Posted in Young Adult

Jill Williamson’s Ambushed


All Spencer wants in life is an NCAA scholarship to play D-I college basketball. He visits universities when he can and works hard at his goal of taking his team to the state basketball championship.

When disaster strikes, Spencer’s desperation sends him to the one person he was determined to ignore: his father.


Anyone who has been following my reviews knows two things: I love everything Ms. Williamson writes and Spencer is one of my favorite characters of all times. Because this series is encompassing Spencer’s school years and summers, you really get to know who he is and what he is made of. And, for the record, he’s a really great teenager.

What I liked about this one:

Spencer’s voice stays true to who he is. He is so authentic, that never once do I feel like he is not a teenage boy. I particularly like the way Ms. Williamson deals with heavy topics like drug use and alcohol because it comes across as natural. She is able to point out the bad without having the book stop and tell you it’s bad. There’s a natural flow to this novel that just works. And it’s funny. I laughed out loud several times.

Spencer’s friends. I love the way each one is different and endowed with a unique personality. There really are a lot of people who are introduced over the series and yet, when I come across them, they are like old friends and so I am not confused about who is who and what is what.

The mystery of Spencer’s father grows. We meet Spencer’s father in this book. Or do we? I cannot wait for the next one to come out.

I love that just like Spencer is authentic, the spiritual gifts in this series are authentic. These guys recognize them and they use them, and I love it. There’s also a scene where Spencer learns about Biblical manhood. Spencer being Spencer, it’s going to take him a while to get it, but I love to see the seeds that dropped and watered. And more importantly, I love watching Spencer grow.

What I didn’t like:

I didn’t want it to end!

Romantic Scale: N/A (though there are some interesting threads going on here. I hope Ms. Williamson continues the series until Spencer marries)

Overall, such a great followup. I can’t wait for the next one!

Posted in Uncategorized

Rajdeep Paulus’ Seeing Through Stones


“I live in the in between. Between yesterday and forever. The way forward haunts me. The gap I must cover daunts me. And hope beckons, ‘Run to me,’ but I just learned to walk.” 

After a lifetime of abuse, the Vanderbilt siblings flee their home, finally free to pursue new dreams while running from yesterday’s nightmares. 

Once bed-ridden Jesse navigates the Chicago streets, concealing his identity and planning revenge. A chance encounter in the rain 
introduces a girl who offers Jesse a glimpse of a sunnier future, but how will he weather the growing storm inside himself? 

Separated from her Post-it note prince, Talia hides at a safe house for survivors of domestic violence while her father turns the city upside-down to find her. Surrounded by women fighting their own demons, Talia faces her past at every turn. 


If you read the first book that left you with that cliffhanger ending, than naturally you had to pick up this one to find out what happened with Jesse. Jesse is probably the main voice in this book, though Talia gets her share as well. 

Here’s What I Liked:

Jesse’s voice. He is uniquely him and though he may make some frustrating choices, he makes choices that make sense for him. 

Talia. I think Ms. Paulus does a wonderful job of showing the lingering effects of abuse in not just Talia, but with others. Talia doesn’t become magically whole. It’s a process.

Lagan. He hasn’t changed. He’s still wonderful for Talia and Jesse, and though I could have wished to see more of his personality, this book is not focused on Lagan and Talia like the last one. So I was very happy and satisfied when he showed up on the pages. 

Spiritually, though its a bit vague, I liked watching Talia walk out her faith more and to see Jesse realize that revenge just isn’t going to solve anything.

What I didn’t like:

The dad is such a huge presence in this book, but we don’t actually see him as much. I think I kind of wanted to see his downfall be a bit more…widespread.

Jesse and Summer seemed a bit rushed. Talia and Lagan got way more time develop.

I wanted it to be longer! It was over too soon (I mean this in a good way)!

Romantic Scale: 7.5

Overall, a very good followup. You won’t want to put it down and the pages will just fly by!

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Book Cover

Have you all seen this?

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas’s vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world–filled with family members she’s never met, dances she’s never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes’ shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

More importantly,have you read any of Laura Frantz’s books? If you haven’t, you’re missing out!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Amy K. Sorrells

Today I am welcoming Ms. Amy K. Sorrells. You can check out my review here:

Thank you for being willing to be interviewed! Thank YOU, Embassie!!!

1.       I know the story of Tamar and Amnon (in the Bible) influenced How Sweet the Sound, but still what gave you the idea to make a more contemporary version of the story?

Every time I read the story of Tamar in II Samuel 13, I became more and more frustrated with the ending, especially II Samuel 13:20: “And Absalom her brother said to her, Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be quiet now, my sister. He is your brother; take not this matter to heart. So Tamar dwelt in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.” God promises us in so many Psalms and through the words of Jesus and the apostles that He does not want us to live in desolation and silence with our shame and brokenness. He wants us to live free. I wanted to tell “the rest of Tamar’s story,” had she had the chance to seek and find redemption. By setting the story in more modern times, my hope is that readers will find it more relatable.

2.       How Sweet the Sound is not exactly a historical novel, but neither is it “contemporary.” Did you have to do any research for it?

