Category Archives: Book reviews

Celebration at Christmas Cove by Carrie Jansen

About the Book

In this humorous and heartwarming romance, sparks fly between a woman who can’t wait to leave a wintry New England island, and a widower who would do anything to stay.

Travel magazine writer Celeste Bell is in a terrible mood. Not only was her flight to the Caribbean diverted to a Massachusetts island, now it looks like she’ll have to spend Christmas there. Single and still mourning the loss of her mother a year earlier, Celeste is desperate to avoid any emotional entanglements and all holiday festivities. She just doesn’t feel like celebrating.

But that’s exactly what community center director Nathan White and his young daughter, Abigail, want to do. Nathan is entirely focused on making sure that his daughter has a happy Christmas, especially with the knowledge that if he can’t raise money for the community center soon, it will close and they’ll have to leave the island. When he meets Celeste, Nathan begins to feel a connection and wonders if he’s brave enough to risk his heart once more.

Thawing their frozen hearts and saving the community center will require a Christmas miracle. But ’tis the season…

Celebration at Christmas Cove, written by Carrie Jensen, takes flight from the beginning. The plot is gripping, the island is charming and the individuals are fascinating.

Celeste Bell, a travel journalist for a magazine, was looking forward to a trip to the Caribbean at Christmas time. Due to a series of unforeseen delays, she was rerouted to Sea Spray Island. She, however, is not looking forward to Christmas.

Nathan White, the director of the community center on Sea Spray Island, and his daughter, Abigail, are focused on Christmas for two quite different reasons.

Minor characters in the story were just as enjoyable as the main characters to me. They were charming, amusing (and in some cases, delightfully funny) people who cared about others.

The romance doesn’t start right out of the gate. On the other hand, the pacing is ideal for the narrative.

I really liked the book and would love to live in a community like Sea Spray Island.

Celebration at Christmas Cove is a sweet, wholesome Hallmark-style romance full of holiday cheer, hope and optimism. It’s the ideal book for curling up next to a fireplace with your favorite beverage and a warm, snuggly blanket while losing yourself in the story for an afternoon.

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley and Berkley Trade Paperback Original. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.

Do They All Sleep?: A Children’s Picture Book, Bedtime Stories by Srividhya Lakshmanan (Author),  Akansha Krishnan (Illustrator)

About the Book

Whether you laze, doze, snuggle, cuddle, nap or kip, you need to rest for a bit, but do animals ever sleep?

Time to jump into the ocean, sneak in some burrows, run through the savannah, roll down the hill, and find out how they sleep. ‘Do they all sleep?’ is a colorful picture book that can help your toddler learn how and where animals sleep through some fun little rhymes. In the end, let your toddler tell about their favorite way to sleep.

Grab this book now and watch your little one’s fun journey to a peaceful sleep every single night.

Rated 5 Stars by Readers’ Favorite – Do They All Sleep?, is a clever and charming book about the different sleeping patterns of many diverse animals and creatures of the sea. This is a wonderful interactive book, creative and educational as well as fun to read.

Do They All Sleep? is an adorable bedtime book for children written by Srividhya Lakshmanan and illustrated by Akansha Krishnan. The book will appeal to both adults and children, and it will assist in the formation of an endearing, pleasant sleeping habit.

The illustrations are vibrant and vivid, richly exemplifying each animal’s natural habitat and drawing kids swiftly into the narrative.

The sleeping patterns of each animal, bird, and fish are described. The animal’s calling naps by their home tongue’s name demonstrates differences in language.

Questions for the youngster to answer are sprinkled throughout the book, further immersing them in the story. The questions encourage a child to think about his or her own sleeping habits.

I appreciate how each animal’s story is brief and to the point, making it ideal for young children and beginning readers. The fonts for the little kid and the animal are different, making it easy to tell who is speaking.

Lakshmanan writes enchanting, entertaining and educational stories for children and Do They All Sleep? is no exception.

Written in repetitive, nursery rhyme format, which is perfect for little ones, Do They Sleep? is a perfect bedtime story.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking Cookbook 2 for Kids by Skye Wade

About the Book

This is the second book in the series, and we are just as proud of it as we were of the first. If you don’t have the first one, don’t worry, you can still make any of the delicious recipes in this book!

By following a few simple steps, you will create mouth-watering treats without needing any special skills, equipment, or ingredients.

The recipes have been tested by many people. We’ve chosen the best ones.

