Friday, June 30, 2017

may - june 2017

note from me:

dear reading friend,

happy summer! how has your summer been going? i injured my knee earlier this summer and it has forced me to slow down considerably... which has been hard, i admit! so my favorite son and i have been catching up on shows like fixer upper and the food network channel while i keep my leg elevated and iced!

i'm so excited to share my five star reads with you!!! if you're going out of town, heading to the beach or somewhere else fun, don't forget to grab a book or two (!) and share what you read with a friend or a family member!!!

while you're in between reading, remember to "let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see you good deeds and moral excellence and [honor and recognize and] glorify your Father who is in heaven." matthew 5:16 the amplified bible

let me know how you're letting your light shine by emailing me at thereadingmom@gmail.com! i love hearing from you!!! and thank you for sharing this blog site with all the women in your life :o)

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


fiction:

alabaster: what is most precious is also most fragile by chris aslan is a novelized narrative to a familiar bible story. this story is gripping and written in a manner that tugs on your heartstrings.  i love what all the women in the village tell their daughters: "a woman's honor is as fragile and as beautiful as a butterfly's wings. what is a butterfly without wings, except a worm? remember this. guard your reputation, for it is more precious even than a husband or sons." This is a short and easy-to-finish book, but the content is thought-provoking, powerful and is a mesmerizing read.

bread of angels is a fictionalized story of lydia in the bible, the seller of purple and a convert of the apostle paul by tessa afshar. i love how afshar takes her readers back in time (ad 25, to be exact) and weaves a story of a young girl who must help her father in his dye business. she alone holds her father's secret recipes to the rich purple dyes that make any material vibrant with color. after a tragedy in her young life, lydia often lives with fear, uncertainty and a lack of confidence in her skills.  when a series of horrific events unfold, lydia must flee her beloved hometown and find a way to make it on her own in a culture that looks down on unmarried women. all along the way, you will see God's hand on her life and eventually, she will see it, too! this is an addictive and engaging read, so clear your schedule and plan on getting to know lydia, seller of purple.

love story continues the baxter family collection by karen kingsbury. if you haven't already fallen in love with the baxter family, then this one will definitely win you over!!! karen's characters are flawed and very much human, but the grace of God is so evident in their story. john baxter is interviewed by his grandson for a heritage project and this means he must go back to that place in his heart and mind when he first fell in love with elizabeth. their love story of nearly thirty years is not without painful memories and heartache but it's also one of commitment, love and faith. it's almost like a prequel to the baxter family series if you've been following them like i have been through the years. i like the powerful reminder of how we're impacted by family and by love.

what hope remembers is all about second chances. as the third book in the misty willow series, amy somers has burned her bridges but the life of luxury is what she misses most from her old life. gabe kendall was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he paid the price for it. after serving his prison sentence, he goes to misty willow and helps out his aunt tess who doesn't tell him that it's more than she can handle financially. there's an offer from a developer and when Tess changes her mind, that's when the trouble begins. If you love a little romance and some mystery, then this one is definitely calling your name!

naomi's hope is the third and final installment of jan drexler's journey to pleasant prairie series. naomi schrock is settling into her indiana amish community in 1846 with her adoptive son, davey. widower cap stolzfus moves in nearby and becomes a friend to davey. when a troublemaker from his past shows up as a minister, cap struggles with forgiveness. then a family shows up to the settlement claiming that davey is the nephew of their now deceased sister and brother-in-law. when davey follow his "real family," naomi's heart is broken to pieces. naomi must learn to trust God and cap must learn to leave things in God's hands.

runaway, the is a debut novel from claire wong. rhiannon lives in a small welsh village and after an angry exchange of words with her aunt, she makes good on her threat to run away. she makes her way into dyrys wood and must figure out a way to survive. alone. her disappearance causes a rippling effect among her community and a dark story comes to light that has been woven in stories by the village story teller, maebh. when two tourists come to town in search of some answers, rhiannon has no idea of the difference they will make in her life. together, they may have a part in keeping history from repeating itself. this is a breathtakingly beautiful story about community and the power of forgiveness.

melody carlson invites readers to the historic city of savannah in her latest, under a summer sky: a savannah romance, book 3 in her series, follow your heart. nicole anderson has been feeling stuck and her mother knows it. mom decides to take matters into her own hands and before nicole has time to process things, she is sent off to manage a friend of the family's art gallery in savannah! feeling highly unqualified, nicole has to navigate through angry employee issues in the gallery, parenting issues and being caught between two brothers and their ongoing sibling rivalry conflict! it's not exactly the quiet summer of painting she anticipated. but at last she's unstuck finally! you're going to love this feel good and heartwarming story!!! and thanks to melody, travel and tourism to savannah has just increased by 100%!!!

trusting grace by maggie brendan wraps up the series, virtues and vices of the old west. in this story, brendan takes readers back in time to 1866 in montana territory. grace bidwell is a young childless widow who is trying to maintain her late husband's farm while taking care of her father who has suffered from a stroke. grace loves children and is outraged when she discovers three young siblings camping out on her land with no adult nearby. meanwhile, her best friend is trying to set her up with her husband's new partner in his law firm. will grace choose a life of leisure or take a risk with the father of the three young children? you'll have to read this one and find out the outcome!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

march - april 2017

a note from me:

happy spring, dear reading friend!!!

we had an incredibly mild winter, beautiful warm temps here and there and lots of rain. and rain. and more rain. this is never good news for our basement and we are so over the experience of water removal with all the mini floods we've been having. i am trying to remain thankful because pouring rain means a continuously washed car and we haven't experience 5.5 feet of water in our basement again... yet! i'm thankful that the rain will keep all the beautiful flowers, trees and gardens watered and the allergens subdued for a while! i'm thankful that God's faithfulness is something we can depend on and it's new every morning (lamentations 3:22-23)! so, what are you thankful for?

i am really excited about sharing these five star reads with you---thank you for reading and sharing my blog site with your friends and family!!! i'll close with one of my favorite bible verses from psalm 36:5... "your unfailing love, o Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds."

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


fiction:

sandpiper cove is all about second chances in this third installment of the series, a hope harbor novel by irene hannon. i love this story that's set in a charming little seaside village with a host of warm-hearted characters that reside there like father murphy, charley, bj and reverend baker. it's a town where an ex-con like adam stone and a mother and son duo, brenda and brian hope to find a fresh start. hope harbor police chief lexie graham is focused on keeping her hometown safe and being a good mom to her little boy so she's caught off guard when sparks begin to fly between her and someone who is her polar opposite! this story of faith, love and second chances will definitely warm your heart!!!

still life is the second book in the series, chesapeake valor by dani pettrey. as always, pettrey delivers a gripping story that is full of life-threatening danger, suspense and twists and turns that will have you on. the. edge. of. your. seat. when i read, i get so absorbed in the story that it becomes my reality until the phone chimes or someone in my family tries to get my attention! and it's probably why i don't like to read suspense and mystery books before going to bed! but pettrey's writing has a way of drawing you in (against my will!!!) that makes you want to stay up through the night to race against time with crime-scene photographer avery tate and her former partner, crime-scene analyst parker mitchell. a replaced masterpiece in a black dahlia-inspired photography exhibition and a missing model are just the tip of the iceberg in this mystery. the last three paragraphs on page 341 are highly disturbing and that can only mean that there's more life-threatening danger ahead. stay posted for the review of book three that's due in october 2017!!!

