Friday, December 30, 2011

Valley of Dreams


When Cassie Lockwood's mother died, Cassie began traveling with her father's Wild West Show. Along the way, she became an amazingly skillful trick rider and sharpshooter, likened by some to the famous Annie Oakley. When her father passed away, she continued to work with the show, having nowhere else to go.

Now Cassie has discovered that "Uncle" Jason, the shows manager, has driven the show into debt, and he's absconded with what little money was left. Devastated, Cassie decides to try to find the hidden valley in the Black Hills of South Dakota where her father had dreamed of setting down roots. She has only one clue. She needs to find three huge stones that look like fingers on a giant hand. With Chief, a Sioux Indian who's been with the act for twenty years, and Micah, the head wrangler, she leaves the show and a bundle of heartache behind and begins a wild and daring adventure.

My Review:

A sweeping Western saga fraught with adventure. Loved the mix of unlikely characters who make the treacherous journey, and Cassie's background as a Wild West performer. Her struggle to marry the skills she learned for the show with the skills needed to survive in the wilderness brought depth to her character and an edge to the story. And who can resist an impish dog, magnificent horse and a buffalo named George? I do love a good animal-centered plot.

As the first of the Wild West Wind series, Valley of Dreams reads as a prelude and ends rather abruptly with a cliffhanger. I had the feeling that I was just about to start the real story when it ended. I'm not a fan of series that are totally dependent on each book -- the kind that read like a very long novel in three or four sections -- so the ending disappointed me since I was left with more questions than answers.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Stranger's Gift


On the heels of a horrific hurricane, Hester Detlef, field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service, blows into the life of self-made, shunned Amish man John Hafner. Will she find a way through his shield and into his heart? Although the hurricane has left John homeless and badly injured, the last thing he wants is some do-gooder Mennonite woman intruding in his life. Will his impatience with her intention of restoring his faith and property keep him from accepting this beguiling stranger's kindness?

My Review:

An enthralling book with a refreshing plot. Very different from other Amish stories that I've read. I found the whole MDS angle fascinating and appreciated Schmidt's detailed account of the good works Mennonites and Amish do in the face of natural disasters. That whole angle of the book was fascinating. But so were Schmidt's memorable characters -- complex and intriguing, she created a believable community that was easy to relate to. I particularly liked the way Hester's character developed because, on the surface, she seemed to have it all together, but there were undercurrents that she hadn't dealt with and, in a way, she was just as wounded as John. Their journey towards healing was moving...and frustrating...with sparks of humour amidst the uncertainty, definitely making for a compelling read. This is the first of a new series, Women of Pinecraft, and I'm definitely looking forward to more!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Keeper



A family. A farm. A heart. All in need of repair.

Life on Windmill Farm hasn't been the same since Julia Lapp's father has had trouble with his heart. But that doesn't stop Julia from hoping for a bright future. She has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. But when Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding -- again -- she is determined to change his mind. She knows who is to blame for Paul's sudden reluctance to wed: the Bee Man.

Roman Troyer, the Bee Man, travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. A mysterious man who relishes his nomadic life, Roman especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia seriously at odds with him, Windmill Farm is looking decidedly less appealing.

Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?

My Review:

A pure delight! I'm trying to figure out a way to convey the magic in this book. It's more a family tale than a traditional hero/heroine romantic story. Fisher shares equal time amongst the most engaging characters and frankly -- M.K. totally steals the show! She's Julia's eleven-year-old sister. She has the verbosity of Anne Shirley, the adventurous spirit of Pippi Longstocking and the quick wit of Hermione Granger -- what a hoot! And don't get me started on Uncle Hank...or sweet, simple Menno...or Stern Fern...gracious she needs a whole review on her own! Let's just say this is one Amish family the likes of which you've never met between the pages of a book before.

Okay, so I've established that the characterization in The Keeper is stellar. Well, so is the plot and while there is a lot going on in the story, Julia's romance (or lack thereof) is one of the common threads that binds everything together.  But there's a mystery too -- and heart-rending drama -- not to mention laughter in some of the toughest places. And a surprise that will steal your breath away and a conclusion that will leave you changed forever. The Keeper is definitely a keeper! And bonus -- it's the first of a series and the whole family will be back again in August 2012 (The Haven) and January 2013 (The Lesson).

