Book Review: Keep Holding On by Melissa Tagg


Keep Holding On
by Melissa Tagg
Rating: 5/5
Book 3 of the Walker Family series
Larkspur Press – Fiction | Contemporary Romance

Best friends look out for each other. Best friends have each other’s back. Best friends know how to make each other smile or relax after a trying day. Best friends give each other a second chance?

Beckett Walker has come home to Maple Valley. He has a chance at a new career start since corporate law isn’t as fulfilling as he’d hoped. He’s come back to make things right with the law. What he doesn’t expect is to see his former best friend, Kit Danby, at his cousin’s wedding. What he doesn’t expect is to get arrested by Kit’s ex-fiancé, who is now the police chief. Will his dreams of becoming joining the JAG Corps be derailed by this mishap?

Kit is just as surprised to see Beckett as he was to see her. She’s back from Europe to see why her brother hasn’t been answering any of her calls, texts, or emails. She’s desperate to save her family’s legacy, Valley Orchard. What she finds at home is a mysterious missing brother and an orchard in disrepair. Can she convince her father not to sell her precious orchard filled with so many memories? Will her background and education in horticulture along with her hope to revitalize her grandparents’ dreams be enough to sustain her?

As Beckett starts working off his community service hours at Kit’s orchard, can they put aside the past, forgive one another and build a future together?

I was awake late into the night trying to finish this book. I finally finished it this morning! Talk about swoon-worthy. Talk about the feels! I definitely shed a few tears of joy and sadness. Melissa Tagg really knows how to craft genuine characters that the reader cares about. I’ve read the other two books in the series and am hoping for more. There’s humor and faith intricately woven throughout.

What struck me the most was the book’s message of hope and trust. I’ve been dealing with my own trust issues, but God has been faithful. I recently was accepted into medical school after having taken the MCAT five times. I’ve struggled and will struggle again, but I know God is on my side and I can trust His plan for me.

[W]hen God calls us to something, it doesn’t mean we’re never going to have setbacks. And if we go doubting his direction every time we face a challenge, we’ll end up stagnant and frustrated, tied up in knots.

Sometimes God whispers. Sometimes he shouts. He doesn’t always communicate the same way twice, and frankly, sometimes we’re going to get it wrong. But part of faith is embracing the mystery–all the while knowing that even when we’re confused, God is faithful. He’s trustworthy.

He doesn’t ask for perfect hearing or a life free of missteps, Kit. Just your trust.

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Book Review: Bathsheba by Angela Hunt

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty
by Angela Hunt
Rating: 4.5/5
Book 2 in the Dangerous Beauty series
Bethany House – Fiction | Historical Fiction

If you’ve ever been to church, you’ve probably heard about King David. He was a man after God’s own heart. He was a worshipper. He was a shepherd. He’s the one with the slingshot who killed the mighty Goliath. But who really knew him? Who really understood him?

Bathsheba is one character in the Bible who seems to be misunderstood or overlooked. She was married to Uriah, a soldier. She bathed outside, as was the custom, and David saw her and wanted her. She became pregnant and David tried to cover up his sins.

Nathan the prophet spoke the word of God even if it was not what David wanted to hear. He prophesied what would happen because of what David did with Bathsheba.

Angela Hunt cleverly and thoroughly weaves an amazing story of heartache and pain and redemption — she transports the reader into Biblical times and fills in the gaps with her imagination. Hunt is a master at historical fiction and I’m always impressed with the details that she comes up with. Although I don’t always agree with her character portrayals, Hunt is an impressive writer. The all-too-familiar story is still relevant today and Hunt drew a conclusion about David that I had never heard before. Switching the story from Bathsheba’s to Nathan’s perspectives was interesting at first, but I eventually got used to it. I would have loved some of David’s inner thoughts but that would have changed the entire story. I appreciate how true the author stays to the Biblical accounts of David’s life. I like seeing the flaws when you look up close because David was not a saint by any means. I now feel like I understand David more from reading a book from Bathsheba’s perspective.

I highly recommend this book and this author for Biblical historical fiction.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Wild Montana Skies by Susan May Warren


Wild Montana Skies
by Susan May Warren
Rating: 5/5
Book 1 of the Montana Rescue series
Revell – Fiction | Contemporary Romance

Kacey Fairing has come home to Mercy Falls, Montana, on leave from her job as a search and rescue (SAR) pilot with the military and winner of a bronze star. She is haunted by the events that led to her bronze star and hopeful that being home and working with a local SAR team for Glacier National Park will help her cope. Since her daughter is now a teenager, Kacey hopes to reconnect with her daughter and heal. What she doesn’t know is that someone has also returned to Mercy Falls.

The famous country singer, Ben King, is back home in Mercy Falls and taking care of his father who is in recovery. Years ago he left his home with a broken heart and a handful of songs about his first love, Kacey Fairing. His career is at a stand still having been betrayed by his singing partner and he is eager to get back to Nashville to stake his territory.

Due to flash flooding, Kacey is thrown back into SAR with Ben and their reunion is more than a shock. Will Kacey’s secret destroy their relationship? Can Ben find a way to reconnect with his first love and maintain his career?

I am such a huge fan of Susan May Warren. Her stories are always full of heart and great storytelling. Her characters are relatable and authentic. I was immediately caught up in the story and wanted to know more. I’m excited that this is only book one in the Montana Rescue series. I can’t wait to read more. The way that the author weaves faith into the story is sincere and organic. The author is a master of weaving a mystery thriller with romance.

I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy a good contemporary romance with some mystery.

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

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The Silent Songbird
by Melanie Dickerson
Rating: 4/5
Book 7 of Hagenheim series
Thomas Nelson – Fiction | Historical Romance

Meet Evangeline. She has the most beautiful singing voice and is privileged to be a ward and cousin of the great King Richard II, so she gets to live at Berkhamsted Castle. She would completely be satisfied with her comfortable life, right?

Unfortunately, due to her royal blood (even if she was illegitimate) she has never been free to go and do whatever she wanted. The walls of Berkhamsted always seem to be her own personal dungeon and nothing changes when she hears that King Richard II has agreed to Lord Shiveley’s marriage proposal for her. Lord Shiveley is rich, twice her age and one of the king’s trusted advisors, but Evangeline longs to fall in love just like in the poems and songs she sings.

With her impending wedding, Evangeline makes an impulsive decision to leave everything she knows and rely on the kindness of a stranger, Westley le Wyse. Though she has never lived as a peasant, she is determined that she would have more freedom to live and marry if she became a peasant. In order to disguise her identity, she tells her companion, Muriel, to say that she is mute. Her brilliant red hair and striking green eyes along with her substantial height already attract enough attention.

When the travelers reach Glynval, Evangeline learns that Westley is actually the eldest son of Lord le Wyse and not just a peasant. She is disappointed but she tries her best to fit in as a servant. Obviously, antics ensue since she’s never worked a day in her life, but Westley’s kindness to her even in the face of her inadequacies stirs her heart toward him. How can she ever tell Westley the truth about who she is without completely having him hate her? Westley feels pity and compassion toward her because he thinks she lost her voice from being abused by her master.

Will Evangeline ever be able to tell Westley the truth? Could they possibly find a way to be together despite Lord Shiveley’s frantic search for her? Is there more to what Lord Shiveley desires and can Evangeline discover this before it’s too late?

Yay! The newest installment in the Hagenheim series! I am a HUGE fan of Melanie Dickerson. What women doesn’t love a good fairytale? I didn’t even realize it was a reimagining of The Little Mermaid until the very end. This book can stand alone but Westley’s parents are from The Merchant’s Daughter so it was nice to see them again. I really liked how Evangeline grows as a character. Every girl needs to know how to defend herself and believe that she is loved for who she is. As much as I enjoyed Westley’s character, he almost seemed too good to be true – he could have had more flaws to make him more real in my opinion. This historical romance is full of romance and vivid scenery that transports the reader into medieval times. I highly recommend this series and I can’t wait to read what’s next.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Book Review: Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

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Through My Eyes
by Tim Tebow with Nathan Whitaker
Rating: 5/5
(Published 2011)
HarperCollins – Biography

Tim Tebow was almost never born. A doctor advised his pregnant mother to abort the baby, but she refused and the rest is history.

Tim grew up in a large family, homeschooled by his mother, heavily involved in sports, and raised to believe and trust in God. He had a seemingly picturesque childhood which laid the foundation for an incredibly strong man of God who always pushed himself to be the best he could be. This is his journey  of growing up and attending college at University of Florida. His many admirable accomplishments on and off the field are chronicled in a detailed account that any sports fan will enjoy.

Not being the most avid football fan, especially college football fan, I approached this book with curiosity. Having just finished reading about Olympic gold medalist platform diver, David Boudia, I was curious to see how well written this biography was. I was very impressed with the detailed writing. I felt this book was written and flowed better than David Boudia’s book. Tim’s story was quite charming to read but some of the football lingo was a bit lost on me (he tried to insert explanations but the visual learner in me was still a little confused). I’m not sure I will ever understand everything about football but you can tell that Tebow is incredibly passionate about the sport – basically lived and breathed football.

Since I’m not the biggest fan of football, why did I pick up this book to read? Actually, why did I request this book for a Christmas gift? I admire his passionate faith. As a Christian and someone who fell in love with the Philippines on a short term missions trip, I can relate to Tebow’s life in some ways. His passion to do everything for the Lord and be a good example is inspiring. He constantly pushed himself to do and be better – not for selfish gain, but in order to honor and give glory to God. How can I not admire his determination and fortitude to stand for morality and not back down when confronted? He is truly an amazing example of what God can do with someone willing to be a chosen vessel? Throughout this story, Tebow weaves in his relationship with God and is very transparent about his feelings. He shows great depth and courage and the reader can’t help but to support him on his journey. He continues to pursue his dreams and honor God in the process.

I highly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it, especially if you are a college football fan.

I also just saw that Tebow has another book coming out soon, Shaken (Amazon link), coming out in October 2016, and can’t wait to read it.

Note: As someone who is currently pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, Tebow’s story encouraged me to press on and never give up. I want to continue to honor God in everything that I do.

Book Review: No Way Up by Mary Connealy

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No Way Up
by Mary Connealy
Rating: 5/5
Book 1 of the Cimarron Legacy
Bethany House – Fiction | Historical Romance

Chance Boden is determined to continue the Cimarron legacy that his father-in-law entrusted to him all those years ago and rewrites his will to ensure that his children obey his wishes. When Chance gets injured during an avalanche, hired hand Heath Kincaid saves his life and rushes to help his boss in any way that he can. Since he is badly hurt, Chance has his new will read which says all three of his children must live and work at the Cimarron ranch for one year or else the ranch will go to their disliked cousin Mike.

While investigating the avalanche, Heath discovers that what happened was on purpose and not an accident. Heath enlists Justin, Sadie and Cole’s help to investigate what really happened and find out why strange things are happening around the ranch. Heath especially needs the beautiful Sadie’s help and soon finds himself unable to dream of life without her. Can they find out what really happened and who is behind this? Will Heath ever be good enough for the lovely Sadie?

As a huge fan of Mary Connealy and having read her prequel, The Boden Birthright, to the Cimarron Legacy series, I was excited to read this new installment. I enjoyed following the investigation of the attempted murder of Chance Boden and was definitely involved in the story so much that I didn’t want to put the book down. The dynamics of Justin, Sadie, and Cole’s relationship was very interesting and I look forward to the next books in the series.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romance with some intrigue.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Greater Than Gold by David Boudia

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Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption
by David Boudia, Tim Ellsworth
Rating: 4.5/5
Thomas Nelson – Biographies & Memoirs | Sports & Outdoors

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, David Boudia won a gold medal in the 10 meter platform diving competition which changed his life, but real change came years before after miserably failing at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

David chronicles his journey and motivations for pursuing elite diving and the internal struggles that constantly berate him. He shares story after story of his inadequacies and how he dealt (or didn’t deal) with them. He really puts the reader inside his head and heart and all that entails when it comes to competitive diving and his life outside of diving.

David Boudia tells his story of transformation and hope with a very honest voice that really spoke to me as a reader and a woman of faith. Since I don’t usually review biographies, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve missed reading them. I love to read the stories of struggle and triumph that many people can relate to. I was encouraged by his sincere words of frustration and despair. I think everyone can relate to failing at something or judging yourself only by looking at your results. Honestly, I was a bit surprised by the style of writing after only reading fiction for some time, but I loved how authentic and conversational the writing was. I came away from the book feeling encouraged and hopeful, which was a pleasant surprise. I loved the way he kept turning the conversation back to God and how he still struggles even after doing what he set out to do. The way his priorities and outlook change are so relatable and real.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to get inside the head of a transformed life that became an Olympic champion.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Side note: After following the Olympic Trials this year (2016), I was instantly intrigued by David Boudia and his story. On TV, I saw him praying with his coach and was encouraged to see a Christian athlete sharing his faith. When I was looking at books to review on NetGalley, I saw that his book was available and jumped at the chance to read about his journey. I’ve been rooting for him and Steele Johnson (they earned silver in the 10M Synchro Diving event) – Go Team USA!

Book Review: To Love a Stranger by Colleen Coble

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To Love a Stranger
by Colleen Coble
Rating: 4/5
Book 4 in the Wyoming series
Thomas Nelson – Fiction | Historical Romance

Bessie Randall has a problem. Her younger sister Lenore agreed to marry a stranger – a soldier stationed in the wild frontier – but instead of writing as herself, Lenore used her sister’s name. Afraid of what her society parents will think or do if they learn the truth, Lenore begs Bessie to go in her place and honor the marriage, since Lenore already has a beau. Lenore fears being sent to jail for forging her sister’s name and Bessie won’t let anything bad happen to her baby sister.

Bessie prays about it and arrives west to find Jasper Mendenhall, her new husband, surprised to see her. Having received a picture of his wife, Jasper was expecting a woman who looked like Lenore and was disappointed to find Bessie, a plainer woman who doesn’t seem at all like the girl he’d been writing with. He’s not sure Bessie would last as an officer’s wife on the frontier and wants to send her back to Boston. However, plans change when he has to quickly move to Fort Bowie, Arizona, and must take Bessie with him. He quickly learns that Bessie is different and might be able to adapt to life on the frontier if he gives her a chance. But will the dangers of living on the frontier be too much for Bessie and Jasper to handle? Can they learn to love a stranger?

Colleen Coble is one of my favorite authors and she captures the reader’s attention right from the start. I was seriously frustrated with Lenore’s immature actions and really felt sorry for Bessie’s predicament, but I was warmed by Bessie’s love for her sister. As you can tell, my emotions got all tore up by these sisters. I enjoyed getting to know Bessie and Jasper and how they dealt with different situations as they grew together as a couple.

Side note: I just realized that this book was a reprint and part of a series but it read well by itself. Also, I’m not quite sure why it’s included in her Wyoming series since the book mainly takes place in Arizona.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical romance.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book Review: All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

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All Summer Long: A San Francisco Romance
by Melody Carlson
Rating: 4/5
Book 2 in the Follow Your Heart Series
Revell – Fiction | Contemporary Romance

Tia D’Amico is excited to move from small town Washington to big city San Francisco in order to help her aunt as the new chef for her dinner cruise ship. When Tia discovers that her aunt has hired Leo Parker to be the captain of the old luxury yacht, she has to work at keeping her heart from exploding outside her chest when she sees her former crush from sailing camp. Her hopes are crushed when she learns that Leo’s heart is already taken. Will Tia be able to follow her dreams and steal the heart of her prince?

Melody Carlson is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors. She writes in such an easy manner and the reader just gobbles all the romance up. I always find it difficult to put her books down and like to read it all in one sitting. I really enjoyed getting to know Tia and Leo’s characters and couldn’t wait to read more. Also, all the food mentioned in the story left me salivating, so I’d read with some snacks nearby.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fun and light contemporary romance for the summer!

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.