Category: Books

Book Review: To Tame A Cowboy

About the Book:

Brody McQuaid is a broken man, and he knows it. While his body survived the war, his soul did not. Besides loving his little niece, his only sense of purpose comes from saving the wild horses that roam South Park. Ranchers in the area have taken to killing the horses, which are competing with their cattle to feed on the open grass.

Savannah Marshall is a veterinarian on her family’s Colorado ranch. She longs to keep her father happy following the tragic death of her older brother, including marrying a man of his choosing. But days before her wedding, she gets cold feet and disappears to South Park. As she learns more about the destruction of the horses, she joins Brody in an attempt to save the wild creatures. But when Savannah’s family and the resentments of the area cattlemen catch up with them both, Brody and Savannah will have to tame their fears if they’ve any hope to let love run free.

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Colorado Cowboys series and it would help if you read the first two books before this one, though you could probably jump in here if you want to.

Stories of redemption and self discovery are always some of my favorites so I enjoyed Brody and Savannah’s story as Brody began to find a reason to live after the war and Savannah discovered more and more of her own heart and desires. (I’d recommend anyone with war/battle/prison PTSD skip this book, because though the war descriptions were carefully written they were there and the loss and trauma Brody experienced is described).

Also, I have to say that there was a lot of flaunting of propriety that I’m not sure was true to the time period, even in Colorado, and physical attraction and desire played heavily in the story, even if the author kept it PG.

Since the author ended the book with a final chapter about another character entirely, I assume there is another book to come. And I’ll likely read it too.

This series is fairly easy reading with a moderate amount of tension and a bit of happily ever after.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: In Honor’s Defense

About the Book:

Luke Davenport has been fighting all his life–for respect, for country, and for those unable to fight for themselves. But now that his Horsemen brothers are domesticated, he’s left alone to battle the wildness within. When an opportunity arises to take a job on his own, tracking down a group of rustlers, he jumps at the chance.

Damaris Baxter has mastered the art of invisibility. Plain and quiet, she hides in books and needlework, content to be overlooked. Until her brother dies suddenly, leaving her custody of her nephew. She moves to Texas to care for Nathaniel, determined to create the family for herself that she never thought she’d have and to give him the family he desperately needs.

When Nate finds himself knee-deep in trouble, Luke’s attempt to protect him leaves Damaris feeling indebted to the Horseman. But suspicions grow regarding the mysterious death of Damaris’s brother. And the more questions they ask, the more danger appears, threatening the family Luke may be unable to live without.

My Thoughts:

In this third book in the Hanger’s Horsemen series Witemeyer again draws us into a story of justice and belonging. While the Horsemen will always be brothers, life had moved on and the belonging that Luke found on the road with his brothers is now a thing of the past. In contrast, Damaris has never really been seen, never really belonged.

Both characters jump at a chance to pursue something that might bring some meaning and new direction to their lives, but they find that maybe God has something even greater in store for them then what they dreamed.

The mystery elements of this novel were well developed and the motivations of the villain were believable. The characters were engaging and the overall pace of the novel was well done. I enjoyed “In Honor’s Defense” and would recommend it.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Fyrian’s Fire

About the Book:

When Tess commits a grievous error, siege befalls her land—a siege only Tess’s magic can end.

The week of her wedding, Lady Tessamine Canyon is jilted by her betrothed, Prince Linden. Left utterly humiliated, Tess betrays a tightly guarded secret to an enemy spy—a decision that throws the Dione of Glademont into chaos. Hunted by bloodthirsty mercenaries, Tess flees into the Hinge Forest. There, with the help of a wild owl and a two-hundred-year-old bear, Tess begins to unlock the forgotten mysteries of her people.

Deep in the woods, the spirit of a long-dead dryad awaits the next thane of a fierce weapon. To Tess’s amazement, it is she who is called to master the weapon’s power and save Glademont from an impending war.

When a surprising turn of events reunites Tess with Linden—the prince who called off their engagement—Tess must swallow her pride and join forces with him. But even if Tess can rescue her people, will that be enough to forgive her treason? Armed with a fiery magic, Tess is forced to make an impossible choice, one that might seal her fate as the next thane—but forever extinguish any chance at following her heart.

My Thoughts:

First, some things you should know.

This book was listed in the category of “Christian” when I received it for review, though Amazon hasn’t labeled it as such. It is a clean book, but it is definitely not Christian in theme. They pray to the stars and the magic/mythological elements of the story do not reflect the arc of the Biblical narrative. Like C.S. Lewis, I love how fantasy can take the reader “past watchful dragons,” but this story didn’t contain any hint of that element. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the book, just that it wasn’t, as advertised, a Christian book.

Second, this book was compared to Narnia. It was nothing like Narnia except for the talking animals. Narnia is absolutely dripping with Biblical truth and the narrative arc of the series grows entirely from a gospel framework. This story has none of that foundation. Again, that’s not to say that I didn’t like the book, but the comparison is completely misleading.

Now, I will say that though the book wasn’t what it was advertised to be, I did like the book for what it was. The book was clean and the characters grew to see beyond their own understandings and self-centeredness. There were elements of loyalty, honor and self-sacrifice. If your kids are reading it I think it would be well worth having a conversation about the difference between the gospel and the world view of this novel, but as far as a good story goes I think this one is well written and engaging. I expect I’ll read the rest of the series when it comes out and see where the author takes it.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Lady of Galway Manor

About the Book:

In 1920, Annabeth De Lacy’s father is appointed landlord of Galway Parish in Ireland. Bored without all the trappings of the British Court, Annabeth convinces her father to arrange an apprenticeship for her with the Jennings family–descendants of the creator of the famed Claddagh Ring.

Stephen Jennings longs to do anything other than run his family’s jewelry shop. Having had his heart broken, he no longer believes in love and is weary of peddling the “lies” the Claddagh Ring promises.

Meanwhile, as the war for Irish independence gains strength, many locals resent the De Lacys and decide to take things into their own hands to display their displeasure. As events take a dangerous turn for Annabeth and her family, she and Stephen begin to see that perhaps the “other side” isn’t quite as barbaric and uncultured as they’d been led to believe–and that the bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty are only made stronger when put through the refiner’s fire.

Travel to the Emerald Isle for another poignant and romantic story from the enchanted pen of Jennifer Deibel.

My Thoughts:

The history of Ireland is so heartbreaking. This story brings the struggle to life reminding us that we can’t just lump everyone together and make broad statements about entire people groups. By bringing curiosity and compasion to the foreground Deibel tells a story of wounds, of love, of priorities rearranged and of hope. Beautiful and difficult the relationship between Stephen and Anna, the Irish and the English, challenges us to open our hearts and see past the hurt to the person standing right in front of us.

I received a free digital galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Enchanting the Heiress

About the Book:

Miss Harriet Hancock enjoys playing the role of eccentric heiress, using her wealth and influence to cleverly and anonymously better the lives of those in Newmarket. Though she keeps people at a distance to protect a years-old secret, when her friend pleads for help on a personal project, Harriet can’t resist. Stable hand Jonas Fitzroy would do anything for his twin sister, even if it means seeking out the woman whose meddling ways have made him wary and suspicious. The last thing he expects is for Miss Hancock to request his help in writing a book. Intent on revealing her underlying plan, Jonas agrees.

As they work together, an unexpected friendship forms. But when things don’t go according to Harriet’s plan, she’s left wondering if good intentions might not be enough. Is there a way to mend the broken pieces of her life? And will Jonas give her another chance at his heart?

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the series and I think you need to at least have read the previous book (Winning the Gentleman), about Jonas’ twin sister, to fully understand the context of this story.

Kristi Ann Hunter writes books that both entertain and challenge. I found this book both delightful and difficult. In today’s culture, as in the book, it is easy to justify a slight shifting of facts to allow someone to save face or to avoid conflict. This book explores where subtlety, manipulation and lying meet and the dangers of crossing those lines. Another aspect of the story that I found compelling was the challenge to live life rather than to just observe it. The author explored the difference between contentment and detachment as she explored Jonas’ relationship with the world. Enchanting the Heiress was a compelling and enjoyable story, but it also gave me much to consider. I’d recommend it to you.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: To Treasure an Heiress

About the Book

1906

Beth Tremayne has always been drawn to adventure. During her childhood, she fed that desire by exploring every inch of the Isles of Scilly. Now, after stumbling across an old collection of letters and a map buried on her family’s property, she’s found more adventure than she ever anticipated in the hunt for pirate treasure. But in order to discover where the clues lead, she must search alongside Lord Sheridan, a man she finds insufferable.

