Monday, January 30, 2012

The Jerk Magnet by Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson does it again. The Jerk Magnet is her latest book geared towards teen girls and this one is by far my favorite of her YA books. Chelsea Martin is your average wallflower. She is geeky and awkward and prefers to stay in the background where she'll blend in. The only thing she really craves is a true friend but no one seems to want to be around her because she is so plain. Enter her widowed father's new fiance, Kate. Kate sees beyond the plain and at the end of Chelsea's sophomore year, right before Chelsea and her dad move to San Jose, gives Chelsea a complete makeover, hair to pedicure. Chelsea has gone from slumming to stunning overnight and Kate even provides confidence lessons. Chelsea embraces her new look and meets a few jerks along the way. Will she find what she craves, a true friend, or will her new "hot girl look" scare people away?

Melody always delivers a strong novel with a positive message. She writes truth and includes a gospel message without coming across as preachy. This is an author that you can feel confident about sharing with your favorite teen girls. I know I plan to pass this copy that I received from the Baker Publishing House (for review purposes only) on to one of my favorite girls.

Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
This book was provided for review by Revell.

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot isn't the worst historical fiction novel I've read. It isn't the best either. This book took me a while to get into, it wasn't until the third or fourth chapter that I began to get interested, the characters didn't cause me to connect with them until then.

Abigail Harding goes west from her teaching job in Vermont to the untamed Wyoming wilderness to see her sister Charlotte, who she is convinced needs her. We are never told why or how she knows this, she just does. When she's almost at the Fort where Charlotte lives, her stagecoach is about to be held up by some armed bandits but their plan is foiled due to the unexpected appearance of Lieutenant Ethan Bowles who wasn't supposed to be on the coach.

Much of this story seemed predictable to me. Sure, Abigail is almost engaged to a man back at home. Yes, Ethan is a self-proclaimed life long bachelor. Yes, we know that the robberies are an inside job. The only thing I didn't find predictable was the way the bad guys were rounded up in the end. I normally don't mention endings in a review but this one was just so far fetched that it made me laugh.

If you're looking for a book that will help you pass some time then this might be the one for you. If you want something that will keep you guessing until the very end then pass on this one.

About the book:

Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. When her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day.

Abigail plans to marry when she returns to Vermont, just as soon as she attends to her sister. As the summer passes, she finds herself drawn to this rugged land and to a certain soldier determined to persuade her to stay. When summer ends, will she go back East, or will she find her heart's true home?

This book is available beginning January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey

This book took me a while to get into. Until about page 150 I wasn't interested in the story at all. I sorta knew which direction the book was going (I must be reading too many of the same types of stories lately) and I found it to be predictable and somewhat boring. There weren't any surprises and it wasn't until almost a quarter of the way through the book that I realized the main character was infatuated with one man in particular and had been for years, even though he didn't seem to know she was alive. At about the same time I realized that she was also looking to go west to Oregon to start a new life. The scenario wasn't laid out very well.

About the book:
The Civil War stole a father and brother from Faith Lindberg--as well as Royal Baxter, the man she wanted to marry. With only her grandfather left, she dreams of leaving Noble Springs, Missouri, and traveling west to Oregon to start a new life, away from the memories that haunt her. But first she must convince her father to sell the family's mercantile and leave a town their family has called home for generations.

When Royal Baxter suddenly returns, Faith allows herself to hope that she and Royal will finally wed. But does he truly love her? Or will another man claim her heart?

Grab this button for your blog! Just copy the code in the box below.

<a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" alt="Enter the MERCANTILE MEMORIES Giveaway!" src=""/></a>

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen

Small Space Organizing by Kathryn Bechen is perfect for people who are downsizing into smaller homes, small apartment or dorm living or anyone doesn't have enough space for all of their stuff. This little book is packed full of amazing ideas that will take your small space from cramped to spectacular. Some of the information included is priceless!

I don't know why I never thought of it but this book was worth reading for me just so I would learn how to organize all of my Tupperware lids. Every. Single. Time. I opened my pantry door lids would fall all over the place, sometimes on my head. The solution was brilliant and oh so simple.

Kathryn has a solution for every space in your home. Office, bedrooms, closets, everything! I'm going to go through this book again with a highlighter so I will remember all of the ideas.

