Saturday, February 23, 2013

  Picture Perfect

Weddings by Design Series - #1

By Janice Thompson

Known for her contagious humor and cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives her fans more of the bridal business drama in a brand-new series all about those long-suffering people who make beautiful weddings happen. Picture Perfect is the first in the new series and brings our favorite character, Bella, back in a big way, while introducing new characters readers will love. Fans will laugh out loud as they experience this breezy and entertaining novel from a great storyteller.

Feisty wedding photographer Hannah McDermott has dealt with her share of difficult brides. But none can compare to the ultimate Bridezilla she's dealing with now. Still, she's trying desperately to impress Bella Neeley, Galveston Island's most sought-after wedding planner, so she can take the top spot in Bella's list of recommended photographers--a spot currently occupied by her arch-rival, Drew Kincaid. What she doesn't count on, however, is falling head over heels for the competition.

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series. She lives in Texas.

Praise for Other Janice Thompson’s Titles

The Director’s Cut

The author has a deft hand with dialogue and fantastic comic timing… Lively, lighthearted, charming, and fun, The Director’s Cut is a delightful mental vacation. –

It Had to Be You

Janice Thompson is a master wordsmith and It Had to be You is romantic comedy at its best. -  Novel Journey

Swinging on a Star

Swinging on a Star is a totally satisfying trip! – Author’s Choice Reviews

Fools Rush In

Fools Rush In is a cute, charming story. This book was laugh out loud funny. A great read for those who love romantic comedies. This is a lighthearted book not to miss! – Christian Manifesto

My Review - Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect (Weddings by Design, #1)Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

PICTURE PERFECT was just "picture okay" for me.

Photographer, Hannah McDermott is out to prove to the world she is good enough.  Always feeling like she’s the runner-up in the contest of life, Hannah is counting on her upcoming celebrity wedding gig to move her into first place, that and a front and center article on her in Texas Bride magazine.  But when nemesis photographer, Drew Kincaid shows up during her Texas Bride interview, the insecurities that have always haunted Hannah hit her full force, renewing her self-doubt and fear of failure.  Try as she might to ignore Drew, their paths seem to overlap in both their professional and personal lives.  Hannah recognizes her feelings for Drew are slowly shifting from foe to friend, but she is reticent to trust her heart instead of her head.  Success is what she is looking for in life, not a relationship.  Or so she thinks.

PICTURE PERFECT was an okay read.  Weighted down with several secondary characters, I found myself doing a lot of skimming to get to the sections that centered on Hannah and Drew’s relationship.  Even as much as I enjoyed Hannah’s parents, and Bella’s family, at times they were a distraction to the romantic thread in the book.  Also, I would’ve liked to have heard more from the Drew’s character in the first person instead of only getting to know him through Hannah’s eyes. 

People who enjoy cozy, quirky romance books, will enjoy PICTURE PERFECT.  I was just looking for something with a little more depth.

Book provided for review purposes.

Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey

When the Heart Heals Sisters at Heart - #2 By Ann Shorey Readers are invited to travel back to 1867, to the town of Noble Springs, Missouri, for an engrossing story of love's tentative first steps and fragile future in the face of opposition. With tenderness and grace, Ann Shorey tells the story of Rosemary, a sympathetic but strong woman determined to thrive in a world that doesn't always understand. Courageous and unconventional, Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the Civil War, a service that has caused most women in town to regard her as unfeminine and downright vulgar. Although she would like to put her experiences as a nurse behind her, she must support herself. She takes a position with Dr. Elijah Stewart and a mutual attraction begins to develop. But when a sophisticated woman arrives in town claiming to be Elijah's fiancée, a heartbroken Rosemary decides to leave Noble Springs and start fresh. Can Elijah convince her of the mystery woman's deception before he loses her forever?

Ann Shorey is the author of Where Wildflowers Bloom, The Edge of Light, The Promise of Morning, and The Dawn of a Dream. She has also published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon.

