridiculous, but I totally believed the reasons why this whole world was living like they were. I also loved how she creatively wove in threads of God's character throughout the book—even though only one character even acknowledges God at the beginning.

I think it's only fair to warn you that this book ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger. I HAVE to know what happens next, and I can't believe I have to wait several months for the next book! I guess, I'll be learning a little lesson about patience in the meantime. :) Anomaly  is a fabulous book and I highly recommend it! [5 stars]

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Krista McGee’s passion to see teens excited about serving God is a driving force behind her novels. Ever since college when she spent a summer working at a youth camp, McGee knew she wanted to invest in teenagers. Since then she’s been involved in a variety of youth ministries and currently teaches at a Christian school in Tampa, FL.

McGee broke into the writing world during her time in Spain. A friend encouraged her to submit an article to a Christian girls’ magazine, and it got published. Once her family moved back to Tampa, she got the idea for her first novel, First Date, a modern take of the story of Esther. Her subsequent books, Starring Me and Right Where I Belong, are based on Rebekah and Ruth.

When Krista McGee isn’t living in fictional worlds of her own creation, she spends her days as a wife, mom, teacher and coffee snob.

Krista McGee Online

Waiting on Wednesday | Unspoken

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is ... 

Unspoken by Dee Henderson
Bethany House | October 1, 2013

About the Book
Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.

The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact she was found less than three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them. She's changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.

She's never said a word—to the cops, to her doctors, to family—about those four years.

A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn't find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened. And her silence is what has protected her family for years.

Bryce Bishop doesn't know her past, he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather's estate--and that the FBI director for the Chicago office made the introduction. The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her. But nothing else is working in his favor--she's decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she's willing to forego a huge inheritance to keep her privacy. She's not giving him much of an opening to work with.

Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved, has only opened another chapter...

Why I Can't Wait to Read It
Dee Henderson's O'Malley series was one of my first introductions to excellent Christian fiction. I absolutely LOVED that series and have every intention of re-reading it soon. (And I'm not much of a re-reader!) After many years of silence from such a beloved author, Dee came back on the scene last October. While I wasn't crazy about that book, I'm still looking forward to reading Unspoken when it releases this fall. The story sounds intriguing, and I'm hoping that Dee's found her writing rhythm in this new story.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Teaser Tuesday | Trinity by Ronie Kendig

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading
Hop over for details or to link up!

"I want this to work."

Her heart misfired. "Why? ... Why do you want this to work?"

"Because I've never felt anything like this. I can't stop thinking about you. I want to kill the guy who hurt you, and my dog likes you." (p. 73)
Trinity by Ronie Kendig

Monday, July 22, 2013

Celebrating 25 Years of Christy Miller

I can still remember my excitement when I opened a present from my grandparents one Christmas only to discover the Christy Miller BOXED SET! I believe I was in the 7th grade that year, and this was the one gift on my wish list that I wanted more than anything. The books had been featured in Brio magazine several months prior, and it sounded like something I would enjoy. I circled the set on the order form that month and gave it to my mom ... and did the same thing for the next several months until Christmas. (Very subtle, huh?)

I immediately set out to read the entire series. I remember reading them on the school bus to and from school, reading them in the gym before school each morning (I even lost the seventh book in the series in the bleachers in the gym ... I'm still a little devastated about that one.), and every night before bed. I loved them. (Y'all ... I was the biggest nerd bookworm!)

Christy was a girl I could relate to. She was a "good girl"—though not perfect—who was learning what it meant to follow Jesus. In many ways, our journeys through those angst-filled teenage years was similar. She wanted boys to like her, struggled in her friendships with girls, argued with her parents, picked on her brother. She had friends who got into some major trouble and worried about how to help them. She was tempted to sin and made bad choices. But overall, her love for the Lord and her desire to follow Jesus shone through the entire series. 

My friends and I passed the books back and forth (except for #7, which had to be borrowed from the library) and talked about Christy as though she was a close friend. We shared "God things" that were happening in our lives and all around us. In a lot of ways, sharing the books cemented our friendship, which could have easily gone by the wayside as we were scattered across four different middle schools. Even as we got older, made it through high school, and parted ways for college, Christy Miller would come up from time to time.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first Christy Miller book being published! While it makes me feel a little old to realize how long ago middle school was (not quite 25 years ago!), I've been thinking back on some fond memories centered around these books. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Robin Jones Gunn for writing this series that meant so much to me and my friends during such a crazy time in life!!! While Christy was a fictitious character, this series assured us that other girls were going through the same things that we were going through and gave us hope that things would eventually turn around.

Robin is hosting a celebration giveaway on her website to celebrate this momentous occasion. Download an mp3 of the first book in the series. Plus, TEN $25 gift cards are up for grabs so be sure to check out the details here!

Have any of you read the Christy Miller series? Did you love them as much as I did? What do you remember most about Christy and/or the series?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey where we share what we're reading and our goals for the week.

What I Read Last Week ...
I definitely slowed down a bit. I finished another audio book and one that I set aside a couple of weeks ago. So glad I went back to Renegade ... I ended up enjoying it quite a bit!

What I'm Reading Now ...
I'm still in the middle of a couple of books. I will eventually finish them. :) A Most Peculiar Circumstance is fantastic so far!

What I Hope to Read This Week ...
I'm participating in yet another read-a-thon this week—the High Summer Read-A-Thon. I posted my goals over the weekend (which are pretty insane!!), so be sure to check them out. We'll see if I can read that much in a week. :)

That's what I'm hoping to read this week. What are you reading?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Looking Ahead ... Most Anticipated Books of 2013, Pt 2

Earlier in the year I posted a list of books I was most looking forward to reading this year. Honestly, I couldn't narrow ALL of the books down to only 10, plus publishers generally haven't announced their releases for the last half of the year. SO ... in an effort at total fairness—and so I could feature more books!—I decided to split the post into two parts. Here are my 10 most anticipated books for the second half of 2013! Looks like September will be a busy reading month for me!!

Top 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2013 
(July through December releases)

Rosemary Cottage by Colleen Coble
Available July 9
Thomas Nelson

I've been reading some of Coble's older novels and have really enjoyed them. It's made me even more excited about her newest romantic suspense, Rosemary Cottage!

Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there’s a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island….

The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She’s even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It’s always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben’s disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder.

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine’s father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can’t help being drawn to Hope Beach’s new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina.

Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other…and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?

On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin
Available August 1

The first book in this series was excellent ... and very unique. I'm so looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace—and a love that remains true.
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden
Available August 1
Bethany House

Oh, Elizabeth Camden has published some wonderful novels in the past couple of years. I can't wait to read Into the Whirlwind!

As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox's future looks bright until the night the legendary Great Chicago Fire destroys her beloved city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek, an influential attorney for one of Chicago's finest department stores, is a force to be reckoned with among the city's most powerful citizens. Bold and shrewd, he's accustomed to getting exactly what he wants--until he meets Mollie Knox, the beguiling businesswoman just beyond his reach.

In the tumult as the people of Chicago race to rebuild a bigger and better city, Mollie comes face-to-face with the full force of Zack's character and influence. Zack believes this may finally be his chance to win her, but can Mollie ever accept this man and his whirlwind effect on her life, especially with her treasured company on the line?

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate
Available September 1
Tyndale House

After reading Firefly Island earlier this year, I decided I need to read more books by Lisa Wingate. The Prayer Box is high on my list of books I'm looking forward to reading!

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

Peril by Jordyn Redwood
Available September 1
Kregel Publications

After two stellar novels, Jordyn Redwood is moving to the top of my "favorites" list.  Also, it seems that many things are wrapped up from the first two novels, so I'm definitely interested to see how she will tie this book to the other two ... I'm sure we're in store for plenty of surprises!

Dr. Thomas Reeves is at the pinnacle of his career. The Department of Defense has awarded him a lucrative contract for his new research into superior autobiographical memory, which promises the ability to create combat troops able to quickly learn complex battle plans and enact them perfectly under the most demanding battlefield scenarios.

An elite unit has received neural grafts from fetal cadavers of genetically altered brain cells with enhanced NMDA receptors. The results are remarkable . . . until the recipients begin suffering hallucinations, nightmares, paralysis, . . . and death. Dr. Reeves searches for answers, but DOD insiders want him to stop the search.

The situation becomes public when pediatric ICU nurse Morgan Adams, Dr. Reeves’s daughter, is taken hostage by three research subjects in an attempt to force Dr. Reeves into disclosing why they are sick. If answers aren’t revealed within twenty-four hours, patients in the pediatric ICU will be killed.

This spine-tingling conclusion to the Bloodline Trilogy raises spiritual and ethical dilemmas torn directly out of today’s headlines. When does life begin? How far does commitment to family go? And can the sins of the father ever be forgiven?

Rebellious Heart by Jodi Hedlund
Available September 1
Bethany House

Jodi Hedlund is one of my most favorite authors. I anticipate that her books will continue to make my "most anticipated" lists for many years to come.

A Love That Would Shape History Forever

Because she's a woman, higher learning was always closed to Susanna Smith. But her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. And she's determined to marry well, so she'll be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Growing up with little to his name, poor country lawyer Benjamin Ross dreams of impacting the world for the better. When introduced to the Smiths he's taken by Susanna's intelligence and independent spirit, but her parents refuse to see him as a suitor for their daughter.

When the life of a runaway indentured servant is threatened, Susanna is forced to choose between justice and mercy, and Ben becomes her unlikely advisor. But drawing closer to this man of principle and intellect lands her in a dangerous, secret world of rebellion and revolution against everything she once held dear.

Stranded by Dani Pettrey
Available September 1
Bethany House

I've really loved the other books in this series and am really excited to finally read Darcy and Gage's story. All the build-up from the other books has me anticipating a wildly romantic story. :)

When Her Friend Goes Missing, Every Minute Counts

Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her--but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz
Available September 1

Laura Frantz is another favorite author. I loved the first novel in this family saga and look forward to reading more. Seriously, every book she's written so far has been excellent. I'm sure this one will be no different.

The path to true love lies somewhere between two feuding families
In the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburgh only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.

But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line. Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan--particularly the handsome Jack Turlock--she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future. Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?

Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love and loyalty. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

Trapped by Irene Hannon
Available September 1

Irene Hannon writes phenomenal romantic suspense. I love how she features characters with ties to law enforcement and makes them more "real."

A runaway teen, a desperate sister, and an intrepid PI determined to discover the truth
When Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned private investigator James Devlin to help. Dev knows time is of the essence with runaways--just forty-eight hours can mean the difference between recovery and ruin.

But the deeper he and Laura dig, the more Dev begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And in the icy winter weather, the trail is going cold . . .

In her latest thrilling read, queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon outdoes herself with a fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren
Available October 1
David C. Cook

I can NOT wait to read the conclusion of this series. The books are so closely connected, and I NEED to know how things turn out for Cora Kensington and which man will finally win her affections. Plus, this whole series has been a bit like a vacation through Europe.

Lisa T. Bergren's popular Grand Tour series concludes as Cora Kensington journeys farther into Italy, wrestles with a terrible ultimatum from her father, and comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her.

America's newest heiress must decide if her potential fortune is rationale enough to give up her freedom and all that God is leading her toward. And when her newly-discovered siblings are threatened with ruin, her quandary deepens. Then as Cora nears Rome, more journalists are track the news story of the decade-"Copper Cora," the rags-to-riches girl-and want to know more about her family and the men vying for her attention. Meanwhile, a charming Italian countess decides that if Cora isn't going to claim Will's heart, she might just try...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

High Summer Read-A-Thon | Setting Goals

The High Summer Read-A-Thon is next week—July 22-28. I'm all in! Thanks so much to Michelle @ The True Book Addict for hosting! (You can find more details and sign up here.) This has been the summer of read-a-thons and I've had a great time with them ... and there are two more next month! :)

I toyed with the idea of not setting any goals for this one and just reading for fun. BUT I know that I do better on these things when I'm working toward something, so here we go ...

The Goals
Read 7 books
Read 2000 pages
Read 50% of one non-fiction book

These are definitely the highest goals I've ever set for a read-a-thon, but I think I'll have a little extra time to read next week. We'll see how it goes. :) 

The Books
I'm starting with these books the next week ...

Love in Bloom by Arlene James
The Outlaw's Redemption by Renee Ryan
Bride Wanted by Renee Andrews
The Courting Campaign by Regina Scott
The Secret of Indigo Moon by G.P. Taylor
Lonestar Homecoming by Colleen Coble
Love Finds You in Sunset Beach, Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn
Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry
Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle (my non-fiction read for the week)

If I want to change it up or I somehow finish all of those, I'll probably move on to these ...

 North Country Hero
Falling for the Teacher
The Cowboy's Christmas Courtship
The Great Mogul Diamond by G.P. Taylor
Waterfalls by Robin Jones Gunn

And of course—as always—I reserve the right to change my mind about the books I'm reading. It's a woman's prerogative, of course!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Colleen Coble’s “Rosemary Cottage” Nautical Summer Giveaway


Water can be calming and healing, but it can also be dangerous, as Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland both found out. Both lost their siblings to the sea, and they hope to find healing on Hope Island. But will they find it, or will their quest to find answers set them at odds with each other and with those who have secrets that need to stay hidden?

Find out in Colleen Coble’s latest book, Rosemary Cottage, which released July 9. To celebrate, Colleen is hosting a 12-day Nautical Summer Giveaway. From July 16-27, Colleen will be giving away a new nautical prize every day. She’ll announce the winners on July 29 on her website, so mark your calendars for that date to see if you were picked as a lucky winner! Enter here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday | Rules of Murder

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is ... 

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering
Bethany House | August 1, 2013

About the Book
Introducing Drew Farthering ... From the tip of his black Homburg to the crease in his stylish cheviot trousers, he's the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered.

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate.

With the help of beautiful and whip-smart Madeline Parker, a guest from America, Drew proposes to use the lessons he's learned reading his mysteries to solve the crime. Before long, he realizes this is no lark, and no one at Farthering Place is who he or she appears to be--not the butler nor blackmailer, the chauffeur nor embezzler. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this dangerous game.

Why I Can't Wait to Read It
I saw someone post that this book was a combination of Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey. Sold! Seriously, that's a lot to live up to, but I'm hopeful that this debut author will give me a story I can't put down. :)
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