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Audiobook Mini-Review: Crossfire

6 Feb

I was looking for an engaging audiobook — one that would immediately grab my attention and keep me listening. Crossfire by Lynette Eason, book 2 in the romantic suspense series Extreme Measures, did just that. From the opening I was swept up in the stories of Juliana Jameson and Clay Fox. Juliana is a hostage negotiator with the FBI, and her cases turn into something very personal. The action is non-stop and filled with twists and turns. I liked how the characters and this reader were kept off balance by the bad guys. The book was a puzzler! Themes include guilt, blame, and forgiveness. Some characters find healing; others are swept up in bitterness. While the experiences of the characters are extreme to say the least, the themes speak to the reader’s own views on what can be forgiven and what cannot, including in our own lives. Specific to the audiobook: the narrator’s voices and pace were spot on.

I was pleased with myself for being up-to-date on the Extreme Measures series, but just learned book 4 is in the works. Yay! Another great book to look forward to.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

FBI special agent Julianna Jameson is a top-notch negotiator who has never lost a hostage. Surely she can manage to take care of her much younger sister, Dottie, who showed up unannounced to live with Julianna while she finished her senior year of high school.

A former sniper with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Clay Fox left the army after a tragic incident that he can’t get past. Now he’s working as a high school resource officer until he can figure out what to do with the rest of his life. 

Their paths cross when Julianna is called in to negotiate a courtroom hostage situation involving Clay’s sister. Impressed and a bit intimidated by the calm, capable woman with the dark hair and blue eyes, Clay invites her to speak at his school. Dottie’s school.

But as the anniversary of a school shooting from Julianna’s past approaches, it becomes clear that her perfect record is about to be tested and that Dottie is at risk. If Julianna and Clay can’t figure out who’s behind the attacks, more innocent people will die–and Dottie is next in line.

This intense story of revenge and redemption from bestselling author and master of suspense Lynette Eason will have you up all night as you race toward the explosive finish.


Award-winning, best-selling author, Lynette Eason writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her books have hit the Publisher’s Weekly, CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won numerous awards such as the prestigious Carol Award, the Selah, the Daphne, the IRCC award and more. Lynette is married, has two children, and lives in Greenville, SC.

Book Review: Everything Is Just Beginning

31 Jan

I don’t usually look at other reviews before writing my own. I don’t want to cloud my thoughts or inadvertently steal other’s ideas. You know like writing a song and using a sitcom jingle. 😉 Does that last statement intrigue you? Now you know you have to read Everything Is Just Beginning. The newest novel by Erin Bartels is a mix, just like the musical styles of the band main characters Natalie and Michael put together. It took me a bit to get into, but I sure am glad I read this book. It will be with me for a while.


Michael Sullivan is a talented lyricist and a decent guitarist, but since he was kicked out of his band (and his apartment), he’s not sure he’ll ever get a record deal. Living with his loser uncle in a beat-up trailer and working a dead-end job, Michael has little reason to hope for a better future. Until the invitation for a swanky New Year’s Eve party shows up in the mailbox. It’s for his uncle, with whom he shares his name, but his uncle is going out of town . . . 

On the effervescent night of December 31, 1989–as the Berlin Wall is coming down, the Soviet Union is inching toward democracy, and anything seems possible–Michael will cross paths with the accomplished and enigmatic young heir to a fading musical dynasty, forever altering both of their futures. 

Award-winning novelist Erin Bartels enchants with this story of two lonely souls who have exactly what the other one needs–if they could simply turn their focus from what is ending to what is just beginning.

ERIN BARTELS is the award-winning author of We Hope for Better Things, The Words Between Us, All That We Carried, and The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest and her poetry has been published by The Lyric. She lives in the capital city of a state that is 40% water, nestled somewhere between angry protesters on the Capitol lawn and couch-burning frat boys at Michigan State University. And yet, she claims it is really quite peaceful.

You can find her on Instagram @erinbartelswrites and Facebook @ErinBartelsAuthor.