 Praise for When the Heart Heals "With mastery and grace, Ann Shorey's gentle prose woos us back to a simpler time with a simply beautiful love story. Truly, When the Heart Heals is sweet tonic for both the heart and the soul."--Julie Lessman, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series

"When the Heart Heals is sure to grab your attention. Rosemary Saxon is a memorable heroine in an intriguing story that left me glad I'd read it and looking for more Ann Shorey novels."--Lauraine Snelling, author of The Red River series and the Wild West Wind series

My Review - When the Heart Heals

When the Heart HealsWhen the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

WHEN THE HEART HEALS was sweet, but didn’t have quite enough pizzazz for me.

Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the Civil War, and would like to continue in the nursing field. But the women in Noble Springs shun her because they feel it is improper for her to continue in the field. She refuses to give up her gift of nursing and becomes Dr. Elijah Stewart’s nursing assistant. Finally feeling she has found her place in Noble Springs, she is devastated when she starts receiving threatening letters and is even assaulted. And her repetitive clashes with Dr. Stewart both infuriate her and peak her interest in him. But someone in town doesn’t want her around.

Dr. Elijah Stewart doesn’t appreciate Rosemary’s home remedies or potions. But his attraction to her has him changing his mind. His need to protect her might not be enough when a woman comes to town claiming to be his fiancĂ©.

WHEN THE HEART HEALS was a quaint story but didn’t quite have enough excitement for me. The characters were likeable and the storyline interesting, but somehow it just didn’t grab me like WHERE WILDFLOWERS BLOOM.

Book provided for review.

Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance, #3)The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS, the third in the Big Sky Romance series from Denise Hunter, was pretty much what I expected from the cover–good banter between hero and heroine, but nothing too serious.

Annie Wilkerson, expert equestrian and trainer, has no tolerance for cowboys, least of all Dylan Taylor. The smooth-talking ladies’ man is exactly what she’s not looking for in a man. She does her best to ignore him, but somehow, their paths keep crossing. When circumstances have it that she needs to write a lovelorn column for a local newspaper, she has no choice but to barter her equestrian services to Dylan in exchange for his advice on love. What she doesn’t bargain for is seeing Dylan’s true colors, which has her second guessing her evaluation of him.

Dylan Taylor would like nothing more than to spend quality time with Annie Wilkerson. But, her sharp tongue and obvious none interest in him has him working harder than usual to turn her head.

As Annie’s precision juggling act at life starts to crumble, she finds herself questioning her instincts about life, love, and why it is God seems so unwilling to help her. Stepping out on faith is what’s required, but she’s just not sure she’s willing to allow her heart to take that leap.

THE TROUBLE WITH COWBOYS was a good book. With all the needed ingredients – handsome cowboy, desperate heroine, tangled feelings – it made for enjoy reading at the end of the day. At times, Annie’s continual tug-a-war with Dylan got to be slightly annoying, but not so much that I wanted to stop reading. I can only tolerate the love/hate relationship for so long. Luckily, Denise Hunter knew those limits as well.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 04, 2013

My Review - The Color of Light

Unfortunately, I could never get in to THE COLOR OF LIGHT.  I felt the author flooded you with a cast of characters that was difficult to keep straight.  I chose this book because it was listed as a romance book, but I was already 25% (Kindle version) into the book, when I went back to the book description to remind me who the romance would be between, since there was no clue to that point.  I was 33% into the book before the character of Jackie made a reference to Doug, showing the slightest interest.  This is the first books I was scheduled to read for review that I was unable to finish.  I just could not get into it.  I skimmed, looking for a spark between characters, but never found one.  Maybe this would’ve been better listed as women’s fiction instead of romance.  Being a third into the book without any real chemistry is not what I would consider a romance book.  But, don’t take my word for it.  If you are interested in books that highlight small town life and community, and are not looking for a sparks-flying romance, THE COLOR OF LIGHT could be for you.  I will try to finish the book, and if I come up with any new observations, I will repost a review.
Book provided for review purposes.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

***Special thanks to Nancy Thelen for sending me a review copy.***


I  am a life-long resident of a small town in  Northeastern Wisconsin. I work full-time, and dedicate my spare hours to writing. I'm a member of a small country church, where I am responsible for our church library.  I am widowed, and I do not have any children. I enjoy cooking and baking, and am working diligently on down-sizing recipes to just one or two servings. I have additional books in the works for my Rivers Run Cottage Series, as well as a cookbook.