About the Book:

In Small Space Organizing: A Room-by-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space , Bechen compiles 20 years of real life organizational tips and tricks. This book will help anyone transform cramped space into a perfectly petite living space as Bechen goes room-by-room giving design and organizational advice as well as taking on the extremely small spaces of studio and basement apartments, loft and high-rise spaces and even tips for RV living.

“A true home is really about the size of your heart, not about the size of your space,” says Bechen. She encourages readers to embrace living in a small space and assures them that even the most teeny-tiny space can be transformed into a welcoming environment to maximize the space – and more importantly, maximize living. Bechen tells clients to “always remember that it’s far more important to have a spirit of hospitality and friendship as the emphasis of your home, rather than neglecting to invite others to visit you there just because you lack large rooms or expensive furniture.”

After reading Small Space Organizing readers will be able to:

- Create a non-traditional entryway space

- Find a creative space for a home office

- Craft a spa atmosphere in a teeny-tiny bathroom

- Design a nursery space to nurture a newborn

- Find storage space that’s hiding in their kitchen

- Downsize their living space successfully

Small Space Organizing will help readers at every stage of life create an inviting home and maximize living. Everyone from the newlyweds struggling to fit all their wedding presents into a small apartment to empty-nesters with years-worth of sentimental possessions moving to a smaller home can benefit from Bechen’s expert advice.

For the reluctant downsizer faced with the daunting task of moving into a smaller living space, Bechen offers encouragement and practical tips for the emotional process. “It’s normal to go through an array of emotions during your downsizing process,” says Bechen. “It helps to get through it by keeping your mind’s eye focused on the end results of a lovely new right-sized home, decorated in a style you love, in a neighborhood that’s just right for you at this new stage of your life.”

About the author:

Kathryn Bechen is an award-winning professional writer whose articles have appeared in popular national and regional magazines and newspapers. She specializes in lifestyle feature articles and has also published several organizing and decorating e-books. The lifestyle companies she founded, Organized with Ease and Kathryn Bechen Designs, have served clients worldwide. Bechen has organized and decorated 13 personal small space residences together with her husband Steve. They currently live in their favorite small space ever: a 1,200-square-foot high-rise apartment in beautiful San Diego, California. She blogs about timely lifestyle topics at

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books for everyday life. For more information, visit

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper

I wanted to love this book. Her Amhearst Mystery series featuring Merry Kramer is one of my all time favorites. This, however, was a disappointment for me. Carrie ran away at a young age, taking her little sister with her, to escape a dangerous home life, the young girls ended up in Seaside, New Jersey where they built a new life for themselves and now Carrie owns her own restaurant, Carrie's Cafe, where her sister Lindsay works in the kitchen. Life is good for the people here in this little tourist town. Until a drug dealer makes his presence known, two escapee's from a cult are hunted down by the cult leader (one murdered), Carrie's mom reappears magically into her life, completely changed, and other odd coincidences occur. This book was predictable and unbelievable. There were so many exclamation marks that I found it hard to read and the dialogue was unrealistic at times. It took me several chapters to get into the book and then I had to stop from chapter to chapter to figure out who was telling the story because it was told from so many different characters points of view. I never connected with the characters and honestly couldn't wait until the story ended. The tweeters and facebookers were seen more like annoying paparazzi than regular people.
I really found it unbelievable that Carrie, a restaurant owner, would be squeamish about putting a piece of squid onto a fish hook so she could go fishing with the man she likes. Wouldn't a restaurant owner be used to handling raw meat? That just didn't make sense.
Like I said, I wanted to love this book as much as I'd enjoyed the ones that I've read by this author before but it just didn't do it for me.

About the book:
She serves him breakfast at her cafe every morning … but he never seems to notice her.

Carrie Carter’s small cafe in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Search Committee by Tim Owens

While I enjoyed first time novelist Tim Owens' The Search Committee there were times that I felt it veered of course and left me wondering why so much background information on the various characters was included. This novel, most of the time, had me cracking up. So subtly funny, this author has a great sense of humor that most people probably don't get (don't let that bother you, Mr Owens, I understand because people often don't quite get me either). The line about Walmart about did me in because it's so true.

Travel with this cast of everyday characters as they go in search of the perfect pastor for their church. I enjoyed their reactions at different situations and probably more so than the average church-goer would due to this year marking twenty years in full time ministry, it gives you a different outlook.

Travis is the main character and he wobbles between checking out the single cutie on the trip and guilt over his loving wife at home. The other characters get their chance to be known as well, but Travis was my favorite.