My Impressions:

Everything Is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels kind of defies definition. Set in 1989, it could technically be an historical novel, yet while there are plenty of references to the era, it’s more supportive than a main part of the book. It could be a coming of age story, since Michael, the voice of the book is young and certainly grows up a lot. It could be a love story as Michael and Natalie go from friendship to maybe something more. But I think above all it is a good story well-told. Music is the central core — Michael wants to be a rock star and takes advantage of a party invitation to get gain connections. What he actually gets is connectedness. The relationships in the book are beautifully spotlighted in the quest for getting a band together. But it’s not a novel about the band. It’s a novel about lives lived with purpose or not. Brokenness in many forms is discussed, along with the grace extended to give those who are broken a place to heal and grow. To offer up forgiveness when none is deserving. Now, I am not really a music person — I can’t carry a tune or read music. I often listen to talk radio over the music channels. But Bartels pours so much of the emotions found in music into this book. Including the lyrics of the songs within the narrative exposes the depths of Michael’s soul, of Natalie’s grief, and gave me an understanding of their stories, that prose could not convey. It really, really works, creating a touching story to think about long after it is finished. And if you are a music person, you will be thrilled with the QR codes in the back of the book that let you in on some playlists and the music played by the band. I’m even going to check it out 😉 .

While Everything Is Just Beginning started out a bit slow for me, I am so glad I kept at it. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough towards the end. Complex characters and beautifully fleshed out themes make this one a highly recommended read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Honor Bound

30 Jan

Honor Bound by Hallee Bridgeman is my book club’s pick this month. While it is the first in her Love And Honor series, I jumped ahead a few months ago and read Honor’s Refuge. Not a big problem, but I am glad I went back to book 1 — so much great backstory. A great romantic suspense from a new-to-me author, Honor Bound is a fresh take on the typical plotting in that genre. I really liked it!

Captain Rick Norton and his Army Special Forces are on a mission to subdue Chukuwereije, a warlord terrorizing the villages in the jungles of Katangela, Africa, when their mission is interrupted to extract the daughter of America’s vice president.

Dr. Cynthia Myers has used her medical mission in a remote village in Katangela to escape a shallow life of unearned wealth, a philandering fiancé, and a father now square in the public eye. At least here she knows her work and life have meaning. But all that is thrown into chaos when she fails to save the life of Chukuwereije’s mortally wounded son and becomes a target for the warlord’s revenge.

Rick is compelled to use deadly force to save Cynthia’s life. Enraged at the violence she witnessed and riddled with guilt that men died because of her, Cynthia tries to hang on to her anger–but an unexpected attraction is taking hold.

With two members of his team badly injured and rebels in hot pursuit, Rick will have to draw upon all his strength and cunning to get her out alive . . . because he’s beginning to think they just might overcome their differences and be able to make a life together.

Hallee Bridgeman is the award winning and USA TODAY bestselling author of several action-packed romantic suspense books and series. An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee settled with her husband in central Kentucky, where they have raised their three children. When she’s not writing, Hallee pursues her passion for cooking, coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her.

Get a free ebook when you sign up for Hallee’s newsletter: http://www.halleebridgeman.com/newsletter.

My Impressions:

Honor Bound is the first book in Hallee Bridgeman‘s Love And Honor series. I read book 3 first, but I don’t recommend that. 😉 The series features a Green Beret unit assigned to very special operations, including exfiltrations (getting good guys away from bad guys). In Honor Bound, the reader is introduced to the whole squad with lots of backstory for those who will have their own book later. I never felt overwhelmed by the many characters or their life details. It is all presented so naturally. Book one features unit leader Rick and a very important doctor who does not want to be rescued. Set in a fictional African nation, you get jungle and terrorists. The first half of the book is intense, as the group seeks to exit the jungle alive. The second half of the book is set in the US as the two main characters navigate their budding relationship. I really liked this. It is very different from most romantic suspense novels where danger follows the characters up to the end. It actually makes a lot of sense and allows the romance to develop, or not, in a natural way, not influenced by adrenaline. There are, as expected, ups and downs for the two, but it isn’t really a spoiler to say there is a happily-ever-after. This is Christian romance after all.

I expect my book club to like Honor Bound. It ticks all the boxes we look for — interesting story and setting, a faith message that is natural and not preachy, and a good bit of action. I think they are really going to like the fresh storytelling. For myself, I give it a recommended rating.

Recommended.

Audience: Adults.

(I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Sarah’s Choice

26 Jan

Sarah’s Choice by Pegg Thomas is an historical romance set in Colonial America. It’s hard to remember that western Pennsylvania was once the frontier. This was a time of European settlement in the traditional lands of Native Americans, and the novel explores the violent conflict between the two groups, With a strong faith message, the book will give you much to think about.