Visit the author's website.

Jackie O'Reilley preferred  her tranquil life on the shores of Sunset Lake, where she could create her stained glass artwork.  Not even winning a room makeover on a popular TV show could change her mind. She asked to pay it forward to a friend who was in greater need, and was informed that her help would still be needed to complete the project. That meant working with Doug Sterling, one of the show's hosts. She would never admit to anyone that she watched every episode just to see him. But that was just a silly girl's crush on a star. He would be leaving after they were finished with the show, and she would never see him again. Or would she?

Product Details:
Kindle Edition

List Price: $2.99
File Size: 404 KB

Print Length: 193 pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English


Text-to-Speech: Enabled

X-Ray: Not Enabled

Lending: Enabled


Heat waves shimmered in the air as Jackie O’Reilly and her cousin Tom finished loading the cupboard doors into Jackie’s delivery van. It was only eight o’clock in the morning, but already the day promised to be unbearable. Tom’s t-shirt sported dark areas of perspiration; his face glistened with drops of moisture.

“Drive careful today Jackie. With the fourth this coming week, there are a lot of tourists on the road.”

Jackie swiped at her forehead as she got into the van and started the engine. She switched on the air conditioning before she hopped out again and closed the door behind her to trap the cool air inside.

“I will. I need to get these delivered to the Hammer and Saw Home Center. They’re waiting for the doors so that they can get the cabinets finished. Annie called last night to let me know the contractors are ready and waiting.” Jackie reached behind her head to pull up the long thick braid of hair, and anchored it with a few well-placed pins. The hot sun turned her hair into a glowing red halo around her head, making her deep blue eyes sparkle like sapphires in her freckle-dusted face.

“I wish this heat wave would break. It’s too hot to work during the day in my shop, and I need to get in there soon. Whispering Pines will be looking for their windows for the new sanctuary, and I haven’t even started working on them yet.”

Jackie had earned quite a reputation in the area for her glass work. Just last fall she had made cabinet door-fronts for Ray and Annie Sanchez, after they had bought the old Clydesdike Cottage on the south shore of Sunset Lake. Annie and her friend, Jellie, who were starting a decorating business together, had sent one of their clients to Jackie, when the client mentioned that they were interested in special glass cabinet doors. At the same time, Whispering Pines Church had asked Jackie to clean and repair the priceless stained glass windows from their old sanctuary. They were in the process of building a new one, and the windows would hold a place of honor, the old mingling with the new.

Jackie felt truly honored to be asked to take care of the old windows. They were dull and in need of some TLC at the moment, and she couldn’t wait to get started on them. The Helping Hands organization was camped out at the site, and construction was moving along rapidly, following a late start due to a wet and rainy spring. She couldn’t afford to be the cause for any further delays.

She bent down to give Sadie a quick pat on the head before getting into the van. “You be good, and stay here with Tom and Checkers,”  she told the golden lab pup. Sadie whined softly, leaning against Tom’s bare leg as she watched Jackie get into the vehicle. “I should be back in a couple of hours, Tom. Maybe I’ll take the cruiser out, if Maggie’s back from her mail run.”

Tom reached down to ruffle Sadie’s soft fur. “We’ll be fine, won’t we Sadie girl? Checkers is inside waiting for you. It’s nice and cool inside, and there’s a dish of cold water, and a biscuit for you as well.” Sadie’s ears perked up at the word ‘biscuit’, and she did an about-face and trotted to the door of the Marina. Tom’s deep chuckle rumbled in his chest, and Jackie shook her head in mock despair.

“I see where her loyalty is at. Whoever has a biscuit is the winner.” She grinned at Tom before closing the door and heading out to Ice Bay.