  • Recipes that have received the highest ratings.
  • Meticulously tested and proven.
  • Only popular and very tasty dishes.
  • The dishes are varied, taken from different cuisines. Sweet and savory, festive, and healthy, vegan and even meat. You’ll find both familiar classics and exotic new recipes. Most of them are sweet and sure to please children.
  • Different baking techniques are used to teach and develop your child’s key kitchen skills.

Simple, but not primitive.

  • Easy to make. Recipes are broken down into 3 categories of difficulty, but even the most difficult ones are manageable for a child.
  • Most recipes require 3 to 10 ingredients.
  • Don’t require gourmet ingredients. Chances are you already have everything you need, or you can find it at the nearest supermarket, regardless of the country you live in. In addition, there are substitution options for many of the ingredients.
  • Most recipes require only the most basic cooking utensils. And even for those, there are substitution options: no microwave — make a water bath; no mixer — use a whisk.

Not just recipes. The book will teach your kids the basics of baking.

  • It’s as easy as 1 – 2 – 3. Your child will not be confused. The book contains illustrated instructions on every necessary step: from washing their hands before they start to cleaning up after themselves afterward.
  • A clearly illustrated safety manual that your child won’t skip. It’s clear and simple enough to grasp after one read-through.
  • The book introduces key baking terminology in a simple, visual way. It’s better to show with a picture what “knead” or “grease” means than to explain in words.
  • Not only can a child cook the chosen dish easily, he or she will find an interesting fact about it at the end of the recipe.

This book can serve you for a lifetime!

  • Even a 4-year-old child can understand the book, because it illustrates in detail absolutely every action, ingredients, and even tools. Children will love the fun illustration style and the cute, friendly kitten character.
  • Simple, short, but comprehensive comments on the steps will be easily understood by an older child.
  • Even adults will enjoy using this book. The recipes here are versatile, and the information is instantly readable.
  • These recipes aren’t just for once. They are suitable for many different situations, from Christmas or birthdays to an everyday breakfast or picnic. You’ll want to cook them again and again!

The book is very easy to navigate.

  • The ingredient quantities are given in both metric and imperial systems at a glance.
  • It has the Cooking Time Index and the Occasion Index.
  • Steps which might require adult supervision are marked with a special red icon.
  • Each recipe has a notes page where you can rate the recipe, make adjustments, and write in personalized options.

This large, bright, and beautiful 245-page book makes a great gift. There is a bonus coloring page included absolutely free for kids of all ages to enjoy.

Pick up your copy today and get your kids excited about baking!

The Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking Cookbook 2 for Kids by Skye Wade is as helpful and cute as the Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking Cookbook 1 for Kids.

Book two is wonderful for youngsters and adults alike since it includes an assortment of attractive, colorful drawings and graphics that demonstrates safety features, supplies, equipment, recipe procedures and the final product.

Cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries and loaves of bread, along with salty and savory nibbles, are among the dishes included. For the various formulations, there are also useful units with replacements and experiments. In addition, there are fascinating little pieces of information about ingredients in the recipes.

The adorable kitty is back, and the directions for sauces and the coloring page at the conclusion of the cookbook are guaranteed to enchant and please young readers.

Near the end, you’ll find measurement conversions that will come in handy.

Little bit was able to assist in the preparation of a pizza by placing toppings on top of the crust once the crust was ready. She now enjoys pizza so much that she requests it virtually every day!

I had a great deal of fun looking through the recipes and choosing ones that were appropriate for my little one. We both enjoy preparing meals together.

I received the Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking Cookbook 2 for Kids from BookSirens. However, I was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

LULU the Tiger Loves Ice Cream: A Children’s Book about Self-Esteem, Cooking, Sharing and Social Skills (Cooking Adventures) by Ann Lee  

About the Book

Lulu the Tiger is invited to Hal Hippo’s pool party and is asked to bring her favorite dessert. Lulu has fun making her favorite ice cream. She makes chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors. What desserts will her friends bring to the party and will they share her love for ice cream?

Read this fun, yummy tale about friendship, following directions, and sharing. Since it’s written in rhyme, it serves as the perfect circle time, story time, or bedtime text. And remember – even if you’re left without a scoop of ice, there will always be a friend or two who will gladly share their ice cream with you!

LULU the Tiger Loves Ice Cream is one of five children’s learning books in a series by Ann Lee. Lulu the Tiger has numerous experiences and teaches essential lessons about friendship, life, and education along the way. All of the stories are well-written and entertaining for kids. Lulu is invited to a pool party in this story, and she brings her favorite dessert, ice cream, with her.

Lulu has a number of other animal companions with whom she enjoys playing. At the pool party, they all have an exciting time. When Lulu drops an ice cream cone, they learn about sharing.

The book is written in rhyme, which attracts children’s attention. The images are cute and appealing to young ones.

At the end of the book, the author gives a simple ice cream recipe as well as coloring pages.

My granddaughter has quickly become a fan of the Lulu stories, and she begs that they be read to her every day!

How You See Yourself: The Source of Your Struggle and How to Conquer It! by David L. Johnston

About the Book

Ever go to a carnival and look into one of those distorted mirrors, you know, the ones that make you look three feet tall and five feet wide? The image of yourself that you see back is distorted. It can produce a good laugh. But many of us struggle with a similar condition – we don’t see ourselves accurately. We are hindered from being the best version of ourselves, the version God intended. We are prevented by this insidious thing called iniquity. Iniquity is mentioned 334 times in the Bible, yet so many remain oblivious to its significant and negative impact on everyday living. Iniquity is the ancient term for narcissism. It’s what turned a good angel, Lucifer, into the devil… “thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:15). It’s one of the four reason Jesus went to the cross… “He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). It’s why Jesus was sent… “to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26). As you journey through the pages of this book you will not only identify the problems iniquity imposes upon us, but you will also discover the solutions.

As I read David L. Johnston’s book, How You See Yourself, I realized that I thought iniquity and sin were more or less equal, and interchangeable, not realizing they are two very distinct concepts. Starting with an in-depth explanation of the difference between sin and iniquity, Johnston exposes the origin of iniquity-Satan, also known as Lucifer. He continues chapter-by-chapter to describe the effects of iniquity in our lives and how it separates us from God, just as it separated and separates Satan from Him, too.

I’ve never read a more thorough, all-encompassing book on how iniquity impacts every part of our lives, including how familial iniquities are passed down through the centuries and harm future generations.

Johnston supports his assertions with an extraordinary number of Bible verses from the King James translation of the Bible. It will be life-changing to read, pray about and apply the relevant portions of this book Biblically.

How You See Yourself is not a book that can be quickly read, grasped and comprehended. Our inevitable battle with the flesh will necessitate a more patient, deliberate engagement. It will, however, not be a waste of time.

I received a free copy of this book from HigherLife and voluntarily chose to give it my honest review.

Shaping Your Family Story: How Imperfect Parents Create Hope and Promise for Their Children by David W. Welday Ⅲ and James L. Coffield

About the Book

Relax! Take a deep breath. Shaping Your Family Story will fill you with hope, confidence and give you valuable insights on how to become the director of an incredible story-one that will bless not only your child, but your whole family!

At last, here’s a parenting book for people who hate parenting books! Every parent at times feels overwhelmed and convinced they are wrecking their kids. Some of us feel that way all the time! We want help – not judgement and a list of more things to do. We watch the stories of our children unfold so quickly. We wonder if we are doing enough. Are we making a difference in their lives? Here is a book that will support you, encourage you and help you give your kids hope and promise – without stressing yourself crazy. Shaping Your Family Story provides valuable insights on how to become the director of an incredible family story – one that will bless not only your child, but your whole family.

David W. Welday III and James L. Coffield, the authors of Shaping Your Family Story, blended their voices into one and drew on concepts they had heard and learned from other parents to create an impressive parenting book.

Virtually all parents have questioned their role or said something pithy at some point throughout their parenting journey, and each chapter starts with one of those statements. The analogy of the five core principles-Reflecting, Directing, Protecting, Correcting, and Connecting-to the parts of an inspiring story-character, plot setting, conflict, and theme-piqued my interest. (How could it not, given my love of books and my fascination with them?)

Each chapter contains many helpful resources as well as common family anecdotes and suggestions for how to approach and manage various situations. The sections on discipline styles and useful rules guidelines are invaluable.

Throughout the narrative, there’s a wealth of information with numerous nuggets to be mined and adapted. I enjoyed how the writers wrapped up the book with a section on connecting with God, emphasizing and highlighting the necessity and importance of each person and the family as a whole to embark on a journey to find God.

There’s no way for me to do this book justice in a review. I wish it had been available while my children were smaller and not yet adults. However, perhaps it will help them to avoid the many mistakes I made.

