Gia's Review Archives

November 2018

The Christmas Prayer by Wanda E. Brunstetter

I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially when the stories are sweet, romantic, exciting…and when courting meant courting. And I think Wanda E. Brunstetter is amazing.

 

Heading west on a wagon, facing the unknown hazards and dangers, Cynthia finds courage and determination, and a little adventure.

 

Reading this made my whole day. Wonderful story. Gorgeous cover!

 

Highly recommended.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for the read of Wanda E. Brunstetter’s, The Christmas Prayer.

 

My opinions in my review are my own.

December 2018

How to be Content: An Inspired Guide to Happiness by Arlene Unger

I enjoyed this easy to read guide to a more calm and content way of life.

It was very interesting going from the ancient civilizations to our modern way of searching out that elusive contentment.

 

If we could all only truly appreciate the joy we can get from the simplest things like a walk on a lovely day, or being kind, we would find that calm and peace, much more achievable. A great stocking-stuffer.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion Publishing for the read of Arlene Unger’s, How to be Content An inspired guide to happiness.

My opinions in my review are my own.

In Times Gone By by Tracie Peterson

I've had a long time love of Tracie Peterson's writing style, her characters, her stories.

 

Thank you Tracie for another wonderful escape. And a seriously gorgeous cover. The colours!

Times Gone By, the third in the Golden Gate series … loved it.

 

I jumped right into this one. Started it, couldn’t put it down. Camri, Judith and Kenzie, draw you into their lives, the storylines are engaging, and you will have to read it to find out! As always , a lovely, good feel read, with a gentle Christian message. Definitely recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House for the read of Tracie Peterson’s, In Times Gone By.

 

My opinions in my review are my own.

 

The 30-Day Prayer Challenge for Women   by Nicole O'Dell

I could have read this book in one sitting. Instead, I chose to delight in the inspiration from every one of the 30 days.

 

I looked forward to waking up and reading the daily bible verse, the journaling that resonated with me – because it did, and the prompts and prayers were lovely. I found myself returning to certain ones throughout the day. I highly recommend this beautiful book of daily prayer and contemplation.

 

It will surely give you reason to stop for a few moments and fill up on the many graces from our Lord.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for the read of Nicole O’Dell’s, The 30-Day Prayer Challenge for Women.

 

My opinions in my review are my own.

January 2019

A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

 

What a joy it was to have read this book. I did not put it down until it was done!

 

I love Kristi Ann Hunter’s books, and The Haven Manor series has become one of my favourites. Her characters, especially William and Daphne are both engaging and genuine.

 

I am a fan of historical fiction. Reading how women facing adversity, making sacrifices, yet managing to prevail despite the era of the old classes; superior and inferior, so typical of the 1800’s. It always makes me stop and realize how truly hard it must have been.

 

The message threaded throughout of how God’s hand is in every aspect of life, was inspiring.

 

A Return of Devotion is a definite must-read.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher’s through NetGalley.

 

The opinions in my review are my own.

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

I read this in one sitting. I loved it.

 

Meet Fixie, who ‘fixes’ everything. The sibling everyone walks all over. The child the mother always expects to be the go-to girl. Did I ever dislike her siblings. Oh yeah. Ryan, her childhood crush, rotten.

 

Things take an interesting turn when one random day, Fixie meets Seb in a coffee shop and she saves his laptop from being destroyed. He is so grateful and insists that he ‘owes her one’. From that fateful moment on,  their lives are entwined forever.

 

I will never look at a coffee sleeve the same way again!

 

A definite must-read.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group – Random House The Dial Press through NetGalley.

 

The opinions in my review are my very own.

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

This is one of my reviews where I state quite simply: I could not stop until I finished it.

 

Lucille is such a vivid character. Without even knowing it, she affects the people around her in ways she will never know. Iris, Tiny, Monica, Abbey, Lincoln…I want to know them all. And who doesn’t want to move to Mason after this book!?

 

Thank you to Elizabeth Berg for a wonderfully, heart-warming story that made my heart smile.

 

Wholeheartedly recommend this book for our shelves.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the read of Elizabeth Berg's, Night of Miracles.

 

The opinions in my review are my own.

 

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

It is 1929 and Tayler Hale is an ahead-of-her-time, independent woman of privilege. More comfortable outdoors than in fancy dresses, Tayler takes a job as a guide at the Curry Hotel in Alaska to escape a marriage she has no intentions of getting into, not even for her mother's sake.