Sheridan has spent years pursuing whatever archaeological interests pique his imagination. And when he discovers that Beth’s search connects with one of his far-removed pirate ancestors, he can’t help getting involved. Plus, he finds her irresistible, even though she insists he stole a prized possession of hers.

As they work together following different clues and drawing closer to danger, they start to piece together a story of tragic love and piratical adventure. But which treasure will bring the greatest surprise–the one they find in each other or the one just out of their reach?

My Thoughts:

While still full of depth this book contained more humor than the other books that I have read by Roseanna White. I found it delightful.

This is the second book in the series and you will need to read The Nature of a Lady first. I loved how the first book in the series was all about finding your place by settling in and this book was about finding your place by letting your roots give you wings. Both books reflect on the power of community, connection and how we are not meant to live a self-sufficent life.

I kept turning the pages and throughly enjoyed Beth and Sheridan’s story. I recommend this book to you and am looking forward to the next book in the series. (But you’ll be glad to know that this book doesn’t end in a cliff-hanger).

I received a free digital galley of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Aging Faithfully

About the Book:

Would you like to grow in life-giving ways as you age? Do you have the courage to let go of former ways of thinking to receive God’s love and life in new ways?

As we age, we experience the loss of physical stamina, independence, and career fulfillment. Yet within each of these losses is a holy invitation to grow. God calls us to let go of our need for accomplishment and embrace the gift of fruitfulness so that we might be transformed in this final season of our lives. In Aging Faithfully, spiritual director Alice Fryling explores how to navigate the journey of retirement, lifestyle changes, and new limitations. In this season of life, we are invited to hold both grief and hope, to acknowledge ways of thinking that no longer represent who we are, and to receive peace in the midst of our fears.

We all age differently, and God calls each of us to new spiritual birth as we mature. When we embrace the aging process, we grow closer to God and experience his grace as he renews us from within. Whether you are approaching the beginning, middle, or end of your senior years, you are invited. Come and be transformed.

Aging Faithfully includes questions for group discussion and suggestions for personal meditation.

My Thoughts:

I am definitly not the demographic for this book with the target audience being in their 60s, 70s and 80s. However, with the impact of long-Covid and watching those I love in older generations age I found myself curious to see what Alice would say about aging faithfully.

With a focus on transformation there was a lot that was applicable to my own life. I find I’ve been reflecting a great deal on her question of what it looks like to let go of what we are losing.

If you are curious about how to receive the reality of aging as a gift rather than a curse, this book might be for you. Even at 48 it gave me plenty to think about.

I received a free digital galley of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Never Leave Me

About the Book:

In the last stages of a genetic disease, Ellen Creighton has decided to live out her remaining days at the estate of her longtime friend Harrison Burlington. Harrison cares deeply for Ellen, but as a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, he’s never allowed himself to get serious in a relationship. However, he’s desperately trying to save her by finding the holy water that is believed to heal any disease.

When he locates two flasks, Ellen refuses to drink one of them because she believes the holy water killed her sister and father. In an effort to convince her to take it, Harrison ingests the contents first, and when Ellen witnesses the effects, she can no longer deny the power of the substance in the bottles. Dangerous criminals are also seeking the holy water, and Ellen soon learns they will go to any lengths to get the powerful drug–including sending her back into the past to find it for them.

Bestselling and award-winning author Jody Hedlund plunges you into the swiftly flowing river of history in a race against the clock in this breathtaking, emotional second Waters of Time story.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the series, following after Come Back To Me. The premise of the series is interesting and imaginative. The pace of the book keeps you on the edge of your seat and some of the twists of the story are unexpected. I enjoyed this series and if you like time travel and intrigue then you’ll want to give these books a try.

I received a free digital galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: To Disguise the Truth

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/346Ygjd

About the Book:

When a man arrives at the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, anxious to hire them to find a missing heiress, Eunice Holbrooke realizes her past has finally caught up with her . . . and that she may no longer be able to hide under the disguise that has kept her safe for so long.

Arthur Livingston’s goal in life is to make his mark on the world as a mining industrialist, but after the man who could help him achieve his goal is murdered, Arthur feels compelled to seek justice for the family–but he’s left with more questions than answers after the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency refuses to take on his case.

Desperate to conceal her real identity and avoid the irritatingly handsome Arthur, Eunice takes on a different case that requires her to go deep undercover and entangles her in one troublesome situation after another. When other secrets come to light, Eunice has no choice but to confront her past, hopeful that it will set her free but knowing it could very well place her life–and the lives of those she loves–in jeopardy.

My Thoughts:

This series has a romping and ridiculous tone throughout, bringing you improbable, but entertaining stories. Eunice’s story is intriguing, with an unexpected past and unexpected redemption. Shining a light on the injustices of the insane asylum system of the day alongside an enlightening tale of family manipulations Turano covers a lot of ground with this novel, all the while making you smile with her trademark humor and a bit of romance. As expected, I enjoyed this novel and if you are looking for a humorous, but far from fluffy read, then I recommend the series to you.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Journey Toward Wholeness

About the Book:

Enneagram Wisdom for Stress, Balance, and Transformation

In everything from health care and politics to technology and economics, we are experiencing feelings of loss, anger, and anxiety. In the Enneagram’s wisdom, our number determines how we respond. We automatically move to another number when we’re feeling stress and to yet another when we’re feeling secure. Such moves may help us feel better temporarily but don’t last.

For those who want to dive deeper into Enneagram wisdom, expert teacher Suzanne Stabile opens the concept of three Centers of Intelligence: thinking, feeling, and doing. When we learn to manage these centers, each for its intended purpose, we open a path to reducing fear, improving relationships, growing spiritually, and finding wholeness. Drawing on the dynamic stability of the Enneagram, she explains each number’s preferred and repressed Center of Intelligence and its role in helping us move toward internal balance. Using brief focused chapters, this book provides what we need to deal with the constant change and complexity of our world to achieve lasting transformation in our lives.

suzanne stabile
Q&A with Suzanne Stabile  
How would you describe your book to a curious potential reader? Suzanne Stabile: We seem to find ourselves in a particularly tumultuous time when anger and anxiety—about politics, the environment, religion, technology, economics, and just about everything else—are pervasive and stress inducing. In The Journey Toward Wholeness I’m using Enneagram wisdom to teach strategies for managing stress, and I’m encouraging and teaching methods for balancing the three Centers of Intelligence; thinking, feeling, and doing. It is imperative that we find a way to restore appropriate ways of being in the world with people who see things the way we do, and with people who don’t.

What are some of the key themes in this book? Suzanne: In addition to learning how to manage everyday and extreme stress, there are three key themes in the book.
1. Liminality—This is the threshold between where we’ve been and where we’re going. Enneagram study and work are especially helpful in such difficult liminal times. In fact, while liminal space can be extremely challenging, it may very well be the most, maybe the only, teachable space in which we do the work to learn how to make it so. When I submitted the idea for this book to IVP, I had no idea we would have experienced the greatest time of liminality in decades by the time of its release.
2. Centers of Intelligence—It’s important to find balance within the Centers of Intelligence. Learning to use each Center for its intended purpose and recognizing how to bring up the Center that is repressed in each Enneagram number is an important theme.
3. Transformation—We tend to conflate our understanding of change and transformation. Change is when we take on something new. Transformation is when something old falls away, usually beyond our control.

How do you see this book as distinctive among other Enneagram books? Suzanne: My book is a deep dive into the Enneagram that also happens to be practical. It’s not for people new to the Enneagram. I want it to teach people how to manage their stress in healthy and productive ways, rather than falling inline with lazy, destructive behavior that is harmful and doesn’t alleviate stress in the long run. Along with that, I am teaching how to find balance in thinking, feeling, and doing. It involves bringing up the Center we least prefer and working with it consistently.

What else would you like readers to know about this book? Suzanne: This book involves more than reading. It will be work, personal work, if people are to reap its benefits. But, as I say in one of the chapters, “My grandchildren would say, ‘Grams, the juice is worth the squeeze.’”
 

My Thoughts:

At first I wasn’t sure I was going to find much in this book that I hadn’t already heard in Enneagram Journey podcasts or the Life in the Trinity seminars that I have done, but I found much that I could think over and apply to my own transformation. The second half of the book was particularly helpful for me. So I would just say that even if you have done a “deep dive” into some of these topics it might be helpful to dive a little deeper still.

I like the way the book is arranged and the way Christ is honored in the midst of the teaching. This is a book I can recommend.

I recieved a free unedited galley to read in exchange for my honest opinion.