I have reams of research I did for this story, yes! In fact, research is probably my favorite part of writing novels. First of all, I knew nothing about pecans or pecan farming, except that I have always been enamored with the pecan farms we drive past when we vacation along the Alabama gulf coast. So I studied pecan books and farming blogs, watched tons of YouTube videos on pecan farming and cultivating and harvesting, and even befriended a family of pecan farmers in Southwest Alabama. They were graceful enough to read and early version and endorse it for me. But pecans weren’t the only thing I researched. I had to make sure I had the right makes and models of cars that would be around in 1979; who was on the cover of magazines for scenes at the beauty shop; songs that were popular during that era; clothing; cotillion rules; square dance moves and songs; the oceanic biology of a jubilee; area tornado events and patterns; Hurricaine Frederic details (including phone interviews with area residents), plants and birds and fossils common to the area, and more. I had about five times as many pages of research as I did story by the time it was all said and done.  

3.       Which character for you was the hardest to write? Comfort? Or Anniston?

Actually, neither. The toughest character for me to write about was Princella. Initially, she was very “flat,” without any redeeming qualities. My editor told me I had to find a way to make her more relatable, and even find redemption in her storyline. I was very angry with her in the early drafts of the novel, and I had to pray a lot and ask the Lord to help me see how she could possibly have softer edges. In the end, the way she turns out and things we learned about her proved to be things I needed to learn about folks too—that hurt people hurt people, and that they need forgiveness, too.

4.       Will we ever encounter a grown-up Anniston and Jed?

If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have immediately said no, and at this point, I still do not have plans for a sequel. However, the more people ask me this, the more I’m imagining places and stories I could create for the two of them. They are pretty adorable, aren’t they?

5.       Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

I’m currently in the middle of edits for my second novel, due to publish in spring, 2015, which features a 94-year-old man near the end of his life who escaped the Jewish pogroms of turn-of-the-century Ukraine, and whose daughter learns for the first time about what he suffered, even as his mind slips further into dementia. Together, they learn how God never leaves His people, and that He truly does see all our wanderings and seals our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8)



An Indianapolis native and graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana. A former weekly newspaper columnist, Amy has been a two-time semi-finalist for the ACFW Genesis awards, and was the winner of the 2011 Women of Faith writing contest.

 If you are interested in reading this book and have an e-reader the book is FREE through March 9 in e-book format, and here’s the direct link to the publisher with all the e-book retailers offering it for free:

Posted in Historical

Siri Mitchell’s Love Comes Calling


A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.

That’s all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She’s tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can’t deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she’s not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It’s simple: avoid Griff’s attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call…with her very own Griff as the target.


Siri Mitchell does a fantastic job of picking up small historical facts and really running with them. I really felt like I had been transported to the 1920s with this one. There’s telephone operator girls, speakeasies, and flappers. There’s also Ellis. Ellis is an interesting heroine that, for the most part, I really liked. I will say, that someone let me in on a spoiler that I felt like I was glad to know ahead of time.* I will post said spoiler at the end of my review in case you want to go into this novel blind, but I will say, because I knew the spoiler, I was able to find Ellis endearing as opposed to annoying. Okay, now for the rundown:

What I liked:

The dedication (and really the theme of the whole novel): for everyone who has ever wished they could just be like everyone else. Um, yes. Who hasn’t wished that at some point? This really made Ellis easily identifiable and lovable.

The time period. It’s just on the edge of modern with old school ways. I’m really beginning to enjoy books written in the 1920s.

The romance. It’s a different kind of romance. This is not boy meets girl and likes her. This is boy already likes girl. Therefore, I will say, this novel is not romance centered, but I still loved every moment that Griff was with Ellis.

It’s a very easy read. I found myself surprised that I was almost finished with the book at one point.

Spiritually, I love that the novel shows that you are just who God created you to be. It also deals with whether or not you can legalize morality since it is really a heart issue. Good thinking points.

What I didn’t like:

Ellis decides to solve a mystery that potentially has murder at the root of it…by herself. I just wasn’t sure what she was hoping to accomplish half the time. Also, at times, it did feel that Ellis acted years younger than her age because she seemed to have almost no concept of how others think (unless this was because she was wealthy…I haven’t decided).

Overall, a very cute story.

Romantic Scale: 7.5

**I received this novel from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**



*[Spoiler Alert: Ellis has ADHD.]

Posted in Historical

Tamera Alexander’s A Beauty So Rare


A gripping love story set against the backdrop of a stunning antebellum mansion

Pink was not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war–and still had one to fight.

Eleanor Braddock–plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty–knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier’s last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America–and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path–building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows’ and children’s home run contrary to Eleanor’s wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground–and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

From the USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society–and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.


