First Line Friday #10 – She, Myself and I by Emma Young

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Friday which is hosted by Hoarding Books.

She, Myself, and I by Emma Young 

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What really matters is who you are on the inside, not the outside. If someone tells you this, you know it means one of two things.” 

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Mini Reviews #4

Hello everyone, 

Welcome to another installment of my mini-reviews. I have five to share with you  today so let’s jump right in: 

The Chilbury LadiesChoir by Jennifer Ryan

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This is a charming novel that is a slice of life novel depicting life in a small British village during World War II. I’ll admit that I read most of this in one day, but it was such a charming novel and I loved each of the quirky characters that are introduced in this novel. 4/5 Stars.

I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend by Cora Harrison6853842

This was another re-read for me, because the last time I read it was in 2012. This is a fictional diary told from the perspective of Jane Austen’s cousin Jenny (although in the author’s note we find out her name was also Jane) and follows their lives after they are rescued from a horrible boarding school. We also follow Jenny as she meets several young men that seem to fancy her. There’s a cute romance and of course we follow her, Jane Austen, and the rest of the Austen clan through a series of events. 3/5 Stars. 

Girls Like Me by Lola St Vil 28114572

I’ll admit that I didn’t really know what to expect from this book, but I really enjoyed it, especially since it was told in verse. It was a good romance, funny in some parts and hard hitting in other. It covers a lot of different topics, such as coping with the death of a parent and grief, also bullying. Shay is a relatable character to those of us who are plus-sized, and I liked how things ended for her. There were a couple of things that I didn’t like, but it was still a good book which deserves to be read by more people. 3.5/5 Stars. 

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell352262._sx318_

I really enjoyed the movies when I watched them for the first time last year, I’ve been meaning to at least pick up the first book in the series to at least try it, and I’m glad I finally did. While I enjoyed it, I wasn’t quite prepared for how different it was from the movie! There were some elements that were the same, however it was still very different..and a little bit of a let down. But I did like it enough to go ahead and try and read the second book in the series. 3/5 Stars. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis 140212._sy475_

A childhood classic that I always enjoy reading. I feel like every time I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I notice more of the allegorical elements. It’s always a great reminder of the death and resurrection of Christ and how He did it even though we are wholly undeserving of it. I am looking forward to reading the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia soon! 5/5 Stars. 

Happy Reading, 

Janelle L. C. 

 

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.

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The Giver of Stars first came on my radar when it was picked for the Hello Sunshine Book Club hosted by Reese Witherspoon, however it was not until I read the synopsis that I was convinced I needed to read this book. One of the things that jumped out at me was that it was about pack horse librarians in rural Kentucky in 1936 – all the elements of one of my favorite books of all time, Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin. This is also what led me to starting my reading experiments because I wanted to reread Wonderland Creek so that I could see how the two compared and contrasted to one another.

The Giver of Stars follows Alice Van Cleve who has recently moved to Baileyville, Kentucky with her new husband and father-in-law. Intially it is a bit of a culture shock for Alice, who grew up in England, but eventually she adapts but is bored because her husband pays very little attention to her on many levels, and her cantankerous father-in-law constantly compares her to his late wife. One day an announcement is made for the search for packhorse librarians, Alice jumps at the chance to do something useful. Despite protests from the men in her household, she finally feels like she has a purpose and is finally making friends with the other packhorse librarians, especially the seemingly counter-cultural Margery O’Hare. As her relationship with her husband starts to deterioate further, she throws herself into the library. But certain events happen that could cause the library to close.

Let me start by saying that it took me a while to change my mindset while reading this book, because while it has some similar elements to Wonderland Creek, it is also very different in the fact that it is not Christian fiction. However, it was still very good and definitely takes a different approach to the concept of packhorse librarians in rural Kentucky. First, it deals with the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Christians, but yet they treat others terribly and are corrupt, as can be seen with Mr. Van Cleve. Also it deals with how the miners were poorly treated and how most mine owners only really cared about making a quick buck.

The Giver of Stars aso does a good job of showing the backlash that the packhorse librarians would have faced becayse they were women and their jobs kind of went against the status quo of the day that a woman ought to stay at home. It also deals with rascism. There are several very great characters in this book, suhc as Alice and that she is strong and willing to stand up for what is right and tries to salvage her marriage, even though her husband has no interest in doing so. I also enjoyed getting to know Margery O’Hare and how she lives her life to the beat of her own drum even though it gets her into trouble, but yet she is always willing to help those in need.

And then there is Mr. van Cleve, who is a compelling villain and seems to become even more odious as the novel continues.

