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, 

jer. 29:11


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.


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 i can't wait to hear from you!!!

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

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


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!!!

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

your reading mom,

jer. 29:11


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.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

march - april 2016

a note from me:
happy spring, dear reading friend!!!

spring can be a bit unpredicable here. it snowed in march and in april and there have been pockets of warm weather and heavy rains in between!

as i watch the trees in the neighborhood begin to bud and turn green, i'm reminded that growth is a vital part of every living thing. when it comes to my faith, i am challenged to stretch in ways that will make me grow closer to my savior. part of that challenge means spending more time in his word and really reading familiar passages with fresh eyes. i want to read the bible before i read anything else in my day and when i succeed, my day goes so much better!

i'm excited about the fiction and non-fiction books i've been able to review for you these last two months!!! i hope you'll love them as much as i have!!!

remember you are loved. zephaniah 3:17 says, "for the Lord you God is in your midst. he is a mighty savior. he will take delight in you with gladness. with his love, he will calm all your fears. he will rejoice over you with joyful songs."

happy reading with blessings & love!!!

your reading mom,

jer. 29:11


always watching by lynette easton is book 1 in her new series, elite guardians. this fast paced thriller is about obsessive love and it is c-r-e-e-p-y! the elite guardian agency is an all-female squad with specialized skills and each one has contacts and resources to bring to the table. when they're hired to protect popular psychiatrist and radio personality wade savage, their skills and resources will be tested to the limits. it's a race against time and olivia edwards and her team must deliver before it's too late. this was a great and gripping (as in me gripping my seat!) read!

annabel lee by mike nappa is a coffey & hill novel that is suspenseful and gripping. it's one of those stories that slowly fills you with anxiety as you try to get to the end of this fast paced plot! annabel can speak several languages and everything she knows, she learned from her uncle truck.  she's frightened of her uncle's dog and now her uncle is leaving her alone with his guard dog in an underground bunker. in there, she accidentally stumbles on a diary that's hidden under the top bunk. it's a diary by a woman written in german and annabel begins to read about this unknown woman who is trying to protect her baby. in another part of town, after a visit from a mysterious client, private investigator trudi coffey is forced to contact her ex-husband. a secret message has come through and there's a race to search for something so important that some will kill to find it.

back in the saddle by ruth logan herne is a story of coming home in her new series, double s ranch book 1. colt stafford is forced to return home after trying to make it in nyc's financial industry. but being back at his father's cattle ranch provides some unexpected challenges---a distant father with a life-threatening illness, a bossy house manager with a mysterious past, relationship issues with his brothers and more! will coming home drive colt away again? and while you're pondering that question, check out the "from the kitchen of the double s ranch" section featuring angelina's (she's the house manager) cherry cake recipe at the end of the story. it sounds yummy!

bride of a distant isle: daughters of hampshire by sandra byrd was a gripping read!!! you will be captivated from the get go as you dive into this gothic mystery set in victorian england (i love that time period!). this is a story of faith, strength and trust centered on annabel ashton, a young woman at the mercy of her cousin edward who has inherited everything but is deep into financial trouble. annabel's mother has died under mysterious circumstances and when annabel begins to find things that have belonged to her deceased mother, danger increases. annabel finds herself as a pawn in the hands of her cousin and she must do everything to find someone she can trust before she disappears like her mother.

brush of wings by karen kingsbury is the third and final book of the angels walking series. mary catherine is determined to move to uganda to work at a new orphanage regardless of what her cardiologist recommends. she needs more than a new valve and mary catherine knows she can't put the love of her life through that so she keeps marcus dillinger at arms length. meanwhile, a baby is at risk and so is the mother. the team of angels walking are on a seemingly impossible mission so they do the only thing they can... pray. i have always loved every story by karen---it's why her stories are aptly termed as "life changing fiction!!!" in all of karen's stories, you will always be reminded that you are loved and that God has a plan for you!!!