Can you believe we went a whole year without a book from Ms. Alexander? I can’t either. She was completely missed, and I was so excited to get my hands on this new book of hers. Here is the breakdown:

Things I like:

The romance. No one quite does romance like Ms. Alexander. She does my favorite kind: friendship romance. The novel has that slow build that you can just watch unfold on the pages. Eleanor learns every facet of who Marcus is and vice versa. By the time I finish the novel, I have the utmost faith that they love each other and that their relationship would last. Nothing is rushed, nothing is contrived and when you get to that moment in the end all you want to do is sigh (sidenote: if you love Jane Austen movies, you will love this book).

Eleanor is an amazing heroine, and I don’t say that lightly because I’m so hard on my heroines. I love her straightforwardness. I love her vulnerability. I love that when people (ahem, Marcus) make mistakes, she doesn’t make it all about her or make a mountain out of a molehill. I love that she acts like a friend and not a woman scorned when surprises arise. There is probably only one thing Eleanor does that didn’t fit her character (according to my kindle I was about 93% in), but otherwise, hats off to you my dear.

This novel is a history lovers dream. The historical facts are interwoven so beautifully, I kept wondering if some of these characters were real people. I learned so much and yet not once did I feel like the author went off on a tangent to teach me a history lesson. Let’s not forget that this is right after the Civil War which is one of my favorite eras to read about combined with Western European history (another favorite of mine). I couldn’t get enough (you would think those two things would clash, nope).

We are back at Belmont with Ms. Acklen and you get a completely different viewpoint of her. She was the same women in A Lasting Impression and yet not the same. I really liked the newness that was brought to her character.

Spiritually, I liked watching Marcus develop and grow in his faith, while watching Eleanor learn that God can answer our prayers in the most unique ways.

Things I didn’t like:

I will say, that as much as I love long novels and get excited about them, this novel did start to feel long by a certain point, most likely because all the “big things” seemed to be wrapped up fairly early on and I could only see success with the rest of the story. That said, for me this didn’t detract from the novel too much.

Okay, I’m going to say this: this novel, though it has different characters and different issues and concerns, does seem almost interchangeable with the previous novels that Ms. Alexander wrote. I don’t know how exactly, I can’t put my finger on it. But something about the feel of the story made me feel like I had read it before. Again, I love her books so this wasn’t a problem, but I did want to note it.

Overall, very good.

Romantic scale: 9.5

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…2014 Covers

Wildly Fun Adventure and Romance in Connealy’s New Series

Kylie Wilde fought in the Civil War dressed as a boy and now she’s homesteading as a man. But she makes one lousy man! When land agent Aaron Masterson comes to inspect her claim, he immediately realizes she’s a woman. She begs him not to tell, but can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government, even if she really did serve in the war?

Aaron is interested in the little spitfire from the moment her long hair falls from her cap, but when he tells her of his plan to stake his own claim, farther west and up in the mountains, she draws away. Kylie’s focus is to “prove up” her homestead, sell it for a profit, move back east, and live the rest of her life in civilization.

But all Kylie’s future plans are put in jeopardy when someone tries to burn her out. Who would attack her way out here? Aaron and Kylie suspect it’s the local land baron–but Gage Coulter denies any involvement. He does suggest a way for Kylie to stay safe, though–marry him! More attacks scare Kylie near to death, and she can’t face living on her own any longer. Should she tie her fortune to Gage or Aaron? Either choice will put an end to her dreams of a civilized life. And what if marrying doesn’t stop the attacks after all?

Love UnexpectedA Perfect Blend of History and Romance, with a Whisper of Mystery

All she’s ever wanted was a home. But stranded at Presque Isle port after their steamboat sank, Emma Chambers and her brother, Ryan, couldn’t be farther away from security. While Ryan at least can find work, Emma can’t even find a place to stay. An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper, who recently lost his wife and is struggling to raise his young son, arrives in town. A traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others’ problems, and after a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger.

But nothing in her wandering life has prepared her for suddenly being asked to raise a child and keep a house. Struggling at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife’s death, and it seems as though Emma’s answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous.

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled
with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

After the sudden death of Jewel’s husband, Jewel needs Lula’s help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys’ coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She’s returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends in Dunn, the more Lula realizes God is working on her heart–and her future is beginning to look a lot different than she’d expected.

Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it’s Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner’s daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she’s being courted by another man–a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he’ll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business
and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan’s hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura’s heart.

Having fled a difficult home life, Civil War nurse Abigail Stuart feels like her only friend in the world is sweet but gravely wounded patient Jeremiah Calhoun. Fearing he won’t survive, the Confederate soldier’s last wish is that Abigail look after his sickly sister at home. Marry him, return to his horse farm,
and it’ll be hers.

Left with few choices, Abigail takes him up on his offer and moves to Missouri after his death, but just as the family learns to accept her, the real Jeremiah Calhoun appears–puzzled to find a confounding woman posing as his wife. Jeremiah is determined to have his life back to how it was before the war, but his own wounds limit what he can do on his own. Still not fully convinced Abigail isn’t duping him, he’s left with no choice but to let the woman stay and help–not admitting to himself she may provide the healing his entire family needs.

Don’t these look fun! I’m always so impressed when authors (Jody Hedlund, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings) have more than one book coming out in a year. Which ones stand out to you?