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like to win a copy of The Keeper, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Please put the title in the subject line to help me identify entries. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday January 1 2012. Open internationally. Good luck!
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Rose of Winslow Street



In the small town of Colden, Massachusetts, Libby Sawyer leads a quiet, predictable life. Yet beneath the surface, she is haunted by a secret.

Newly arrived on American shores, Michael Dobrescu is far from predictable, and his arrival in Colden is anything but quiet. Michael's shocking claim to be the rightful owner of Libby's father's house immediately alienates him from the appalled citizens of Colden.

Despite her own outrage, Libby is unwittingly fascinated by this enigmatic man who seems equally intrigued by her. As the court's decision about the house looms, and the layers of mystery surrounding Michael's past are unveiled, Libby's loyalties are tested in ways she never imagined.

Torn between family obligation and the stirrings of her heart, dare she trust a man whose intentions and affections are so uncertain?

 My Review:
  The Rose of Winslow Street is steeped in intrigue that begins on the very first page. The more I read, the more questions stuttered through my mind. Wh-wh-at....h-how...wh-why....huh? I was clamouring for answers that Camden cleverly held at bay, keeping me turning pages late into the night.  What an artfully crafted plot! And each piece of the puzzle is revealed at just the right time in order to make the most dramatic impact.

But, oh my, there's laughter in unexpected places -- even in the midst of some dead-serious, dramatic scenes. Camden has laced humour all through the book. And that includes during the most volatile encounters between Michael and Libby. I'm grinning just thinking about some scenes that have left a lasting impression.

Michael leaps off the page in full warrior mode. Taciturn, protective, larger than life, like some misplaced medieval knight plunged into 19th century New England. I can't remember when I've had so much fun getting to know a character. Adorably boorish -- how's that for an oxymoron? -- he's driven by loyalty and an incredible sense of honour and steals every scene he is in, putting a capital S in the word Swoonworthy. Be still my heart! I dare any reader NOT to fall in love at first sight!

This book is pure enjoyment from beginning to end. No review can do it justice. You'll just have to read The Rose of Winslow Street for yourself to see what I mean!

Giveaway Opportunity:
If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Rose of Winslow Street please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTcom. Please remember to put the title in the subject line so it's easier for me to spot. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday January 1 2012. Offer open internationally. Good luck!!!!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Friday, December 23, 2011

December Giveaway - Week Four

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas!

Won by Salena Stormo

won by Books are a Blessing

Congratulations winners! I'll contact you to get your snail mail address but if you don't hear from me in a couple of days, please email your addy to me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

I'll be back with more reviews next week -- not sure what will be offered up as giveaways so we'll all be surprised together!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Favorite Bible : the Best Loved Stories of the Bible



Bring the bible alive!

The most treasured stories of the Bible come alive in My Favourite Bible.

Start your little ones on a lifelong love of God's Word!

This colorful and dynamic gospel-centered Bible storybook guides children through the foundational truths of Scripture. Each story is fully and vividly illustrated and includes a simple narrative with things children ages 4 - 8 love: repetition, rhythm, and energy, along with a key biblical theme, a key Bible verse, an activity page, and discussion questions. Adults and children will cherish time together as they grow closer to God.

My Review:

First things first. I'm a school librarian and I take notice of little details that most people don't. Like how a book is bound and the quality of the paper it is printed on and My Favorite Bible is superior on both counts. It's a solid little hardcover book with pages that are thick enough to withstand the chubby little fingers of eager toddlers. That's important when you're thinking about purchasing a keepsake bible. And this is definitely a keepsake.

I get the feeling that the authors definitely prayed over this project because they have managed to keep the spirit behind each bible story they share. There is rhythm and reverence in every tale, each complemented by cheerful artwork that is both childlike and engaging. The artist has cleverly hidden 77 butterflies within the pages of the book giving added enjoyment to young readers. An added bonus to parents and teachers is that each story makes a lovely readaloud and will be a pleasure to share. In addition, the authors have included both a family talk page (including a scripture and faith-based discussion ideas) and a family fun page (simple activities that compliment the bible story) at the end of each story.