close to you by kara isaac is a debut novel which fans of tolkien will appreciate. dr. allison shire has given up on love after she discovered her husband's big secret. as a tour guide for southern luxury tours, allison gets to meet a variety of tolkien fanatics because she guides tours through the famous sites featured in the lord of the rings and the hobbit movies. and that is why she can smell a fake when she meets one --- jackson gregory is a tolkien fan poser and it's up to allison to discover what he's up to. this is a charming story and after reading about new zealand, i feel inspired to travel there to see the sights for myself!!!

cold shot by dani pettrey is suspenseful and full of twist and turns! this book begins pettrey's new series called chesapeake valor and the ending leaves you with a cliff hanger!!! aarrgggh! i can't wait to review and share book 2 with you!!! griffin mccray has left a life of danger and adventure to be a park ranger at gettysburg. when a routine patrol uncovers an arm with soft tissue that doesn't belong to the remains of a civil war soldier, griffin contacts dr. finley scott. but her contacts are all professionals from his past and griffin is forced to work with the very men he's been avoiding. but that's not all. someone is clearly trying to keep the body from being identified and it will be griffin, finley and the team to discover who's behind the growing death count. if you're a fan of heart-pounding suspense and danger, then you'll definitely love this one!

flight of arrows, a by lori benton is book 2 in the pathfinders series. in this story, the consequences of one hasty act by reginald aubrey takes its toll on his son, his adopted daughter anna and on his future. this is a story which will transport you to the eighteenth century where a warrior is determined to find his son and a son who is running away from his father. the theme of forgiveness, redemption and trust are woven throughout this rich story. stone thrower's sacrifice in the end was a really riveting scene and the final event (i don't want to give it away!!!) was extremely moving!!!

flirtation walk by siri mitchell is set in 1855 and was one of my favorite books to read!!! lucinda is trying to start over after receiving word that her con-man father has passed away. now that he's gone, lucinda must find a plan for her life as she depends on the generosity off her mother's estranged family. When she meets seth, he's like a dream come true. seth westcott is at the top of his class in his military school and all his professors have high hopes for him. but a swindler has stolen everything from him and now he has to do his best to get down to the bottom of his class so he can catch the swindler and help out his sister. "the plan" is working like a dream but it may cost seth everything he's ever hoped for. i couldn't help but fall in love with buttermilk falls and the hammond family---although milly is not one of the main characters, her personality is a delight!

fool & his monet, a by sandra orchard begins a new series called, a serena jones mystery. in book one here, you will find some crazy family (you're going to love aunt martha!!!), a little bit of romance, some danger and mystery and... art. what's not to love, right?!? serena jones is part of the fbi art crime team determined to recover lost and stolen art. but for serena, it's more than a career path. serena is driven to uncover the truth about her grandfather's murder and his missing art. but will she lose the only witness who can shed some light on that mystery? you'll have to find out!

like never before by melissa tagg is book two in the walker family books series. this romantic contemporary romance is a feel good sweet story that will warm your heart! amelia bentley is spunky, witty and in search of a great story. although she's not a local, she loves the little town of maple valley as much as anyone else born there. amelia is determined to find out the secret of the town's unsolved mystery for a story she hopes will boost the number to save the maple valley news. while logan walker hopes sell the newspaper and cut his losses. you can only imagine the sparks that fly between the two of them!

magnolia duchess, the by beth white is book three in the gulf coast chronicles. fiona lanier is gutsy, daring, fiercely loyal... and in love with the enemy. her twin brother has been captured and fiona is desperate to rescue him as the war of 1812 rages across the states. fiona's love for her horses lands her in an impulsive decision to masquerade as a boy until she's discovered unfortunately! there's danger, espionage and true love in this action packed story!

miriam: a treasure of the nile novel by mess andrews brings miriam, the sister of moses to life! reading this one will take your mind onto a journey to egypt where the israelites are slaves and where the pharaoh is so powerful that he's considered a god. andrews uses historical detail and imagination which will take you into a world where you will feel the heat of the day and smell the stench of sweat while watching the judgment of God unfold before you. bravo to andrews for making miriam's story sing!