I also liked how we got to see the disadvantages of life in a small community prone to gossip and even how some of the people lived in squallor or during this time period.

I’ll admit it took me about 100 pages to get into this book, but it ended up being really good and I sped through it until I got to the end! And so many cool things happen! I am definitely interested in reading some of Jojo Moyes’ historical novels in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin.

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Wonderland Creek was a re-read for me, and I am so glad that I did. It was good to revisit a book that I had loved over six years ago when I read it for the first time. I was also interested in reading it again before I started reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes because they both follow similar storylines.

Wonderland Creek follows Alice Grace Ripley who’s life is going well, she has a steady boyfriend and a job that she loves as a librarian, but she also spends all her time with her nose stuck in a book. However, her life starts to crumble whenher boyfriend breaks up with her, and due to the Great Depression she is laid off from her job. While trying to figure out what happens next, she decides to go down to Acorn, Kentucky to drop off several boxes of books she had been collecting for the local rural library and maybe help out for a couple of weeks. However, when she arrives she discovers that the town of Acorn is a lot more derelict than she is expecting and that the librarian she’d been corresponding with is not a woman, but rather a gruff man who goes by the nickname of Mack. She also discovers that not many people visit the library, but rather a group of women take books to the people surrounding the town – they are pack horse librarians a part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s WPA program.

Alice is horrified by how different everything is but decides to make the best of it, however, when Mack is shot the next morning, her trip ends up being extended longer than the two weeks she had planned on staying. She ends up becoming a pack horse librarian and getting to know the community around her as well as several mysteries that seem to shroud the community of Acorn.

Wonderland Creek was a great read, I enjoyed rediscovering all the reasons why I enjoyed it when I read it for the first time several years ago. I loved the plot and a couple of the twists at the end, which I had completely forgotten about! I enjoyed re-learning about what life was like in rural Kentucky in 1936, especially in a town like Acorn where the main source of employment was the local mine, which had to be shut down due to the factories that needed the coal having to be shut down due to the Depression. It was interesting to learn how Eleanor Roosevelt’s WPA program helped bringing some hope to the town. I also enjoyed the couple of mysteries that we follow throughout the book and how they are resolved in the end.

I loved the characters, in fact there was a full ensemble that were introduced throughout the novel, however since there are so many of them and a couple them could potentially lead to spoilers (and I really want you to read this book!) I’m only hoinh yo highlight the three main characters.

First, there is Alice, there are several things about her that make her unlikable, especially when she is first introduced – she is self-centered and can only think about her books. However, her time in Acorn changes her and she grows quite a bit as a character and even discovers a deep and vibrant relationship with the Lord during her stay. I also liked how she was stubborn, but ends up knowing that helping those around her is the best thing to do. I also like how towards the end we see the culture shock she goes through as she adjusts to life back in Blue Island, Illinois.

Then there is Mack, when we are first introduced to him, he is gruff and mean and a little bit suspicious. However, throughout the novel, through scenes that he is in and based on the account of other characters, we discover he is truly big-hearted and wants justice for his community, as well as to help everyone in Acorn have a somewhat better life than they have. One of the ways that this can be seen is through his acquisition of the WPA grant to at least provide some sort of income for several of the hurting families in the community.

And then there is Miss Lillie who, let’s be honest, is a scheming old lady, but yet she was so full of wisdom, in  fact there are several quotes that I highlighted both times that I read Wonderland Cree that I will share momentarily. But first, I enjoyed getting to know Miss Lillie and how she is resilient despite living a difficult life, first as an African-American who was a slave who was separated from her family and just some pretty horrific things that make up the tapestry of American history (I should also add that Miss Lillie is a 101 when she is first introduced). But even with those things she learned to trust the Lord through it all, and even ends up being somewhat of a mentor to Alice. Here are some of my favorite quotes of things that Miss Lillie says to Alice:

“‘Pride has a way of turning our hearts hard over the years unless we let God soften them up again. That’s why God puts all kinds of troubles in our path, hoping they’ll do the trick – just like cooking them beans in hot water all day turns them soft. Our trials are supposed to turn us toward God, but we whine and complain and wish someone would turn down the fire so we could have our old life back the way it was'” (146).

“‘Horses don’t know how to hate, honey. Only people are that stupid'” (153).

“‘It ain’t so. Jesus said life is gonna be hard. Period. He said if you’re gonna follow Him, then you’re gonna carry a cross just like He did. This world of ours is under a curse, honey. We need to expect things to be bad. But even if we lose everything, we still have Jesus'”(267).