stolen heart, a takes you back in time to 1880 to texas hill country and this is the first book in a new series called the cimarron creek trilogy by amanda cabot. fans of cabot's texas dreams trilogy will get to see what happened to some of those characters from that series and meet a whole new group of people in here! by all appearances, cimarron creek seems like an idyllic town to former school teacher lydia crawford but the resentment of northerners comes across loud and clear. but lydia is on a mission and she intends to find her fiancee edgar ellis who is somewhere in this little town. but lydia gets the shock of her life when she finds out edgar is missing. and that's not the only thing. get ready to fall in love with this town and especially with Aunt Bertha (she's the best!!!)!!!

trail of crumbs, a: a novel of the great depression is a story of hope in the midst of devastation by susie finkbeiner. this is book two in the pearl spence novels series (a cup of dust was reviewed in an earlier blog entry) and the more i hear pearl's strong young voice, the more i absolutely love this kid! pearl is a ten-year-old living in oklahoma in 1935. she's smart, fearless, inquisitive and fiercely loyal to the ones she loves. she's gone through more in her ten years than the average person and what hurts the most is the lost of her meemaw (book 1). but pearl knows that things are not always easy in life so she clings on to her faith and the memories of the lessons she's learned from her meemaw. and she'll need everything she's learned because the tragedy that occurs in chapter two is just the beginning of things to come for the spence family. since reading a cup of dust, susie finkbeiner has quickly become one of my favorite authors and i can't wait to review book 3 for you!!!

when tides turn by sarah sundin captures the patriotism of women serving during world war II. this third installment finishes the series, waves of freedom and you'll get to follow glamour girl quintessa (tess) beaumont in her journey with the navy through the waves program. tess longs to be seen for more than just a pretty face. she wants to make a difference and maybe even capture the respect and the eye of a certain man who thinks the navy is no place for a woman... with a princess name.  you're going to love tess!!! she's beautiful, spunky, sparkly and determined!!! and she's the only one who can coax a smile out lt. dan avery and maybe even change his mind about romance interfering with his naval goals. this story is a blend of friendship, romance, intense battle scenes and intrigue that i know you'll love!!!

you'll think of me is the newest release from robin lee hatcher that includes a personal real-life issue she shares with the main character brooklyn myers. this is a moving story of a women's return to her hometown where most of her memories hold only heartache and abandonment. unusual circumstances bring her back home with her ten-year-old daughter and brooklyn has her work cut out for her. her next door neighbor blames her for ruining his plans for expanding his business, her father wants nothing to do with her, the house she inherited is a mess and she desperately needs a job. what's a girl to do? brooklyn knows that she is not the same person she was a decade ago and has to depend on her faith to get through her challenges. don't miss the note from robin, the discussion questions (perfect for your reading group) and the excerpt from a paper she wrote years ago about this real-life crisis in our society. robin always writes from her heart and i know you're going to love this one as much as i did!!!


youth fiction:

good news, friends! the trailblazer books (action-packed adventure novels where christian heroes are introduced) by dave and neta jackson are back in print!!! there are 40 books in the series so think ahead about summer reading! i remember my daughter reading this series when she was younger and i'm excited that a whole new generation of children will get acquainted with these christian greats from history. thank you, dave and neta!!! another thing i love about this versatile series is that there are eight free curriculum guides available for any home educator interested in building lesson plans.  you can order your books directly from www.trailblazerbooks.com.


non-fiction:

overcomer: breaking down the walls of shame and rebuilding your soul is a must read book by aubrey sampson which help women dismantle seven lies shame tells women. sampson shares some painful memories and takes you on a journey with her toward healing and restoration.  sampson is authentic, vulnerable (so inspiring!) and hilariously funny (check out her "an open letter to the latest media darling who lost all her baby weight at warp speed on pp.44-45!)! i like the practical tools (the chart on pg. 65 is powerful!) along with the biblical truth she teaches. there are incredible quotes, discussion questions after every chapter, a prayer and an inspirational story which makes this a great candidate for your next book club or women's bible study!

spoonful of grace, a: mealtime blessings in bite-sized pieces by annette hubbell is a collection of 366 scripture, prayers and a discussion starter called "grace notes" that will add to your family's prayer life and give you something to talk about during mealtime. each one takes about two-minutes to read through (no one is going to starve to death during the reading) and i love that it works for any age. there are topics such as holidays, birthdays, etc. i absolutely love the idea that the grace notes section will allow you to launch a discussion from that segment covering topics such as ways to be kind to difficult people in your life, expecting great things from God, etc. this is a one-of-a-kind book that will definitely make family time more meaningful!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

january - february 2017

a note from me:

oh my stars, reading friend!!!

i am beyond excited to share my five star picks with you!!! you'll find reviews on engaging fiction, exciting options for youth and young adult fiction, some must read non-fiction (yes, check out my two favorites i've reviewed!!!) and a relevant family-friendly resource for parents of toddlers by dr. mary manz simon!!!

thank you for all your feedback and support you've given me. i really appreciate it when you "share" my fb page and tell your friends about this blog site.

my skin and allergies have been sensitive to all the weather changes we've been experiencing lately. how about you?!? i'm reminded that seasons (& the weather!!!) will always change, but God's love and faithfulness always remain constant. i want to share a favorite verse (one of many!) from psalm 36:5 "your unfailing love, o Lord, is as vast as the heavens' your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Be encouraged, friend!!!

happy reading!!!

blessings & love,

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


fiction:

elusive miss ellison, the is the regency romance debut novel by carolyn miller from her regency brides: a legacy of grace series. having just watched pride & prejudice (with kiera knightley), i was ready to be transported to regency england! lavinia ellison is the daughter of the minister and she's intelligent, opinionated and always ready to speak her mind! lavinia's heart for the poor and needy clashes with the new earl of hawkesbury and his indifference toward those suffering in the village. she takes every opportunity to remind him his responsibilities and their witty and spirited exchanges are quite comical! this charming story will leave you enchanted and wanting more from miller!!!

justice delayed is a memphis cold case novel by patricia bradley where romance, danger and suspense coincide. i love anything by patricia bradley!!! andi hollister's sister was murdered eighteen years ago and the confessed killer's execution date is approaching. but a letter surfaces and the content is disturbing. detective will kincaide is committed to helping andi find justice because the case has taken a personal twist and turn. there's a missing diamond mystery and murdered people begin to pile up... see if you can crack this case before will and andi do!

lady in disguise, a by sandra byrd is the third and final installment of the series, daughters of hampshire coming your way in march! as a new heiress, gillian young remembers her father as kind and well-repected member of the police force; however, her father's colleagues are hinting that her father may have had a role in something illegal. gillian is determined to get to the bottom of things and clear her father's name, but someone is trying to stop her. gillian must figure out who she can trust and who is betraying her confidence before time runs out. as you read this intriguing romance and mystery novel set in victorian england, you will love gillian's courage and heart of compassion! this novel sheds light on exploited children and child trafficking in 1883.

moon bow night by laura frantz is a richly detailed historical novel that takes you into the kentucke wilderness in 1777. temperance grace (tempe for short) loves the wonders of nature. she knows the ridges, the meadows and the hollows by heart. she can outshoot any man, find any trail and move from place to place undetected in the forest. but tempe is harboring a family secret and the one man she holds in her heart and trusts was killed in a raid. when circumstances force her to be the hired guide for a virginian surveyor, tempe must learn to work with sion morgan and trust him in order to survive the wilderness with their scalps intact. frantz paints vivid and stunning pictures with her words as she draws you into the heart of kentucky.