on lone star trail by amanda cabot is the final book in the texas crossroads series. gillian hodge's life as a concert pianist is over. tj benjamin has lost his bearings, his calling and his faith. neither of them were expecting to find a second chance at rainbow's end but God has a sense of humor! you'll love the beautiful description of the texas bluebonnets, carmen's cooking and the rescue of a wayward teenager!

playing the part by jen turano is flat out hilarious! lucetta plum is a rising star in nyc's world of theater but when her life is threatened, she must go into hiding. her widowed friend, the delightful abigail hart is ecstatic to hide lucetta at her grandson's estate because she sees a divine opportunity to do some matchmaking! you'll love mr. skukman, lucetta's bodyguard, tilda the lady's maid, the crazy and unexpected encounters with geoffrey, the skirt hating goat and one of my favorite scenes is between lucetta and miss dunlap on pp. 186-191!!! there's mysterious happenings going on like falling swords, walking armor, jewelry materializing in strange places like the fireplace and a kidnapping. don't miss this one!!!

red door inn, the by liz johnson is a lovely story of hope, love and second chances set in beautiful prince edward island (the home of l.m. montgomery!!!).  marie carrington's love for all things anne of green gables brings her to pei. she's broke, desperate and in need of a plan. when she meets jack sloane, a man on a mission to fulfill his wife's dream, a flutter of hope begins to unfurl in marie. but then she meets his surly tempered nephew, seth who doesn't trust her and is determined to find out her secrets. faced with uncertainty and fear, marie must decide whether she's going to run and hide or face her fears. once and for all.

rise of the beast by m.k. gilroy is book one in the patmos conspiracy series. in this first book, your characters are set up in fast paced vignettes---they're brilliant and deadly and initially, it's hard to separate the good guys from the bad guys! burke is paid to keep tabs on jonathan alexander, one of the richest men in the world. but when a missing journal is noticed, everyone's life is at stake. the plot is intriguing, suspenseful and captivating making me very excited to check out book two in this series!

sweet misfortune, a by maggie brendan is set in 1862 and is book 2 in the virtues and vices of the old west series. when rachel matthews is literally snatched away from her job as a dance hall girl, she never expects to find a respectable job with respectable options! john mcintyre is just trying to do a favor for a childhood friend and never expects to win the heart of a beautiful woman while beatrice spencer is certain that he's "the one!" one of my favorite characters in this story is definitely grams - she is as loving as she is bossy! and she always gets her way!

thin ice by irene hannon is the second book in her men of valor series. this story was suspenseful, captivating and full of adrenalin racing moments! two months ago, christy reed lost her sister to a house fire. but now she has reason to believe that her sister may be alive and she needs the help of the fbi. fbi special agent, lance mcgregor reopens the case and needs to figure out the person behind the sick mind who is tracking christy reed. will he find the connection before it's too late? i couldn't put this one down even though it was scaring me silly!!!

thousand shall fall, a: a civil war novel by andrea boeshaar is the first book in the series, shenandoah valley saga set in 1864. my favorite character is carrie ann bell --- she's spunky, loyal and feisty! carrie tries to do everything to save her family, but a fire destroys their farm and carrie is forced to work out a deal with a local inn keeper in exchange for food and lodging. when carrie learns that her sister has run away, she must do everything she can to find her. but what she finds is trouble instead when she tries to disguise herself! ultimately, this is a story of love in the midst of war between the north and the south. i can't wait to review book two which features carrie's sister, margaret jean bell and share my thoughts with you!


faith footprints with my grandchild: 52 devotions, activities, and reflections by dr. mary manz simon is an exquisite gift book-sized guided devotional for grandmothers! i love the devotional thoughts, the prayers, the mini activity suggestions to do with your grandchild and the journaling portion of this book!!! yes, as you may be able to tell, i love it all!!! it's a lovely way to journey together with your grandchild in their faith walk. you are going to love this one as much as i do---thank you, mary for this perfect resource for grandmothers!!!

