Love at First Bark by Dana Mentink

About the book:

There’s Just Something About Jackson

When Marcy Deveraux’s romance series catapults to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, no one is more surprised than Marcy herself. After all, she barely passed high school, flunked the driving test four times, and fell into a pool at her sister’s wedding.

Marcy is keen to continue her literary success, but she cannot think of a single idea for her next book. Hounded by her agent, family, and friends, she decides to sequester herself in a rustic cabin in the mountains. There, she finds herself face-to-snout with a surprise visitor—a rascally black dog who must have escaped from his owner at a nearby campground.

Enter hunky cowboy Jackson Parker, who runs the stables for the campground and helps Marcy survive the antics of the ill-behaved, zany dog. There’s something tender and gentle about this man, who could easily grace the cover of any romance novel. Soon Jackson has Marcy rethinking her own beliefs about what heroes are really made of…and what God intends for her life.

It’s cowboys, canines, and capers galore in this charming novella for animal lovers.

Publication Date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My review:  

If you are a fan of Dana Mentink’s Love Unleashed series you will love this novella. It has all of the elements of the full-length novels. Humor, romance, and a mischievous dog will make this a fun read and one that will have you smiling from ear to ear.

If you are looking for a quick read to make you smile and feel good this one is perfect!

About the author:   

Dana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, two ACFW Carol Awards as well as a Holt Medallion.

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco

About the book:  

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

Publication Date: January 31, 2017,

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Biblical fiction

My review:

 I love dogs. I love books about dogs. With that being said I this isn’t a book I would have picked up to read on my own. A book about Jesus told from a dog’s perspective just didn’t sound like a book I would enjoy. How wrong I was!

I have to be completely honest though and say that at times I wanted to quit reading the book. The story wasn’t bad or anything it was just that Barley’s story was sad. From his earliest memories as a puppy to the life he lived as a stray, Barley often times had a rough life. There were happy times for Barley though and those moments kept me reading.

As to the part of the story that included Jesus, who is referred to as the Teacher or The Kind Man, well, I found that part of the story interesting, too. I found the way that the author told this story from Barley’s perspective was unique and entertaining. The author made the dog almost human in his ability to understand what was going on.

There was a nice surprise to the end of the book that made reading all of the sad parts worthwhile. I was pleased with the way the story ended and the fact that it brought a smile to my face. I would recommend this book to people looking for a different kind of read. I found it interesting and a quick read.

I received a free copy of this book from the Fiction Guild and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:  

Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an “Outstanding Book of 2008.” For the past five years he has taught a very popular course on the subject of grief using film, theatre, literature and oral history as a way to study this often intimidating subject. He has acted extensively on TV―in everything from Lost to West Wing to Entourage -and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA. Brian Shuff is a writer from Mesa, Arizona, who now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work completing a book of short stories. His mother died when he was eight years old, giving him a life-long interest in the subject of grief. Along with Ron Marasco he has written a screenplay based on Louise Hay’s groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life that will premiere in 2011. He and Marasco are also working on a dramatic adaptation of John McNulty’s book This Place on Third Avenue.

Kappy King and the Pie Kaper

About the book

When an “accident” puts beloved bishop’s wife Alma Miller in a coma, many in Blue Sky are quick to blame struggling widow Frannie Lehman. Both women are the best bakers around, but for years Alma’s boysenberry pies have been more award-winning–and profitable–than Frannie’s. And with Alma out of this fall’s county festival, Frannie’s pie finally wins first prize. But when Alma dies and Frannie’s children fall victim to gossip and bullying, Kappy is determined to uncover the real truth.

Soon Kappy and her outcast friend Edie have their hands full of odd clues. What do Alma’s strange last words mean? Why would someone break into her house just to steal a quilt? Who is the mysterious new piemaker in town–and why is she still in Blue Sky after losing the festival competition? When long-buried family secrets and contested legacies start getting into the mix, Kappy and Edie must work fast before another victim gets a deadly pie in the face …

Publication Date:  December 18, 2018

Publisher:  Zebra

Genre:  Amish Fiction, Cozy Mystery

Series:  An Amish Mystery #3

My thoughts:  

The third installment in what I like to call the adventures of Kappy and Edie (and Jimmy) is just as much of a fun read as the first two. This time Kappy and Edie are on the case when the Bishop’s wife is attacked in her home. A message written in the flour provides the only clue for our dynamic duo. But they are (unofficially) on the case so the residents of Blue Sky, Pennsylvania can rest easy.

This book was such an entertaining and fun read. I adore the two main characters, three if you count Jimmy, and enjoy their banter back and forth. Banter made even more entertaining by the use of words from a word of the day calendar. (This book’s not only a fun read but an educational one!) Add in Jimmy’s quirks and the flirtation between Edie and Detective Jack Jones and I’m not sure how the author keeps the characters under control. But she does and it all comes together for a quick read.

From adorable front cover to the very last word this book will keep your interest. And with those three little dots that end the story, I’m hoping there are more crimes for Kappy and Edie to solve (and me to read about!) Don’t worry if you haven’t read the other two books in the series. This book can be read as a standalone. A definite must-read for cozy mystery fans!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not requird to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940’s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.

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Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink

About the book:  

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love…Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

Publicatoin Date: April 1st 2016

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction

Series: Love Unleashed #1

My review:  

A star baseball player. A down on her luck woman. A cantankerous and somewhat out of control dog. What a combination these three were to read about! Sit, Stay, Love is a sweet story of patience, love, and second chances.

I really enjoyed this sweet romance from Dana Mentink. Her writing pulled me into the story from the very beginning and kept me interested until the end. She created down-to-earth characters and a dog that had me smiling and laughing at her antics.

The story progresses at a natural and steady pace. Baseball being my favorite sport to watch I loved the “inside look” at spring training and how baseball players must feel with all the pressure to perform to the standards of fans and coaches. This really lent an authenticity to the story. I also liked the way the author wrote about more serious subjects without making the book too heavy of a read.

If you are looking for a sweet romance that isn’t too light or too heavy, Sit, Stay, Love is the perfect read. In fact, I highly recommend you purchase this book then Sit, Stay, Read!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the author:  

Dana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and an ACFW Carol Award as well as a Holt Medallion Merit Award winner.

Dana loves feedback from her readers. Contact her via her website at www.danamentink.com

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

About the book

Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

Publication Date:  October 3, 2017

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Christmas

My review

This book is classic Debbie Macomber! After not really enjoying the past couple of books by her I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this story. It was a quick and easy read.

Everything about this story was perfect. The characters, the situation they found themselves in, and the pace of the story were just excellent. Once I started reading this story I really didn’t want to put it down to go to bed. The story pulled me in and I just couldn’t get enough of these characters. There were moments that made me smile and even chuckle out loud. This book is a perfect Christmas read.

Fans of Debbie Macomber will enjoy this book. This would also be a great introduction to those not familiar with her work. This is a fun read and one that could easily be read more than once without becoming boring. Definitely one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2017, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include If Not for You (March), Any Dream Will Do (August), and Merry and Bright (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Macomber owns The Grey House Café, which also features a gift shop and a Hallmark Gold Crown store inside. It is located in the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.

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A Place At Our Table by Amy Clipston

About the book:

 Kayla Dienner has suffered her fair share of heartache, which is why she vows to protect her heart at all costs . . . until she meets Jamie Riehl.

Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.

Publication Date: November 14, 2017

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre: Amish Fiction

Series: An Amish Homestead #1

My review:  

There are some authors that you just know you are going to enjoy their books. For me, Amy Clipston tops the list. I’m always excited to read her latest story and be introduced to characters who I will soon think of as friends. This book was everything I expected.

Even though there is a heart-stopping moment at the beginning of the story, I thought the book had a bit of a slow start. Perhaps I was just too anxious to find out what was going to happen next because I kept thinking “c’mon, let’s go”. Soon enough though the story takes off and I was reading and turning pages as fast as I could. After those initial moments I thought the book had a great pace and the storytelling, as always, is excellent.

I liked both of the main characters in this book. Kayla may come across a bit on the tough side but she’s really just shielding her heart from more pain. She has recently suffered heartache in two different forms and James, a.k.a. Jamie, represents both forms of heartache to Kayla. I can understand that while she found him attractive she wanted to protect her heart. To me it only seemed the natural thing to do even though at times it may have made her seem a bit harsh or selfish. Jamie is driven by his work and at times he lets it get in the way of living. He has his reasons for being the way he is and I was just as able to understand where he was coming from as I was Kayla. Once again Amy Clipston has created characters who are completely realistic and authentic. Not only will Kayla and Jamie find a spot in your heart but so will the other characters in the book.

As always after reading an Amy Clipston book I am left wanting more. I want more Kayla and James and I want more of the rest of these characters and their lives. I love that Amy can write a story that leaves you satisfied yet wanting more, more, more. This book is a wonderful start to what can only be an awesome series. This book is definitely recommended for fans of a good read.

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:  

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.

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Throwback Thursdays

Hello fellow readers!!! I think sometimes as bloggers we focus a lot on the newest releases and the books with all the buzz around them. That’s why for the months of June, July, and August I’ll be featuring older titles I’ve reviewed on a special Throwback Thursday post. Each month will have a different theme and I’m starting out with June being a booklover/blogger salute to one of my favorite authors, Amy Clipston.

July’s theme is Christmas in July with, you guessed it, some of my favorite Christmas books! If the July temps are hot outside then count on these books to cool you down and perhaps get you into an early round of Christmas spirit.

August is dedicated to those dog days of summer and each throwback Thursday will have a story featuring….yep….a dog!!! There’s a mix of fun romance and suspense in these books with a Biblical fiction book thrown in the mix. As you’ll read in my review this isn’t a book I would have picked for myself but was glad I was able to read it. Got your interest yet? I hope so!

Have a fun and safe summer and let me know what you think about my throwback Thursday reviews. I can’t wait to hear from you!!!