Wednesday, December 16, 2015

november - december

a note from me:
merry christmas, dear reading friend!!!

a few weeks ago, we flew out on a spur-of-the-moment trip to london and then to barcelona! at the time, there was a global security alert issued for all travelers and 
we had the option of canceling the trip, but decided against it. 

in times like these, i'd rather be all together as a family then separated by time zones, wouldn't you?!? plus, we know that our lives are in the hands of God and we can be at peace knowing he is in control.

i don't know your story but i want to encourage you that this time in your life is just for a season. trust God. know that he is always with you (psalm 139:1-12). he is Jehovah-Jireh meaning the Lord who provides. check out philippians 4:19 in your bible. it's a promise to you.

jeremiah 29:11 is the verse that i live by. read it! embrace it. share it!

have a blessed christmas season sharing his love!!! happy reading, dear friend!!!

blessings & love!!!

susan, your reading mom :o)

jer. 29:11


bride at last, a by melissa jagears is the grand finale in her mail order bride stories. kate dawson is about to risk everything she knows for a promise because of a nine-year-old boy she loves. but when the truth comes out about her past, kate's future takes a turn for the worst. this story will take you on a journey of faith, love and redemption

captured by love by jody headlined is set in 1814. two brothers, jean and pierre make the ultimate sacrifice for love. you'll find danger, betrayal and espionage in this historical fiction. angelique labelle, the object of both brother's affections, will learn an important lesson about hope and contentment in the end.

come to the garden by jennifer wilder morgan is inspired by organ's ministry at the methodist hospital in houston. jennifer's intriguing story with her encounter with an angel sent from God named margaret helps her see that God has been very present in her life. this is an inspiring story of faith and how God works in everyday life through different circumstances and people!

cup of dast, a: a novel of the dust bowl by susie finkbeiner stars ten-year-old pearl spence. pearl's daddy is the town's hero and sheriff and her adoration for him is evident! pearl is the keeper of her older sister, beanie and she always knows how to find her sister when she wanders off around town. you'll love pearl! she's spunky, responsible and charismatic! when a hobo gets off the train and seems to know her name, pearl's secure world begins to turn upside down.

fire & ice by mary connealy is the third book in the series, wild at heart. bailey wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the west. bailey has a secret and fellow rancher, gage coulter is shocked when he uncovers it. connealy will have you cracking up as you go back in time to 1866! i love the way she writes!

love's fortune by laura frantz is book 3 in the ballantyne legacy series. rowen "wren" ballantyne was born and reared in her kentucky home where she knows everyone and every hill. she loves her home, making music and the close-knit community she's grown up in. but one letter will change everything and wren is thrust into a world she's very unfamiliar with. this is an era of steamboats, arranged marriages and priceless violins. will wren ever find her way home again? you'll have to find out!

methusalah project, the by rick barry is a fascinating look at the life of a young pilot from world war II who is taken captive by a german organization under the financial direction of adolf hitler. roger greene undergoes experimental treatments that change the course of his body forever. there are high stakes involved, adventure and a daring escape where multiple things can go wrong. at any moment. read at your own risk.

moment in time, a by tracie peterson is the second book in the series, lone star brides. alice chesterfield is being followed and texas seems to be the opportunity she needs to break away from her past. when alice discovers that her mother and brother who she was told were dead are very much alive, everything alice knows to be true about her world, unravels. this is a story of trust, forgiveness and sanctuary.

perfect ambition, a by dr. kevin leman & jeff nesbit is book one in the worthington destiny series where you'll get to follow the life of a rich and powerful family. This is a political thriller that combines birth order (thank you, dr. leman!!!), high powered stakes, political intrigue and secrets. and the cliff hanger at the end just kills me!!! i can't wait to review book 2 and share it with you!!!

place in his heart, a by rebecca demarino is a beautiful story of love. mary langton is trying to avoid marriage to the man her father insists on matching her with. her deepest desire is to marry for love. when she meets barnabas horton, a young widower with two sons, mary is smitten. can you see where this is going?!? this is a story that will pull at your heart strings as you watch mary literally grow up before your eyes as she learns about motherhood, domestic tasks and being a help meet! plus, a voyage across the ocean to the colonies stretches mary... to a breaking point. love comes when you least expect it.

raw edges by sandra d. bricker is a stand alone book in a series, quilts of love: every quilt has a story. grayson mcdonough is struggling with his grief over losing his beautiful wife, jenna to ovarian cancer. when his 9-year-old daughter, sadie discovers an invitation to a support group and coerces her father to go with her, grayson never expects to find hope and healing through a memory quilt project. one that he is reluctant to be a part of but because of sadie, he relents. i love the journal jenna wrote for her daughter!!! read this one with a box of kleenexes near by because you will need them!

sky zone by creston mapes is the final book in the crittendon files series where you will find heart-pounding suspense and action around every corner! it's been a tough season for jack crittendon financially. after losing his job as a star reporter, he's been working part-time on security detail at the columbus festival arena. when word arrives regarding a possible terrorist attack while controversial presidential candidate martin sterling is set to appear, jack and his team have no idea what will unfold as the evening goes on. this is a story of sacrifice, conspiracy and faith AND a surprise ending you will not expect!!!

tempest's course by lynette sowell is a part of the series, quilts of love: every quilt has a story. when kelly frost, a textiles conservator, accepts a job to restore a centuries-old mariner's compass quilt, she never expects to stumble across the story of the quilt. nor does she expect to find love or discover the secrets of her past!


too blessed to be stressed cookbook: a busy woman's guide to stress-free cooking by debora m. coty is a collection of yummy recipes that have a prep time of 20 minutes or less! This is one-pan cooking at its best! I love the personal tidbits coty shares throughout the book and the clever quotes you can find on the bottom of the page. You are also going to love the bright colored pages, pictures, artwork and the "menu suggestions and grocery lists" that are included in the back of the book.  cheers for stress-free cooking, friends!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015


a note from me:
happy fall, reading friend!!!

it's the perfect season to make my apple cider caramel cookies and snickerdoodles. yum! this is one of my favorite seasons to devour books because it's the perfect time to cuddle under warm blankets propped up by lots of pillows while reading. how about you?!?

i can't wait to share my favorite reads with you this month! although i didn't get to read as many books as i normally do because of my schedule, i think you'll really enjoy my five star picks that i've reviewed for you.

i love that we share a mutual love for reading! but i want to encourage you to always stay connected to being in God's word everyday. i love the message of jeremiah 29:11... jeremiah is a prophet who is writing to the jews who are currently exiled in babylon because they have been taken captive due to their unfaithfulness to God's laws. they have been through war, death, property, crop loss and more. but, in this letter, jeremiah encourages to people to build homes, plant gardens, marry and have children while they are in exile and he tells them why in jeremiah 29:11. this is a verse that fills me with hope because i serve a God who is a covenant keeper. he promises to never leave us or abandon us (hebrews 13:5). he's "El-Roi---the God Who Sees." remember the story of hagar in the wilderness in genesis 16? he sees our pain, suffering and brokenness and intimately understands our disappointments. he has compassion for you (lamentations 3:22-23) and he cares for for you deeply (1 peter 5:7).

have a wonderful day, reading friend!!! happy reading!!!

blessings & love from my heart to yours!!!

susan, your reading mom :o)

jer. 29:11


captain for laura rose, a by stephanie grace whitson is a fascinating historical novel set in 1867 about family, riverboats and second chances. laura rose white learned everything about piloting a missouri river steamboat from her late father. her instincts are spot on and her courage unwavering, but unfortunately, a female riverboat captain is unheard of so getting an opportunity to pilot her boat is nearly impossible. i love that laura is spunky and fearless in the face of danger! stephanie uses her magic to weave a riveting story about one woman's courage and determination to overcome the odds in the face of loss, danger and deadlines! i love how she's added the rest of the story in the "afterword" page at the end of the story. you'll get to follow marriages, careers, etc. of the characters making you forget this is a work of fiction!

cold as ice by m.k. gilroy is "a kristen conner mystery" which is packed with danger, murder, hit men and intrigue! confession: i am quickly becoming addicted to anything m.k. gilroy!!! although, i'm not a fan of danger, suspense or murder, his stories are so intense and fascinating that i forget i prefer cozy mysteries and chick lit!!! i love detective kristen conner. she's authentic in her faith, involved in an intriguing romantic relationship (that she nearly blows) and fiercely protective of her family. check this one out because you don't want to miss the opportunity to accelerate your heart rate!!!

daughter of jerusalem by joan wolf is simply a brilliant read!!! this is the story of mary magdalene---a woman often misunderstood and overlooked. wolf does a wonderful job weaving in history, culture & tradition, fascinating characters and faith in this fictional story of mary's life. 