This would make a great first bible for a toddler and ideal for beginning readers.

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like to win a copy of My Favorite Bible : the Best Loved Stories of the Bible leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Please put the title in the subject line. Draw will be held and winner announced on Friday December 23. Please note: unlike my other giveaways this offer is only for US and Canada. I'll be mailing the copy I was given to review and since it's a solid little thing the cost of mailing it would be prohibitive overseas.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Lasting Impression



Claire Laurent’s greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she’s forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she’s sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach––but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton’s home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family’s honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined––as well as the woman he loves.

Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves––and each other––for who they truly are.

My Review:
Richly layered and impeccably crafted, this is definitely a book that will make a lasting impression on its readers! Rich in history, Alexander manages to bring the post-civil war era to life. I could feel the conflicting spirits of hope and despair; the division of a people and the lingering taste of bitterness in a defeated state. My emotions ran amok as I read! In fact I was left half-dreading each page the deeper I got into the book because I knew that Claire's secret couldn't stay buried forever but Alexander spun the reveal out with the expertise of a skilled storyteller and I was on tenterhooks the entire time. Brilliantly done.
The historical detail is brilliant as well. It stirred me to do my own research on Belmont Mansion and Mrs. Acklen. I love when fiction and non-fiction meet in a delicious way like this! It makes my reading experience all the more fulfilling.
And the romance -- oh-la-la! Sutton makes a fainting couch a must have for this read! LOL. Loved the way Alexander develops the attraction between Claire and Sutton and she put enough stumbling blocks in the way to keep this reader's heart dipping and diving for the duration of the read. 
A Lasting Impression has the classic feel of an epic novel. It's the kind of book that carries you away to a different time and place -- immerses you in the story and leaves you richer for the read.

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like an opportunity to win a copy of A Lasting Impression leave a message below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca.  Please remember to place the title in the subject line of your email. Draw will be held and winner announced on Friday December 23. Offer open internationally. Good luck!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group". 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December Giveaway - Week Three


won by Pam

won by Amy

Congratulations, ladies. And just so you know, I'll email you today, but lately my emails seem to go directly to spam so you might want to email your snail mail address to me to save time! kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca.

Looking ahead to next week's giveaways:


A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander
In the middle of this one now. The word opulent comes to mind -- in both content and texture of the words. I'm captivated.

My Favourite Bible by Rondi DeBoer and Christine Tangvald
Please note: this offer will only be for Canada and the U.S. It's a lovely hard cover (and therefore heavy) little bible and I'll be mailing my review copy. It's one of the best children's bibles I've seen though. More about that in my review.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Livvie's Song



A young widow trying to keep her business and hopes afloat...

Life is far from a breeze for Olivia Beckman, owner of Livvie's Kitchen, a favourite of locals in Wabash, Indiana. The widowed mother of two is struggling to make ends meet -- no simple feat, especially when her cook resigns. Yet she's determined to pull through on her own, just as she did when God failed to save her beloved Frank.

An ex-convict ready to make a fresh start...

Newly released from a ten-year prison sentence, Will Taylor is ready for a fresh start. With harmonica in hand -- the only possession he values, aside from his bible -- he makes his way to Wabash, where a late-night meal at Livvie's Kitchen turns into a job opportunity when the outgoing cook learns about his restaurant experience. What he doesn't know is that the his restaurant experience. What he doesn't know is that the "restaurant" was a prison cafeteria.

An unlikely recipe for romance...

But Will became a new man behind bars, thanks to a Christian friend, and he credits God's providence with landing him a job he loves. Soon, he cooks and bakes his way into the stomachs of his customers -- and the heart of his employer. Both are hesitant, though, still healing from past hurts. A recipe for love between them will require sharing secrets, braving dangers, and believing God for a bright future.

My Review:

There is an air of unhurried charm about this book. The story unfolds with gentle, deliberate care and it captivated me from the very first page. There's definitely drama and a plot rife with unexpected twists but I delighted in the unpredictability of what otherwise might have been a predictable story.