The heat wafted in waves above the surface of the highway as Jackie drove to the Hammer and Saw to make her delivery. The heat and humidity had been unbearable the past two weeks, barely cooling off enough at night to allow air conditioners to take a breather. Sadie would lay stretched out on the rug near Jackie’s bed, trying to catch the cool air that the ceiling fan provided. Jackie didn’t have central air in the old cottage she lived in. None of the O’Reillys had central air, all of them relying on ceiling and floor fans to try to keep them cool. Drapes and shutters, as well as the windows, were kept closed during the day, in an attempt to keep the oppressive heat at bay. But after the last two weeks, it was getting on everybody’s nerves. Just last night Ray and Annie had paddled by the Marina in their canoe, trying to cool off on the water. Ray, who was the chief of police in Rivers Run, mentioned that tempers were flaring more easily, and people were getting testy over the simplest things, like a parking spot, or a seat at the Flip It Grill.

Keeping her van at a safe speed to insure she would reach her destination with her cargo intact, her mind drifted to her home. Jackie, along with her three sisters, had been raised by their Uncle Pepper and Aunt Josie, after their parents had abandoned them. Tom, Pepper and Josie’s only child, was like a big brother to the girls. After both Pepper and Josie had passed away, the Sun Fish Bay Marina, referred to as the Marina by the locals, and the surrounding cottages, had been willed to Tom and the four sisters. How fortunate for each of them to have been allowed to make their homes so close together. Jackie’s home was a quaint cottage with a large workshop behind it. It was there that she was able to work every day, enjoying the peace and quiet of country life. She couldn’t imagine having to live in Ice Bay, or even drive the half hour to go to a job. What else could  she possibly do, other than her glass work and rug weaving?

When Jackie turned into the Hammer and Saw Home Center’s parking lot, she saw that it was quite full already. Apparently everyone had the same idea, get your errands done early. She pulled around to the side alley leading to the loading dock, easing to a halt when she saw that it was blocked by a couple of large vans.

“Darn it, now I’m going to have to lug these into the place myself.” She blew out a deep breath, ruffling the wispy bangs that hung down her forehead. “Just great, you can fry a steak on the pavement, it’s so hot, and I’m stuck here in the parking lot.” She wheeled into a parking space as close to the front door as she could get, thumping her hand on the steering wheel in frustration. She spied a large push cart, left sitting haphazardly in another parking spot, and snagged it before anyone else could get to it. The metal handle was already hot to the touch, stinging her hands as she grabbed onto it. She maneuvered it to the back of her van, sliding it up tight to the rear bumper as she swung open the doors. Tom had helped her stack and brace the cupboard doors, which she had previously enclosed in cardboard, so that they could easily be pulled out. She didn’t like the fact that the cart didn’t have sides on it. She would have to be extra careful going over any bumps so that she didn’t jar any of the wrapped packages. She managed to load all of the pieces onto the cart without mishap before pocketing the keys for the van and swinging the cart toward the front doors.

As she bumped along, keeping a close eye on her cargo, she felt some resistance when she tried to take a step. She eased to a stop and glanced down at her favorite pair of Mickey Mouse flip-flops to see what the problem was.

  “Oh for the love, can anything else possibly go wrong here?”  she muttered to herself. A large wad of gooey green gum was stuck to the bottom and side of her flip-flop, picking up sand and debris from the hot surface of the parking lot. She bent down and removed the footwear, standing on one foot while trying to scrape the mess off on the pavement.

  “Maybe if I pick up enough crud from the pavement, it won’t stick so much,” she mumbled to herself. The sun was beating down on her, making her feel like a piece of fatty bacon sizzling in a pan. She slipped the flip flop back on after managing to scrape some of the goo off. Each step provided a small spray of sand and dirt against the back of her leg as she marched along, clutching the hot handle of the cart. Her tank top and jean shorts were starting to stick to her. All in all, the quick, cool shower she had taken this morning seemed like a waste of time and water right about now.

Six more feet to the front door of the center, and she would feel the blessed relief of an air conditioned building. She carefully swung the cart around the hand rail and through the automatic doors. She would stop at the first checkout and see if she could do something with her flip flop. At the rate she was going, the back of her leg would soon look like she had painted it with that paint textured with sand that everyone was crazy about.

As the doors swung open and she pushed her cart inside the building, lights flashed in her eyes and waves of applause reached her ears. The lights startled her, causing her to swing the cart over to one side, bumping an empty shopping cart someone had left parked where it didn’t belong.