Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Review: Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt

Series: Thatcher Sisters #1
Genre: Women's Fiction 
Publisher: Tyndale House 
Released: May 8, 2018
432 pages
About the Book:

It's been ten years since Payton Thatcher's twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine--as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm's length.

But with her middle sister Jillian's engagement, Payton's party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside her opinionated oldest sister, Johanna, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope that a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them . . . until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian's plans and her future. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.


My Rating & Thoughts:    

This is book 1 of a series which features three sisters. Payten, the youngest is the main character of this one with Jillian, the middle sister, as a secondary character. POV regularly switches between the sisters. Jillian has just gotten engaged and then discovers she has a life-threatening illness. Payten lost her twin sister 10 years ago and has recently begun having dreams of her. She is haunted by her sister’s death and is searching for peace but has no use for God. An old friend Zach re-enters her life wanting to apologize for his actions of the past and even though she pushes him away numerous times he is determined to help her work through her issues and show her that God cares. The story deals with some tough circumstances.

I struggled to connect with Payten, she pushed everyone away and was determined to handle everything on her own. I became very invested in Jillian’s story and when I was reading her parts I didn’t want to switch to any other characters. I liked majority of the secondary characters, especially the two best friends and the fiancĂ©. But I did not like the older sister, Johanna. She irked me and I wanted her to listen to what the sisters were trying to tell her and to just back off.  There was one point where she does something sweet for Jillian but then ruins the gesture in the next moment by trying to control Jillian’s life again.

I hated the way this ended, I was left dumbfounded with the way it was left so unfinished. I realize this is book 1 of a series, but it ended so abruptly. Payten was a point where she needed to make some decisions in both her personal and professional life but we are left with no clues as to what she decides. My big question is, will she learn to lean on God for comfort. 

Favourite Quote: 
“Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Review: Christmas Wishes and Cowboy Kisses Novella Collection

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Released: Oct. 25, 2022 
1990 pages
About the Book:

Ring in the holiday season with 23 heartwarming sweet contemporary romances from USA Today and Top 100 Kindle Unlimited All-Star bestselling authors!

Discover second chance romance, love at first sight, small-town Christmas cheer, swoony single dads, enemies to lovers, snowed-in with the cowboy, and many more stories featuring the cowboy next door. Fall in love with the hunky heroes of this limited-edition Christmas cowboy romance collection.

CHRISTMAS WISHES & COWBOY KISSES features brand new clean and wholesome romances by: USA Today Bestselling Author Liz Isaacson, USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield, USA Today Bestselling Author Lacy Williams, USA Today Bestselling Author Carolyne Aarsen, USA Today Bestselling Author Melissa McClone, USA Today Bestselling Author Kit Morgan, USA Today Bestselling Author Laura Ashwood, Natalie Dean, Terri Lorah, Cynthia Woolf, Kathleen Ball, Macie St. James, Christina Butrum, Terri Grace, April Murdock, Hannah Jo Abbott, Amelia C. Adams, Josephine Blake, Heather Blanton, Catie Cahill, Parker J. Cole, RL Ashly, Christine Sterling

My Rating & Thoughts:    

This is a collection of 23 novellas from 23 different authors. I picked it up mainly for Shanna Hatfield’s story. There were some that I really enjoyed and some that I did not like. Even though I read this collection while reading other books, I’d read 2 or 3 stories in between finishing other books, this collection felt very long. I did find multiple errors in some stories that frustrated me and had me questioning how they were not caught. I am positive that in two separate stories there are character names messed up, for example one character is said to have said something in the conversation but they weren’t even in the building at the time. As I finished each story I would rate it on its own and make notes of my thoughts. At the end I then added up all my ratings and averaged them which gave me the 3 star rating. I rated two stories 5 stars and five stories 4 stars, the rest were between 1 and 3 stars. My two favourites were:

Taming Christmas – Shanna Hatfield

This one is part of her Rodeo Romance series and features the characters of Huck and Mara Powell. The story begins with them sending their children off to their grandparent’s house, and then they start reminiscing about when they first met. Readers are then inserted in the flashback and get to follow their journey of falling in love. I love the way this was done and am so glad that I finally get to know Huck and Mara’s love story after seeing them in so many of the previous books. When we first met them in Book 1 of the series they were already married. It also interesting to see some of the other characters from before their stories were written. However I don’t think you need to know any of these characters to enjoy this story.