newcomer, the by suzanne woods fisher is book 2 in the historical amish series where anna konig's journey continues after the ten weeks at sea. a brand new start on the pennsylvania frontier is exactly what anna and bairn bauer need after finding out that he was the bishop's son who was abducted when he was a child. bairn feels the call of the sea in his heart and after numerous clashes with his bishop father who seems to refuse to acknowledge his stolen youth, he takes a job on a ship for a few months. henrik newman joins the church and helps the church members get to their new land. when the bishop and his wife are nowhere to be found since they had left for the property ahead of time, it's up to henrik to help the church members figure out what to do. he's got his eye on anna even though her heart belongs to bairn, but things soon change when news comes that bairn's ship went up in flames and no one survived. in this one, true love is put to the final test and you'll never expect the twists that happens in the end!

redeeming grace: ruth's story is the third book in the daughters of the promise land series by jill eileen smith. smith weaves historical detail and imagination in her stories transporting you back to the times of the old testament where you get a sneak peak into the lives of the women there. you will adore boaz and adi, feel for naomi when she has to move from her beloved hometown and admire ruth for her resilience. this is a story of redemption, hope and the power of love that will draw you in from the moment you begin reading!

rescue me follows wild montana skies which was book one of the montana rescue series by susan may warren. as always, warren delivers danger and adventure in this one! deputy sam brooks and his brother pete do not see eye to eye. in fact, they're usually staying out of each other's ways with anger, bitterness and a whole lot of history at the root of their relationship. sierra rose is the perfect girl for him but it's willow, her sister who seems to touch his heart. pete wants to apply for the incident commander's job but all sam can see is his brother's lack of responsibility. when willow and sam and the new youth pastor take some kids on a hike, things quickly go south when the winter weather rapidly changes and they're suddenly in need of shelter and aid after a horrific accident. it's going to be up to pete to save his brother and the rest of the group. this one was an amazing read!!!

young adult & youth fiction:

prince warriors and the swords of rhema, the is the epic conclusion of this best-selling series, the prince warriors by priscilla shirer with gina detwiler. the chapter opens with a race that quickly turns into something else when a dark circle appears in the water. join finn and the other prince and princesses as they learn the secret power of resistance and begin their journey to receive their swords. Readers are going to love the adventure, friendship, danger and intrigue that is trademark in this series that teaches tweens and adults about spiritual warfare and its consequences. this series also has a 365 devotional (unseen was reviewed in my last blog) and the smartphone app, unseen: the prince warriors, that go along with the series. your entire family will love this series!!!

recruits by thomas locke (pseudonym for award-winning author davis bunn) is a fast-paced and engaging read that fans of science fiction and fantasy will love!!! i asked my 10-year-old (a die-hard rick riordan only fan) to check this one out and when he got to page 21, he exclaimed, "this book is as good as rick riordan's books!!! i love it and i can't stop reading it!!!" this. one. is. a. winner. twins sean and dillon kirrel have dreamed of a world beyond their own. before they turn 18, they are approached by carver and are given the opportunity to prove themselves as recruits... within a time limit. when sean takes the step of faith, he realizes that everything he sees is just as his mind has imagined as a kid with his brother. and the rest is history...!

non-fiction:

children's ministry on purpose: a purpose-driven approach to lead kids toward spiritual health addresses five key questions that are relevant for every children's ministry written by steve adams (he's the children's pastor at saddleback church in lake forest, ca). this resource is engaging and thought-provoking and will challenge leaders on finding purpose and intentionality in their ministry.  this quote from adams really resonated with me... "a purpose driven children's ministry is an intentional and balanced discipleship process that leads kids toward spiritual health." Adams gives practical steps in leading kids, implementing change, developing a healthy team and more. he also focuses on how to get where you are going by being a leader people will follow. this is worth reading and passing on to anyone who is involved in children's ministry!!!

when God says wait: navigating life's detours & delays without losing your faith, your friends, or your mind is a well-written debut book by elizabeth laing thompson. this was one one my favorite reads on the subject of waiting on God and i think many will identify with thompson when she vulnerably shares her story of infertility. thompson is super hilarious (i totally relate to her feelings on camping!!!), witty and authentic!!! i think we would totally hit it off if we ever met in person and spent some time hanging out!!! i love that she encourages, inspires and challenges her readers using scripture, personal stories and examples in the bible. after every chapter, you will find a section on "waiting room reading" which will give you some more notes for further study along with a journal prompt and a prayer prompt. my favorite chapter was chapter 5 (when prayer becomes a battleground) and i love the faith building playlist to fight satan's lies on page 90. i think i can probably go on and on but you get the picture. this one is worth your time reading and sharing with others!!!

family-friendly resources:

first feelings: 12 stories for toddlers is another home run hit for dr. mary manz simon! i've been a huge fan of mary for years---she writes from the heart, she writes from the head (she is a parenting expert and you can read her bio at http://www.marymanzsimon.com/about.html) and she writes from experience as a mother and grandmother. i highly recommend you that you read the letter to parents first before you start reading to your child. you will find that this is a resource that will help your child learn "to identify his feelings and cope with them in a way that is not only socially acceptable but developmentally appropriate so they can become emotionally literate." but i love the fact that mary doesn't just stop there. she incorporates the importance of children knowing that God is always with them so they are secure and don't feel isolated when coping with feelings. she writes from a christian world view perspective so parents can empower children to know how they're feeling and how to cope with it with God's help. the trademark age-appropriate rhyming text, interactive questions and adorable illustrations will make this a "read again and again and again" favorite with your toddler!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

november - december 2016

note from me:

happy new year, dear reading friend!!!


i'm so excited to begin another year sharing my five star reads with you!!! please accept my apologies for not getting my reviews out by the last day of 2016 like i originally intended. we're still in "holiday" mode but in just a blink of the eye, work and school will resume again and we'll be back to our "new" normal routine of life soon enough! 


the beginning of 2017 marked the end of the journey for one special little girl: ava bright lee, a pint-sized warrior princess that i've been following for the past couple of years. you can read her story at http://fortheloveofavalee.blogspot.com and prepare to cry, be inspired, feel the raw pain and be challenged because although her journey on earth has ended, her story will live on touching gazillions of lives.

 
the book of james reminds us that life is a vapor. you're here one minute and gone the next. it's why we should live our lives with intention. more than ever, God is showing me the importance of abiding in him. abiding in Christ means to allow his word to fill our minds so that it directs the intentions of our hearts (our will) and transforms our desires, our behavior, our actions, our thoughts and our words to align with the heart of God. 


my faith depends on it. so does yours. i want 2017 to be all about us abiding in Christ. i'll end this note with matthew 6:33 from the amplified bible: "but first and most importantly, seek (aim at, strive after) his kingdom and his righteousness [his way of doing and being right-the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also."


happy reading with blessings & love!!!


your reading mom,


susan

jer. 29:11

fiction:


christmas angel project, the by melody carlson (i love her!!!) has four friends devastated over the loss of their group leader, abby. but abby has left them all something very specific that she made and it's up to them to discover what the gift means to them and how they can live it out as abby's angels. this is a feel good story that is both inspiring and heart-warming! melody writes from her heart and this story showcases it well.

death in the shadows by paul mccusker is a father gilbert mystery that will hold your attention captive from start to finish with this story covering the heavy topic of human sex trafficking. i love father gilbert. he's a former detective-turned-priest who ends up helping the police because of his supernatural encounters and investigative skills. he's wise, caring and relentless in his pursuit for justice.  father gilbert is attending a conference in a little seaside town when he reads a local story of a murdered asian girl who worked at a local massage parlor. and then the visions begin and soon, father gilbert is assisting scotland yard with uncovering clues that will lead them to something bigger than any of them could have imagined. this one is a winner. well done, paul!!!


cowboy christmas homecoming is a collection of four historical novellas written by mary connealy, ruth logan herne, julie lessman and anna schmidt.  i love how four heart-warming stories interweave the lives of four women who are trying to make their way in this wild country during a very cold winter. so, cozy up to the fireplace and enjoy your read with a warm cuppa!


fatal frost by nancy mehl is book 2 in the defenders of justice series. unbeknownst to her, u.s. marshal mercy brennan has something someone is desperately trying to get. at all cost. and that's why her boss and former boyfriend, deputy u.s. marshal mark st. laurent are determined to get her out of town until they can guarantee she's safe. someone's dirty in the office and neither of them are sure who they can trust except for each other. the details appear to be fool-proof until a freak ice storm has them stranded at a remote location. if you want suspense, extreme danger and heart-pounding moments, this one's for you! i love how nancy always integrates faith authentically in her stories!


fear has a name by creston mapes is book one in the series, the crittendon files which first came out in 2013 but is so worth checking out if you haven't discovered this series yet. this suspense thriller will have you on the edge of your seat and to be perfectly honest, i was only able to read this in the daytime! a missing pastor, deadly secrets and a stalker who knows too much about his family has jack crittendon on edge. while chasing down the clues for a huge story, jack will have to do everything he can to keep his family safe before the unthinkable happens. and then it does. 


guide me home by kim vogel sawyer is set in 1907 and is a stand alone novel about the hardin family who have very little materially, but make up for it in love. rebekah wants to find a job at kentucky's renowned mammoth cave to help her father make enough so they can have a proper way to honor her beloved brother's memory. cissy loves her family but she's got big dreams and  bigger suspicions that she may not be who she thinks she is. tolly sanford is an experienced guide and he has a soft spot for rebekah and her family. he understands the depth of grief the family has gone through after losing andy in mammoth cave. devlin bale is an aspiring cartographer who wants to earn his father's approval and help him in his political aspirations. the many tunnels and secrets of mammoth cave is the answer and he's determined to find a profitable opportunity. but someone else has the same idea and answers will have to be uncovered before the cave claims another. This is a perfect book to use with your book club as it comes with study guide questions in the back. 


kill fee, the by fiona veitch smith is the second book in the poppy denby investigates series. as the arts and entertainment editor at the daily globe, it's up to poppy to cover the collection of russian art exhibition at the crystal palace. there's plenty of security at the exhibit so when the lights go out and a guard is shot, poppy's curiosity and investigative nose for a story immediately kicks into high gear. intrigue, mystery and a growing body count takes poppy and her colleagues on a race to uncover the killer before they strike again. smith does a believable job with her murder mysteries set in 1920's london featuring poppy denby. i love the historical details and reading about the mysteries of the faberge eggs and their secret compartments as well as the keepers of the treasures were fascinating!


lucifer's harvest: the chronicles of hugh de singleton, surgeon series by mel starr is definitely one of my favorite series!!! this is book 9 in the series where you will travel back in time to the medieval world of war between england and france. i love the strategy for taking down limoges's city walls and the various herbal concoctions that master hugh uses for various ailments as he tends injuries during battle! as always, there's a murder to be solved and master hugh must solve it to clear his name...

sleigh bells ring is a collection of four contemporary romance novellas by sandra d. bricker, barbara j. scott, lynette sowell and lenora worth. you're going to love the tucker sisters---in this book, the four tucker sisters have inherited their father's horse ranch for christmas. it's run down from years of little funds and now they have to make a decision on what it will take to get it ready to sell. joanna, as the oldest sister, knows that if they all work together, they will be able to fix up the ranch in time for christmas and then make a decision about the ranch. the only problem is that not all of them want to return for one last christmas on the ranch. these stories will touch your heart and make your stomach hungry for the yummy food that sarah weatherly prepares!!!


undetected by dee henderson is one of those books that makes you feel smarter after reading it (i can't even imagine the amount of research every book takes)!!! this story focuses on commander mark bishop, a navy man who fulfills his responsibilities well. mark is the type of guy you would want to introduce to all your single friends---he's responsible, kind, caring and a gentleman. and, he's ready to be married again after being widowed for several years. i love that his best friend jeff gray thinks his younger sister, gina would be a good match for mark but mark feels she may be too young for him at the eleven-and-a-half year difference between them. the two guys then focus on matching her up with someone closer to her age and someone they both approve on! you gotta love a story where a brother and his best friend are concerned about the relationship welfare of a younger sibling!!!


unspoken by dee henderson is a super intriguing story focusing on bryce bishop (yes, he's mark bishop's brother from undetected), a dealer in rare coins. he's been handpicked by charlotte graham and her circle of friends to sell a collection of coins that will blow his mind. once again, i feel a lot smarter after reading this story because i've gotten to learn about the world of selling and dealing with rare coins! charlotte graham is definitely fascinating and the mystery surrounding her story will be revealed later in the story (i'm so not giving it away now!!!). this story will definitely captivate you from start to finish!!!


wild montana skies by susan may warren is the first book of the montana rescue series where you can expect adventure, suspense and danger alongside faith and love! kacey fairing has returned home to mercy falls, montana where she needs time to heal from a horrific crash during her recent military tour in afghanistan. ben king is a successful country artist after leaving mercy falls for nashville. he's home again after thirteen years to help his father who needs help because of his dual broken hips. both kacey and ben have been asked to help with the peak search and rescue team by ben's dad, chet but neither of them realize his ulterior motives. chet is hands down my favorite character in this story!


non fiction:

choosing real: an invitation to celebrate when life doesn't go as planned by bekah jane pogue is all about "opting to see how present Jesus is in real-life circumstances." i also absolutely love this phrase from choosing real... "choosing real trusts God has a beautiful plan in the mess, in the scary, in the unknown, in the tears, and in not feeling enough." does this resonate with you, too?!? pogue writes in an easy - breezy - comfy manner that makes you feel like you're having a conversation with a bestie. she's authentic as she shares her own stories, scripture, practical advice and recipes involving... chocolate!!! this is perfect reading to start your new year because a new year means a new me (i'm totally borrowing this phrase from my daughter!!!), right?!?

family-friendly resources:

where does love hide? by mary manz simon is a fun lift-the-flap book that's perfect for children ages 1 through 4. the adorable illustrations, aged-appropriate text and the important life lesson we can teach our children makes this one another winner from mary (i have yet to find something i didn't absolutely adore from her)!!! teaching children to look for ways they can show love is important when we live in an "it's-all-about-me" generation world that endorses entitlement. thank you, mary for writing relevant books that remind parents that it's never too early to start teaching our children about what's important in life.










Monday, October 31, 2016

september - october 2016

a note from me:

happy fall, dear reading friend!!!


what a full couple of months it has been, right?!? i'm so excited to share my FIVE STAR picks with you!!!  if you're starting your research on finding the perfect christmas gifts, then you won't want to miss some of these books i've reviewed for you!!! i'm especially excited about the cookbook i've reviewed and the fiction for youth along with the companion devotional (check out my nonfiction for youth) in this post!!!


for the longest time ever, the topic of our presidential candidates have been front and center in the news, social media, conversations, etc.! what's a follower of Jesus to do?!? remember this: Jesus IS King no matter who ends up in the oval office.


as a follower of Jesus, we can be certain that this is the way we are to live according to colossians 3:17 "and whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the father."


thank you for spreading the love and telling your friends about my five star picks!!!
happy reading with blessings & love! 


your reading mom, 

susan
jer. 29:11



fiction

another day another dali by sandra orchard is book two in the series, a serena jones mystery. reading friends, i absolutely love this series!!! in fact, i want to be friends with serena jones!!! yes, she's that cool. fbi special agent serena jones is on a case "unofficially" as a favor for her grandmother. someone is replacing valuable paintings with forgery and serena is determined to follow the trail. if she can find the forger, they may lead her to the ring of thieves. as her evidence begins to grow, serena stumbles on clues that may point to something more personal. on top of all the craziness, her fan club in the male department seems to be growing (i'm rooting for tanner!)!!! i just know you'll love this one as much as i did!!!


artisan's wife, the by judith miller is the third and final book in the refined by love series following the mckay family members. twin sisters, ainslee and adaira are moving to weston, west virginia to run the tile works business that their brother, ewan mckay has purchased. this venture is more of adaira's idea than ainslee's, but she agrees to go with her two because she is the one who can take care of the books and other practical matters of the business. so you can only imagine her dismay, anger and fear when adaira makes a choice that turns ainslee's world upside down! this story will make you sad (you'll read about the lunatic asylum), make you smile (enter levi judson!) and fill you with hope!


baxter family christmas, a by karen kingsbury (you know how much i love her!!!) is a story that you will need to read beside your box of kleenexes!!! oh my stars. i have such a cry headache now!!! karen writes from the heart and it's clear she loves the baxter family---in fact, they mirror her own family at times. it's the holidays and there's nothing like having all the baxters together. but john has invited someone over for christmas eve and for the first time ever, some of the family may not join because of the invited guest. you will go down on a trip to memory lane, fall in love and watch the magic of the baxter family unfold as they get through a challenging holiday together in an unforgettable way. i am soooooooo excited that roma downey is bringing the "baxter family" to life as the producer for this television series (based on karen's 23 book series)!!!


can't help falling by kara isaac is a story you are going to love!!! emelia mason has come to oxford, england to redeem herself. she loves all things narnia and her first encounter with peter carlisle is when he finds her inside a narnian-esque wardrobe in an antique shop! peter is in search of the last piece to his mother's collection and his encounter with this american girl will be life-changing. both of them are c.s. lewis fans and both have a dream----one to make it to the top and the other to start over again. both need a second chance but the secret emilia is hiding will destroy everything she's ever hoped for. warning: once you start this one, you won't be able to put it down until you're finished because that's what happened to me!


devoted, the by suzanne woods fisher is the third book in the series, the bishop's family. ruthie stoltfus has received her high scores from passing the ged and the feelings of restlessness combined with feeling unsettled about her future weighs heavily on her mind. she loves her family but wonders what else is out there for her. her charming ex-boyfriend attracts trouble and ruthie has finally had enough. but luke shrock is determined to win her back. when ruthie meets englisher patrick kelly, a young man who wishes to convert to amish and learn the language and other amish skills in 30 days, she's intrigued. patrick sees the ordinary amish ways as something more which in turn, gives ruthie new perspective. in the meantime, her bishop father is sensing issues among the people of stoney ridge that he hasn't been able to put into words and trying to lead and guide his people have been daunting as he prays for wisdom. i love how suzanne draws me into the lives of the people of stoney ridge---it's worth the journey!


domino effect, the by davis bunn captivated me right from the start! davis has this incredible gift of making his stories (that are influenced from his years in the international banking industry) so compelling that you quickly forget that you're reading a work of fiction. he's the only one i've ever met who can make global banking, numbers and investment strategies  so incredibly interesting!!! esther harding is my hero. she has the most to lose once she uncovers the truth that is a worldwide ticking bomb... this fast-paced suspense novel will have you questioning what is truth and what is fiction when it comes to the global economy. get ready for a thrilling read!!!


end of the roadie: a mystery for d.i. costello by elizabeth flynn has detective inspector angela costello putting together the clues to the mystery of one man's death. rock-star brendan phelan knows how to put on a show which includes cracking whips and gunshots in sync to the music. but the gunshot after the show is what brings d.i. angela costello and her team forward as they solve a mystery involving the death of a not-so-liked roadie with secrets. the crew is not coming forward with everything they know and costello and her team will have to figure out a way to break the silence or they'll never catch the killer...


heart most certain, a by melissa jaguars is book 2 in the teaville moral society series. lydia king is to be engaged to the town's wealthiest man but her heart isn't in it because she's only obeying her parent's wishes. when she is given the challenge to secure funding for a quilting project, lydia must prove to her future mother-in-law that she can be resourceful and solicit donations from the town's wealthiest and stingiest benefactor. i love lydia's tenacity!!! in the end, she learns how she can make a difference with those at the bottom rung of society.


lady unrivaled, a by roseanna m. white is the grand finale in this series, ladies of the manor. if you are a fan of downton abbey, then you are going to love this series!!! set in 1913, you will fall in love with the castle and the rich details and contrast between the nobility and those who serve them!  the mysterious fire eye diamonds have cursed all those who have been connected with it and lady ella myerston is determined to get to the bottom of it. but she's not the only one after the gems. this is a lovely story steeped in mystery, romance, danger and unsavory characters! i absolutely loved it!!!


love's faithful promise by susan anne mason is the third book in the courage to dream series. deirdre o'leary is looking forward to the day when she can complete medical school and practice pediatric medicine, but her plans are put on hold when her mother suffers a stroke. set in 1922, this story will take you back in time! i love the characters (especially mrs. o'leary!!!) and the different stories about the various o'leary siblings that are interwoven to make this story complete. 


love transformed, a by tracie peterson is the final book in the sapphire brides series which is set in new york city and turn-of-the-century montana. clara vesper was forced into a loveless marriage by her mother and now that her husband has suddenly died, she is determined to take control of her own life.  as the designer of sapphire jewelry while her husband and his brother took credit for her designs, clara now finds herself widowed and penniless with two small children. she returns to montana to be with her favor aunt and uncle who are sheep ranchers never dreaming that danger will follow her in light of her late husband's affiliations. whew! get ready for some adventure and danger ahead!


mattie's pledge by jan drexler continues the saga of the schrock family in this second book of the series journey to pleasant prairie. mattie schrock is used to her father picking up and relocating the family. she dreams of life beyond the mountains and the adventures that just beyond her reach. jacob yoder is the opposite. he yearns for stability and roots... and mattie schrock's heart! when mattie meets an englisher who promises her adventure and thrills, she has to make a decision that will change the course of her life and dreams.


name i call myself, the by beth moran is hilarious, witty and engaging!!! you're going to love this one!!! faith is marrying perry--- a rich, gorgeous and wonderful man. it's a pinch me type of dream but it's his mother who has her waking up in nightmares! in the midst of the out-of-control wedding planning, faith and her best friend join a choir... accidentally. you're going to love hester, the choir director and all the woman in that choir!!!


progeny, the by tosca lee is a heart-pounding thriller that is intriguing, captivating and full of fascinating characters! emily porter is twenty-one years old and in a letter written to herself, she discovers that her name isn't real. someone is after her or after something she has but she has no recollection why. all she knows is that she can't go digging in the past and she has to stay away from the internet. emily has to figure out who is trustworthy and how to uncover the secrets that haunt her and are life threatening to everyone around her. the ending is a cliff hanger and i can't wait until tosca delivers book 2 in the spring of 2017!


tangled webs by irene hannon is the third and final book in the series, men of valor focusing on finn mcgregor. finn is taking some time to regroup and recover from some injuries when he meets his nearest neighbor in the dead of night after a horrendous piercing scream. staying at her grandfather's lakeside cabin should be peaceful for dana lewis, but now her safety may be in jeopardy. finn becomes the one person she can rely on and it's going to be a rocky road uncovering the secrets that begin to surface. i love the mcgregor brothers (!) and can't wait to review Shannon's next novel, sandpiper cove coming this spring!!!


tapestry of secrets, a by sarah loudin thomas is a beautiful story that will capture your heart! perla phillips has a secret and she is desperate to share it because it is time. but when she suffers a stroke, she loses the ability to communicate. her granddaughter, ella has returned home to help her aunt sadie care for perla and ella's relationship with her grandmother has always been special. when sadie reveals her mission to locate the one person who may have answers, ella is reluctant to go along and help her because it may mean breaking her grandmother's trust. this heartwarming story is about forgiveness, courage and love.


when love arrives by johnnie alexander is a stand alone novel that i absolutely loved!!! dani prescott is on a mission to find a way to bring down the man who has defamed her mother's reputation. she just never expected to get to know the real brett somers and now she has a dilemma because she's in too deep. accepting her dream job has never made her feel so guilty! when brett stumbles on the evidence she's been hiding, dani has no where to go but far away to a job she doesn't have a heart for. this is one of those stories that will have you rooting for love!!!


where two hearts meet by liz johnson is book 2 in the prince edward island dreams series. i adore this series and the characters have seriously made their way into my heart!!! executive chef caden holt loves her kitchen at rose's red door inn but when a former competitive islander returns, caden fears for her job. but that's not all. rose's red door inn is in financial trouble and it's up to caden to impress a prestigious magazine's travel writer and show him around her island. no pressure, right?!? and then there's the famous north shore lobster cook-off that caden needs to win. for once... instead of coming in second place like she has every year. this is a heartwarming story about stepping outside of your comfort zone and exhaling God's grace throughout the obstacles in life. i can't wait until book 3 which is coming our way summer 2017 (you'll find a sneak peak into chapter 1 at the end of the book)!!!


fiction for youth


prince warriors and the unseen invasion, the by priscilla shirer with gina detwiler is book two in this popular tween fiction trilogy series, the prince warriors. tween readers (actually, it doesn't matter what your age is!!!) will come away with a clearer understanding of spiritual warfare based on ephesians 6:10-18. this story is engaging, full of adventure and easy to read!!! young readers who are fans of fantasy genre should definitely be introduced to this series so think ahead to christmas, because this series makes a great gift for the readers in your family (book 1 is called the prince warriors which introduces brothers evan and xavier and their friends)!!! priscilla shirer is one of my favorite bible teachers and her heart for tweens and biblical truth comes through passionately in this series!!! check out my review of the new companion devotional below in the nonfiction for youth.


nonfiction


hungry is a mighty fine sauce: recipes & rambling from the belle of all things southern by shellie rushing tomlinson is filled with 125 recipes, beautiful photography, belle tips and stories! the stories will warm your heart and some of them will make you laugh-out-loud, so don't skip them while you're checking out all the delicious looking recipes!!! whether you're a southern belle or not, you're going to love this collection of recipes from the heart!!!


wait and see: finding peace in God's pauses and plans by wendy pope (of the ministry, proverbs 31) will encourage you through your life seasons of waiting. and waiting. i can't tell you how timely this book has been for me!!! You'll find scriptural examples, journaling opportunities and real-life stories to encourage you as it did for me. hang on, friend because God teaches us valuable lessons while we learn to wait well on him. i like that you can use this book individually or in a small group setting---try it and let me know how it goes for you!


nonfiction for youth


unseen: the prince warriors by renowned bible teacher priscilla shirer is a 365 devotional that helps engage tweens in their spiritual walk. i love that this devotional gives them scriptural tools to help them be victorious during times of spiritual warfare. priscilla clearly communicates the reality of spiritual warfare in a way that young readers will understand and it helps to have the connection between the devotional and the prince warrior series! the look of this devotional is aesthetically appealing and the language is relevant and age-appropriate. kudos to the b&h team for their work on this devotional!!! by the way, moms, there's a coordinating smartphone app that accompanies the series so add this devo on your christmas gift shopping list!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

july - august 2016

a note from me:

hello, dear reading friend!!!

welcome to my blog where i share my favorite five star reads with you!!! i hope you find something for yourself and for someone you love!!!

how are you?!? our family is entering a new season of life as we get used to a new normal without our favorite daughter/sister (college) and my husband's traveling schedule. but i'm filled with gratitude as i look back and see how God has faithfully provided!!! he is without a doubt... Jehovah Jireh (the Lord who provides or YHWH will provide).

one of my favorite "go to" verses for this season of my life is found here...
1 thessalonians 5:16-18 "always be joyful. never stop praying. be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

i hope you find some encouragement from that verse! whatever you're going through and whatever situation you're in, know that you will be in my prayers. email me your prayer requests and concerns at thereadingmom@gmail.com. i can't wait to hear from you!!!

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

your reading mom, susan :o)
jer. 29:11


fiction

eden hill is the debut novel by bill higgs (he's the husband of one of my favorite authors to interview, award-winning liz curtis higgs)!!! the colorful characters of eden hill, a little town in kentucky have grown up and lived there all their lives. family loyalty goes very deep. very little changes in eden hill and that's fine with most everyone; however, the winds of change are in the air and no one feels it more than virgil t. osgood, owner of the only service station in eden hill. someone has purchased the property directly across his lot with a big sign, "coming soon - zippo super service station." cornelius alexander III is determined to provide well for his wife and unborn baby which is why the zipco franchise is the answer to all the dreams he wants to make true for his family. but they're the newcomers to eden hill and the inhabitants of eden hill will be faced with what the practical answer looks like to the question Jesus asked... "who is my neighbor?" besides having the best names (virgil, mavine, cornelius, arlie and lula mae to name a few!), these characters are going to make their way into your heart!!! this nostalgic era story touches on the themes of marriage, loyalty, contentment and the command to love our neighbors.

elegant solution, an by paul robertson takes you back to eighteenth-century switzerland where a family is divided by ambition, secrets and maybe even... murder. young math prodigy leonhard euler is being groomed and trained hoping that one day, he will be selected for mathematics physics chair in basel. he has been given the assignment to solve the puzzle that is so complicated that he will uncover brilliant minds with greedy motives, blackmail and more. now it's up to him to find answers and provide an elegant solution with drastic measure to change the future by altering the present! if you like mathematics and history, then i know you're going to love this one!

honor redeemed by christine johnson is the second book in the series, keys of promise. after the death of her mother, prosperity jones leaves the safety of nantucket to take a ship to find her fiancee lt. david latham in key west. but the last thing she expects to discover from the man she's expecting to marry occurs and prosperity is left with very little options. prosperity is courageous and a pretty incredible heroine---you'll find this story heartwarming and inspiring!

missing by lisa harris is book 2 in the series, the nikki boyd files where danger, suspense and mystery reign in this story. beginning with two dead bodies and the missing homeowners, nikki has her hands full following the hard-to-track trail of clues and time is ticking. a dead body shows up on her deceased best friend and her husband's boat and nikki must solve the link between them and the missing homeowners. a woman is running for her life and it's up to nikki to find her before it's too late. the dramatic ending is like a story from the tv shows criminal minds, csi or law and order!

no other will do by karen witemeyer is set in 1894 in baylor county, texas where emma chandler's established colony for women in need is in danger. threatening notes have been appearing and after shots have been fired at them by the mysterious assailant, she needs help from a man she can trust with all her heart. enter malachi shaw. he was saved by emma and her suffragette aunts in 1882 and now he has grown up and found a respectable job as an expert with the railroad. malachi will do anything for emma and her aunts and his pride in emma's independence  and abilities have captured his heart. but she doesn't know that. now her life is in danger because there's someone in her colony working with the assailant and malachi must track down the cowardly bully who is trying to drive out the women of emma's colony, harper's station. it all boils down to one thing in the end... find out when you read this story!

no way up by mary connealy begins a new series called the cimarron legacy. cimarron ranch is owned by the bone's but when an accident forces the patriarch of the family to leave by train for additional treatment, everything changes for the independent siblings who have all found a life away from the ranch. justin, sadie and cole are shocked to discover that their father is committing them to live on the ranch for one year or it will pass on to a distant and questionable relative. the siblings are irate that they have to change their lives to accommodate their father's unfair demands but they have no choice. you'll find some romance, mystery, danger and a murder attempt in this new series. through these elements, the three siblings learn the importance of the legacy their father wants them to get.

raven, the by mike nappa is the second book in this coffey & hill novel series. first of all, i love mike nappa! his stories are impossible to put down once you begin reading!!! if you like crime fighting shows like criminal minds or law & order, then you'll love reading anything mike nappa. private investigators trudi coffey and samuel hill are working to beat the clock as they scramble to figure out the clues leading them to the rescue of one street magician (or deception specialist) who blackmailed the wrong person... and one other thing... his life depends on them finding him! get ready for a wild ride into the world of the ukrainian mafia!

refining fire by tracie peterson is book 2 in the brides of seattle series. militant scott is training at the madison bridal school in seattle which is run by her best friend's aunts. although her heart is not into the training, it's the perfect place to hide from her past. abrianna is militine's best friend and the two could not be more different! abrianna's faith is strong while militine feels alone in her doubts. when she meets a man who struggles with the same issues of faith, militine is drawn to him despite herself! i love abrianna's personality---she's exactly what militine needs in her life!

second half, the by lauraine snelling is a heartfelt story that will remind you of the strength of families pulling together. mona sorenson has launched a successful event planning business for the past four years but is she taking on more than she can handle with her depression issues from the past? kenneth, her husband is retiring from a successful career of being dean of students at stone university. his heart has been for the students and fighting the university politics regarding funding is wearing him down. now he feels like the legacy he built has been reduced to nothing. both of them are looking forward to their retirement years until an unexpected call from their son, a special forces officer in the army derails their plans. this is not the second half of their life they expected, but they both learn to trust in the One who has given them so much.

soul of the matter, the by bruce buff is definitely an intriguing story with suspense, relationships, science and faith! when his estranged brilliant friend is found dead under suspicious circumstances, it's up to dan lawson (formerly a cyber-intelligence analyst) to figure out what stephen bishop was working on. there is danger and evil at every turn and dan finds that he may need to return to the faith of his youth. can i tell you something? after reading this debut thriller on the mysteries of dna, faith and reasoning, i felt so much more smarter! i don't know why! You'll find this one available on september 13th!!!

silence in the dark by patricia bradley is the final book in the four-book series, logan point. bailey adams is serving on the mission field in chihuahua, mexico and her ex-fiance danny maxwell is shocked to find her there. but what is most surprising is the sudden danger bailey finds herself in and now she is on the run with one of the mission children, maria. the calatrava (a dangerous drug cartel) are involved and bailey has no idea who she can trust. all the people helping her along the way are in danger too, including danny maxwell and bailey is in danger not just for her life but her heart, as well. this is a fast-paced-danger-in-your-face kind of story, so hang on tight as you follow the kidnappings, murders and rescues! whew!

what matters most by kellie coates gilbert is the fourth book in the texas gold collection. leta breckenridge drops out of college to take care of bills for the facility her mom with dementia is in. after working crazy hours for little pay and satisfaction, she lands a job in a public relations firm where she is rewarded for her strong work ethic. but something is wrong and her dream job turns into a nightmare. leta is forced to make a decision in order to stand for her principles and the consequences may crush her. you'll learn about the world of politics in this one and root for nathan emerson, a rising political star who stands for integrity in a world that operates on the opposite! 

family-friendly resources

God made the sun and God made the moon by mary manz simon are two of the cutest child-friendly board books ever! In addition to the sweet rhyming words and the lessons they teach, the cut out of the sun and the moon make it a lot more fun for little fingers. in God made the sun, children will hear the message that God made the sun to remind us of his love everyday. it goes through the different parts of the day and in different weather and the message remains that God's love is constant. in God made the moon, the message for little ears is the same---the moon is a reminder of the love God sends each night and that he's with us all night long. children are also reminded that God hears their prayers as the moon is God's natural night light for them! i love the messages of these two little books!!! your little ones are going to love hearing your read over and over of the message of the sun and moon! Yay to dr. mary manz simon for another five star hit for children and their parents!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

may - june 2016

a note from me:
hello, dear reading friend!!!

thank you for checking out my five star picks for you!!! i can't believe today is the last day in june. doesn't it feel like the summer has just started?!? so i challenge you---go m.a.d. (make a difference) this summer!!! look for a service project you and your family can engage in together. read books out loud with your children. serve at church. do random acts of kindness with your family.

whatever you do, remember this: "always be joyful. never stop praying. be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 thessalonians 5:16-18

thank you for sharing this resource with your friends!!! i value your feedback, so feel free to email me at fivestarfaithbasedbooks@gmail.com!!!

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

your reading mom,

susan
jer. 29:11

fiction

all summer long: a san francisco romance by melody carlson is a story of love and second chances. this feel good story takes you on a journey with tia d'amico, the new chef of the pacific pearl. tia's aunt and uncle have inherited a luxury yacht in need of some tlc and they are hoping to turn it into an upscale floating restaurant. but an emergency prevents aunt julie from being onsite to supervise the renovations so it's up to tia and the yacht's captain to work together. The yacht's captain was tia's crush when she was 16 and their time together is what magical summer romances can be made of... except that Leo is engaged!!!

almost like being in love by beth k. vogt is a destination wedding novel that is a delightful, romantic and sweet read! i loved this one!!! caron hollister is a top ranking realtor but her rising career in her father's company comes to a screeching halt when he makes another well experienced realtor a partner in his business. her long-time boy friend alex is shocked by her sudden resignation. and when she suddenly decides to fly to colorado to be with her best friend margo, an- upcoming-bride-to-be, alex is thrown for a loop by caron's unpredictable behavior! when caron unexpectedly wins a destination wedding and honeymoon package at a bridal fair, she has to figure out a way to tell alex! this is a great book for book clubs because there's a "reading group guide," a "going deeper with the story guide," and a mini interview with vogt at the back of the book.

anchor in the storm by sarah sundin is the second book in her waves of freedom series. this wwII mystery has romance, danger, suspense and elements of faith which remind us to put our hope in the Lord. i love lillian avery! although she has to work around her prothesis, she doesn't allow it to define her. she's plucky, creative and determined. when her brother brings home his best friend, society boy ensign archer vandenberg home, they get off on the wrong foot (pun intended!). but eventually, archer sees past her prothesis and lillian is able to see past what she perceives as a pampered society boy and they begin a friendship. and the friendship turns to love as they begin to solve a mystery together that may endanger lillian's life if she continues to follow her leads...

broken ground by karen halvorsen schreck is a moving story about a young widow, ruth warren, who starts her life over when she gets the opportunity to attend college in california in the 1930's.  ruth lives day to day under a cloud of grief over the loss of her childhood sweetheart husband, but her observation of the mexican immigrant is what slowly changes her outlook on life. this touching story will stir your heart as you follow ruth through hard times and an unexpected event that forces her to leave school. you will be cheering ruth on as the circumstances threaten to break her spirit, but she ends up finding her purpose and calling in the most unlikely place.