Sarah Feight has her life planned with a loving husband, a promising new settlement, and big dreams to shape the future of trade on Pennsylvania’s frontier. An Indian attack at dawn changes everything.

When he pulls his freight wagons into Fort Pitt, Leith McCully never dreams he’ll be conscripted into the militia and ordered to defend the fort. Worried about trader friends on his delivery route, he rides to their settlement and returns with Sarah, the only survivor.

Fort Pitt is crowded to twice its capacity with the settlers who have taken refuge there and surrounded by the rising smoke of burned-out settlements. Tempers flare, disease breaks out, and the constant fear of the next attack has everyone on edge.

Cully keeps an eye on Sarah because he feels responsible for her. And, though he doesn’t admit as much, she tugs at his heart. Sarah sees Cully as the last link to her past. A friend of her husband’s family. She’s going to need someone she can trust, and she trusts Cully. Her rescuer.

Are trust and admiration enough to help them survive the siege and its devastating consequences? Is there any hope for a future beyond?

Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Lower Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. Besides writing, she enjoys a variety of crafts including spinning sheep’s wool into yarn and knitting. Together, she and Michael enjoy camping, fishing, boat-nerding (you have to be a Great Lakes person to know about that), and thoroughbred horse racing.

A life-long history geek, it’s no surprise that historical fiction is her genre. Colonial America and the Civil War era are favorite time periods to both read and write. Her favorite type of book centers on a great fiction story surrounded by factual historical events.

My Impressions:

It has been a while since I read a novel set in Colonial America. While many feature the rise of the Revolution, Sarah’s Choice by Pegg Thomas explores the time when European settlers and Native American’s clashed in what is commonly called the French And Indian War. I thought this novel was an interesting look at the desire for white settlers to make a home in the expanding frontier, while Native Americans wanted to preserve their lands and way of life. It didn’t help that another European adversary, the French, was agitating the conflict. It’s a time that modern readers may be uncomfortable with, but as it is part of how our nation was formed, it shouldn’t be forgotten. Sarah’s Choice is mostly from the viewpoint of the settlers. An attack leaves Sarah all alone, hurt, and vulnerable. She shelters in Fort Pitt as a siege takes place. The title points out that she has a choice to make, many in fact. She must choose whether to live, whether to love again, and whether to forgive. Her struggle is very natural given what she endures. She is supported by people of faith whose influence helps her to heal. I found the descriptions of life in a fort during a siege very interesting. Those who were within the fort’s walls had to deal with disease, lack of food and water, and the fear of daily attacks. There is a limited viewpoint from the other side, which I wish had been a bit more balanced. The novel is also a romance, and Sarah is put in a definitely unromantic position — her survival hinges on a marriage of convenience. I would not have wanted to make that choice!

If you are a fan of historical fiction set in the early days of America’s formation, then check out Sarah’s Choice. It raises a lot of questions and opportunities for goolging. 😉

Edit: for more points of view (French And Native American), check out books 2&3. 😀

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased Sarah’s Choice from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Audiobook Mini-Review: Dark Intercept

23 Jan

My husband and I chose Dark Intercept by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson as a road trip listen. I thought this thriller with a military tie-in and lack of romance would appeal to my husband. We diligently listened to the end, but our take-away was that the writing was just okay, the plot a bit ludicrous, and the adult language and graphic violence somewhat offensive. This book was a 2022 Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award winner in the Speculative category. It is heavy on spiritual warfare which we had no problem with, but it was difficult for us to buy into the scenario presented. It does have non-stop action if that is what you are looking for, but as I said the violence was jarring, especially at the end, and both the bad guys and good guys use adult language. There is a twist at the end that we saw coming that will probably be addressed in the next book in the series. However, my husband and I will not be joining in on that mission. 😉

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

When dark forces rise, are faith and firepower enough?
On the eve of his medical retirement, Navy SEAL Jedidiah Johnson receives a frantic call from his estranged childhood best friend David Yarnell. David’s daughter has been kidnapped off the streets of Nashville in broad daylight. The police have no suspects and no leads. The only clue: the body of a dead priest left behind at the scene. With the clock ticking, David is growing desperate, as is his wife, Rachel . . . Jed’s first love.