Her Christmas Cowboy Billionaire – Cynthia Woolf

Kaylie goes into witness protection at Ryan’s ranch while waiting to testify at trial against her drug lord boss. As Ryan and Kaylie get to know each other they develop feelings. Meanwhile the drug lord has discovered where Kaylie is hiding and comes after her. I loved the strength of Kaylie and her eagerness to try anything. The characters were likeable, and I was cheering for the good guys to win. I enjoyed that it ended.

The five that I rated 4 stars I would be interested in reading other works from these particular authors were:

The Christmas Tree Cowboy by Melissa McClone

- A Cowboy for Christmas by Terri Lorah

- Candy Canes and Cowboys by Macie St. James

- A Christmas Kiss for the Cowboy by April Murdock

- Harvey’s Christmas Catastrophe by R.L. Ashley

Favourite Quote: 
“Sometimes it's okay to take a chance on someone God has brought back into your life.” - The Cowboy's Christmas Surprise by Carolyne Aarsen

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Review: The Christmas Bargain by Shanna Hatfield

Series: Hardman Holidays #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Released: Nov. 13, 2012
296 pages
About the Book:
One Old West Cinderella discovers Prince Charming is a. . . Cowboy?

The death of her mother left Philamena Booth grieving and at the mercy of her drunken father. After spending more than a decade held captive on their run-down farm, she’s left speechless and dazed when her father strikes a bargain to settle a long overdue debt. In lieu of payment, a handsome cowboy agrees to take her. Mortified yet relieved to leave the farm, Philamena unexpectedly finds herself married to a charismatic, caring man.

Luke Granger might own Hardman’s bank and the fanciest house in this Eastern Oregon town, but he’d much rather be outside riding his horses or wrangling his herd of cattle than keeping his account books straight. In a strange, unsettling turn of events, he finds himself accepting a farmer’s daughter instead of money to cover a loan. If the man hadn’t threatened to sell her to the saloon owner, Luke might have refused. He has no idea what to do with beautiful Filly or their marriage of convenience, but he’s about to get far more than he bargained for.

Full of Victorian and western charm, The Christmas Bargain is a sweet holiday romance filled with the spirit of the season.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

This was my fourth time reading this book. I so enjoy the story of two strangers ending up married and growing to truly care about one another.

Luke, the local banker, goes to Filly’s house to collect a debt. When her father is unable to pay, he gives his daughter to Luke as payment. Luke agrees to take her just to get her away from her father. Luke and Filly agree to get married for propriety’s sake, Filly will serve as Luke’s housekeeper and cook while Luke will protect Filly from her father. As they get to know one another their relationship grows from acquaintances to friends to love and not being able to imagine life without the other. But will they share their feelings with one another or will be they stay with their current agreement?

Some readers may find this book a bit steamy with the kissing scenes and the character appreciation of their partner’s physical appearance, but the fact that they are two strangers married to one another made me want them to be drawn to each other. The kissing lessons added fun and teasing moments between Luke and Filly but never crossed the line where it makes the other feel uncomfortable. I just loved Luke and his desire for his wife, but also his care not to hurt her or push her. Filly endured so much abuse at home with her father, it was tough to learn how she was treated. She could have become a bitter person, but instead she has a very generous and caring spirit.

I enjoyed seeing the relationship bloom and felt like I was experiencing day to day life with them. The descriptions were so well done that I easily pictured this western town, felt like I could reach out and touch the horses, walk the streets, and smell the baking. Luke’s good friends, Chancey and Abby added a level of friendship and entertainment to the story. They were warm and welcoming to Filly from the moment they met her. They way they encouraged Filly warmed my heart. I laughed so much during this read as there are lots of funny moments. The story of two people finding love in such an unexpected way just warms my heart. 