 

Thomas, college educated and working at the Curry, is attracted to Tayler’s vibrancy and confidence, but not so sure about Tayler’s ability to do the job. Will he be able to get past that?

 

The world building, the imagery and vivid description of the beauty of Alaska, was wonderful but it was the engaging characters and story line that kept me reading this great book in pretty much one sitting. The intertwined added bonuses of several different catch-ups from past characters, was great. I also really appreciated the scripture references and the faithfulness to God and his perfect plan for everyone.

 

Another couldn’t-put-it-down-read! Very highly recommended!

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher through NetGalley.

 

The opinions in my review are my own.

February 2019

Worry Less, Pray More by Donna K. Maltese

From the very pretty cover, its connective bible verses and devotions, to the lovely prayers, reading this dedicated devotional to women, inspired in me a real zeal.

 

I have read many devotional books on prayer and letting go and letting God, with several of them inspiring. But I really connected to this devotional. It touched my spirit, and I have begun to truly start trying to worry less, and by praying more, abandon my anxieties to God.

 

I think any one would be better for having read this book, spreading its message, and sharing its lovely light.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley.

 

The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

Look at the time! Anyone still up?

 

Once again, it's late. I should be reading.

Or doing my mindfulness exercises.

Or hey, how about sleeping?! That's a good one.

Instead, I'm on my very fledgling book review blog, hoping to make it appealing to readers, publishers, authors, and you!

 

I'm not new to what blogging is, but I'm new to it.

I have wanted to read and review, proof read, and edit for publishers and authors for EVER.

Maybe even try my hand at publishing some of my own work.  Hence...giascribes.

 

Life just always seemed to have other plans for me. Like a divorce and raising 2 children solo. So I had things to take care of. Many tough years of it too. As my wonderful pink and blue have grown into some semblance of independence, I get a bit of mine back too.

 

I have come to a place where it is time to take back what is left of me, and put myself out there. I have this dream of making a site that is safe to visit, engages the readers, and gives all around "feel-goods". Readers, publishers, authors, bloggers, librarians, artists, children, teens, adults, ALL are welcome to subscribe, comment, and even follow if they want.

 

I intend for my reviews to be genuine and expressed in my own words, my opinions. I will not recap the whole book. No offense to the very talented reviewers out there who are much more detailed than I will ever get. It's just not my style. Sometimes, the reviews will be longer. Sometimes, not so much. I want anyone (anyone), who reads my reviews to smile when they do, find themselves enticed to go buy the book, read it, finish it, and repeat. (With a new book.)

 

I have a few Blog Tours coming up. Check the countdown calendar. Aria has some must-read beauteous books coming out and I am so very privileged to have them stopping by giascribes. So excited! Aria Addict - not gonna lie. Thank you Vicky:)

 

This week, I say goodbye to a dear friend. Kevin, you get to take care of your loved ones from heaven now. I also saw the incredibly inspiring, Be Here Now: The Andy Whitfield Story. The Spartacus gladiator, and real life hero. I will post the trailer link in my Ahhhdioscribes. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

 

gia saying goodnight.

The Spitfire Girl in the Skies by Fenella J. Miller

It is World War II. England has joined the fight to beat Hitler and his deadly regime. Wanting to serve her country, Ellie flies planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary transporting aircraft to and from the bases.

 

Ellie embodies the Spitfire girl in the skies and the role of the courageous women pilots of WWII.

 

War has broken Ellie’s family. Her favourite brother was killed in action. Her parent’s marriage is over – her father is about to remarry. Her mother and brother have disappeared, siding with Hitler.

 

Ellie draws hope from the plans she and her handsome RAF pilot fiancé Greg have, to marry. Waiting until after the war seemed sensible, but Ellie has a change of heart and decides she wants to move their union forward. Neither of them saw the brewing scandal that was about to hit them and alter their futures drastically.

 

All this time, there is Jack - Ellie’s deceased brother’s best friend. Dependable, supportive, more-like-a-brother-Jack. Torn between being the best friend she can always turn to, and wanting to express his undying love for her, Jack remains steadfastly by her side. But when Jack suffers a misfortune, he becomes insecure about whether he will ever stand a chance to win Ellie’s love. Cliff-hanger!

 

Maintaining her courage and spirit with the help and support of the many friends she makes through her different flying assignments, we see Ellie’s character grow in resilience, strength and confidence.