I love Lynn Austin’s novels and I definitely want to make it a goal of mine to read all of them in my lifetime if I can! 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Betwixt Two Hearts

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About the Book

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Book: Betwixt Two Hearts

Authors: Amanda Tru, Cathe Swanson, Kari Trumbo, Alana Terry, Carol Moncado, & Chautona Havig

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release Date: June 9, 2019

 

Six of today’s Best-selling Christian Authors weave six brand-new, unique, interconnected stories where nothing comes between the love betwixt two hearts.

Betwixt Two Hearts by Amanda Tru
With control of their dating website the prize, Bailey and Camden embark on a matchmaking competition that snags on unexpected results. All is fair in a contest of love. May the best matchmaker win.

The Swedehearts Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson
Eleanor ran away to find herself. David knew exactly where he wanted to go. Could a matchmaking agency put them on the same map?

Whole Latte Love by Kari Trumbo
Misguided Drew thinks all quiet women hide harmful secrets. While pretty, new best friend Addi’s soft-spoken nature reminds him too much of past hurts to move their relationship forward. Can a matchmaking agency change his heart?

Seoul Refuge by Alana Terry
Caroline is a new believer, excited and passionate about her faith. Calvin is a Boston police detective, an atheist who can hardly believe Christians have brainwashed his wife. Caroline just wants to follow God. Calvin just wants his wife back.

Guardian of Her Heart by Carol Moncado
Signed up for a dating service by friends and brought together by a stowaway cat, Mark and Casey must decide if they want to overcome their apparent incompatibilities or go their separate ways.

Random Acts of Shyness by Chautona Havig
Heath’s sister, Selby, has laid down the law. It’s time to let her take over his love life. After a series of first and only dates, Heath embarks on her new scheme to help him overcome the debilitating nervous habit that has plagued him all his life. However, between dates, each worse than the last, he tries one more time to do things his way… sort of.

Please Note: The Crossroads Collections are sets of stories that are interconnected in some way, but the collections are independent, complete, and can be read in any order.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

This was an interesting collection, especiall since the common thread between the six stories was a fictional dating/matchmaking website and the couple that meet on there. This is something I find relatable because my husband and I met online.

I really liked that the first novella  follows the start of the wensite and the initial hiccups that the creators encounter at the beginning. I also enjoyed seein the romance that blossoms throughout the novella, however I also found the two main characters to be aggravating at times because they never really listen to each other and seemed to be purposely antagonistic towards each other. However, I did enjoy how things were wrapped up, and I enjoyed reading each of the other romances in this collection.

Almsot all of the authors were new to me, except for Chautona Havig (who is one of my favorite Christian fiction authors), and I enjoyed them and I plan on reading more from each of them in the future. This is also the first Crossroads Collection that I’ve read and I am definitely interested in reading more of them in the future. 4/5 Stars.

About the Authors

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Welcome to the Crossroads!
This is a unique collection of stories, with each never before published book by one of today’s favorite best-selling Christian authors fitting together like puzzle pieces. There is nothing else like it on the market!
If you love the premise of this Crossroads Collection and are eager for more, please check out the other Crossroads Collections. In each of them, you will find all new stories tied together once again where the books intersect at a Crossroads.

Out of the Blue Bouquet
Floral folly fables from Hallee Bridgeman, Alana Terry, Carol Moncado, Chautona Havig, & Amanda Tru

Yesterday’s Mail
Misdelivered mail tales from Alana Terry, Cynthia Hickey, Hallee Bridgeman, Chautona Havig, & Amanda Tru

Under the Christmas Star
Ornamental yarns from Lesley Ann McDaniel, April Hayman, Chautona Havig, Alana Terry, & Amanda Tru

Betwixt Two Hearts
Dating site stories from Amanda Tru, Cathe Swanson, Kari Trumbo, Alana Terry, Carol Moncado, & Chautona Havig

The Wedding Dress Yes
Wedding dress dramas from Alexa Verde, Chautona Havig, Hallee Bridgeman, Alana Terry, & Amanda Tru

When Snowflakes Never Cease
Heartwarming wintery accounts from Hallee Bridgeman, Alana Terry, Chautona Havig, Jaycee Weaver, & Amanda Tru

Sign up to receive Amanda Tru’s email newsletter for news of upcoming Crossroads Collections!
www.amandatru.com/newsletter

 

More from Chautona

“I’ve got a new idea for the next CrossRoads Collection, and I think it might be perfect for your bladder guy.”

Excitement? Total understatement. Giddy—that’s more like it. Totally giddy when I “hear” (read) Amanda Tru say, “I’ve got a new idea….” Without skipping a beat, I typed back, “Let’s hear it.”

As the idea burst into my messenger box, I knew she was right. A matchmaking website? Perfect for a shy guy with an unfortunate coping mechanism that ensures that he has a string of first and only dates in his back pocket. You can read about that story, here.

I had two months to write it—and had two other books to finish in the meantime. YIKES! Still, I had to do it.

I almost made it, too.

For those who don’t know about the CrossRoads Collections, they feature five or six books (of varying length from short novella to full-length novel) and the final (or in the case of Betwixt Two Hearts, the first) book interconnects all the others. Each collection stands alone, and each story in the collections stand alone, but that one book in each collection ties all the others together in a unique, brilliant way that only the lovely Amanda Tru could manage.

We began with Out of the Blue Bouquet, which tells of five floral fiascos and one florist who causes and redeems them all.

Then came Yesterday’s Mail which features five accounts of lost or misdirected mail and the postal worker tasked with fixing it all.

Of course, when Christmas came around, we needed a good Christmas collection, so our first kicked off with Under the Christmas Star. This collection features five ornaments and the stories connected to each.

Next, we combined forces to do a little matchmaking, and kicked off this collection. Betwixt Two Hearts in a story of a matchmaking website and the people it connected, not to mention the entrepreneurial pair that can’t agree on how to run it!

Of course, weddings are lots of fun, so we came up with The Wedding Dress Yes. In it, you’ll meet CrossRoads’ fabulous new bridal designer who thwarts the efforts of a shop owner still stuck in the eighties with dresses that ensure more social distance than most couples care to have on their wedding day.

And most recently, the When Snowflakes Never Cease collection features a snowstorm that sweeps across the nation during Christmas week and tries to prevent two people determined to find someone in the midst of all that frosty carnage.

I’ve loved writing for all of these collections, but my novel, Random Acts of Shyness in the Betwixt Two Hearts is probably my favorite.

All of the CrossRoads Collection books are available on Kindle Unlimited, and several are just .99 to purchase.

The CrossRoads authors invite you to pick up one of the collections today. We recommend starting with Betwixt Two Hearts while it’s still available in one, inexpensive collection.

 

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, June 12

Inklings and notions, June 13

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 14

deb’s Book Review, June 14

She Lives To Read, June 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 16

For Him and My Family, June 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 18

Read Review Rejoice, June 19

Blossoms and Blessings, June 20

Batya’s Bits, June 21

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, June 22

Connect in Fiction, June 23

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 24

Artistic Nobody, June 25 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

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To celebrate their tour, the Betwixt authors are giving away the grand prize of a 6-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fc72/betwixt-two-hearts-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

First Line Friday #8 – The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books. 

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan 

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“There have long been secrets buried deep in the southern Appalachians, covered in layers of shale and coal, lying beneath the ancient hills of the Cumberlands, and lurking in the shadow of the Smokies at the tail end of the mountainous spine that ripples down the East Coast. This land of the Cherokee gave way to treaties and settlers and land grants.” 

 

Happy Reading,

Janele L. C.

Book Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman.

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For whatever reason I thought it would be a good idea to challenge myself to read some of the more popular contemporary romances that have recently come out. I decided to start with The Bookish Life of Nina Hill because it sounded right up my alley. However, it did end up being somewhat different from what I was expecting, but I did like it.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill follows 29 year old Nina Hill, who works in a bookstore, is a part of a trivia team, and enjoys life on her own, where she can go home after a long day at work and curl up with a good book. However, her life is turned upside down whe she discovers that the father she never knew has died. Not only that, but she discovers that she has a large family of brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews that she never knew existed. This alone is overwhelming for this introvert, but throw in her handsome trivia nemesis, Tom, who seems to be very interested in her and that’s enough to make Nina want to disappear. Will she learn to cope with all these massive changes?

Plot-wise, I honest expected this to be more of a romance novel, and more steamy than it was. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the romance is only a main part of this story for the second half of this book, however the main focus of the book is Nina adjusting to the idea of having a family and what it means to be a part of a family. I also liked how she discovers that certain traits that she thought of as unusual were ones that she inherited from her father.

I liked nina as a character for the most part, however there were times when she seemed to be very self-centered. However, I do like how she was portrayed as someone who suffered from anxiety and how she’s learned to cope with it. She was a little bit aggravating in that she was seemingly unwilling to make time for others because it didn’t fit with her schedule. I also liked Tom, but there were times when it seemed that he easily gave up on Nina. He also didn’t seem very sympathetic, especially since her life had been recently shaken up.