Favourite Quote: 
“We all have things we'd rather keep to ourselves than share with others, although sometimes sharing lifts our burdens just a bit.”
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Other books from this author that I have reviewed: 

The Christmas Token (Hardman Holidays #2)

The Christmas Calamity (Hardman Holidays #3)

The Christmas Vow (Hardman Holidays #4)

The Christmas Quandary (Hardman Holidays #5)

The Christmas Confection (Hardman Holidays #6)

Crumpets and Cowpies (Baker City Brides #1)

Thimbles and Thistles (Baker City Brides #2)

Corsets and Cuffs (Baker City Brides #3)

Bobbins and Boots (Baker City Brides #4)

Lightning and Lawmen (Baker City Brides #5)

The Christmas Cowboy (Rodeo Romance #1)

Wrestlin' Christmas (Rodeo Romance #2)

Capturing Christmas (Rodeo Romance #3)

Barreling Through Christmas (Rodeo Romance #4)

Chasing Christmas (Rodeo Romance #5)

Racing Christmas (Rodeo Romance #6)

Garden of Her Heart (Hearts of the War #1)
Home of Her Heart (Hearts of the War #2)

Valentine Bride (Holiday Brides #1)

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Review: Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines

Genre: Biography/Memoir 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
Released: Oct. 17, 2017
198 pages
About the Book:

The funny and talented Chip Gaines is well known to millions of people as a TV star, renovation expert, bestselling author, husband to Joanna, and father of 4 in Waco, Texas. But long before the world took notice, Chip was a serial entrepreneur who was always ready for the next challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out as planned. Whether it was buying a neighborhood laundromat or talking a bank into a loan for some equipment to start a lawn-mowing service, Chip always knew that the most important thing was to take that first step.

In Capital Gaines, we walk alongside him as he relives some of his craziest antics and the lessons learned along the way. His mentors taught him to never give up and his family showed him what it meant to always have a positive attitude despite your circumstances. Throw in a natural daredevil personality and a willingness to do (or eat!) just about anything, and you have the life and daily activity of Chip Gaines.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it to be an easy read flowing nicely from one thought to another. I feel like I got to see the true Chip and learn what motivates him. He encourages readers to find their passion, whether it be through work, family or hobby. Find what motivates you to get up each and every day. He has a very positive, optimist outlook on life and he is much more than just the funny, goofy guy that he became known as on Fixer Upper. He has a true passion for family. It was obvious that he has a very strong work ethic to be able to accomplish all that he has. I really appreciated that he shared that his employees are more than just employees, he cares about them individually as people. However it did appear like he wasn’t very helpful with the training of new employees but left them to figure it out on their own. I didn’t like this as that mindset isn’t very helpful or supportive. He acknowledges that he and Joanna would not be where they were without the support of family and friends along the way. I really enjoyed the message of trusting God and not second-guessing your choices. Each decision we make has a ripple affect. This book left me thinking about what things I am passionate about and how I could transfer that passion to every day life. 

Favourite Quote: 
“I'd argue that every choice we make, big or small, points us down a particular life path.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, December 2, 2022

Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Series: To Catch A Thief #3
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Multnomah
Released: Jan. 15, 2008
339 pages
About the Book:

They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer…but what if you can’t tell the difference?

For security consultant Desiree Jacobs, the assignment was simple: make off with an ancient Mayan artifact and hand it over to the good guys in time to plan her wedding to ultra-fine FBI agent Tony Lucano.

Yet, in a world where no one is as they seem, Desi must decipher who the good guys are–before she ends up in the hands of a ruthless enemy.

Suddenly, artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, and the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions: Who’s looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?

Even with Tony on her side, Desi will need way more than luck to survive against the odds. She’ll need the truth–not just to set her free, but to liberate many innocents caught in the snare of calculating evil.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

Story opens with Desi in Mexico working as a security consultant a museum however things quickly escalate. Within a 48-hour time period Desi is robbed, knocked down, threatened, nearly arrested, takes a private jet from Mexico to New York, then rides in a snowplow in the middle of a blizzard to get to the hospital in Boston. Her fiancĂ© has been shot, nearly drowns in the ocean and is in coma from life threatening injuries. Can he survive? So much happens with Desi’s case and the FBI case, which should be two separate cases, but they intermingle again. I didn’t care that much about the actual cases themselves, I was invested in the story because of the characters. Case wise we are tracking down Mayan artifacts that have gone missing, murders that happen both in Mexico and the US, human trafficking, and the possible involvement of gangs. As I said it was the characters that I was invested in with this book. I had to know they would survive and experience the happiness they were planning. I loved the secondary characters that were the support system, and the transformation of Steve over the course of the series was wonderful. He might be my favourite secondary character. 

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Other books from this author that I have reviewed: