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Monday Musings…What are You Watching?

It’s that time of year where old and new shows alike return to TV. I realize that there are TV programs on in the summer, but the only thing I watch in the summer is food shows…so….yeah. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’m watching this season:

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I randomly stumbled across this series on Amazon because I was having Downton Abbey withdrawals. So.Good. And also: Aiden Turner.

My ‘guilty’ pleasure would be DWTS:

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Go ahead. Judge me. I never miss an episode.

Next up:

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I started it because I was hearing good things and…superhero. I stayed because of the romance. Watch it! I’m not going to say anything else.

What’s new?

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Maybe. I liked the pilot and Kiefer Sutherland. The jury is still out….

What show have I been watching faithfully, but might give up?

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The ending of last season? Just annoying.

So, what are you watching?

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Tammy L Gray’s My Hope Next Door

Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door.

Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere.

Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.

Review

Tammy L. Gray is hands down one of my absolute favorite contemporary romance novelists because she manages to deal with the times and write solid storylines.

What I liked about this book:

Um….Everything.

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I loved the premise of Katie coming back home, learning how to walk out her faith, and still being forced to confront the past. She is placed in some tight positions, but she managed to make me like her more each time.There were secrets in this book (which I usually really can’t stand), except they were handled so well.

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I also loved that Asher Powell, who is essentially the guy who has been saved since he was little, was going through a crisis of his own. It worked in the sense that he wasn’t too perfect for Katie. He was flawed, but those flaws only served to make him a stronger hero. I liked that he’s a nerdy, has a great relationship with his parents…and kind. Kate and Asher still have their problems, but they work through them. Together.

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Spiritually, the book deals with several topics, but forgiveness is the main issue. It’s interwoven so nicely, it doesn’t feel like it’s done with a heavy-hand. There was also this sub-theme of no one can fix you but Jesus. So often secular romance novels act like one person can make another person whole and “fix’ them. Two broken people do not make a whole person.

Romantic scale: 9

Overall, I loved this book. The main characters faced problems, but nothing was drawn out. At no times did I feel like the author was creating drama for the sake of drama.

So

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Monday Musings…Cover Love

For Love and Honor by [Hedlund, Jody]

Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

 

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

 

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?

Beneath a Golden Veil by [Dobson, Melanie]

As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. It’s 1853, the heyday of the California Gold Rush. Isabelle is full of hope, staking her claim on the city’s refined clientele and her future on a sweetheart’s promise to marry her when he returns from the gold fields. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path.

While Isabelle learns to trust God’s provisions, a law student in Virginia must confront his father’s cruelty and rescue a young slave from his family’s tobacco plantation. As the two escape to freedom, and Isabelle risks everything to harbor runaway slaves, the past and present are set on an inevitable collision course—one that reveals hidden treasures of the heart.

Haven of Swans: A Rock Harbor Novel by [Coble, Colleen]

A beautiful woman stands by the side of the road, barefoot and bleeding, a child in her arms. Someone just tried to kill her, but she wouldn’t recognize him if she saw his face. She doesn’t even remember her own name.

A suburban cop surveys a kitchen in disarray—a woman and child missing, a chilling note. This crime scene is unlike any he has ever seen.

The man who calls himself Gideon waits and plans. He sees himself as a destroyer of evil, one who rids the world of abominations. He has already killed five. He will kill again.

And somewhere in the wilderness, in a secret geocache near where the wild swans gather, lies the unspeakable clue that links them all together.

Michigan’s rugged and beautiful Upper Peninsula is the setting for this absorbing tale of love and loss, beauty and terror, grievous sins and second chances. A deftly woven thriller from the bestselling author of the Rock Harbor novels.

The Waves Break Gray (The Raleigh Harmon mysteries Book 6) by [Giorello, Sibella]

Everyone has a plan, until life crashes in

Raleigh Harmon earned a brazen reputation during her years with the FBI. Now, having parted ways with the Bureau, she hopes to rebuild some of those broken relationships—including a new romance with alpha-male agent Jack Stephanson.

That’s the plan …

But when a dead body literally crosses her path in the mountains of Washington state, Raleigh’s forced to choose between her personal life and her forensic skills to track a killer–a killer unlike any she’s ever encountered, and a murder with clues that don’t add up.

When she realizes the killer will strike again, Raleigh knows the only way to stop another murder is to put herself at the top of the killer’s list.

With innocent lives on the line, and the FBI watching her every move, can Raleigh save another innocent girl from a gruesome end–or will she only wind up with more regrets, and literal dead ends?

Lots to look forward to!

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Lynn Austin’s Waves of Mercy

Waves of Mercy by [Austin, Lynn]Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Review

Lynn Austin is a dicey author for me. There are some books of hers I absolutely love. I have read and reread and recommended and still think about some of her books. And there are one or two I try to actively forget I ever looked at. This was, unfortunately, one of those.

What I liked about the book:

Ms. Austin manages to weave not only history throughout the book in an effortless way, but an entire culture. It never feels forced or fake (at least no on my end) when she talks about Dutch history.

Anna and Derk have some real issues that they must deal with that show how difficult it can be to make a decision for God sometimes. To compromise or not to compromise….I thought the author did a fantastic job of setting up the problems and how to face them.

There’s a little mystery of who Anna is. While you figure it out rather soon, it was still very engaging. I was definitely reading the book for the big reveal.

What I didn’t like:

Where to start….I have read many Christian novels. Some make you want to put the book down and just spend some time with Jesus. They make me think, if I wasn’t saved, I would get saved. And then others…others make you feel like Christians are such losers no matter which way you slice it. This one was the latter. Greeje experienced so many tragedies and was supposed to be this great woman of faith. I’m not saying she wasn’t, but this just didn’t work for me. There was no joy, very little peace. I felt like these people got saved to go to heaven and avoid hell (not that that is wrong, per se), but her faith lacked a relationship with Jesus. I don’t know, it just really bothered me.

There’s a bit of a summary when Greeje tells her story…which means there’s a distance for the reader. A lot of the times, I didn’t care what happened to Greeje because she felt so far away as a character.

The ending. That wasn’t an ending. That was a semi-colon. I have no words…none…

The romance….what the?….!

When I finished this book, my first thought was grab another so I can forget this one and be happy again.

Romantic scale: 3

So, not my favorite book at all. I didn’t care for the message, and I don’t want to say anymore so I don’t spoil things, but no. Just no.

** I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion is not affected in anyway.**

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Monday Musings…What I’ve Been Up To

Lately, my blog has been quiet…so what have I’ve been up to?

Finishing Through the Rivers!!! It is currently in the hands of my editor! Woot! Woot!

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I’ve also been plotting my next two books!

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I did take another break from reading….I’ve been having a hard time finishing books.

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But never fear! I did finish some books!

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I still love reading, I just feel like lately many books have felt the same, and I’m tired of hunting down new things. That said, there’s a lot of books to look forward to! But if there are any awesome recommendations, let me know!

 

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Monday Musings…Cover Love

She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted.

Since meeting Steffan, the Duke of Wolfberg, at Thornbeck Castle, Lady Magdalen has not been able to stop thinking about him. She knows—as a penniless lady with little to offer in terms of a dowry—she has no real hope of marrying such a highly titled man, so it comes as a great surprise when she receives a letter from him, asking for her hand in marriage.

But all is not what it seems at Wolfberg Castle. Steffan has been evicted by his scheming uncle, and his cousin has taken over the title of duke. Left for dead, Steffan is able to escape, and disguised as a shepherd, hopes to gain entry to the castle to claim the items that will prove he is the true Duke of Wolfberg.

Journeying to the castle, Magdalen has no idea what awaits her, but she certainly did not expect her loyal maidservant to turn on her. Forcing Magdalen to trade places with her, the servant plans to marry the duke and force Magdalen to tend the geese.

Without their respective titles—and the privileges that came with them—Steffan and Magdalen are reunited in the shepherd’s field. Together they conspire to get back their rightful titles. But they must hurry . . . or else they risk losing it all to the uncle’s evil plan.

Lady Sabine is harboring a skin blemish, one, that if revealed, could cause her to be branded as a witch, put her life in danger, and damage her chances of making a good marriage. After all, what nobleman would want to marry a woman so flawed?

Sir Bennet is returning home to protect his family from an imminent attack by neighboring lords who seek repayment of debts. Without fortune or means to pay those debts, Sir Bennet realizes his only option is to make a marriage match with a wealthy noblewoman. As a man of honor, he loathes the idea of courting a woman for her money, but with time running out for his family’s safety, what other choice does he have?

As Lady Sabine and Sir Bennet are thrust together under dangerous circumstances, will they both be able to learn to trust each other enough to share their deepest secrets? Or will those secrets ultimately lead to their demise?

Acclaimed and Award-Winning Author’s Talent Continues to Win Fans

It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett’s heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness.

Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk.

Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can’t pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

Harry Houdni’s one-time apprentice holds fantastic secrets about the greatest illusionist in the world. But someone wants to claim them . . . or silence her before she can reveal them on her own.

Boston, 1926. Jenny “Wren” Lockhart is a bold eccentric—even for a female vaudevillian. As notorious for her inherited wealth and gentleman’s dress as she is for her unsavory upbringing in the back halls of a vaudeville theater, Wren lives in a world that challenges all manner of conventions.

In the months following Houdini’s death, Wren is drawn into a web of mystery surrounding a spiritualist by the name of Horace Stapleton, a man defamed by Houdini’s ardent debunking of fraudulent mystics in the years leading up to his death. But in a public illusion that goes terribly wrong, one man is dead and another stands charged with his murder. Though he’s known as one of her teacher’s greatest critics, Wren must decide to become the one thing she never wanted to be: Stapleton’s defender.

Forced to team up with the newly formed FBI, Wren races against time and an unknown enemy, all to prove the innocence of a hated man. In a world of illusion, of the vaudeville halls that showcase the flamboyant and the strange, Wren’s carefully constructed world threatens to collapse around her. Layered with mystery, illusion, and the artistry of the Jazz Age’s bygone vaudeville era, The Illusionist’s Apprentice is a journey through love and loss and the underpinnings of faith on each life’s stage.

Lots to look forward too!

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Mini-Reviews of the Gifting Series

Review

I have owned this book for years. I put off reading it because, though the author is a very good writer, I have found her adult books to end on rather depressing notes. Anyway, I decided to give this book a chance and I loved it! The idea of it was new and fresh, the introduction of the “hot guy” (this is YA folks, there appears to be formulas) was perfect. I didn’t want to put the book down. Highly recommended.

Review

So, naturally, I picked up book two (on audio). If I gave out stars, I would give this one 4 out of 5. I was still completely intrigued by the premise. Sometimes in YA books, in book two, they will separate the main characters. They didn’t in this one. The only drawbacks for me was a) the introduction of another guy who might like Tess and b) Tess became incredibly impulsive. But, still, overall a very good second book.

Review

I couldn’t get my hands on book 3 soon enough (audio again). And I was extremely disappointed. I would give this book 2 stars. I assumed Tess’s impulsiveness would be cured by the end of book 2. But no, this girl just kept making snap decisions based off of her emotions and failed to use logic most of the time (giving girls everywhere a bad name). If I had ever found myself on a mission with Tess, I would protest. She might get me killed and not care, so long as her goals were accomplished. I had no clue why everyone kept acting like she was so great. She was the one putting people in danger left and right. For someone who was so important, I really wanted to see her become a leader and shine. She never did. She did however whine a lot. I really liked the narrator in the second book. In this book, her voice got on my nerves…most likely because of Tess’s continual whining and moodiness. On top of that, the second boy who wasn’t much of an issue in book 2? Suddenly he’s in love with Tess and in spite of the fact that Tess is in love with Luka (who is amazing btw), she flirts with this poor guy and hates the idea of him being with someone else. Oh goodness, I was so annoyed. I failed to see what was so wonderful about Tess. Both boys should have dumped her.

Conclusion

The book is vague in terms of faith, but there is a clear presentation of good vs. evil and fighting it, not alone but together. It’s also very clear that there is more than the natural realm, there is also the supernatural realm. Should you read this series? If you like YA books, then yes. The last book was so disappointing, but the first two were really good and worth reading.