Despite his painful history with David and Rachel, Jed agrees to help. But he’s spent his career as a door-kicking Navy SEAL, not an investigator. His presence immediately draws unwanted attention, creates friction with the local police, and triggers a mysterious attempt on his life. Just when he thinks things can’t get worse, it starts to happen again—the voices in his head, the nightmares, the visions. Dark memories and strange abilities, things he believed he’d left behind when he fled Nashville for the Navy at eighteen, begin to resurface.

Jed realizes that to save the missing girl, he must take a leap of faith and embrace the gifts he’s denied for all these years. To foil this dark intercept, he’ll need more than just his years as a SEAL operator, because he has no choice now but to take up arms and join the battle in the unseen spiritual warfare raging all around him. And there is far more at stake than just a missing girl: the world is not the place he thought it was—and he is not alone.

Follow the military heroes of The Shepherds series as they bring the power of light into the dark mystery of Sara Beth’s abduction.

Book Review: Within These Walls Of Sorrow

18 Jan

I visited Krakow in the spring of 2018. Poland is such a wonderful place — the people are friendly, the city is beautiful, the food is amazing. And history surrounds the visitor. We walked through the old Jewish sector which after WWII houses no Jews despite a large synagogue and vibrant Jewish and Israeli restaurants. We toured Shindler’s factory and marveled at how he saved so many people. We walked in silence through the gates of Auschwitz and among the bombed crematories of Birkenau. Our trip was memorable for many reasons, and I am very glad I was able to travel there. Then I read Within These Walls of Sorrow by Amanda Barratt. It was almost like a return visit, but this time I walked the streets of Krakow and entered the buildings of the concentration camps with friends who lived through the era and ordeal. If you are a reader, you know how characters can become real, and, yes, like cherished friends. This book is amazing and very highly recommended.

“This tense WWII historical from Barratt (My Dearest Dietrich) follows a woman’s efforts to help her neighbors survive the Kraków ghetto. . . . Moving and effective, this inspirational finds light in the darkest of places.”–Publishers Weekly


Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany’s invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression. 

Hania Silverman’s carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto’s population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania’s natural resiliency is exhausted by reality. 
Zodia and Hania’s lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart. 

Amanda Barratt’s meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times. 

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spin-off of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical fiction, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. She’s the author of over a dozen novels and novellas including The White Rose Resists: A Novel of the German Students Who Defied Hitler and My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love.

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net.

My Impressions:

I can start off by saying that Within These Walls of Sorrow by Amanda Barratt is one of the best books I have ever read. Not an exaggeration, this novel is so well-researched that the time and place of the book came to life for me. A few years ago I visited Krakow, the setting of the book, and this novel brought back all those images and memories. But this time I felt like I lived alongside the characters. That’s an amazing thing to experience, but also heartbreaking because of the subject matter — the Krakow Ghetto and the Nazi plans for exterminating the Jews. The author details this honestly and realistically. I admit I had to pause my reading in order not to be overcome by the cruelty depicted. Yet, Barratt shines a light in all the darkness with her characters’ love and sacrifice and their faltering, yet continuing faith. The historical detail is key to the novel, but the characterization is what makes this book a 5-star. Many historical figures make their appearances on the pages, including the owner and employees of the Pharmacy Under The Eagle, the Polish-owned pharmacy the Nazi’s uncharacteristically let continue within the walls of Krakow’s ghetto. But the two mains, Zosia and Hania, are fictional, although influenced by the those who lived during these dark days. I won’t go into those things that the characters faced, but just say that the indomitable spirit that helped them survive is a testament to the real people they are based upon. The novel takes the reader from the early days of the Nazi occupation with the beginnings of persecution, through the increasing danger and the plans the Nazi put in place, to the aftermath of the war when those who survived are faced with living with extreme losses and their own futures. Within These Walls of Sorrow will make you think all along the way — would I have succumbed to despair, would I have rallied to face death with dignity, would I have turned a blind eye to what other people were going through? Long after the last page was turned, I continued to ask myself questions that examined what I believe and what I live.