If you're looking for a different kind of novel to read then this is it. It's interesting, funny and sadly accurate.

Thanks, Tim, for this CLEAN READ.

This book was provided for review by Tyndale and releases later this month. You can purchased it here.

Learn more about Tim Owens here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Date by Krista McGee

First Date by Krista McGee is a fun book for your teen readers, it's about an average Christian girl named Addy who is chosen to be one of one hundred girls nation wide to appear on a reality television show and win a date to the prom of Jonothon Jackson, son of the president of the United States.

Addy reluctantly agrees to appear on the show and finds out what happens when God goes with her. This was an easy book to read and at times a little true to life when Addy is faced with mean girls, but her actions and reactions are worth learning from. The only thing I didn't like is how it became really preachy towards the end. I understand what the author was doing, just think it could have been done a little differently.

You can purchase this book here.
And watch for Starring Me, the second in the series where Addy's friend Kara stars on her own show. Can't wait!

Thanks, Krista, for this clean read!

This book was provided for review by Booksneeze.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter

New from Thomas Nelson is Denise Hunter's The Accidental Bride. This is the second in her Big Sky Romance series, but it is a stand alone novel like her others. This novel releases today so you should brave the weather (if you're in the North East like me) and run out and get it, or download it for your Kindle.

Shay Brandenberger worries far too much about what the town people of Moose Creek, Montana think about her. She thinks they haven't forgotten how she was left at the altar fourteen years ago and how her marriage to another man after that ended in a bitter divorce. She knows they're talking about her and when she dares to venture from her ranch and go into town for groceries she can feel their stares. She's learned to put up walls and keep people out, except for her twelve year old daughter (the only good thing to come from her marriage).

The Moose Creek annual founders day festival is coming up and Shay reluctantly agrees to play the part of the bride for the wedding that's reenacted each year. It isn't until she's walking down the aisle that she realizes the groom is Travis, the man who left her at the altar all those years ago. The reenactment, in a strange twist of fate, becomes a legal marriage and Shay must face Travis whether she likes it or not. She must learn to forget what she thinks others think about her and live her life seeking approval only from the one who made her.

Denise Hunter again delivers a book that will leave you breathless as she not only points the reader to the lover of our souls, but gives a glimpse of true romantic love. A delightfully clean read.

This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group.

Purchase it here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt

I have been waiting for this book for years. Literally years. First found out about it several years ago and have been hunting for it (no pun intended) ever since only to find out that it was shelved and could possibly come out as an ebook. It finally did. And I am proud to tell you that it was the first one I downloaded and read on my new Kindle.

I love a book by Diann Hunt, mostly because I love to laugh and I imagine that she is a laugher just like I am. Her books crack me up. In this novel we meet Carly Westlake, a spa owner. Not just any spa, this lady runs a chocolate themed spa. I know, "where is it and how can I get there?" Right? Carly has been burned by love, by a husband who left her in her time of need, during a bout with breast cancer. Now her view of herself as a woman is warped (as most womens views are) and she doubts she'll ever find love again unless she loses the twenty-five extra pounds she's carrying and has reconstructive surgery to replace her missing breast. I know, you're wondering why on earth I laughed during this story, but trust me, this author is funny!

If you are the owner of an e-reader and you're looking for a new book to purchase & download then I suggest Bittersweet Surrender. It's only available in ebook format and is new today!

You can purchase it here.

This book was provided for review by Booksneeze.

2012 Reading List

 Reading list for 2012. Links go to Amazon. Books in BOLD are favorites.


1. Bittersweet Surrender by Diann Hunt (Kindle)
2. The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter
3. First Date by Krista McGee (Kindle)
4. The Search Committee by Tim Owens
5. Something I Can Never Have (novella) by Travis Thrasher (Kindle)
6. Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot
7. Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper (Kindle)
8. Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry (Kindle)
9. Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey
10. The Big 5-Oh! by Sandra Bricker (Kindle)
11. Missing Mabel by Nancy Mehl
12. The Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23 Murders #1) by Debbie Viguie (Kindle)
13. Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry
14. Burn by Ted Dekker & Erin Heal
15. Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry MD (Kindle)
16. Miss Match by Erynn Mangum

