Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Girl From the Train

 

GIVEAWAY

JOUBERT, IRMA
THE GIRL FROM THE TRAIN

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakob Kolwaski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakob fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl's unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakob discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can't say with him forever. Jakob sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families -- so long as Gretl's Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakob and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can over come.

My Review:

I have a certain fascination for World War II stories and I especially love it when I find one with a unique angle. The Girl From the Train is just such a book. I didn't know a lot about the political climate of Poland before reading this book -- both during the war and afterwards with the rise of Communism. And I knew absolutely nothing about the relocation of German orphans to South Africa after the war. These tumultuous events form a fascinating backdrop to this compelling story.

Gretl is a survivor --  a chameleon who makes herself over to accommodate each new situation she finds herself in. Unpacking all those layers in order to discover the real woman within makes for a fascinating read as we follow her from a frightened six-year-old to a confident young woman.

Jakob a Polish patriot with a deep love for his country, wrestles with relentless demons. One of them is the situation that brings Gretl into his care. He is both courageous and foolish in his ardent pursuit of a united homeland.

This is an emotional read and an eye-opening one. It's a story rich in hope for humanity and in the everlasting power of love.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  The Girl From the Train please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 1 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Claiming the Single Mom's Heart

GIVEAWAY

KAYE, GLYNNA
CLAIMING THE SINGLE MOM'S HEART

Sunshine Carston is looking for more than beautiful scenery when she moves with her daughter to Hunter Ridge, Arizona. She's looking for answers. According to family legend, her ancestors were cheated out of their land by the Hunter family. But when she meets Grady Hunter, Sunshine's mission is endangered -- how can she investigate the Hunters when she is falling for one? When Grady's mother becomes ill, Grady steps in to help her run against Sunshine for town council. But what will Grady say when he finds out about Sunshine's investigation? To rise above the past and forge a future together, they'll need a love stronger than any feud...

Hearts of Hunter Ridge: Finding true love in Arizona mountain country

My Review:

This is the kind of story that keeps you mildly uncomfortable (in a good way) because you are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I just wanted to sit Sunshine down and give her a good talking to. Explain how she's jeopardizing her future happiness by carrying on with her underhanded dirt digging on the Hunters. Deception never ends well and the author gave me some agonizing moments. I'm a tad hoarse from shouting warnings that fell on deaf ears.

This is the second book in the Hearts of Hunter Ridge series. Love the family interaction -- great scenes filled with teasing and laughter and sometimes angst. They are a force to be reckoned with. Grady is grounded in his roots while Sunshine is busy digging for hers. A really interesting contrast between the two. And yet they are similar in other ways -- both harboring distrust from wounded pasts -- both reluctantly attracted to the other with no hope of a future until they learn to let go and let God.

And sweet little Tessa is adorable. There are some heart-melting hero moments between Grady and Sunshine's daughter. I'm a puddle of goo just thinking about that little girl trust in the big tough outdoorsman. A blissful read for the discerning contemporary romance lover.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  Claiming the Single Mom's Heart please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 1 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Son's Vow

GIVEAWAY

GRAY, SHELLEY SHEPARD
A SON'S VOW

Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family. Darla’s father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm’s lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn’t looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger—with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother’s anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn’t change soon, Darla fears it will cost her—and her family—even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father’s lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he’s feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone—especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can’t simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla’s love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?
  

My Review:

A poignant start to an exciting new series by one of my favourite authors. Gray knows how to get to the heart of the matter and, in the process, turn my dedicated reader's heart inside out!

Darla finds herself in the midst of so much angst and uncertainty at a time when fresh grief makes everything more unbearable. She's trying to cope on her own but Lukas is determined to change that.
Gray knows how to portray real life in all it's messiness so be prepared for a tumultuous read.

I sank into this story -- savouring the sweet essence of a lifelong friendship and the hope of using that as a foundation towards something much deeper. But, oh my goodness,  the obstacles -- both physical and emotional that stand in their way!

The viewpoints of two secondary characters heighten the tension and add to an already angst-riddled plot. The inspirational message of grace and forgiveness took my breath away. So expertly woven into the fibre of the characters and their stories but not in a preachy way. An uplifting and heart-stirring read.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  A Son's Vow please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 1 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Protect and Serve

GIVEAWAY

REED, TERRI
PROTECT AND SERVE

Person of interest...

When rookie K-9 officer Shane West and his German shepherd partner find the lead police dog trainer murdered, he's determined to bring the killer to justice. But then he discovers Gina Perry hiding nearby -- a pretty junior trainer who had the motive, means and opportunity to kill her boss. Gina insists her troubled brother is the real murderer...and this isn't the first time he's killed. And when Gina's brother comes after her, Shane is assigned to protect her and uncover the truth. Suddenly, Shane -- a cop who always hoped to join a big city force -- vows to stay by Gina's side as a murderer lurks in the small-town shadows.

Rookie K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners.

My Review:

Sqqqueeeallll! New continuity series centred around K-9s....and this one has puppies!!!!! Don't know what has me more in a tizzy -- the canines or the hero. That's a good conundrum for dog lovin' bibliophile to be in. Reed does a great job of setting up the intrigue for the series. There's more than one mystery to solve and some suspense threads will carry over into the next books though there's closure for Gina and Shane in this one. Love the even blend of romance and suspense. Both build to an exciting conclusion and while I'm blissfully satisfied on behalf of Gina and Shane's happily ever after, the author has given me a lot to think about where other characters are concerned. Can't wait to read their stories and see if my amateur sleuthing skills are up to the task of solving the major suspense thread.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  Protect and Serve please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016 . Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Song of Silence

GIVEAWAY

RUCHTI, CYNTHIA
SONG OF SILENCE

Music taught Lucy love and beauty. Could silence teach her hope?

Lucy and Charlie Tuttle agree on one thing: they're committed to each other for life. Trouble is, neither of them expected life to look like this. Charlie retired early, but Lucy is devoted to a long-term career...until the day she has no choice.

Forced to retire from her position as music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school, Lucy can only watch helplessly as the program her father started years ago disintegrates before her eyes. As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, Lucy wonders if her faith's song has gone silent too. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes.

When a simple misstep threatens her silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees -- and hears -- everything.

My Review:

Oh. Mercy. If ever there's a book that should be made into a movie, this is it! Profound. Stirring. A real slice of life with all the accompanying grit and absurdity that goes with it. I laughed, I cried...and cried...and cried. Lucy's story really spoke to my heart. I felt it deeply, partly I think, because I could relate so completely to all the unexpected upheavals in a carefully planned life. Been there. Done that. Still there.

Lucy is living through a Jonah season that tests her faith, her relationships and even her belief in herself. Song of Silence is told entirely from her perspective. Flashes of droll humour and sarcastic wit mesh with the kind of raw grief that cuts all the way to the bone. I could see myself in her at the strangest times. Like this unassuming shower scene: "How many prayers had God heard over the years? How many of them came from shower stalls? And how many were wordless like hers?" p. 58 That sense of loss, of emotions that overwhelm a body into a complete stupor. Haven't we all been there a time or two in our lives?

But Ruchti isn't cruel enough to leave Lucy floundering along this bumpy road alone. There is a wonderful cast of strong women who walk along side of her, holding her up when necessary but holding her accountable as well. A celebration of sisterhood that brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

And then there's poor Charlie. Why do I visualize him as an over eager puppy, so desperate to please but rarely getting it right? There were times I wanted to hug the stuffing out of him and even more times when I wanted to give him a slap up the back of his head Gibbs style. Bless his heart, he can't help it. It's a husband thing. And, on my goodness, Lucy's inner thoughts during those scenes brought about side-splitting laughter thanks to the subtle nuances of a very dry wit.

One of the most intriguing things about this novel is that I never knew where it would take me. I was blindsided often. Unexpected highs and lows and all the in-between stuff. The author kept me off-kilter which made those sharp jabs of emotion all the more powerful. Honestly, I lived inside Lucy's skin for the duration of this read. Such a powerful story of healing and hope and the sovereignty of God.

My thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group and Abingdon Press for providing me with a copy of this book.


GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  Song of Silence please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 1 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

The author is also doing a Music Themed Giveaway. To enter it follow the link below.

song of silence - 400

One grand prize winner will receive:
A copy of Song of Silence
A $150 Visa cash card

One second place winner will receive:
A copy of Song of Silence
A music-themed prize pack filled with goodies hand-picked by Cynthia
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on May 9th. The winners will be announced May 10th on Cynthia's blog.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Inheritance

GIVEAWAY

PHILLIPS, MICHAEL
THE INHERITANCE

Change is coming to Whales Reef

The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grand-nephew David. But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investory who will pay dearly for that control.

While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island -- and its traditional way of life -- hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor...

Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

My Review:

A sweeping family saga set in Scotland. There are things I adore about this book and other things I struggled with. First for the adoration:

Love the descriptive prose, the way the author immersed me in a different culture. He uses dialect in measured doses which really created a special ambiance. (I began to think in a Scottish brogue for a while!) Love the complexity of the story -- the way seemingly random scenes eventually meshed together into something of epic proportions. And David, solid, dependable, decent -- I loved all his interactions. A truly noble man facing a tide of trouble with grace and faith.

The slow reveal of Loni's past intrigued me. She's at a crossroads in her life -- feeling like she doesn't quite belong anywhere and on the verge of making decisions that will affect her future. On opposite sides of the Atlantic, David and Loni are connected by an inexplicable thread that runs through generations. And I do so love an ancestral story steeped in mystery!

But having said all that, I struggled with a few aspects of this book. First is the point of view.  It read like an oral storytelling which, while lending a certain Scottish charm to the tale, made me feel more like an observer than an active participant. I much prefer slipping into the skin of a character and feeling my way through a story.

 Second, I found the pacing quite slow at the beginning of the book. A lot of short scenes with a myriad of characters, places and names to remember. Most of them seemingly not related to the others. That's sorted out much later in the story and I ravenously read a huge chunk of it at the end, when things started to pull together. But alas, just as I reached the point I'd been waiting for with bated breath it was over. Which brings me to my third lament. That last chapter could have actually been the first. This isn't a cliff hanger. It literally stops mid-stride.

I was some miffed, let me tell you, but intrigued enough to search out when the next book releases. The Cottage comes out in October of this year and the back blurb has me salivating for more because it promises what I thought The Inheritance would deliver. So frustrating but I'm committed to the Tullochs enough to make sure I get a hold of a copy of Book Two in the fall.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  The Inheritance please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday May 1 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

APRIL GIVEAWAY - WEEK FOUR









As always, I will contact the winners by email however thanks to the nefarious ways of the Internet my email might land in your spam folder so keep your eyes peeled! :-) If you haven't heard from me by Monday evening please email me your snail mail address at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca From time to time winners and I don't seem to connect, so I have a month time frame. If I can't reach you within four weeks your win will be forfeited.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK'S GIVEAWAYS:


Saturday, April 23, 2016

On Lone Star Trail


 
GIVEAWAY

 CABOT, AMANDA
ON LONE STAR TRAIL

If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow's End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He's spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor.

Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?


My Review:

A strong finale to the Texas Crossroads series. Packs an emotional wallop that knocked the stuffing out of me! Cabot shredded my insides out and made my heart hurt more than a time or two and then, just to keep me on my toes, she'd slap me silly with a startling faith-based truth. Gillian and TJ are two wounded souls trying to navigate their way back from the brink of despair. They have to learn that God can be trusted even in the bad times. Especially in the bad times. But oh my goodness that's a hard lesson to learn. And just as hard to read. And so rewarding when it all comes together in one glorious, soul-stirring, heart-singing read.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  On Lone Star Trail please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016 . Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Last Chance Ranch

GIVEAWAY

NIGHT, JENNA
LAST CHANCE RANCH

Her cowboy hero...

After crossing a mob lawyer, Olivia Dillon knows she has to run for her life. But on the way to her great-aunt's remote Arizona ranch, she's forced off the road. The message is clear. She can run, she can hide...but she'll never be safe again. So with Elijah Morales -- the rancher next door -- by her side, she's determined to face the danger head on. The former Army Ranger and natural-born protector promises to end the attacks against her. Even if helping her puts him directly in harm's way. Staying means risking his life, but can Olivia leave to confront her enemies -- and the future -- without Elijah?

My Review:

"Natural-born protector"....blissful sigh. Uh-huh, that pretty much sums Elijah up and makes this alpha-hero lover very happy. But poor Elijah is a little out of his element with this cranky heroine (and for the record, she has a lot to be cranky about.) I just have to quote this part because it's so funny and true and exactly what their romance is all about. "Why did she do that? Elijah was good at reading the signs on a battlefield or behind enemy lines. He was good with horses and cattle, and was decent at weather prediction. He was a pretty good tracker, too. But he couldn't read women to save his life." (p 89) I'll give him a bit of a break though, since he is so busy trying to keep Olivia safe. That's a full-time job right there. Great suspense, that breathes enough to allow a relationship to grow. There's lots of surprises in this story too -- from Elijah's unique church group to plot twists that keep the mystery fresh. Read Last Chance Ranch in one sitting -- partly because it's so page-turningly good and partly because I was avoiding the spring blizzard battering against my creaky old house. Great distraction on both counts.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  Last Chance Ranch please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Atonement

GIVEAWAY

LEWIS, BEVERLY
THE ATONEMENT

The mistakes of the past haunt Lucy Flaud, now twenty-five and beyond Amish courting age. Instead, Lucy focuses on volunteering in both the Plain and fancy communities of Lancaster County. Yet no matter how hard she strives, she never feels she's doing enough. Then her father strikes up an unexpected friendship with an Englischer in search of a simpler way of life Lucy forms a connection of her own with the thoughtful young man even as she rejects courtship with her longtime Amish friend. Is it too late to embrace redemption...and the power of love?

My Review:

There's nothing quite like a Beverly Lewis novel to settle a reader into a happy bubble of reading bliss. And this one starts out in a very profound way: Fill up the empty places in your heart... Words that Lucy strives to live by and, oh my, she has a lot of emptiness to fill! Past hurts are revealed by slow degrees as the story progresses and I loved trying to fit the pieces together in order to make sense of her desperate need to serve herself free of her sorrow. Her skewed idea of grace and forgiveness has taken over her life, creating a barrier between herself and her family and friends. It even carries her into the Englisch world where volunteer work is threatening to consume her.  But while she might find satisfaction in her labors, the peace she seeks continues to evade her.

Lucy's father becomes the unexpected catalyst for change though the journey towards recovery isn't an easy one. Lewis has created a compelling story with a solid cast of characters that bring meaning and insight into Lucy's broken world. An incredible testimony of the powerful impact of God's saving grace. The Atonement is a story to cherish. My copy has taken up residence on my keeper shelf. (Well, one of many shelves.)

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:
If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  The Atonement please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

His Prairie Sweetheart

GIVEAWAY

VETSCH, ERICA
HIS PRAIRIE SWEETHEART

A home for her heart...

After being jilted at the altar, Southern belle Savannah Cox seeks a fresh start out West and accepts a teaching position in Minnesota. But between her students' lack of English, the rough surroundings and sheriff Elias Parker's doubts and distrust, Savannah's unprepared for both the job and the climate. However, she's determined to prove she can handle anything her new town throws her way.

Elias gives it a week -- or less -- before the pretty schoolteacher packs her dainty cresses and hightails it back home. But no matter how many mishaps he has to rescue her from, Savannah doesn't give up. Yet the real test is to come -- a brutal blizzard that could finally drive her away, taking his heart with her...

My Review:

What a completely captivating story! A Southern Belle headed for the wilds of Minnesota is such a unique angle for a historical romance. I shiver just thinking about hapless Savannah (even her name is Southern) facing the extreme winter temperatures she finds so far from home. But that's nothing compared to facing the frosty 'welcome' of the town sheriff. The push/pull attraction between these two certainly makes for a toe-curling read.

Elias is so sure Savannah won't last a week in their rugged community but she's determined to prove him wrong (though she secretly has her own misgivings.) And she has so much to learn. Not only about the fickle prairie weather, but about the Norwegian culture of her students. Lots of fodder for both angst and humour and Vetsch treats us with a delicious dose of both.

A captivating read that puts me in minds of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series -- only for adults!

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  His Prairie Sweetheart please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Counted With the Stars

GIVEAWAY

COSSETTE, CONNILYN
COUNTED WITH THE STARS

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

Choosing to flee with the Hebrews, Kiya finds herself reliant on a strange God and drawn to a man who despises her people. With everything she's ever known swept away and now facing the trials of the desert, will she turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

My Review:

I am not a huge fan of biblical fiction so I pick and choose which titles I read with care. I am so grateful that this one caught my eye and I took a risk by reading out of my comfort zone. Counted With the Stars is a stunning debut novel. The story delivers what the beautiful cover promises and, oh my goodness, such a meaningful title tie-in! Love that kind of attention to detail.

Cossette brings this time period to life. Rich details and the author's vivid imagination make for a memorable read. I love that the story is told through the eyes of an Egyptian slave. Kiya is such an interesting character. Raised in opulent wealth, she has a lot of adjusting to do as she struggles within the bonds of slavery. She feels like her gods have forsaken her so when she befriends a Hebrew slave she becomes intrigued by the notion of worshiping only one God. In fact she's incredulous. Especially when Egypt is suddenly inundated with plagues reported to be delivered by the hand of this omnipotent God.

Despite her circumstances, Kiya doesn't shuck her spoiled persona easily. She is a product of her upbringing -- a distinctly caste conscious one.  It takes untold hardships and wandering through the wilderness for Kiya's transformation to be complete. And, oh mercy, what a moving conversion story.  Goosebump-inciting. A powerful surrendering to Yahweh that left me breathless.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. in exchange for my honest review.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  Counted With the Stars please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Goodbye Bride

GIVEAWAY

HUNTER, DENISE
THE GOODBYE BRIDE

She only remembers loving him. But he can't forget the way she left.

Lucy Lovett can't remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn't remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn't remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

Zac was just beginning to get his life back on track after Lucy left him with no explanation. And now she's back -- vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. Has he been given a second chance with the only woman who stirs his passion and haunts his dreams?

Lucy knows she must unlock those missing months and discover why she threw everything away. And Zac knows that if he follows his heart he'll win back the love of his life -- but if Lucy's memory returns, his would-be bride might say goodbye forever.

My Review:

Help! I've been kidnapped by a book and I don't want to escape! Honestly, I have never wanted to devour a story more. I was so desperate to find out about those missing seven months that I couldn't stop reading. This book consumed me!

Zac, the reluctant hero just about tore my heart out. Lucy's wronged him in the worst way imaginable and yet he can't help but rush to her aid. And all the while he's helping her he's staunchly guarding his heart but then these sweet memories from their past come creeping in and my tummy's all aflutter as I drool over his misplaced (or is it?) devotion. "Falling in love with Lucy had been as easy as drawing a breath. Falling out of love, not so much." (p. 47) What a conundrum for poor Zac!

And I'm equally as torn for Lucy who suddenly finds herself in the throes of a bad breakup which she caused but can't remember. Talk about emotional angst to the nth degree! And she has some pretty sweet memories as well. Oh my, those romantic snippets are toe-curling, let me tell you. And so are some swoonworthy present day scenes as well. Hyperventilating bags recommended before embarking on this reading journey.

As Lucy and Zac's story progressed I found myself stopping periodically to dream up plausible reasons for Lucy leaving Zac so abruptly. And oh goodness, my imagination ran wild! Then I'd take a steadying breath before diving back in to read some more only to stutter to stop wondering if I really wanted to know why Lucy jilted Zac right before their wedding. I mean, what if I couldn't understand her reasoning? How could I forgive her for putting the hero I'd completely fallen for through such a traumatic experience?

Not to mention the reader guilt I still feel over kinda sorta hoping the heroine doesn't get the guy so I might have a chance. Yeah, I know that's a new reader low. Even for me.

And I'm still rejoicing in the powerful testimony of God's constancy that escalates The Goodbye Bride into a classic, timeless love story that belongs on everyone's keeper shelf.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of The Goodbye Bride please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 24 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

April Giveaway - Week 3










As always, I will contact the winners by email however thanks to the nefarious ways of the Internet my email might land in your spam folder so keep your eyes peeled! :-) If you haven't heard from me by Monday evening please email me your snail mail address at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca From time to time winners and I don't seem to connect, so I have a month time frame. If I can't reach you within four weeks your win will be forfeited.

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK'S GIVEAWAYS:


Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Lumberjacks' Ball


GIVEAWAY


PAGELS, CARRIE FANCETT
THE LUMBERJACK'S BALL

A decade after surviving a brutal attack, a mercantile owner's daughter seeks to begin her life anew in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A gifted craftsman wishes to leave his lumberjack life and sees employment at her new store. When his presence dredges up memories she wishes to suppress, the new proprietress must learn to face her past. Can affection grow between the cabinetmaker and the proprietress of St. Ignace's newest business? And when danger threatens, will they survive to attend The Lumberjacks' Ball?

My Review:

Though this second book in The Christy Lumber Camp series reads well as a standalone, I felt more connected with all the characters having met them first in The Fruitcake Challenge, so I would recommend reading the books in order. Pagels combines romance and faith in a captivating tale set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And bonus -- this time she takes us to Mackinac Island -- a place I'm utterly intrigued by.

Sweet romance is in store for Garrett and Rebecca -- as long as they are willing to let go of the past in order to embrace a new beginning. This is especially difficult for Rebecca and I loved watching her gradually lose her reserve under Garrett's tender wooing. There's a gentle faith message about following the promptings of the Spirit even when we don't understand why. Rebecca in particular learns to trust that still small voice in the midst of adversity and confusion. A heartwarming story brimming with hope.

My thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  The Lumberjacks' Ball please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 17 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Breaking Free

GIVEAWAY

SLATTERY, JENNIFER
BREAKING FREE

Any broken life can be redeemed for a plan and a purpose...

Women's ministry leader and Seattle housewife, Alice Goddard, and her successful graphic designer husband appear to have it all together. Then their credit and debit cards are denied, and Alice is launched into an investigation that only leads to the discovery of secrets. Meanwhile, her husband is trapped in a downward spiral of lies, shame and self-destruction. Can they break free from deception and turn to the only One who can save them? Full of depth, hear felt emotion, and humour, Breaking Free inspires readers to seek after God in the complexities of their own lives.

My Review:

Wow -- what an emotionally gripping story! You might just need the whole Kleenex box for this one. And definitely do some relaxation exercises now and again throughout the read. Clenching your jaw for hours on end can be detrimental to your teeth! I did my share of teeth grinding -- especially over Trent. Gah! He's lucky I didn't dive into the book and slap him upside the head a time or two or three...or basically in nearly every scene. LOL But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, what do you do when your carefully constructed, squeaky clean Christian family starts imploding? Seek guidance from your pastor? Turn the weight of your burdens over to the Lord? Pray? Those are the pat answers, but not necessarily the most honest ones. Because we humans...especially of the Christian persuasion...have a hard time admitting to our brokenness. Keeping up appearances is imperative even when it risks the destruction of a family. And that's where Alice and Trent find themselves.

And yes, Trent is the catalyst for a lot of their issues but Alice has turned into his enabler in her desperate bid to keep their 'perfect couple' façade in place. I wanted to slap her silly sometimes too because she missed so many opportunities for healing and comfort. And when she finally acts, she acts alone, withdrawing from the only One who could make sense of the mess that has become her life.

Slattery takes her readers on an intense journey as we watch Alice (and Trent) navigate around all the obstacles strewn in their path. And their own internal demons are some of the toughest to conquer. The author surrounds them with a strong supporting cast of characters ready to lift them up or tear them down. A great study of the many faces we meet in real life. People who are quick to brush aside a cry for help because they don't want to face any unpleasantness. People who are quick to judge, eager to find fodder for gossip at the expense of others. People who doggedly hold onto a friendship even when the friend withdraws; waiting, praying, seeking for opportunities to support and serve. This book really made me think about the kind of friend I want to be.

And woven all through the intricate plot is the burning witness of the hope the Savior can bring to any situation. Astonishingly good. (she says clutching a wad of damp tissues.)

My thanks to the author and publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  Breaking Free please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 17 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder

GIVEAWAY

MCMILLAN, RACHEL
THE BACHERLOR GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Beneath the façade of a wealthy aristocrat may beat the black hear of a killer.

In 1910 Toronto, most bachelor girls are perfecting their domestic skills and finding husbands.

But Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts have never been ordinary. As the two detectives launch their business, the deaths of young Irish women lead them deep into the mire of the city's underbelly.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in who Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well become Toronto's premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever -- if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

My Review:

If you are a fan of the Canadian television series, Murdoch Mysteries you will want to leap right into the pages of this book. The same quirky ambiance of the TV show can be found in The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder. Just as campy. Just as fun. Glimpses into the sordid side of Toronto at the turn of the century and the inner workings of the constabulary provide the perfect backdrop for an intriguing murder mystery.

Merinda and Jem outrageously flaunt propriety by living alone with only a disapproving housekeeper as a chaperone. And then they push society boundaries even further when they open their own detective agency. Where Merinda leads, Jem follows and it's always into trouble. Merinda is almost tyrannical in her pursuit of the killer and I found her lack of empathy off putting at times.

But this is largely Jem's story. At the beginning of the book she seems to be Merinda's unwilling shadow. Not quite as keen or convicted, this is her journey towards finding herself and while she does achieve a personal epiphany, she never quite shakes loose of Merinda's influence which bodes well for future books in the series.

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story and that's largely because there's a mix of point of view styles that had me floundering at times. A lot is relayed through a narrator's lens and though the technique fits with the time period, it served to keep me distanced from most of the characters. In addition, the author frequently addresses her readers with witty asides in the form of footnotes which pulled me out of the story as well.

I liked Ray's scenes the best. They were from his point of view and revealed so much about his work, his family, his back story. He just seemed more fleshed out, and therefore alive compared to the other main characters. He cuts quite the dashing figure -- suitably contrary but of noble intent with a penchant for a certain female detective.

I was surprised by the lack of a significant inspirational thread (this is a Harvest House publication, after all). There was lots of potential to dig deeper -- especially in Jem's storyline. I read Christian fiction with the expectation of a solid faith thread. It doesn't have to be preachy or consume a story but I want to come away feeling uplifted and convicted in some way. I know this is a current trend in the Christian publishing industry, but as most of you know, it's not one I'm particularly fond of. :-)

This is Rachel McMillian's debut novel -- the next book in the series is due out in the fall. Her combination of wit and mayhem is perfect for readers who enjoy their cozy mysteries with a bit of an edge.

My thanks to Harvest House Publishers and Litfuse Publicity Group for providing me with a copy of this book.


GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of  The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you post a comment and add your email address, please use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in the address to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email please remember to put the title in the subject line so that it's easy for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday April 17 2016. Offer open to international readers. Good luck!

In addition to my giveaway, the author is doing her own. Details below. Please follow the link at the bottom of this post in order to enter for Rachel's giveaway.

Rachel is celebrating the release of The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder with a Murder Mystery Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on April 28!
bggtm-400


One grand prize winner will receive:

One copy of The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder
A magnifying glass necklace
A bowler hat
A pocket watch
A $30 Amazon gift card
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 4/28. The winner will be announced at The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Rachel and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!
bggtm-enterbanner
RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!