daughter of the regiment by stephanie grace whitson takes place during the american civil war. stephanie artfully draws her readers into the world of maggie malone, an irish immigrant and her privileged neighbor, elizabeth blair. maggie's world is turned upside down when her brothers enlist and elizabeth's world is turned upside down when her brother turns their home into the headquarters for the regiment. this is a story inspired by women known as "vivandieeres" or "daughters of the regiment." they tended the wounded, mended uniforms, helped in battles, boosted the morale of their men, etc. again, you'll find the rest of the story where you get to find out who married whom, where they lived, what they did, etc. in the "afterword" page after the story ends. it makes you forget these are fictional characters and it gives you satisfactory closure!

endless christmas, an by cynthia ruchti was one of my favorite reads! i really love her writing style and interesting characters (gotta love paul!!!) that have smart and funny dialogue! it starts out with an awkward scenario that is every girl's nightmare (i'm totally not going to tell you or i will spoil it!!!)! kudos to ruchti for making this story so believable that i felt the pain of being embarrassed and uncomfortable for katie vale! i love the binder family---i wish they were real (and in my life!!!) and the town of stillwater is absolutely charming! another one of my favorite scenes is the reenactment of the christmas story according to the angels---super clever and incredibly hilarious!!! definitely a five stars read :o)

mercy's rain by cindy k. sproles has been one of my favorite reads ever!!! this story takes you into the appalachian community and the experiences of mercy and her mother will just rip your heart out. you are totally going to need a box of kleenexes next to you because there it's impossible to get through mercy's story without bawling like a baby! mercy is spunky, courageous, compassionate and flat out angry. and she has a right to be. it will take the love of a family and some friends to show her the true meaning of her name... mercy.

promise to keep by elizabeth baler younts is the final book in her series, the promise of sunrise. i find it fascinating that younts has an amish background which is why she can take her readers inside the amish community and give an authentic point of view from her experiences as well as her experiences as the wife of an military officer. 

esther detweiler has lost nearly everyone important to her---her father, her mother, her shunned cousin and now her dear grandmother. at her grandmother's funeral, she gets the shock of her life. everything in esther's orderly world begins to spin out out of control and only God's love and forgiveness can bring true healing.

rust by corbin bernsen is his debut novel that's an adaptation of his 2010 film, rust. this is a heartwarming story of one man's struggle with his faith, family and community. when a fire takes out an entire family in their farmhouse, james moore, former pastor, is determined to find the truth. in the process, the truth brings healing to james, his family and his community.

sea keeper's daughters by lisa wingate was the kind of book i couldn't put down!!! it's about faith, complicated family relationships (who can't relate, right?!?), deception and love, of course! what's not to love?!? you'll be taken on a journey from modern-day roanoke island to north carolina's outer banks to north carolina's blue ridge mountains and back. meet whitney monroe who happens to stumble across some old letters of a possible relative while she's sorting through things that belonged to her mother and her grandmother. she's desperate for cash to keep her business afloat and while searching for things with a high cash value to sell, she finds something far more valuable. this is the kind of thing i wish would happen to me!!! you'll find some history, intrigue and mystery here.

sweet sanctuary by kim vogel sawyer is a sweet love story set during world war II. i love how kim takes us back to a time in history where patriotism in america is at its height while overseas, hitler is beginning his reign of terror and annihilation of the jewish people. this is a story of faith, hope and answered prayers while we watch each of the main characters live out their calling during turbulent times. and when their paths cross in the midst of difficult circumstances, hope and love have a place to grow. 


stand: staying balanced with answers for real teen life by shannon perry is a reflection of conversations she had with ten teen girls every week for two months. the result is a book that deals with the topics of gender identity, cutting, suicide, etc. as well as everyday topics teen girls face today. i love that scripture is woven throughout this book---you'll find even more under "appendix a."

family-friendly resources

owlegories vol. 1 - the sun, the seed, and the water dvd is a brand new video series that your children will love! and speaking of love... i love how each lesson features something about nature that teaches children about the characteristics of God's character and important truths from his word. i found each episode very child-friendly and charming. my favorite owls are violet and nora (i love how her glasses coordinate with her hair bows!!!)---these little owls are adorable!!! to find out more about owlegories, visit

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


a note from me:
hello, dear reading friend!

welcome to my new home! summer is always a good time for me to evaluate matters regarding my blog and book reviews. after having numerous and frequent issues with spacing and uniformity, i’ve decided it’s time to do the “out with the old and in with the new” routine. i will not be posting anything else on, but you can still find my archived newsletters of reviews there.
i hope you like my new home as much as i do! i would love to know what you think!  
please refrain from using inappropriate or abusive language here. thank you! if you prefer to email me, then feel free to reach me at
jeremiah 29:11 continues to be my favorite bible verse. if you haven’t discovered it yet, check it out! 

read it. embrace it. share it.

blessings & happy reading!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11-14a

bones will speak, the by carrie stuart parks is a gwen marcey suspense novel which will have you on the edge of your seat! gwen marcey is a forensic artist (author carrie stuart parks is an internationally known forensic artist), a dog lover and a protective mother trying to build back her life after her marriage crumbles. when her dog winston brings home a human skull, gwen unintentionally finds herself in the middle of a serial killer investigation that is chillingly creepy. this story portrays forensics and faith and good vs. evil. i’m a fan of shows like csi, bones, body of proof, etc. so i like trying to guess the bad guys. but i was totally stumped and shocked when i got to the end (i was super freaked by that point!)! gwen marcey is amazing---i love that she figures out an important clue to her survival! great story that will have you glued to its pages until the very end. i’m a fan!!!
breath of dawn, the by kristen heitzmann is a suspenseful story that guarantees to keep you on the edge of your seat! quinn is focused on the future while building a prosperous business. but the secrets from her past will catch up with her and end her future if she doesn’t get some professional help. enter morgan spencer. action, evil forces and dangerous mind games are at play and morgan must do everything to save quinn before it’s too late!
hope harbor by irene hannon is a contemporary inspiring story woven with the themes of faith, forgiveness and second chances. set in hope harbor, a charming tourist town on the oregon coast, you will find that the town and its inhabitants will find a place in your heart. michael hunter is visiting from chicago. he’s struggling with guilt and the loss of his wife and so he visits this town that his wife loved in hopes of finding some peace. tracy campbell loves her three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up, but the economy is wreaking havoc on their profits and tracy fears her uncle and his wife may lose everything. anna williams is harboring a secret and a life-long load of regret. charley lopez mans a food truck selling out-of-this-world tacos and seems to have a pulse on everything going on without asking questions or passing judgment. can hope harbor live up to its name? you’re going to love this one!

in good company by jen murano is a laugh-out-loud kind of book set in the 1880’s! millie longfellow is a one-of-a-kind nanny. unfortunately, her unconventional methods have not been appreciated by her employers. after being let go from her recent job, millie finds herself in a desperate position and finds herself responsible for three young charges who have scared away every nanny that’s been hired. i love this story---it’s hilarious as millie misuses words she’s been learning from the dictionary and her unconventional methods will make you smile!

love’s rescue by christine johnson begins a new series, keys of promise which are all set in the florida keys. book one is set in the 1800s where a terrible accident leaves elizabeth benjamin living with guilt and regret. sent off by her father to secure a good match in charleston, elizabeth longs to be home. none of the suitors find a place in her heart because elizabeth knows her heart belongs to someone her father views as little more than a pirate. by the way, you’re going to love how loyal elizabeth is to her maid anabelle. their friendship is unique and as they mature, their bond means extreme sacrifices will need to be made. forbidden love, adventure at sea, family secrets and more are found in these pages for your reading pleasure!

midwife’s tale, the by delia parr is the first book in her series, at home in trinity set in pennsylvania in 1830. martha cade is a widow with two grown children---her son is far away but her daughter stays with her and helps in her uncle and aunt’s tavern. martha has mastered the art of being tactful, has conviction and a heart for others. she comes from a long line of midwives and she dreams of the day when her daughter will follow in her footsteps. when victoria (her daughter) runs away with a theater troupe while she’s assisting in a birth, martha’s hopes and dreams are shattered. you can feel her pain and agony as she searches for her daughter only to come home empty. what i love about martha is the journal she keeps for her daughter as she processes her pain. she comes to the realization that her dreams may not be her daughter’s dreams and she’s willing to do whatever it takes as long as her daughter returns home. i can’t wait to review book 2 to see what happens next!

mist of midnight by sandra byrd (daughters of hampshire series) is a captivating read! rebecca ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries in India, returns to her family estate in england after her family dies in the indian mutiny. upon her arrival, she is shocked to discover that someone has been posing as her for several months before her mysterious death. now, rebecca must prove that she is the real rebecca ravenshaw and the other one was an imposter. sandra skillfully weaves mystery, suspicious lights at night, betrayal and greed into her gothic mystery romance. this is definitely one of my favorite reads this month!

not by sight by kate breslin is a historical novel set in 1917 england where the relationship between the wealthy and the people who serve them are typically nonexistent. but grace mabry is different and her lady’s maid is a friend and keeper of her secrets. when a chain of events cause grace and her maid to leave the city to help with war efforts on a farm, she never realizes her actions are being monitored. there are spies, a man with a mask and other mysterious encounters in this intriguing story! i loved it!

now & forever by mary connealy is book two in the series, wild at heart (the follow-up to tried and true) where you’ll find faith, adventure, danger and romance with the wilde sisters! in this one, it’s all about shannon wilde, the middle sister---she loves her animals and is raising sheep for their wool on her own homestead. but someone wants her land and will stop at nothing to get to it. but I don’t want to spoil it for you, so let me give you a sneak peak at how the story begins… the opening scene begins with a series of events involving a grizzly bear, a man desperately trying to escape it and shannon diving off a cliff and plunging into slaughter river, a river no one has ever survived before. this story is set in dakota territory in 1866 and you’ll love connealy’s character’s and their witty dialogue and sense of humor!

potter’s lady, the: refined by love by judith miller is a fascinating look inside the craft of pottery making, design and manufacturing in america. rose mckay is determined to help her brother make his pottery business investment successful; however, mckay pottery is losing bids to their rival, the harkness company and rylan campbell, a mckay pottery employee suspects sabotage. you’ll find faith, love and some mystery in this historical fiction novel.

whenever you come around by robin lee hatcher is the second book in the kings meadow romance series. charity anderson returns to her childhood home in kings meadow while waiting for her own house to be finished with all its rennovations. as a successful author, charity has celebrity status in the town she’s grown up in but she seldom returns home to visit her parents there. charity is harboring a secret that will break your heart, reading friend. but thankfully, a former high school classmate who is currently residing next door to her parent’s home is determined to break through her walls… if charity will let him in. robin’s characters come off the pages and make themselves at home in your heart!

worthy pursuit, a by karen witemeyer has some of the funniest comedic moments and dialogue! charlotte atherton is hiding and guilty of kidnapping his employer’s granddaughter and retriever, stone hammond is determined to track her down. what he discovers instead changes his mission and neither are aware of the dangers before them as one unscrupulous man will do anything to get what he wants. you’ll find faith, adventure and a bit of romance!

youth fiction

mystery rider by miralee ferrell is the third book of the horses and friends series. while brainstorming about the upcoming parade, thirteen-year old kate and her friends see a hooded rider on a black horse that they don’t recognize. but when they go out to befriend the rider, the rider takes off on the horse. after this happens several times, kate and her friends are determined to uncover the mystery no matter what. meanwhile, kate struggles to be friends with snooty melissa tolbert who boards her horse at the ferris family stable. what i like about this story is that kate later realizes that melissa’s cutting remarks were probably an attempt to cover up her own fears and pain. this is a great story about friendship, adventure and faith in action!


sync or swim: a fable about workplace communication and coming together in a crisis by gary chapman, paul white and harold myra is innovative, creative and fun to read! allow me introduce these authors to you… you probably recognize the name, gary chapman, #1 new york times bestselling author of the 5 love languages. paul white, ph.d is a licensed psychologist who consults with successful businesses and high net worth families dealing with relational issues, business and financial wealth. harold myra was the ceo of christianity today international for 32 years. he’s an author holding honorary doctorates and recipient of various prestigious awards.

this fable is a powerful way to communicate the value of appreciation. i love the insight and practical techniques they offer to help your team feel valued which will “enhance their productivity and increase teamwork.” this compact book is a creative way to impart the wisdom of authentic appreciation through the animal characters in this fable (i’m a fan of the old puffin mentor, olympia!). don’t miss the end of the book sections on “a leaders’ insights,” “questions for reflection and discussion” and the fable’s core principals.”

family-friendly resources

thank you, God, for kittens and thank you, God, for puppies by mary manz simon are the perfect read for the animal lover (ages 2 to 5) in your family! mary understands what children love about their pets and she creatively incorporates their love on each page of this adorable board book through the age-appropriate rhyming text and sweet illustrations. each of these books will be a favorite among your little ones reminding them to thank God for the blessing of pets in their life! thanks, mary!