fear not: devotionals for times like these by dave and neta jackson has over 200 stories of God's faithfulness to men and women all over the world who weathered the worst. i received this on wednesday night and couldn't put it down once i started it! in addition to the stories of extraordinary courage and faith, dave has written six essays on "the major eras of church expansion and the accompanying persecution to help put today's challenges in perspective." these fascinating historical accounts and modern stories really struck a chord in my heart. the writing is so heartfelt (well done, dave and neta!) that you are going to want to pick up some copies for your family and friends. when you get your copy at, don't skip over the introduction part. i felt like i was going on a journey through church history as i read this and feel every believer should take some time and read these stories of courage, sacrifice and faith.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

january - february 2016

january - february

a note from me:

hello, dear friend!!!

welcome to another new year together!!! at the beginning of january, i started trying to figure out my "word" for the year. do you do that? at first, the word grateful popped up in my head. but upon further contemplation, i finally settled on the word... reflect. as i get older, i'm realizing how time seems to be on this perpetual "fast forward" mode. i want to savor the moments and reflect on all the things i am grateful for. every day. i picked up my journal from back when i was doing ann voskamp's one thousand gifts bible study with some friends and am working on being more consistent with recording my daily gifts in the journal.

i also chose the word reflect for this year because i am more aware than ever that the only thing i can take to heaven with me are... people. so i want to make sure i am living my life intentionally by being a reflection of my Lord and Savior. i hope to use my time better and evaluate my impact on things that really matter.

i'm about to leave for a trip with my favorite daughter to australia!!! the weeks leading up to this day have been so crazy busy as you can imagine. so, i'm posting my five star reads before i fly out today and hope you love everything as much as i have!!!

the verse i have chosen for this year is from zephaniah 3:17. "for the Lord your God is living in your midst. he is a mighty Savior. he will take delight in you with gladness. with his love, he will calm all your fears. he will rejoice over you with joyful songs."

happy reading, friend!!!

blessings & love!!!

susan, your reading mom
jer. 29:11


aleppo code, the by terry brennan is the third book in the series, jerusalem prophecies. the final book in this adventure trilogy offers murder, spine-tingling suspense, narrow escapes and possibly the final key that may lead to a hidden object that has the power to destroy the world if gotten in the wrong hands. tom bohannon and his team have risked their lives to decipher the code that will lead them to the garden of eden. but who will get there first? bohannon and his team or the relentless assassins of the prophet's guard who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the secret first?

ashes to ashes: the chronicles of hugh de singleton, surgeon by mel starr is a novel set in medieval times where you'll find plenty of danger, action, intrigue and fascinating historical detail (mel starr is an authority on medieval surgery!). i love this series---it captivates my attention from the get go and it transports me to another time and place (and then i am happy to return back to reality!)!!! This is like the medieval csi or law & order!

body under the bridge, the: a father gilder mystery by paul mccusker is an incredible read!!! i think it's one of my favorite mystery whodunits ever!!! there's a centuries-old feud between two families, a rising dead body count, missing historical relics and even an ancient curse! father gilbert (he was a former scotland yard detective) never expects to uncover the secret of his anglican church in the modest town of hailsham! i'm a fan!!!

i hope you dance by beth moran is a heart-warming and moving story of a single mom's return home after leaving her family in disgrace. ruth comes from a family of champion dancers. but she harbored a secret until it tore her apart and in the end, ruth realizes that it doesn't define her. i love ruth and i firmly believe everyone needs a band of friends like lois, ana luisa, emily, ellie and rupa!!! these women are hilarious and charming!!!  this eclectic mix of women save ruth from herself and show her love even in the messiness of life. the dialogue is witty and hilarious and the cast of characters will inch their way into your heart (except for creepy dr. c!!!). what's not to love, right?!?