The inspirational message is embedded so deeply that it feels natural even as it testifies. MacLaren doesn't preach but she makes an impact nonetheless. And the scriptures that head each chapter are worth the price of the book. I've never seen such convicting passages laid out in sequential order like that. They made me pause and ponder and then eager to read on so that I could see how they applied in the character's lives.

And oh, what characters! Will Taylor, bent on change and a future of promise, delighting in the simplest things after being incarcerated for ten years. Everything is a wonder to him, including the faith he has embraced. He's the perfect foil for Livvie, who has buried herself away beneath the cloak of her mourning. Reading their love story was like watching an old black and white movie gradually changing into colour until it becomes a vibrant kaleidoscope by the end.

This is the kind of book that not only entertains, but it makes you think. A definite keeper shelf edition.

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Livvie's Song, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Make sure to put the title in the subject line so your entry is easy for me to spot. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 18. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Merchant's Daughter


An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff---a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

My Review:

Delightful. I love this genre and Melanie Dickerson is proving to excel at it. She has taken the bare bones of a popular fairy tale and fleshed it out into a satisfying read of substance. Loved the subtle little details that reminded me of the original story. I got such a thrill over spotting them and making the parallels. But Dickerson has created a memorable romance of her own, complete with tortured hero and desperate heroine. I love how she draws them together; the gentle way that Annabel comes to tame her 'beast'. A lovely tale that deserves to be read and cherished by teens and adults alike.
Giveaway Opportunity:
If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson leave a comment below. Or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Please remember to put the title in your subject line so your entry is easier for me to spot. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 18.Good luck!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December Giveaways - Week Two


won by Marissa

won by TracyS

I'll email the winners today but if you don't hear from me by Monday evening can you please email me your snail mail address so I can get your books out to you? kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca.

Looking ahead to next week's giveaways:

The Merchant's Daughter
by Melanie Dickerson
Nearly finished and loving it. It's a retelling of a classic fairy tale. Love this genre so much and Melanie is making a name for herself in it.

Livvie's Song
by Sharlene MacLaren
New-to-me-author but she comes highy recommended so I'm excited to dig into this historical!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Under a Desert Sky



A race from danger...straight into the arms of love.

In 1936, socialite Eva Fortier witnesses her grandfather's murder and must flee New York to ensure her safety. Leaving behind a life of wealth, she seeks refuge in the secluded high desert area of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.

Navajo doctor Tahoma Benally has his hands full caring for his people's medical needs. He certainly doesn't have time to fall in love. But when Tahoma's father asks him to help fulfill a vow he'd made to Eva's father. Tahoma has no choice but to oblige his father's request. In the process he finds himself drawn to the woman he's promised to protect.

With an elusive killer stalking Eva, and barriers of race and culture standing between her and Tahoma, does love stand a chance of blooming in the desert?

My Review:

Rich text and lush descriptions like the one below made Under a Desert Sky an unforgettable read for me.

Rather than hurl any more questions his way, I wrapped my frustration around the lantern's handle and vowed not to be in the dark about anything. Ever again.

Doesn't reading that cloak you in emotion and resolve? It's this kind of writing that makes this read an exceptional one. And what a different 'voice' Mills has compared to her other books. It's as if she bored right under Eva's skin so that her first-person account resonates with truth and passion.

Eva captivated me from the very first paragraph -- in fact this book has an amazing opening hook! I've never met a heroine who grew with such grace and wisdom. I enjoyed every minute I spent with her.

And Tahoma -- well, we all I know I'm not one to shirk from the tall, broody, protective type. :-) Again, though, Mills has dug deep and fleshes out his character with such care that I feel like he's a real person. And oh -- all that lovely, angsty romance! Mills doesn't give Eva and Tahoma an easy time of it, but that makes the read all the more rewarding.

The suspense is cleverly woven throughout the pages -- it crests and wanes and took this reader by surprise over and over again. And it doesn't ease up until the very last page.

Under a Desert Sky is definitely going on my keeper shelf and hopefully yours as well...

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Under a Desert Sky, please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Please make sure that you add the title to the address line to make it easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 11. Open internationally. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Love Finds You on Christmas Morning



Two romantic stories---one common thread! In 1925, wealthy William Tronnier is smitten with penniless Lillian Pickard and plans to Deck the Halls with a proposal she can't refuse! And in 'Tis the Season, Nikki Tronnier plans to buy the home her great-grandfather built for his bride---but Drew Cornell's offer is accepted first! 288 pages, softcover from Summerside.

My Review:

I've only read Trish Perry's novella, 'Tis the Season so far (It's the ACFW Book Club's pick for this month) but I wanted to post this review now to give time for the Giveaways. My internet has been wonky at home which is why I'm late posting them this week. Anyway, I really enjoyed Perry's holiday tale. It's the right mix of comedy and angst with a few refreshing surprises thrown in for good measure.

Drew isn't the confident hero I am used to reading about. Perry shows his vulnerable side, allowing him to be embarrassed a time or two and a little bit awkward with tendencies towards bumbling. Completely endearing and definitely appealing. It made the story all the more believable for me.

There's great interaction between Nikki and her sister, Hannah and an outrageously funny secondary character, Gigi, who adds spice to the tale.

Another unique twist to this tale is that the hero and heroine don't connect immediately. Perry takes time to set the stage and let's her readers get to know Nikki and Drew first. We get to watch their attraction to each other from afar, anticipating every moment that brings them closer to discovering each other. This brought a very realistic feel to their love story.

A wonderful, cheery, feel-good kind of Christmas read!

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like the chance to win a copy of Love Finds you on Christmas Morning, please leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Please add the book title to the subject line. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 11. Offer open internationally. Good luck!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December Giveaways - Week One

won by Bethany S
won by Merry

won by wfnren

I'll be contacting the winners today, but if you don't hear from me by Monday evening, could you please email me your snail mail address? kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. Thanks!

Looking ahead to next week's Giveaways:

Under a Desert Sky
by DiAnn Mills

WOW!!!! Riveting. Spellbinding. Page-turning....Brilliant.

Love Finds You on Christmas Morning
by Debby Mayne and Trish Perry

I'm just starting Perry's novella and am really enjoying it. It's the December read for the ACFW book club.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Harvest of Hearts


A Participant in a swap of Amish men, independent yet kindhearted Matthew Yoder was glad to leave the vast farmland of Lancaster County and make a fresh start in Missouri, where he's living with the Stoltzfus family until he finds a place of his own.

Strong-minded yet filled with compassion, Shanna Stoltzfus always dreamed of becoming a nurse, despite her father's threats to shun her. Determined to follow her heart, Shanna ran away and enrolled in college. But when her classmates embark on a medical mission trip that Shanna can't afford, she must turn to the last place she wants to go for help: home.

Even though Shanna still flirts with the people and practices of her Englisch life, Matthew is fascinated by the Stoltzfuses' prodigal daughter, and a close friendship soon blossoms between them. Amid mounting tension with her father and growing attraction to Matthew, Shanna must ask herself some tough questions and decide where her true home is.

My Review:

Emotionally charged and positively riveting, A Harvest of Hearts will touch your heart and stay there long after you read the last word. Hilton digs deep, uncovering layers of pain and misunderstanding in her characters. The family relationships in this book are so real! It made my heart ache to watch her characters struggle.

The contrast between Shanna and Matthew is profound -- like oil and water they shouldn't mix, but they do, though not without difficulty. I love how Matthew's steadfast calm is a perfect foil to Shanna's volatile, reactive nature. And how sometimes that calm sets her off even more. But his constancy is swoonworthy -- quiet, unyielding, but oh so gentle and compassionate...oops, excuse me while I slide into a puddle. He's that delectable a hero!

The inspirational thread is strong and resonated with me. Hilton may have set out to entertain readers with a story but she's managed to include plain truths that we would all do well to remember. A touching, tender, thought-provoking read.

Giveaway Opportunity:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of A Harvest of Hearts leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca.  Please remember to include the title in your subject line. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday December 4. Offer open internationally.  Good luck!