every bride has her day by janice thompson is book 3 in the brides with style series. when katie fisher gets engaged to the man of her dreams, everyone wants a say in what her perfect day should be like. but katie can't wait to show all her city friends how perfect a wedding in her small home town of fairfield can be! katie loves her home town and she loves that the people of fairfield care about each other and look out for one another like one big family.  but when a misunderstanding gets out of hand, the entire town takes sides and suddenly, katie fears that her perfect day will be a disaster! janice delivers another hilarious story of love, laughter, romance and faith!

fading starlight by kathryn cushman is a tale of unexpected friendship between a girl who loves vintage handiwork and a reclusive former hollywood star. when lauren summer's dream internship turns into a nightmare on the red carpet, she is forced to take an unpaid job that comes with free lodging in a neighborhood with very strict rules and regulations. kendall joiner may be the key to getting lauren back in the world of fashion and design but the cost may be more than lauren is willing to pay. kendall wants a story that will uncover an old murder mystery involving the reclusive former hollywood star living in the nearby mansion of lauren's cottage. will lauren uncover the secrets of an older woman who doesn't trust the world? you can find out :o)

from scratch by c.e. hilbert takes you into the delectable aromas coming from only the basics bakery starring maggie mckitrick! the beautiful petite baker loves everyone in her new town except for her landlord, sean taylor, the town's police chief who refuses to address her complaints! so she does the next best thing to get his attention and eventually, a truce is formed. all is going well until a letter arrives for maggie plunging her heart in fear again. every little noise and thing out of place begins to make maggie fearful again. maggie is doing everything she can to keep her past behind her but sean taylor is determined to gain her trust and learn how to help the jittery baker who has intrigued his heart. her nightmare has returned and sean taylor will have to do everything in his power to gain maggie's trust and help her.

her one and only by becky wade is set in texas and is all about football, family and an assignment that turns dru porter's world upside down! this is book 4 of the porter family novels. born and bred cowboys' football fan, dru porter is about to start her new assignment: protecting gray fowler, star nfl tight end of the mustangs, the cowboys' crosstown rivals! when the identity of the stalker is finally uncovered before the big charity event, there's a big sigh of relief... except for one little detail... i love all the characters in this story---they're believable, fiercely protective of one another and very likable! i finally learned the difference between the role of the tight end and the quarterback---yay for me!

life just got real is a live original fiction by sadie robertson with cindy coloma. sixteen-year-old aj smith's world has turned upside down ever since her father passed away. now her mom has moved their family to nashville and she has to go to a new private school courtesy of an unknown benefactor. there are too many changes to deal with and a school full of rich girls who are nothing like aj's former life and friends. when a reality show opportunity comes to make her one of the major cast members along with the school's most popular girl, aj has to decide if she's in or out. i love that aj turns to God again and that she's reminded that faith matters even when she wants to run away from her problems.

like a river from its course by kelli stuart is a haunting story of war, forgiveness and hope as portrayed by various characters (based on true stories gathered from "fifteen years of research and interviews with ukranian world war II survivors") and their stories... maria ivanovna is only 14-year-old when she is forced away from her family to work at a german labor camp. ivan kyrilovich is mistaken for a jew and survives being shot and left to die. luda is 16-year-old when she is horrifically raped and abandoned by her father. frederick hermann spends his whole life trying to earn the approval of his father and... falls short. these stories will move you and touch your heart! my words of advice? don't skip the epilogue!!!

murder comes by mail by a. h. gabhart is an on-the-edge-your-seat mystery that is the second book in the series, hidden springs mysteries. the charming small town of hidden springs is beginning to lose its charm as mysterious photos of propped victims begin to appear. it's a race against time for deputy sheriff michael keane as he tries to protect the people he loves. i confess i was scared all the way to the end but i'm loving this series and hope to share more reviews with you from a. h. gabhart!

precious in his sight by karen pashley is a stirring story set in south carolina where successful architect clay brennan and his lovely wife, sugar live. they have a beautiful marriage, two successful children, a lovely home and are active in their church. but clay is hiding a secret which will destroy everything he holds dear to his heart. this is a story about trusting God, forgiveness and choosing to follow God even when it's humanly impossible to do so. pashley does a fantastic job shaping her characters into real humans with deep emotions. their stories will draw you in so keep those kleenexes close by because you're going to need them.

quieting, the by suzanne woods fisher is book two in the series, the bishop's family. this engaging story takes you back to stoney ridge where there's a huge issue in the church that is causing division. when david stoltzfus gets a surprise visit from his overbearing mom and two nieces to "help" solve his problems, his family's world is turned upside down! this story is a reminder that sometimes, the best intentions can produce the opposite effect and sin is sin no matter how you may want to justify it. book clubs will love the discussion questions and readers will get attached to the families of stoney ridge!

sea rose lane by irene hannon is a hope harbor novel that takes readers back to a charming fictional town on the lovely oregon coast. eric nash was on the partner track working over 60 hours a week at his law firm until he was given the boot. now he's returned home to find that his childhood home is being turned into a bed and breakfast by his father. right from the get go, eric and the architect and construction foreman, bj stevens clash. his judgmental attitude toward her crew makes bj's blood boil but everyone she respects seems to hold him in high regard. bj doesn't know what to think when she begins to see the non irritating side of eric! i love eric's special moments with charley the artist who runs a food truck with the best tacos on earth. they are really heartwarming! i want a charley in my life, too!!!

sins of the past is a romantic suspense novella collection by dee henderson, dani pettrey and lynette eason. dee henderson's "missing" is a disturbing story about a sheriff's missing mother. dani pettrey's "shadowed" takes you back to alaska where the body of a swimming competitor is found. lynette eason's "blackout" is a story about a woman and her unreliable memory of one night when a robbery goes wrong.  the loot has never been found but someone believes she knows where it is hidden. these three suspense novellas are easy-to-read and fast-paced enough to keep you engaged! what a 3 for 1 bargain!

someone like you by victoria bylin is a contemporary fiction novel (one of my very favorite genres!) set in southern california (oh how i miss you). zeke monroe is determined to bring caliente  springs back to life with improvements and more opportunities to draw in potential clients, but time and the lack of funding are not on his side. when an opportunity to impress dare to dream events planner, zeke is reunited with a former girlfriend... julia dare.  julia left because of zeke's faith and now, her life has changed because of faith and a secret. zeke is carrying around a secret, too and julia may discover it. i loved this sweet story---you'll find the encounters with ladybug absolutely hilarious!!! this is a perfect take-along-to-the-beach book!

traces of guilt is an evie blackwell cold case novel by dee henderson. as usual, dee never disappoints in delivering a gripping action packed story full of suspense, drama and faith (much better than watching law & order or csi!!!) with her trademark inspirational romantic suspense. there's a few troubling missing-persons cases that deserve a second look - a missing family of three, a missing little six-year-old girl, a relocated young lady and an unexplainable hunting accident that has detective evie blackwell, paul and ann falcon,  local sheriff gabriel thane and his family involved. it's several cold cases and evie is determined to review the old evidence and hopefully, discover something new. i do love seeing justice come to light and once i started reading this one, i couldn't put it down and you won't either!

truth be told by carol cox is set in 1893 where a female journalist is determined to track down the truth in a story her father had started on. i love amelia warner's courageous spirit and spunk as she takes over her father's newspaper and takes on great western's business! she just has to figure out who she can trust and who is trying to distract her from the truth.