keeper of the stars by robin lee hatcher is the final book in the kings meadow romance series. robin does it again! this is a story that will touch your heart as you get to know the cartwright family. when penny cartwright meets the man who is the reason why her brother brad left in the first place, she is understandably furious and full of bitterness. country singer, trevor reynold has spent his life chasing fame and fortune. he aims to make it big as a country singer, but for now, he's fulfilling a promise he made to his band member.  trevor never expects to find what he's been searching for and penny never expects how healing forgiveness is. this is the perfect read while you're snuggled up under mounds of blankets because winter in kings meadow is enchanting!

peacock throne, the by lisa karon richardson is a historical romance that is full of danger, fierce storms, espionage and treasure! so, what does an earl and an orphaned young woman have in common? two murders and two distinct weapons. miss lydia garrett and the earl of danbury must team up to find a murderer. this includes solving a mystery regarding the magnificent peacock throne, finding its location and bringing it back to its rightful owner. meanwhile, the earl of danbury is under suspicion for aiding the french and miss garrett is coerced to spy on him.  miss garrett will have to figure out who she can trust and who she can confide in in this epic adventure!

prophetess, the: deborah's story by jill eileen smith is the second book in her daughters of the promised land series. smith does such an amazing job at bringing deborah from the book of judges to life! her wisdom, strength and calling are so evident as she leads the israelite's against canaan. i really love the historical detail and the themes of grace and redemption that smith weaves in her story of deborah, the prophetess. i always feel like i'm right there with her main characters!

rising darkness by nancy meal is book 3 in the finding sanctuary series. journalist sophie wittenbauer intends to find the story of a lifetime and further her career while going undercover. she just doesn't expect to run into somebody from her past. and, while searching for clues, she finds that somebody wants her out of town. trying to lose her mennonite past is challenging in the mennonite town of sanctuary, missouri and sophie knows she is finished with God. but what she uncovers along her investigation may change her life. forever.

where she belongs by johnnie alexander is the debut book of her misty willow series. i haven't read anything by alexander before but i think she just became one of my favorite authors to follow and read!!! owning her family's homestead, misty willow, is a dream come true for shelby kincaid. but there are pain and secrets associated with this run down family home. will shelby have the freedom to bring up her daughters in the home that has the sweetest memories for her or will she lose everything again? fall in love with shelby and her daughters and be reminded that we're all being pulled into a place where we all want to belong.

with this ring: a novella collection of proposals gone awry by karen witemeyer, mary connealy, regina jennings and melissa jagears is funny, historical, witty and romantic! i mean, just by the title, you can already tell that this is  a collection of stories that will make you at least smile!


the story of God bible commentary: genesis by tremper longman III begins with an introduction to the book of genesis. the wording is so easy to read and understand that you will forget you're reading a bible commentary! i really like how longman III gives you an overview from the perspective of reading in the context of the old testament, reading in the context of the new testament and reading from the perspective of the twenty-first century. what i found as i read through some of these sections and beyond is that you don't have to be a theologian or have a masters of divinity degree to understand genesis! the writing keeps you engaged and you will find yourself wanting to dig deeper into this book; in fact, as i read, i really wanted to see more hebrew words and their literal meaning!

the story of God bible commentary: romans by michael f. bird takes the every day reader into the world of paul and his letter to the romans. if i'm ever doing a study on romans, i want this commentary beside me! michael f. bird uses historical details, biblical truth and modern day stories to explain romans---i find this commentary series very engaging, relatable and captivating!

family-friendly resources

owlegories: the ant, the fruit, the butterfly is volume no. 2 in this dvd series. and, because technology is so accessible, owlegories tv can be downloaded as an app to any of your smart devices! one of the best things about owlegories is that it's ad free and safe for the entire family. of course, i love the adorable characters and the series help children learn more about God and how they can be followers of Jesus. they will learn lessons about hard work, the fruit of the spirit and more with professor owlester and his students. your little ones are going to love owlegories!!!