Overall, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was a good read, but for those expecting it to be heavy on the romance will be sorely disappointed by the lack of romance. While it does cover some good topics, it still seemed a little lacklustre. Both main characters were flawed and had very minimal redeemable qualities. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Amish Front Porch Stories by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter and Richelle Brunstetter

Hello everyone,

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Today’s review is on Amish Front Porch Stories by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, and Richelle Brunstetter. This collection of 18 short stories centered around the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and set in Amish country are really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I also liked that this is written by three women in the same family, Wanda is the matriarch, Jean is Wanda’s daughter-in-law and Richelle is Wanda’s granddaughter. Each of them is a talented writer in their own way, I enjoyed seeing the different writing style throughout the different stories. Amish Front Porch Stories is divided into 9 sections, one section for each fruit of the Spirit, and then each section has two stories centered around that particular fruit of the Spirit. Another thing I really liked is that each story has a verse at the end of it that serves as kind of the central theme of the story.

Like I have done in the past, I plan on doing mini-reviews for each story and then at the end give my review of the collection as a whole.

Simple Actions by Wanda E. Brunstetter

This simple and short story packs a punch and is a great reminder of what it means to love our neighbors, even those who appear to be difficult. 4/5 Stars.

Love Isn’t Painless by Richelle Brunstetter

This one had kind of a slow start, but I really enjoyed it. I liked the message of how even when those who are close to use get hurt, we shouldn’t allow that to make us afraid to love. 3.5/5 Stars

Cardinal in the Window by Wanda E. Brunstetter

While I liked this story, I do wonder if it gave to much of a general “cure” of depression, but I also don’t think that was the intention. It was a good reminder to find joy in the little things. 3.5/5 Stars.

Unexpected Joy by Wanda E. Brunstetter

This was another tale all about unexpectedly finding joy after tragedy. 4/5 Stars.

Nina’s Struggle by Richelle Brunstetter

This story was interesting as it shows how secrets can damage a relationship, but also how peace can be found in the most unexpected places. 3.5/5 Stars.

Tranquility by Wanda E. Brunstetter

A good reminder that when life gets overwhelming sometimes the best thing to do to at least have a little bit of peace is to spend some time reading the Bible and in prayer. 4/5 Stars.

Miriam’s Care by Jean Brunstetter 

Patience with others is the main theme of this story, especially with those who seem to be difficult. I think it also showed the importance of talking to those closest to us when we feel like they are hurting us. 4/5 Stars.

Laura’s Choice by Wanda E. Brunstetter

A good story about how sometimes we have to be patient until we are blessed with what we want, and also sometimes not in the way in which we expect it. 3/5 Stars.

A Change of Heart by Wanda E. Brunstetter 

The moral of this story is that sometimes we need to make the best of our circumstances. Also it was a good lesson on how bitterness can eat person up inside. 3.5/5 Stars.

Kari’s Joy by Jean Brunstetter 

A sweet story about siblings and how sometimes responding with gentleness is the best medicine. 4/5 Stars

Taunted by Wanda E. Brunstetter

A quick story about how revenge is never he answer and what it means to love your neighbor even if they are mistreating you. 4/5 Stars.

Pam’s Friend by Jean Brunstetter 

A great look at how sometimes it’s our actions that make difference and even being a wake-up call of attitudes that need to be changed. 4/5 Stars.

Hiding Place by Wanda E. Brunstetter 

A quick examination of how tragedy can cause doubts and bitterness, but that faith can be an anchor to help us learn how to get on in life. 4/5 Stars.

Betty’s Dog by Jean Brunstetter

A simple tale about the power of a simple faith, even in the simplest of things. 4/5 Stars.

Receive with Meekness by Richelle Brunstetter

This story was about how difficult it can be adjusting to new places. But sometimes the best way to adjust is to immerse yourself in your new surroundings and to do things with your loved ones. 3.5/5 Stars.

The Beautiful Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter

“Pride comes before the fall.” This story tells the dangers of the subtlety of pride and haughtiness and how nothing good can come from it. And sometimes the very things that make us prideful can be taken away to remind us that we need to be humble. 4/5 Stars.

Breaking Down by Richelle Brunstetter 

A good reminder of how stubbornness can lead to destruction and that sometimes it is wise to stop and consider the advice of others. 3.5/5 Stars.

Tempted by Wanda E. Brunstetter

As someone who is currently trying to eat healthier, the battle against the dreaded sweet tooth and how it can take a lot of self-control (and patience) to do so. 4/5 Stars.

Overall, all the stories in this collection were charming and I enjoyed them a lot. I really want to pick up another collection that this trio wrote called Brides of the Big Valley. I’m also looking forward to seeing what they put out next. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.