I received a free copy of this book from HigherLife and voluntarily chose to give it my honest review.

The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection: 8 Novellas from the Old West Celebrate the Lighthearted Side of Love by Mary Connealy

About the Book

Love sneaks up on eight couples in the Old West.

The Old West comes to life under the talented pen of bestselling author Mary Connealy. Enjoy a lighthearted ride alongside seven historical and one contemporary cowboys and the women who tame their hearts.

The Advent Bride

Melanie Douglas is alone on the Nebraska plains, teaching school to get by. She finds a unique box with hidden drawers to use over the advent season to engage a young boy in his schooling. When Henry O’Keeffe sees a positive change in his son, he has to see for himself what this new teacher is doing.

A Bride Rides Herd

Matt Reeves arrives at his brother’s ranch to find Betsy Harden alone with the little girls during a cattle drive. Will the ladies be too much to handle when Matt steps in for the missing ranch hand?

His Surprise Family

A lonely young rancher orders a mail-order bride and after the vows are spoken, she “surprises” him with her three little brothers. No amount of apologies Meghan McCray gives are going to make Silas Harden, Jr. believe a word she says. Should Silas just build himself another house and let his mail-order family take over the one he’s got?

Homestead on the Range

Widow Elle Winter meets new homesteader Colin Samuelson on the Nebraska prairie, but the attraction between them is soon dampened by the discovery that they have seven children between them. Soon their children are working against them to bring the two families together.

Sophie’s Other Daughter

Dr. Ike Reeves comes home to visit his family only to bring trouble in the form of outlaws who believe he witnessed their latest crime. When the gang traps Ike and his old nemesis, Lauren McClellen, in a cave, they must work together to outsmart the thugs. But will their time together put them in a compromising situation that will threaten both of their good reputations?

The Sweetwater Bride

Debba McClain takes offense at being offered a wedding in exchange for valuable water rights. But she doesn’t like to see a good man’s cattle die of thirst–and the rancher Tanner Harden is rather handsome.

Texas Tea

Luke Reeves has gotten wealthy in the oil business and goes to visit his uncle to convince him to sign over the oil rights to his land. But when he meets his grown up adopted cousin Libby Cooper, he may be forced to give up one dream to win another.

Hope for Christmas

It might be 2016, but Montana is still a mighty rough place to survive the winter. When Silas Harden finds the very pregnant Kelsey Black in a wrecked car surrounded by a pack of wolves in the heart of a blizzard he takes her to his remote home. What will Silas do when the baby decides to come and Kelsey confesses why she was out in such a terrible storm?

First, I have to express my delight at the cover. I can just imagine cowboy brides in cowboy boots, especially if they are in Texas.

With eight wonderful tales, Mary Connealy takes us on a journey through the Old West, from the Nebraska grasslands and plains to Montana and Texas, from the 1800s to the 2000s. Some of the stories are linked through family, but they are not all in chronological sequence and occasionally reveal another plot. Just a word of caution: double-check the dates at the beginning of each novella.

I enjoyed the diversity of the scenarios, as well as how several of them had a Christmas theme. I also appreciated how Biblical themes were presented without overwhelming readers with heavy-handed preaching.

In her plots, Connealy’s clever, witty humor shines through, as does her historical knowledge. The characters in each short story are engaging to get to know, and you won’t want to leave them when the book ends.

The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection is another compilation of short stories that will keep your attention until the end. They’re also enjoyable, entertaining, clean and wholesome. The book will fascinate and engage you as you read it. It’s a terrific pastime if you have a period of time to read. You will want to absorb, think about and delight in each novella.

I received an e-copy from NetGalley. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham

About the Book

Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

Pepper Basham’s novel is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains during World War I, featuring a British missionary who discovers a whole new world.

When Jonathan Taylor begins his new position as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse, he experiences culture shock, to say the least. Laurel McAdams, who has had a difficult life, tries to help Jonathan navigate skepticism and animosity from the mountain people while fantasizing about escaping to the beautiful places Jonathan mentions.

Basham readily incorporates Bible texts into the plot through the characters’ dialogue. She also uses wit, humor, and local idioms to express her affection for the Appalachian region.

A lot of the writing spoke to me because my family is from the Alabama backwoods, and they, too, have had a hard-scrabble life. They speak and communicate in a unique fashion that is difficult, if not impossible, to understand. They are, however, a passionately loyal, caring group of individuals who will go to great lengths to help you if you are family or have proven your worth if you aren’t family.