 

Fenella Miller does an incredible job of describing vividly the time of war; the siren warnings for incoming enemy attacks, the spartan living through the shortages of material wants and rationing of food. The careful attention to such detail has the reader flying, dodging bullet fire in a dogfight in the air, or peacefully gliding a plane across a blue, cloudless sky, and then running right next to the people fleeing for the safety of the bomb shelters, or visiting injured soldiers and those dying heroes who valiantly gave their lives for freedom.

 

The Spitfire Girl in the Skies is a testament to those fiercely determined and heroic women who persisted on joining the fight for freedom of not just their country, but the whole world.

 

Highly recommended. Thank you to Aria and NetGalley. Opinions expressed in my reviews are my very own.

April 2019

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm by Julie Houston

When sisters Charlie and Daisy return home to London, each retreating for their own personal reasons, they are encouraged to take on a family restoration project and uncover a secret their grandmother Madge, buried deep in the past. The discovery leads Madge to unravel her past, and we travel with them to sixty years ago when Madge was a young woman.

 

The swapping between the story timelines kept me engaged and eager to continue. I enjoyed getting to know Charlie, Daisy – all the genuine characters, but Madge – she was a real treat.

Julie Houston delivers a heartfelt story that gladdens the heart with humor and grace, and inspires the hope that stirs the heart.

 

I heartfully recommend Coming Home to Holly Close Farm. A delight to read.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the read of Julie Houston’s, Coming Home to Holly Close Farm. Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

What a journey through turbulent times.

 

Catherine Stands-Apart, half French Canadian and half Mohawk, is brave, proud and torn between her two cultures. Neither accepts her. Deciding to live with her more-drunk-than-not, French Canadian father, sets her on a life path that is at times dangerous, almost always heart-wrenching, yet her bravado is to cheer for.

 

Samuel is not the typical love interest. Does he deserve the choice she makes to help rescue him? I was torn in so many ways. As in, talking to the book torn. There are many worthy, genuine characters. Excellent world building. Story lines that just twist and turn and take you by surprise.

 

If you're a historical fiction lover, you must read this book. If you're not a historical fiction lover, you must read this book anyways! As a Canadian, I am very familiar with Quebec. It has an incredible history, so I appreciated the very accurate historical details depicted of the time of the French and Indian War, and the gruesome realities of it.

 

Loved it. Highly recommended. Just read it!

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley.

 

The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

 

Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

This is the first book of Lucy Coleman’s that I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I now, most definitely, have to read all her work.

 

Successful writer Brianna, is in a professional rut. As well, she is slumped into a personal bit of a nosedive, having recently gone through a break up with her famous rock star boyfriend. Brianna’s confidence, and esteem are hurting. She pretty much throws herself into her own pity party. Until her family and friends hold a loving intervention to pull her up and out of it.

 

With a gentle kick in the pants, and best friend Mel support, Brianna starts to get her groove back. When Carrie, her editor-friend, proposes an opportunity for Brianna to be a fill-in for a writer retreat in Italy, Brianna soon finds herself in a villa, in a room with a beautiful view, overlooking Lake Garda.

 

Arran is a published and successful author, who owns the villa and runs the writer retreat every summer. He welcomes Brianna a little reservedly, but quickly comes to respect her professional expertise.

 

Can Brianna get under Arran’s reserved skin and get him to open up? Does she want to? A lovely connection begins between the two of them…a softening up of hearts that were hurting.

 

Lucy Coleman takes you right to the sunshine warmth of Italy. I could smell the sweet flowers; see the beautiful lake as I sat on the balcony looking out at the incredible views. I felt like I knew my way around the villa, and I definitely wanted to join the lively group for dinner, or just as they strolled to town for evening walkabouts.

 

There is healing, acceptance, breaking down of emotional walls, taking chances, joy and romance. Summer on the Italian Lakes has all the feel-goods. It is a gem of a read.

I loved the book. Anyone who reads it will too. Highly recommend it.

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Aria through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

March 2019

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

 

Meet Cassie. Strong, tough, guarded.


Fearless, female firefighter holding her own.

 

Past family wounds catch up with her when the mother who abandoned her, reappears in her life, and needs Cassie.

 

The threading of love throughout this story is beautiful.

 

Cassie has fortified the walls around her heart for a long time – no one gets in.


Owen’s gentleness and kindness, helps her to slowly loosen the strands that wrap around her heart.