Within These Walls of Sorrow is a must-read. Be prepared to be shocked, but also be prepared to be changed. I also recommend you read this book with someone — you will need to talk about it.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Kregel for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Mini-Book Review: Operation Joktan

12 Jan

I read Operation Joktan by Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn a few months ago, but it has remained on my mind. I admit I had my doubts about liking this book. Some military-type books set in the Middle East that my husband loves leave my eyes glazed over. 😉 Not the case with Operation Joktan! While the book centers on Israel’s Mossad and their clandestine operations to circumvent terrorists, the characters and their relationships were not lost in the action. (If you know, you know.) The book takes some time to build with backstory for the two main characters and the terrorists. There is a great balance between the edge-of-the-seat action and the characters’ development. A couple of the story threads seemed superfluous to me, until, in retrospect, I found the authors making me see those who are swept up in a terrorist’s plot. Those incidental characters teach of the real human costs and the necessity for action by elite groups like the Mossad. While the operation is concluded, the relationships are left with some loose threads. Last, but certainly not least, the book explores the faith journeys of the characters in a natural, never preachy way. I look forward to reading book 2, By Way of Deception which released last fall.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the publisher for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

“It was the perfect day—until the gunfire.”

Nir Tavor is an Israeli secret service operative turned talented Mossad agent.

Nicole le Roux is a model with a hidden skill.

A terrorist attack brings them together, and then work forces them apart—until they’re unexpectedly called back into each other’s lives.

But there’s no time for romance. As violent radicals threaten chaos across the Middle East, the two must work together to stop these extremists, pooling Nicole’s knack for technology and Nir’s adeptness with on-the-ground missions. Each heart-racing step of their operation gets them closer to the truth—and closer to danger.

In this thrilling first book in a new series, authors Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn draw on true events as well as tactical insights Amir learned from his time in the Israeli Defense Forces. For believers in God’s life-changing promises, Operation Joktan is a suspense-filled page-turner that illuminates the blessing Israel is to the world.

Amir Tsarfati was born in Israel and has lived there most of his life. Since fulfilling his mandatory service in the Israeli Defense Force, he has continued as a major in the IDF Reserve. Amir has been a tour guide in Israel for the last twenty years, and served as chief tour guide of Sar El Tours and CEO of Sar El Tours and Conferences. In 2001, he became founder and president of Behold Israel – a non-profit organization which provides worldwide real-time access to reliable sources of news and information about Israel from within the powerful context of Bible history and prophecy.

Amir is married to Miriam, and together they have four children. His home overlooks the valley of Megiddo (Armageddon) which is a constant reminder of the call that the Lord has placed on him to teach from the Bible what God’s plans are for the end of times.

Steve Yohn grew up as a pastor’s kid in Fresno, California, and both of those facts contributed significantly to his slightly warped perspective on life. Steve graduated from Multnomah Bible College with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and barely survived a stint as a youth pastor.

While studying at Denver Seminary, Steve worked as a videographer for Youth for Christ International, traveling throughout the world capturing the ministry’s global impact. Later, he spent a decade as pastor of Strasburg Community Church in Strasburg, Colorado. Currently, he is the Senior Writer and Editor at Behold Israel. Steve has co-written five books, and ghost-written five others.

Surprisingly, although his hobbies are reading classic literature, translating the New Testament from the Greek, and maintaining a list of political leaders of every country of the world over the last 25 years, he still occasionally gets invited to parties and has a few friends. His wife, Nancy, and their daughter are the joys of his life.

Children’s Corner: Fiona I Can Read Books

11 Jan

I had the pleasure of keeping my now 3 year old granddaughter for 2 weeks following Thanksgiving. She is such a bookworm! Her parents have read to her since her birth, so the love of reading and books is ingrained in her. We spent hours reading and re-reading (I need to increase my kid’s library 😉 ). She had her favorites, but the Fiona books captured her imagination. I have 4 I Can Read Fiona books. All star Fiona, the hippopotamus from the Cincinnati Zoo. The first, Meet Fiona The Hippo, tells the story of Fiona’s first days at the zoo, along with fun facts and Fiona’s progress as a baby. Fantastic Fiona details what make many of the zoo animals special, as well as reinforcing the message that all have their talents and contributions to the world. Fiona Saves The Day shows how teamwork can make a big difference in accomplishing goals, and Fiona And The Rainy Day makes a thunderstorm look not so scary. The books are Level 1 in the I Can Read series — perfect for young readers to sound out words and engage them in story. My granddaughter is too young for reading on her own, but she was captivated by these books, so I see them easily being part of learning to read journey.

Recommended.

Audience: young readers.

(Thanks to Zonderkidz for complimentary copies of these books. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Meet Fiona, the adorable hippo who became a worldwide internet sensation. Learn how Fiona came to live at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, and what this fun, fearless hippo hero loves to do!

