Reviews

Book Review: Falling for You

Looking for a sweet romance with some mystery thrown in for good measure? Be sure to read Becky Wade’s Falling for You!

Looking for a sweet romance with some mystery thrown in for good measure? Be sure to read Becky Wade's Falling for You! #bookreview thepajamachef.com

description of the book from the publisher:

Willow Bradford is content taking a break from modeling to run her family’s inn until she comes face-to-face with NFL quarterback Corbin Stewart, the man who broke her heart–and wants to win her back. When a decades-old missing-persons case brings them together, they’re forced to decide whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

As usual, my five point review:

  • I absolutely loved this book! The characters, the setting, the mix of love and mystery… this was a fabulous book. Though I don’t read very much Christian fiction anymore, Becky Wade is always at the top of my to-read list because her novels are always so well written and NOT cheesy! Elements of faith were present but not in an overbearing sort of way.
  • Falling for You is the sequel to True to You, which I also reviewed on my blog. Though these books are related and feature the same family, you could read them out of order and not miss anything. I personally enjoyed Willow’s story in this novel over her sister’s previously. This was a shocker to me because Nora, Willow’s sister, is a library-type like me… and Willow is this model in love with a football player! Who’s more like me? Not Willow, but I was enthralled by her story anyways.
  • The best part of Willow and Corbin’s romance is the fact that their love story is a second-chance sort of love story. They previously dated and suffered a painful (and very realistic) breakup, and this book explores their journey to get to know one another again… and maybe end up together too. Only time will tell, right?! 🙂 The content of their story, as well as both of their personal histories, does make this a little more of a mature-readers book instead of preteens or early teenagers… so parents, be aware of that. Nothing is graphic though, but there are some difficult situations to process through.
  • My favorite part of this novel was something completely unexpected… a little mystery! Corbin and Willow team up (along with Corbin’s precocious niece, Charlotte) to search for Charlotte’s long-missing great-aunt Josephine. That journey, coupled with everyone’s personal ups and downs, was fun to read about even though it illustrated painful family stories in the process. That journey gave Corbin and Willow something to focus on besides themselves and really helped the story develop.
  • All in all, this is a great book to read–I breezed through it in just a few days, and if I didn’t have other responsibilities, this would have read it in a day. It was that good! Any of Becky Wade’s novels are wonderful, but this one may very well be my favorite.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

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A suspenseful debut novel from Jaime Jo Wright. Read on to learn more about The House on Foster Hill! #bookreview #reading
Reviews

Book Review: The House on Foster Hill

A suspenseful debut novel from Jaime Jo Wright. Read on to learn more about The House on Foster Hill!

A suspenseful debut novel from Jaime Jo Wright. Read on to learn more about The House on Foster Hill! #bookreview #reading

A description of the book from the publisher:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

As usual, my five point review:

  • Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was so suspenseful and full of mystery that it was hard to put down! Gah. Those are the best (and worst) books to read because you don’t want to do anything else but read! Haha. Unfortunately, that’s not really possible as an adult. Sigh…
  • While reading this story, I connected most with Ivy and her story. Her character was compassionate, compelling, motivated, and sad. But reading about her transformation throughout the novel was wonderful and even though she’s “just” a character in a story, I have high hopes for her future!
  • It was harder for me to connect with Kaine’s story. She, like Ivy, is no stranger to hardship. But–and maybe this is a reflection of our modern life–seemed to have a harder time dealing with her pain. She wasn’t very likable and I just felt there was too much going on with her story for me to feel for her. It was just… complicated.
  • One complaint I had about this novel was that there was SO MUCH going on. Romance. History. Suspense. Mystery. Thriller. Contemporary. Stalker. Murder. Trafficking. Genealogy. There was a lot to keep track of in the moment. Reflecting on the story now… I think it worked, but in the future the author may want to narrow her focus a bit because I could see how that could be off-putting to some.
  • All in all, I highly recommend this book if you like novels that take place in two different time periods and settings, or if you like mysteries/romances/historical fiction/contemporary fiction, etc. The House on Foster Hill is a fast-paced, intriguing read. It does have some Christian elements, but nothing too heavy or religion-focused. I liked that there was a definite creepy/mystery element that is, in my experience, rare in books from the traditional Christian fiction genres. Please check this out, and let me know what you think! 🙂

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Elizabeth Camden's From This Moment is a fun, enjoyable read. Hope you enjoy this book review, and check out the book too!
Reviews

Book Review: From This Moment

Elizabeth Camden’s From This Moment is a fun, enjoyable read. Hope you enjoy this book review, and check out the book too!

Elizabeth Camden's From This Moment is a fun, enjoyable read. Hope you enjoy this book review, and check out the book too!

description of the book from the publisher:

Stella West’s artistic talent made her the toast of London, but when her beloved sister dies under mysterious circumstances she abandons everything and heads for Boston. With single-minded determination she fights to pierce the ring of secrecy surrounding her sister’s death. Upon meeting Romulus White, a publisher with connections into every important power circle in the city, she quickly realizes he could be a valuable ally in navigating Boston society.

Romulus has been pursuing Stella for years to create art for his magazine. Her luminous illustrations are the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry, and he will stop at nothing to get her on board.

Sparks fly the instant they join forces, but Romulus is unsettled by the unwelcome attraction he feels toward Stella, fearing she might be the one woman who could disrupt his hard-won independence. He may have finally met his match in Stella, but is helping her solve the mystery of her sister’s death worth the risk to his publishing empire?

As usual, my five point review:

  • absolutely loved Stella, our heroine. Though the book takes place in 1897 Boston, Stella is a woman beyond her time. She is a hard worker (outside the home, no less), spunky, opinionated, and determined. Without her perseverance, the mystery surrounding her sister’s tragic death would have never been explored. Or uncovered? You’ll have to read the book to find out! 🙂
  • Next I suppose I should talk about Romulus. Honestly, this guy annoyed me so. much. until the end. Then at the end, he won my affection just a bit. He’s confident but afraid of failure. He is endearingly loyal though, a trait that did help him get on my good side.
  • As you can guess by the synopsis, there is a great deal of romance between Stella and Romulus. If you’re a regular reader of these sort of books, you can probably guess the ending. What I appreciated about this romance though was that it wasn’t quite as straightforward or predictable as many. The two had to learn to work together and sacrifice their desires and needs in order to help each other… this is the substance of good relationships, is it not? So for that aspect, their relationship was precious.
  • There was one other romance that I really appreciated in this book… and that is one between estranged spouses Evelyn and Clyde. I would love to read more about their story–I was certainly rooting for them to succeed. Evelyn, just as a note, is another example of a strong, modern woman. She is Romulus’ partner at the magazine and is the reason for his professional success. I hope their story is shared more in the future!
  • All in all, this is a smart, compelling book. There’s so much this brief review hasn’t touched on–from the level of detail the author gives about science-y things, to the murder mystery aspect of this book, to the smart dialogue between the characters… this is a book you don’t want to miss!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Do you know how to make rest a reality? For Christians, Sabbath rest is what God calls us to and what He wants for us... but it's hard. This book is a great read on Sabbath rest--it is practical, encouraging, and challenging all in one! I highly recommend it! Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller
Reviews

Book Review: Rhythms of Rest

Do you know how to make rest a reality? For Christians, Sabbath rest is what God calls us to and what He wants for us… but it’s hard. This book, Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller, is a great read on Sabbath rest–it is practical, encouraging, and challenging all in one! I highly recommend it!

Do you know how to make rest a reality? For Christians, Sabbath rest is what God calls us to and what He wants for us... but it's hard. This book is a great read on Sabbath rest--it is practical, encouraging, and challenging all in one! I highly recommend it! Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller

description of the book from the publisher:

“This book breaks all your preconceived notions about Sabbath.”–Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker

This book is for anyone who is weary–who longs for rest but doesn’t know how to make it a reality. Shelly Miller, a sought-after mentor on Sabbath-keeping, shows how even busy people can implement a rhythm of rest into their lives–from small windows of time to a whole morning or day. With encouraging stories from people in different stages in life, Miller shares practical advice for not only finding physical refreshment but also restoring your soul. You will learn:

· Simple ways to be intentional about rest
· Ideas for tuning out distractions and tuning in to God
· How meals and other times with friends and family can be Sabbath experiences

Sabbath is a gift from God to be embraced, not a spiritual hoop to jump through. Discover how genuine rest is possible today.

“Shelly Miller writes from her soul–one that has been seekingrest in the midst of heavy transition and the busyness of life. What you learn will help you love God more deeply.”–Margaret Feinberg, author of Live Loved and Fight Back With Joy

As usual, my five point review:

  • When you think about the concept of Sabbath, what are your initial reactions? I don’t think American Christians practice Sabbath very well. I know I don’t–though I have tried to change routines of my week so that things like grocery shopping and cleaning don’t get pushed to Sundays after church. When I’ve talked to my friends about Sabbath, words that come up often include legalistic, difficult, rigid. What I love about Rhythms of Rest is that Shelly Miller encourages us, as Christians, to push back against these notions and embrace the rest of Sabbath through grace.
  • What exactly does that mean, embracing the rest of Sabbath through grace? Miller encourages flexibility and grace with the hows of Sabbath in your life. She doesn’t read the Bible as saying that we need to do x, y, and z to experience and practice Sabbath rest. As I am rereading that, I realize that could look to some as a misinterpretation of scripture… but I don’t think it is. The timing of your Sabbath can vary depending on your profession, family life, and weekly schedule. God isn’t legalistic and His call to rest may vary depending on your stage of life: caring for babies can’t stop on Sundays, after all. Those in ministry work on Sundays, so their day of rest should be a different day. The author gives lots of great examples of how you can rest in Sabbath, and also encourages you to seek God to see how He is calling you to do so.
  • The examples are one of the best parts of this book. Each chapter includes various stories and situations (many gleaned from the author’s Sabbath Society) about Sabbath rest, challenges, and suggestions. The suggestions are simple (move your chores to Saturday, make soup on Saturday to eat on Sunday, etc.) but they are powerful: great illustrations of how one act can set the stage for rest.
  • The end of the book has a section with questions for each chapter. I think these questions could be used in a variety of ways: a Bible study or small group (maybe even read some of the scripture passages in each chapter to enhance your discussion), personal journaling, family conversation… lots of options! Though Miller provides simple suggestions for change, these questions are not simple–many are deep and thought-provoking.
  • My one caution with the book has to do with how the author interprets the hows and whys of hard life situations, like miscarriage and illness. She shares so many personal stories from her own life (like her desire to move to London) and from her friends, acquaintances, and participants in her Sabbath Society. Her understanding and explanation of the situations can be a little harsh and perhaps(!) not entirely Biblical. At the very least, her views, to me, are not theologically sound and could be discouraging, triggering, or offensive to some people. I’m not saying she’s right or wrong–it’s hard to know without more information. But putting them in print seems a little iffy to me, and was my one hang up with the book. Overall though, I found Rhyhms of Rest to be encouraging and challenging. I would definitely recommend it to others.