From beginning to end, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Basham has an uncanny ability to draw you into a story and keep you there. You’ll find yourself thinking over her book well after you’ve already completed it.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.

Courting Calamity: 4 Historical Stories by Amanda Barratt, Gabrielle Meyer, Jennifer Uhlarik and Kathleen Y’Barbo

About the Book

Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress

Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero.

Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer

Uhlarik, California, 1874
When outlaws steal a deed from Mattie Welling, her dreams for her eight orphan charges from New York City are dashed. Can Wells Fargo detective Jake Hickens be trusted to pick up the pieces?

The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Texas, 1890
When Zeke Wyatt returns home to Polecat Creek intent on making good on his promise to marry his childhood sweetheart, he finds she’s run off in his absence, leaving her kid sister to care for her aging parents and the mercantile. Can Zeke finally settle down, or will he leave another sister with a broken heart?

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer

Minnesota, 1900
When wealthy lumber baron, Charles Alexander, unexpectedly finds himself married to an Italian immigrant, Sofia Bellini, he must do all he can to protect her from the society she’s ill-prepared to navigate. But when he falls in love with his pretty bride, he will have to make a difficult choice: will he go through with the annulment they had planned?

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt

New York City, 1909
Irish immigrant Aileen O’Connor is willing to work to make a life in America. But even the land of opportunity is paved with hardship, as she discovers firsthand the injustices faced by factory workers. When she meets Lorenzo Favero at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, her heart is stirred by the kindness he shows her. When tragedy engulfs the city, will their newfound love survive the flames?

In Courting Calamity, four authors collaborate on a collection of tales. Except for the fourth story, Echoes of the Heart, each of the stories is satisfying and engaging. The stories are short but well-written and can be read quickly. As a result, when a few hours are available, a person can curl up with a cup of coffee or tea and a blanket and read one or more of the novellas.

The stories are set among different cities and timeframes, allowing for diverse and distinct tales. Each deals with an obstacle to be overcome, a woman who needs or appreciates the support of a man and an adversity to face. The main characters have faith in God and rely on Him for guidance.

I enjoyed each of the stories. However, Echoes of the Heart is an exceedingly difficult, horrific book to read. The subject matter is especially important, dealing with workplace and environmental safety. I had an extremely challenging time reading it. Its depiction of a fire at a shirtwaist factory is graphic and horrifying.

The other three stories, Lady and the Tramps, The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creekand The Bride of Basswood Hill are less melancholy and more enjoyable.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.


The fourth novella may be triggering for some individuals due to its graphic and horrifying depictions.


My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas: Madeline’s Search by Kathleen Y’Barbo

About the Book

Journey now to Galveston, Texas, of 1880…
Where is Mrs. Smith’s granddaughter?  Who is the mysterious Mrs. Smith?

Pinkerton agent Jonah Cahill is hired by the mysterious widow to find her lost granddaughter, rumored to be living in Galveston, Texas. Though Jonah prefers to travel alone, Mrs. Smith insists that she and her companion accompany him. Madeline Latour, investigative reporter, has been acting as Mrs. Smith’s assistant for several months, and Madeline will not allow anyone—even a Pinkerton agent—to ruin the story of a lifetime. The pair forges an uneasy truce as the investigation grows dangerous.

Is there a bigger story beyond a missing girl to be revealed?

Kathleen Y’Barbo’s My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas, piqued my interest for several reasons. The gorgeous blue garment was the first thing I noticed even before reading the title—such a cool, calming color. The second reason was Texas, mentioned in the title. Texas is a state that I have high regard for and miss. I wasn’t born in Texas, but I spent most of my childhood there, and I still miss it.

Y’barbo’s book is chock-full of suspense, mystery and secrecy, creating a spellbinding, page-turning journey. There’s a Pinkerton agent forced to allow an investigative reporter, the companion to his client, to go with him. Before being able to unravel the mystery for the client, Mrs. Smith, the agent, Jonah Cahill, and the reporter, Madeline LaTour, face multiple challenges.

Bible verses intersperse the story as this intrepid group trusts God for encouragement and protection as they search for the truth.

I’m always enthralled by history, especially that of Texas. There were numerous fascinating elements of the history of Galveston, along with interesting facts Y’Barbo included at the end of the book.

A word of caution, however: some portions of the book’s subject matter could be triggering for victims of crime.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.