Created by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey (Fiona the HippoBad Dog, Marley), beginning readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona in this Level One I Can Read book. Fiona the hippo was born six weeks before her due date. The whole world watched as this tiny baby hippo learned to eat, walk, and swim. Her courage and spunk helped her become a happy, healthy hippopotamus.

Join your favorite hippo, Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, in this story of sharing and caring about friends—and the good thing about a little rain storm too.

It is raining, but Fiona still wants to hang out with her good friends at the zoo. When Flamingo stops by Hippo Cove for a visit, she brings her big umbrella. Young readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona and her friends in this Level One I Can Read about the little hippo that has captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality.

Join your favorite hippo, Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, as she and her animal friends attempt to help their friend Mango the little blue penguin who’s stuck on a ledge.

Get ready to let out a snort, wiggle your ears, and say, “I’ve got this!” alongside the cute and courageous Fiona the hippo. Beginning readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona and her friends in this adventure-filled Level One I Can Read book.

Join your favorite hippo, Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, as she visits her zoo friends, finding out what makes each one special. Is it their speedy running? Their lovely singing? And what makes Fiona so special to all of her friends?

Young readers will enjoy learning more about Fiona and her friends in this Level One I Can Read about the little hippo that has captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality.

Children’s Corner — I’m So Glad You Were Born

4 Jan

I gave my 3 year old granddaughter I’m So Glad You Were Born by Ainsley Earhardt (co-host of Fox And Friends) on her birthday. Her first response was it’s a party! And she was right! This colorful book, whimsically illustrated by Kim Barnes, is a celebration of your child’s life — from newborn to all grown. I loved that Earhardt focused on how a child is divinely and uniquely created with a purpose all her own. It emphasizes the ways in which a child can become who they are meant to be, while living their lives to best of their abilities. It’s a long-ish book for the preschool set, but its rhyming verse makes it easily flow from one page to another. It’s also a great conversation starter with your elementary aged children. Perfect for the home library, get this book for the next birthday boy or girl on your list.

Recommended.

Audience: preschool to early elementary.

(Thanks to Zonderkidz for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Parents and children both have big dreams—about their life and the wonders the future holds. I’m So Glad You Were Born celebrates those dreams as well as the wonder of everyday experiences like sweet and special snuggles and cuddles, fun times and learning times too!

New York Times bestselling author and FOX News anchor Ainsley Earhardt has created a picture book that celebrates ALL the dreams come true–a parent’s, a child’s, and Creator God’s! I’m So Glad You Were Born is full of love and hope and has a sweet, playful message inspired by Scripture that will leave your child without a doubt just how thankful you are that they are in your life and that they were created to be extraordinary.

Ainsley Earhardt is a journalist who is the cohost of FOX and Friends. Earhardt is an anchor and correspondent for the Fox News Channel and Earhardt also reports for FOX’s The Sean Hannity Show with her own segment called “Ainsley Across America.” She was the former cohost for Fox & Friends First and has also cohosted FOX and Friends Weekend, FOX’s All-American New Year’s Eve, America’s News Headquarters, been a panelist on The Live Desk and appeared on Greg Gutfeld’s Red Eye.

Book Review — A Quilt for Christmas

2 Jan

I was determined to finish A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson by Christmas night. I failed, LOL! I did finish it prior to my immediate family’s Christmas get-together so I count that as a win. While you may think it’s past time for a Christmas-y novella, I recommend you take a look at this one. It has a great message of reaching out to others with hurts, challenges, and needs. At least put it on your TBR list for next December 😉 .

Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that’s not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one–until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera’s help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request–a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all–and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to cuddle up this holiday season with this cozy story of giving, forgiving, and a little bit of romance.

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

My Impressions:

The Queen of Christmas Novellas has done it again. A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson is a feel-good story about reaching out of our own lives to others who are hurting and facing challenges. Four strangers are brought together to create a quilt for Vera’s neighbor. Prompted by the precocious 4 year old Fiona, the four very different women forge friendships, and in one case an uneasy alliance, to help a family in need. The book is quick to take off as novellas do, but is filled with poignant moments and a few chuckle-inducing scenes. Friendships are made, a romance is kindled, and hearts are softened. It was the perfect book for holiday reading due to its Christmastime setting, but would make a great weekend read any time of the year.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)