17. Rematch by Erynn Mangum
18. Match Point by Erynn Mangum
19. I Shall Not Want (Psalm 23 Murders #2) by Debbie Viguie (Kindle)
20. Medical Error by Richard Mabry MD (Kindle)
21. Letters to Heaven by Calvin Miller
22. Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble
23. The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin (Kindle)
24. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
25. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
26. Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra Bricker (Kindle)
27. Still Growing by Kirk Cameron
28. Lady of Milkweed Manner by Julie Klassen
29. More Beauty Less Beast by Debora Coty

30. Walking on Broken Glass by Christa Allen (Kindle)
31. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
32. Code Blue by Richard Mabry (Kindle)
33. Chop Chop by L.N. Cronk (Kindle)
34. Composing Amelia by Alison Strobel
35. Lie For Me by Karen Young
36. River's Call by Melody Carlson
37. Bridge to a Distant Star by Carolyn Williford
38. Lie Down in Green Pastures by Debbie Viguie (Kindle)
39. The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
40. Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings (Kindle)
41. Need You Now by Beth Wiseman
42. Stand by Me by Neta Jackson (Kindle)

43. The Secret Life of a Fool by Andrew Palau
44. Sweet Baklava by Debby Mayne (Kindle)
45. Titanic Affair by Amanda Grange (Kindle)
46. I Blame Eve by Susanna Foth Aughtmon
47. The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler (Kindle)
48. Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt
49. Finding Our Way Home by Charlene Ann Baumbich
50. Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman (Kindle)
51. Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke
52. Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert
53. Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock
54. The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport
55. Downfall by Terri Blackstock

56. Temptation by Travis Thrasher
57. Cut, Crop & Die by Joanna Campbell Slan (Kindle)
58. The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad
59. Always the Baker, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker (Kindle)
60. Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins
61. Always the Designer, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker (Kindle)
62. The Best Friend by Melody Carlson
63. After All by Deborah Raney
64. The Messenger by Siri Mitchell  (Kindle)
65. Nobody by Creston Mapes (Kindle)
66. Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

67. Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt
68. Coming Home by Stacy Hawkins Adams
69. The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, MD
70. Treasures of Healthy Living by Annette Reeder and Dr Richard Couey
71. Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson
72. The Anniversary Waltz by Darrel Nelson
73. Praying God's Word for Your Husband by Kathi Lipp
74. Missing Max by Karen Young
75.  Plain Fear Forsaken by Leanna Ellis
76. The Director's Cut by Janice Thompson
77. Starring Me by Krista McGee
78. Facelift by Leanna Ellis

79. Death of the Couch Potato's Wife by Christy Barrett (Kindle)
80. Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble (Kindle)
81. My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon
82. God Loves Broken People by Sheila Walsh
83. Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum (Kindle)
84. Perfectly Ridiculous by Kristin Billerbeck
85. Dangerous Mercy by Kathy Herman
86. Travelers Rest by Ann Tatlock
87. Chasing Sunsets by Eva Marie Everson (Kindle)
88. The Mother Road by Jennifer Allee (Kindle)
89. Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad (Kindle)
90. Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

91. Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
92. Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt
93. The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck
94. Inescapable by Nancy Mehl
95. The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner
96. Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman
97. Simple Secrets by Nancy Mehl
98. House of Mercy by Erin Healy
99. Blood Bayou by Karen Young

100. Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund
101. Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert
102. Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
103. Heiress by Susan May Warren (Kindle)
104. Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire
105. Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin
106. While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

107. Song of the Brokenhearted by Sheila Walsh & Cindy Coloma
108. The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter
109. Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate
110. The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson
111. The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt
112. Breaking Up is Hard To Do by Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt
113. A Little Help From My Friends by Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt
114. Love Will Keep us Together by Anne Dayton & May Vanderbilt
115. Candle in the Darkness by Lynn Austin
116. Placebo by Steven James
117. Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot
118. A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

119. Nowhere But Up by Patti Mallette with A.J. Gregory
120. The Chase by DiAnn Mills
121. At Every Turn by Anne Mateer
122. The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones
123. The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser
124. Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth
125. A Wedding Blunder in the Black Hills by Kim O'Brien
126. Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark

127. All Things New by Lynn Austin
128. The Choice by Robert Whitlow
129. Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee
130. Debt-Proof Your Christmas by Mary Hunt
131. Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher
132. Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
133. Vanished by Irene Hannon
134. Come to the Table by Neta Jackson
135. Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd (Kindle)
136. A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick