Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney — Review & Giveaway!

Two Roads Home (A Chicory Inn Novel) by Deborah Raney

Two Roads Home is the second Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney. The first, Home to Chicory Lane (See my review here), centered on Chase & Landyn (Whitman) Spencer along with the Whitman clan. Two Roads Home focuses on Landyn’s older sister, Corinne, and her family. Fans of Chicory Inn will be glad to discover that the rest of the Whitman family is still very much involved in the story. I was so happy to dive into this book and catch up with the characters! The Chicory Inn is idyllic, and Raney’s description of Corinne’s house made me wish I could move right in! One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. Simply gorgeous, inviting, and relaxing. I love the continuity between the first book and this one in terms of cover art. However, this laid back picture doesn’t completely represent the tension hidden inside the novel. I was completely surprised when the book took a suspenseful turn. I was enjoying the story very much, but the added intensity made it SO much better! There’s a definite feeling of unease for much of the story. Everything isn’t necessarily resolved by the end, but it’s tied up well enough. This is a story about marriage, purpose, and faith. I’m looking forward to the next title in the series and luckily a teaser chapter is included at the end of Two Roads HomeAnother Way Home will allow a peek into the lives of Danae (Whitman) Brooks & her husband, Dallas. It’s not too late to visit Chicory Inn. Pick up the first two books right away as the next releases in a few months! Highly recommended to fans of Inspirational Fiction, Family Fiction, and books featuring an inn!

Favorite lines:

He kissed her forehead, yearning to be back in her good graces, homesick for her in a way that didn’t fit with the fact that he was holding her in his arms. -page 38

But the words seemed strangely unavailable to her. And she knew God was answering her prayer for the right words. Sometimes silence was the answer to a prayer for the right words. Thank you for closing my mouth. Perhaps there would be another day to say those things. But that day was not today. -page 266

Publisher Info:

Two Roads Home (Abingdon Press, June 2015)

What if it’s too late for dreams to come true?

Minor-but-nagging setbacks continue to sour Grant and Audrey Whitman’s initiation into the world of innkeeping, but larger challenges brew when an innocent flirtation leads to big trouble for the Whitmans’ son-in-law, Jesse. Jesse Pennington’s friendly, outgoing personality has always served him well, especially in a career that has earned him and his wife Corinne a very comfortable lifestyle. But Corinne and Jesse are both restless—and for similar reasons, if only they could share those with each other. Instead, too many business trips and trumped-up charges of harassment from a disgruntled coworker threaten their marriage and possibly put their three precious daughters at risk.

With their life in disarray, God is tugging at their hearts to pursue other dreams. Can Corinne and Jesse pick up the pieces of what was once a wonderful life before it all crumbles beneath them?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1BdaEcG

 About the author: 


Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deborah’s novels-for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.

Find Deborah online: website, Twitter, Facebook

Deborah Raney’s ‘Two Roads Home’ 5-Book Giveaway

Two Roads Home Deborah Raney

Click the button to be taken to the giveaway page!

Deborah Raney also wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Playing by HeartShe wrote an updated and expanded version of the book and it released last year as A January Bride, part of the multi-authored series A Year of Weddings. I hope you’ll check out her work!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson — Review

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson

Synopsis:

She’s looking for her big break. She never imagined it would depend on a blast from her past.

Managing the Value Lodge in her hometown was not what Anna Gordon had in mind when she set out in the hospitality industry. But it’s a safe choice for a young woman starting out her career.

Then, out of the blue, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career by moving to New York City. She applies for a management position at a stylish new hotel, The Rothsberg. But the city is full of surprises–not the least of which is discovering that Sean O’Neil, a once-upon-a-time crush, has applied for the very same position.

This sweetly romantic tale of dreams come true takes you through the storied streets of New York City–and into the depths of the human heart.

My Thoughts:

Another winner from Melody Carlson! I was so excited when I heard Melody Carlson was coming out with a new contemporary series. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a review copy and dive head first into the Follow Your Heart series! Book 1 is called Once Upon a Summertime and centers on Anna Gordon, who has a less-than-fulfilling career and not much else of which to speak. Following a series of events and decisions, Anna winds up in New York City to interview for her dream job. While this story has definite fairy-tale tendencies, it’s not a fairy tale. Anna faces ups and downs in her new city, including a new romance. New York City itself is a main character in this story and has as much a part in the romance as the actual couple. Carlson’s descriptions of the city left me wanting to visit more than any other book has. If you’ve been to NYC, you’ll be itching to go back. If you haven’t been (like me!), you’ll be dying to plan a trip! The setting, characters, and plot are both inviting and envy-worthy. While the ending feels a bit rushed and possibly too easy, it’s well worth the read. Highly recommended for fans of NYC, romance, and Melody Carlson’s other works. I can’t wait for the next book in the Follow Your Heart series!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than 6.5 million. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, includingFinding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck — Review & Giveaway!!

How to Catch a Prince

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Synopsis:

She caught her prince once. Can she catch him again?

American heiress Corina Del Rey’s life was devastated by war. Every thing she loved was lost. But after five years of grief, she’s shed her grave clothes and started over in the sunshine along the Florida coast.

But some things are not so easily forgotten. When a secret from her past confronts her face to face, she realizes she must follow her heart. Even if it cost her everything.

Prince Stephen of Brighton Kingdom is a former Royal Air Command lieutenant turned star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life after the devastation of war.
When his brother, King Nathaniel, discovers Stephen’s pre war secret, he must deal with an aspect of his life he longed to forget. But how can he do so without exposing the truth and breaching national security?

Yet, true love has a destiny all it’s own. As the cathedral bells peal through Cathedral City, Corina and Stephen must chose to answer the call of love on their hearts.
Or let it be lost forever?

My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel Hauck’s newest royal novel. How to Catch a Prince is the third book in the Royal Wedding Series, but it can be read as a standalone novel. I’ve yet to read the first 2 books in the series (Once Upon a Prince Princess Ever After), but they’ve definitely made my To-Be-Read list! Hauck is the author of one of my favorite books, Love Starts with Elle, so I had high hopes for How to Catch a Prince. The story feels authentic, contemporary, and realistic with a touch of fairy tale magic. Hauck’s descriptions of Cathedral City instantly transported me to a world of majestic architecture and had my mouth watering for those famous puffs. The book is surprisingly unpredictable, which seems to be rare these days. I very much enjoyed getting to know Stephen and Corina, and the addition of Brill & Adelaide (I’m being vague to avoid spoilers!) was both surprising and perfect for the story. They add an additional layer of emotional depth and an element of faith to How to Catch a Prince. Hauck invokes just the right amount of humor to balance out the serious side of the story. Reading How to Catch a Prince is time well spent. Highly recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, contemporary romance, and royal romance.

Favorite Quotes:

Love had a way of making a girl empty herself. -page 101

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Royal Giveaway:

Catch Prince Rachel Hauck

About the Author:

 Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.
Find Rachel online: website, Facebook, Twitter

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Winter Brides (A Year of Weddings) — Review

Winter Brides by Denise Hunter, Deborah Raney, & Betsy St. Amant

Winter Brides is a collection of three novellas from the Zondervan series ‘A Year of Weddings.’ Winter Brides contains the stories from December, January, and February.

Info from the Publisher:

Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three winter weddings . . .

A December Bride by Denise Hunter

When Layla O’Reilly and Seth Murphy make their engagement public, she knows it’s only to convince a major client that she’s high-society enough to work for his agency. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, but she’s never given him the time of day. For Layla, this romantic illusion is the chance to save her career. And for Seth, it’s the chance to finally win her heart.

A January Bride by Deborah Raney

Novelist Madeleine Houser arranges a temporary office in a local bed and breakfast to escape the distracting renovations on her own house. Although she’s never laid eyes on the inn’s owner, an unlikely friendship blossoms between them as they leave daily notes for each other, and before long, Maddie finds herself falling for her mysterious host—a man likely many years her senior—and a man she’s never even met.

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day—wearing the same dress passed down for generations of women in her family, all women with histories of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus but fears she’s destined to repeat her family’s mistakes. When thrown unexpectedly together for a wedding months later, Allie and Marcus discover their own story might be far from over.

My Reviews:

A December Bride:

I always fall so easily into Denise Hunter’s stories! This is the first in a series called A Year of Weddings. Each novella will be written by a different author. A December Bride focuses on Layla. The story starts with her scramble to find a date for a wedding–but not just any wedding. Her ex is marrying her cousin, and it still stings. She ends up going with her ex’s former best friend, Seth. Things get tricky when Seth offers a lie about his and Layla’s relationship, and that’s when the story really starts to take off. Hunter has created a realistic tale with heart and holiday spirit. An easy read for a cozy evening!

A January Bride:

Several years ago my mom gave me a book with a cat on the cover. I was blown away by how much I loved the story inside! That book was Playing by Heart by Deborah Raney. When I started reading A January Bride, I thought, “This seems way too familiar. I think they may have ripped off that book with the cat on the cover.” After some research, I discovered A January Bride is in fact an updated, expanded edition of Playing by Heart!

A January Bride is the story of Maddie Houser and Arthur Tyler. The whole book revolves around simple misconceptions. I really enjoyed the story. My only criticism is that the last chapter should have either been an epilogue or labeled as some amount of time later. It would be implausible for the events to take place at that exact time. The author didn’t tell us how long it was between chapters, which I’d be interested to know. This is a fun read. I’d recommend it to fans of christian romance.

A February Bride:

I enjoyed this novella. I give it 3.5 stars. I think it’s hard to fully develop characters and tell a deep story in a novella because of the short length. However, St. Amant did a great job of it. I felt like I really got to know Marcus and Allie, while Hannah and Julie were strong supporting characters. The story was a little predictable, but it was still enjoyable. A February Bride is a short, sweet, easy read. When the story begins, Allie has just left Marcus at the altar. The women in her family have terrible track records when it comes to marriage, and Allie thinks she will ruin Marcus’ life by marrying him. Marcus’ sister, Hannah, gets engaged a few months later and asks Allie to be her maid of honor. Of course this leads to all kinds of awkward situations for Allie and Marcus. I’d recommend reading this on a lazy afternoon when you’re yearning for a good story. Don’t forget to check out the other books in the A Year of Weddings series!

Winter Brides is available now in paperback and digital form! It’d make a great gift for the Christian Fiction fan in your life!!

*I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski — Review

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons

Book Description:

Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal. Two couples meet for dinner to acknowledge an affair. A mannequin recalls a lover and the life she mysteriously lost.  Two girls observe a young widow’s grief through a café window. A man’s hat is as discerning as Cinderella’s shoe.

In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.

The characters in these stories share meals, drink wine, buy furniture and art. They live domestic lives, so often wanting to love someone yet ending up alone. In one story, a woman’s fiancé leaves her when she goes to post some mail. In another story, a man can’t move past an affair his wife almost had. Another story describes a series of drawings to detail a couple’s end. But while loss and heartache pervade these stories, there is also occasional hope. For, as the title story shows us, sometimes a breakup isn’t an end at all, but the beginning of your life.

My Review:

This collection of stories by Heather A. Slomski has hits and misses. The two standout stories are no doubt the first and last stories–The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons and Before the Story Ends. The former is a story of 2 couples dining together and acknowledging the infidelity that connects them. The latter is one part fairy tale and one part heartbreaking reality–a story of love and loss. My favorite things about this book may just be the title and cover, which I adore. Most of the stories revolve around loss in one form or another, and some of them felt much too unfinished for my taste. There were stories I wanted to go on and others that lived past their prime. An emotional collection to say the least, but I prefer more finished short stories. It’s obvious that Slomski is a talented writer. If you’re a short fiction fan, The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons is for you. (I received a digital arc of this title for review purposes.)