You can feel Cassie’s character change as she faces emotional transformations as she learns to feel again, and walk down the long road to forgiveness.

 

A fabulous read. I loved the book and highly recommend it.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press. The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr

A very touching and moving story about how anyone can make mistakes, or bad choices that affect you for a lifetime, and have you sticking things out for the overall good.

 

Until you just have to stop living against your grain, and set yourself free.

 

We meet Lauren, mother of two, well-on-their-way daughters, struggling with her decision over staying with her abusive and controlling husband of over twenty years, or moving forward to an unknown, but what would have to be, a better future.

 

Lauren befriends Beau, who is going through his own nasty divorce, and the two develop a real friendship that strengthens and supports the other.

 

Robyn Carr does a beautiful job of showing how their love grows out of that friendship.

 

The story is a testament to breaking away from the fear that keeps you standing still, and having enough courage to walking towards something better for yourself.

 

I highly recommend it. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin – Mira. The opinions expressed in my review are my own.

Summer of New Beginnings by Lisa Hobman

From the absolutely gorgeous cover, right through to the end of this wonderful book, Lisa Hobman delivers a sure-fire must-read.

 

Zara, beautiful, dream job travel writer, seems to have it all going on – even has Josh, the gorgeous boyfriend to boot. Just when Zara starts to think Josh might be ready to move them to the next level, he drops a relationship TNT. Hurt, shaken and confused, Zara needs time to sort out her emotions and figure out what she wants.

 

Perfectly timed is her boss’s decision to send Zara on assignment to Scotland for the NC500. Zara is not overly thrilled, as bicycling and camping out are not exactly her thing. Nonetheless, Zara is encouraged by her loving family and friends that this assignment couldn’t have come at a better time for her.

 

Zara resignedly begins her bicycling journey and en route, discovers the breathtaking beauty of the North Highlands. With every aching mile, Zara becomes increasingly enchanted with the sheer splendour of the rugged mountainsides, white sand beaches, friendly locals, and yes, a handsome stranger.

 

When Zara meets with a head-over-handle bars mishap, she finds herself suddenly being taken care of Lachlan (Lachy), her handsome lawyer-come-crofter stranger. With Lachy, tending to her along with Bess, his faithful furry friend, Zara discovers the peace and calm that comes with the quiet of the countryside, far from the city.

 

Both Zara and Lachy realize the chemistry brewing between them, but they each have their own past hurts and issues to sort out, and Zara is determined to finish her 500 miles, and return to her London life. But with the beauty of Scotland still steaming in every part of her, can she ignore the crazy beatings of her heart whenever she thinks of Lachy?

 

After experiencing an extraordinary turn of events, Zara finds herself back in Scotland, where a miscommunication causes a rift between herself and Lachy. Can the two find their way to each other on this rocky road romance?

 

You’ll have to read it to find out.

 

There was so much that I loved about this book. The characters were genuine; Zara could be your real-life friend and Lachy, a sensitive but all-manly man. Friends and family were true to life.

 

Just as brilliant, was the way Lisa Hobman captured the scenery. The pages were drenched in brilliant blue skies, sandy white beaches, and gorgeous mountains. You could create in your mind so vividly the smell of the aromatic hot chocolate, or the taste of the homemade flapjacks. Just wonderful.

 

After reading A Summer of New Beginnings, you cannot help but want to experience for yourself the splendour of Scotland … and the chance to bump into a gorgeous Scotsman a la kilt.

 

Totally loved the book.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria, for the read of Lisa Hobman’s, A Summer of New Beginnings.  Opinions expressed in my reviews are my own.

Give Up Worry for Lent! by Gary Zimak

 

I feel like this book was written for me, and anyone who worries about...just about everything.

 

I have already read the book, and you do not need to wait for Lent. Yes, it's a perfect time to start - it is the title after all, but you can implement this any day of your life.

 

Gary Zimak’s four simple steps, read, reflect, respond, pray… works.  It works.

 

Reading is like the hope you seek.

Reflecting is like the deep breath.

Responding is like the inhale.

Prayer is the meditation.

 

I truly felt moments where I could feel my trust in God actually go through my mind, body and soul. I loved this and will practice it in all areas of my life. I felt it bring me that much closer to our Lord, and gave a real boost of inspiration to my faith.

 

Now that Lent is here, maybe I'll start the book again. Chocolate or worry? I'll keep my chocolate.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Ave Maria Press, for the read of Gary Zimak’s, Give Up Worry for Lent!

