Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Beth Moran's I Hope You Dance ~ Reviewed

I Hope You Dance
Beth Moran
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Lion Fiction (November 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 178264170X


Can dancing mend Ruth's broken heart?
Ruth Henderson has moved back in with her parents--something she swore she would never do, especially not at the age of thirty-three. But in the face of the mountain of debt left by her late partner, and the fact that her teenage daughter, Maggie, is expressing her grief through acts of delinquency, there was really only one option.
Returning to a house Ruth swore never to set foot in again is bad enough. Add to this an estranged father, whirlwind mother, and David--the boy next door who broke her heart--and it is little wonder Ruth can barely make it out of bed.
But then, reunited with her old friend Lois, Ruth is persuaded to go along to a monthly girls' night. Here she meets a bunch of incredible women and for the first time since leaving home at eighteen, Ruth begins to make some genuine friends.
She also has her first ever date--with the charming Dr. Carl Barker. However, after a disastrous dinner, and an upset Maggie still struggling with her father's death, Ruth promises her daughter she won't go out with any other men. A promise she quickly regrets when David, the boy next door, asks her to dance. . .


I loved this novel. A couple of years ago I found Making Marion inside my mailbox. It was a charming read and I loved the skill Beth Moran showed in her characterization. And to my delight I opened the mail a few weeks ago and found I Hope You Dance. Sigh. Even better than Making Marion. 

Let me sing the praises of this novel. First off, Moran writes charming yet heavy plots. A little wistfulness, a lot of humor, and a cast full of quirky characters that are realistically complicated. Secondly, Moran tackles longing and grief and faith struggles and challenges with realistic grace and shows the gossamer threaded frailty of humanity. Finally, Moran just tells a great story full of hope and realization and growth. 

Those who love British novels and charm and certainly those who eat up realistic fiction that features characters limping toward or returning to faith might want to check this one out. I love that I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, I loved it. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Blackstock's, Calvert's and Warren's Chance of Loving You ~ Reviewed

Terri Blackstock, Candace Calvert, Susan May Warren
Paperback: 425 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (May 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1496405374

An anthology by three bestselling romance authors

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock 
Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients―the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer―Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.

One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?

Chance of Loving You is made up of three different short stories by three different authors. For the Love of Money is about Julie Sheffield, a struggling fashion designer working as a waitress. Her life is suddenly thrown together with a man who tipped her half of his lottery ticket. The Recipe is about Aimee Curran, who works as a dietary assistant at a hospital, and is aspiring to win a bake off in order to fund her way through culinary school. She learns that her priorities may be a tad off when she meets the grandson of one of the hospital patients. Finally, Hook, Line and Sinker reunites Abigail Cushman with the man she's loved since she was a teenager. It seemed their paths would keep crossing and would never meet, until the campus ministry hosted a fishing contest.
I enjoyed these stories. I wondered how it would work, having three completely stories in one book, but it did work. I'm not sure I could pick a favorite, but I guess I would say I like the first story the best. The chemistry between the two characters is great, and the situation that brought them together was a make or break situation, and I really enjoyed seeing how they grew and realized things about themselves and each other.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Christine Johnson's Love's Rescue ~ Reviewed

Christine Johnson
Series: Keys of Promise (Book 1)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Revell (June 2, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800723503


When her mother dies, Elizabeth Benjamin heads home to Key West, determined to transform herself into the perfect Southern belle her parents always wished her to be. But nothing goes according to plan. Her crippled brother resents her, the servants do not obey her, and Rourke O'Malley, the dashing man she vowed to forget, refuses to relinquish his hold on her heart. Worst of all, it becomes painfully obvious that her father is not the upright man he appears to be.

As family secrets come to light, Elizabeth is faced with a difficult choice: to do her duty and abandon her dreams, or to leave her life of privilege behind to chase the man her father sees as little better than a pirate.

From the first emotional page, author Christine Johnson throws readers into a world of impossible choices, hidden desires, and heart-melting romance in the steamy south. Readers will cheer for Elizabeth and Rourke as they battle the odds and the elements to secure their future.


Love's Rescue is about a young woman named Elizabeth Benjamin. The story takes place in the mid-1800's in the Key West Area. Elizabeth grew up there with her family, but after her headstrong ways to seek the man she loved ended up crippling her brother, she was sent away to live with her aunt in Charleston to find a husband. Four years later, she still has not found a husband. After hearing that her mother died, she talks her aunt into escorting her back to Key West to be with her family, and to find the man she loves in hopes that he loves her. 

As much as I like stories in this time period, I did have a bit of a hard time getting into it, but I still enjoyed it. It was interesting to see how different parts of the story came together in ways you didn't expect. I enjoyed seeing Elizabeth's character evolve as well. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Mesu Andrews's The Pharaoh's Daughter ~ Reviewed

Mesu Andrews
Series: Treasures of the Nile
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 17, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601425996

“Fear is the most fertile ground for faith.”

 “You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile. Do you like it?” Without waiting for a reply, she pulls me into her squishy, round tummy for a hug. 

I’m trying not to cry. Pharaoh’s daughters don’t cry.

When we make our way down the tiled hall, I try to stop at ummi Kiya’s chamber. I know her spirit has flown yet I long for one more moment. Amenia pushes me past so I keep walking and don’t look back. 

Like the waters of the Nile, I will flow.
Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile. 
When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?


The Pharoah's Daughter is a fictionalized telling of the story of Moses' adopted mother. This book calls her Anippe, and tells her story, from growing up as Pharoah's daughter, and later, King Tut's sister. She is terrified of Anubis, the god of the afterlife, after seeing him take her mother and baby brother during childbirth. She is married to a man she doesn't know at age 14, and is terrified to give birth, but after finding a Hebrew child floating in a basket while her husband is away at was, she decides the gods are favoring her so she does not have to bear a child of her own. 

This book was interesting, as the author did use Biblical and historical truths for the story, but other parts were clearly made up and not scriptural. I think we have to be careful, as I said in a review for another book, that we don't let the fictionalized story replace the Biblical truth we know in our minds. As a story, this was interesting, but I just don't like liberties taken in a “Biblical” story that aren't in scripture.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Lynne Gentry's Valley of Decision ~ Reviewed

  • Valley of Decision
  • Lynne Gentry
  • Series: The Carthage Chronicles
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (September 22, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476746419


Every choice has a consequence in the explosive conclusion to the Carthage Chronicles as Lisbeth returns to third-century Carthage for a thrilling final adventure.

Thirteen years ago, Lisbeth made an impossible decision—leave third-century Carthage and her husband Cyprian behind for good. She knew it was to protect her daughter Maggie, so Lisbeth gathered the strength to move on with her life.

All these years, Lisbeth has thrown herself into her work and raising her headstrong daughter, all to live up to the promise she made to Cyprian. But Maggie is sick of being protected. In an act of teenage rebellion Maggie decides to do what her mother can’t—secretly returning to the third century on a quest to bring her father back, leaving Lisbeth no choice but to follow.

With Maggie’s surprise arrival in Carthage, chaos ensues. She finds her grandmother on trial for murder and attempts to save her, but instead the diversion sparks a riot that nearly destroys the plagued city. Only one thing will appease the wrath of the new proconsul of Carthage: the death of the instigator. 

Will Lisbeth arrive in time to save her daughter from the clutches of Rome? How can God possibly redeem such a slew of unwise decisions and deep regrets? Filled with heart-wrenching twists and riveting action, Valley of Decision brings the romantic adventure epic, The Carthage Chronicles, to an electrifying conclusion.


Lisbeth has matured over the years between visits to ancient Carthage. So much so she's forgotten her own headstrong, hungry search for her missing mother. As much as she longs to give Maggie her father, Lisbeth knows it's for the best that Maggie remain in the present. 

Taking a page from Lisbeth's book and tumbling right back into the third century Maggie discovers she's been gone mere hours their time and over a decade in hers. Maggie's hunt for her father, to save his life, results in struggles and challenges for all of those who love her. Maggie's cell phone and young adult social media mindset causes her a few mishaps. And Barek, the angry teenager she left behind wastes no time venting his frustration over his mother's death due to her carelessness. 

Illness still rages through the city and Christianity is underground. Touching scenes between characters compelled me to finish the story out. Even though there was no possible way for happily ever after, I had to find out the choices the characters would make. Stay or go? Choose life in the modern world, or risk the pestilence, diseases and brutalities of the third century? In the end it was a satisfying and thoughtful read. I definitely recommend it for the fascinating historical glimpses and the strong writing.  

Reviewed by Kelly Klepfer