To sum it up…

Following God’s call to Sabbath has become something I have felt more convicted about in recent years, especially since the birth of my son. My husband and I work full time so it’s hard to get everything done around the house AND spend quality time as a family on the weekend AND carve out space for the Lord. I’ve especially been thinking about how I want to model my faith for my son. I think practicing Sabbath and teaching rest is so important.

Recently I read an article about Sabbath that has GREAT suggestions for celebrating the Sabbath with kids. Many of them will have to wait until my son is older, but some are still doable now. I’m going to close with a quote included in that article that has really stuck with me.

“Did it ever occur to you, as a parent that between the birth and the age of twenty-one years there are three solid years of Sundays — an amount of time almost equal to the number of years given to an entire course of college training? The Creator has not laid upon parents the responsibilities of parenthood without giving them ample time and opportunity to discharge these obligations to Him, to themselves, and to their children.” 

— Sylvanus Stall, D.D.

Things to think about! Even though the reality of implementing rest is challenging, it is so important! I’d love to hear your thoughts about Sabbath in the comments.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

Reviews

Book Review and Giveaway: True to You

Today I’m so excited to share my review of Becky Wade’s latest book, True to You! Read on for more about the book and be sure to enter the giveaway at the end!

Check out my review of Becky Wade's latest, True to You

A description of the book from the publisher:

It’s the exciting start of a brand-new series by a contemporary romance fan favorite!

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match.

However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

As usual, my five point review:
  • Nora is one of those characters you are either going to LOVE or just really not like. I personally loved her. She’s sweet as can be, smart, and inviting. She’s often described as a librarian (a tiny fact I take issue with, being that she was not described as going to library school, but I digress). Among her many quirks, Nora has funny names for everyone–The Dreaded Harrison, for example. She truly makes this book laugh out loud funny at times, and it is precious. These quirks make her a lovable character that you will be cheering for to move past her heartache and on with new life. Her makeover, both internally and externally, is stunning. Nora used to live in the past, but as she dares to dream and trusts God with her future, she is transformed.
  • I really enjoyed the relationship between Nora and her sisters, Willow and Britt. It’s obvious that although these sisters are all incredibly different, they do care about each other immensely. They would do anything for each other, I am sure of it. The lack of conflict between them–even as they planned a party and discussed happiness and heartache–was a bit unrealistic… even for adult siblings.
  • Much of the plot of this book centers around Nora’s endeavors to learn about John’s birth mother. What a way to develop a relationship! I’m personally fascinated by history and genealogy and reading about the process was fun. I did not personally find the surprise twist between John and Nora (not their romantic relationship, but another tie that I won’t mention specifically) to be… shall we say… appropriate. What are the chances of something like that actually happening? Slim to none, I suppose. It makes for good drama but REALLY. It is also worth noting that there is some violence and brutality discussed in this book. It was a bit surprising for me to read–nothing is graphic but it could be a trigger/disturbing for some.
  • The tension (and humor) Nora experiences as she grapples with the affection of not just one, but TWO men is fantastic. Aside from John, Nora is also pursued by a minor celebrity. Whaaat? Who has a Facebook messenging relationship with the actor of a character on a British TV show (that I pictured as a Regency era Downton Abbey)? Nora, that’s who. : ) Once again, not realistic. But adorable nonetheless.
  • Overall, I adored this book despite the lack of realism in a few areas for me. I loved Nora’s subtle humor, bookish charm, wit, and willingness to grow and develop. That’s hard to do as an adult, especially if life doesn’t happen as you hoped/thought/prayed it would. Like Becky Wade’s other novels, there is some emphasis on faith and some discussion of Christian principles. However, Bible verses aren’t thrown into every other sentence or anything like that… the characters interject faith and conversations about God in very natural and normal ways. I love that. This is a must read if you enjoy smart fiction that will challenge you to think and grow!
 About the author:
Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Carol Award, INSPY Award, and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.
And don’t forget the giveaway!! 🙂 #WishICouldWin

Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match.

Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade’s new series!

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade’s new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse. However, I was not required to write a positive review and received no compensation. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks for the chance to read this great book!