The opinions expressed in my reviews are my very own.

A Rebel at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble

It is the early 1900’s, Bath, England. We meet Esther, a young, independent, woman who is in charge of displays for Pennington’s department store.

 

Esther is determined to continue in her deceased mother’s footsteps fighting for the suffragette movement. This does not go over well with her father and new stepmother, and she is sent to go live with her stodgy aunt.

 

Esther loves her job, gives everything she has to the suffragette cause, and yet, her heart yearns for something more. She wants to find love. But, will finding it mean she has to give up her hard-earned independence and identity?

 

We meet the widower Lawrence, father of two young children and owner of The Phoenix, a prestigious hotel in the city. Lawrence has suffered an emotionally crippling past and is not looking for love when he meets Esther at Pennington’s.

 

The two have an instant connection, despite their initial cheeky exchange, and Lawrence’s interest is more than peaked. As they get to know each other, Lawrence struggles with revealing his past – will it scare Esther away?

 

Rachel Brimble slowly builds up the trust in their relationship with a delightful full out, the-way-it-used to be-courtship, all while interweaving events of the pivotal historical movement of the suffragettes, adding a few twists along the way.

 

I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.

 

Thank you to Aria and NetGalley. The opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings

How many of us would truly accept help getting rid of it?

 

Gillian, the dejected, lesser, little sister. Certain the proverbial grass is greener where her successful sister lives. Baggage.

 

Michael, the student athlete living his life to fulfill someone else’s never-achieved-dream. But it’s not the track he wants to feel under his feet; it’s the wood of a paint brush in his fingers he burns for. Baggage.

 

David, an over-worked businessman, poised to lose everything, angry, embittered, and unable to forgive betrayals. Baggage.

 

These three individuals know nothing of the other, but their identical luggage gets mixed up together. They each have to go retrieve their bags.

 

Enter the Baggage Handler.

 

This book had me highlighting sentences, even whole paragraphs. It is that good. It is THAT stirring.

 

David Rawlings’ The Baggage Handler had me weeping. Soul searching. Cheering. Inspired.

 

The Baggage Handler to Michael, “When you hand your baggage to me, it’s a conscious act of your will to hand it over, and then” - he framed the room with his hands - “this is the most important part: when you give it to me, you need to let go of it.”

 

Tell me that wouldn’t be one of the greatest gifts ever, for so many of us?

 

I am grateful to have received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in my review are my very own.

The Last Dance by Aimee Brown

The Last Dance is a heart-hitting love story that Aimee delivers with a winning poignancy through her savvy writing, on-point wit, refreshing originality, relatable, genuine characters and their totally conceivable situations.

 

We meet Ambri and Henry, fated to be best friends from the day they met. The ingenuous Ambri is still a work in progress, trying to find her place in life. I love her unpretentious nature and vulnerability. How she worked her almost fetish-like love of food and music into a career would make anyone green with envy! Ambri’s character is candid, sincere, and funny - I bonded with her almost instinctively.

 

Henry is solid, trustworthy, grounded, and gorgeous - but he is also a bit broken and lives in the shadow of hesitation carrying around his share of insecurity and angst. There are many layers to Henry. Lucky for us, we get to see them slowly peeled back.

 

As it happens, Henry marries Ambri’s sister Rory, but sadly, Rory dies shortly afterwards, enveloping everyone in grief. This tragic event challenges the strength of Ambri and Henry’s friendship, and leads to one fateful night that forever alters the course of their relationship.

The Last Dance, literally begs the question, can you truly forgive and forget?

 

Aimee moves between Ambri’s and Henry’s point of views seamlessly, pacing the storyline’s momentum beautifully. You are quickly invested emotionally in her characters. Even Ambri’s and Henry’s best friends - couple Claire and Ben – are as genuine as characters can be. You get to know them and love them with all their quirks and insecurities, the way they talk, how they laugh, how they hurt. I laughed out loud to myself and many times throughout the book, I cried. Could not help it, and I dare you not to.

 

I had a hard time choosing because there are so many insightful parts for reflection, but I have to share one of my favourite Ambri quotes: “It’s weird, I know it is, but life moves on and I refuse to keep missing out on things because my feelings can’t handle it.” How relatable is that?  Give your heartstrings a good tug and your spirits a delightful lift, and read this book.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for the read of Aimee Brown’s, The Last Dance.

 

My opinions in my reviews are my own.

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