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories — Review

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My Review:

12 Short Stories by different authors, so of course there are hits and misses!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – LOVE. Of course, it’s written by RR and I’ve yet to find anything of hers I don’t love. The format is fun and interesting, the characters are realistic and grab you immediately. One of my favorite stories in the book. Strong start! 4.5 stars

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – not really my type of story, but it was entertaining and held my interest. I don’t regret spending time reading it, and Link has a style of writing I really like. 3.5 stars

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena – I actually really liked this story! I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but the writing felt real. I liked the characters, and while the story seemed a little generic, I liked it a lot. Probably one of my favorites. 4 stars

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – not what I was expecting! A story of unrequited love between a human and en elf – but I totally enjoyed it! The story was silly and fun, and I always like Han’s work. 3.5 stars

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – I loved this story! It’s one of the more realistic stories in this collection. This is the first piece of writing I’ve read by Perkins, and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters were realistic, the story was original, and the dialogue was fun. 4 stars

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – I didn’t love this story. It was fun enough, but I’m not usually a fan of Levithan’s work and this didn’t change my mind. The main character seems a little clingy and self-involved, but I liked the underlying storyline. 2 stars

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – I really didn’t like this story. If you like books with a mystical element, including characters that are half-goat and such, you’ll enjoy this. Not my style. 1 star

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – loved it! I fell in love with the characters, and the story developed perfectly! Another winner from Forman. A favorite from this collection! 4 stars

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – liked it, but didn’t expect to! This story grabbed my attention with the first line, and it held it to the end! The characters are realistic, the story is funny and original, and the writing is spot on. It had me laughing a lot. A favorite! 4 stars

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – I liked this story. It seemed a little long and some parts were slow moving, but I liked it all by the end. Predictable, but a good story. 3.5 stars

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – one of the longer stories. I enjoyed it. Most people will figure out the ending, but it’s an original holiday story with a fun twist. 3.5 stars

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I REALLY didn’t like this story. I seriously considered not finishing the book, but I pushed through it. I’m not a fan of magical or mythological creatures as characters, so this story wasn’t for me. It seemed to be one of the longest stories, too. One of my least favorite. 1 star

As a collection, I found more winners than losers. There’s something for everyone in this book, so I suggest you get a copy and pick out your favorites! It would also make a great gift for the holiday reader in your life. My True Love Gave to Me releases in Hardback and eBook form on October 14.

(I received a digital ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.)

Publisher Info:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love!

A Grand Design (Quilts of Love) by Amber Stockton — Review

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

a grand designquilts

A Grand Design (Quilts of Love) is a cute story. It’s short, less than 200 pages, so it’s ideal if you want a quick read for a rainy day. I liked the story, but the dialogue bothered me. The characters use language that is too stiff–almost formal–and it confuses the setting of the book. A Grand Design is a contemporary story, but the language makes it seem like a historical novel. The story was really predictable, but I can usually get over that. Unfortunately this story didn’t seem very realistic–for example, a conflict towards the end of the book was resolved way too easily. The dialogue is what kept me from really getting into the story, so if you can overlook that, you’ll probably enjoy this story. I loved the way the author described each setting, and it tied in well with the design theme of the book. Recommended for fans of Christian Fiction Novellas.

Info from the Publisher:

A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs—if only she can let go of her past.

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

Find our more and purchase a copy at the Quilts of Love website.

About Quilts of Love: 

Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the Author:

Amber Stockton is an award-winning author, a national speaker, and a direct-sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards.
Connect with Amber: website, Facebook, Twitter

Giveaway & Facebook Party

Quilts of Love A Grand Design Amber Stockton*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.