Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Anne's Top Reads 2020

2020 has been a beast of a year in more ways than one. But there have been many blessings too. Some days it seems hard to see them (right?) but when we are faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we know in our hearts we are blessed. 

I want to share some really great books I read this year. I'd set a goal on Goodreads of 30 books and I actually read 70 books—physical, electronic, and audio. I read more than that but these are the ones I 'officially' logged for the challenge. 😉

My Top Reads are all 5 STAR books! 

A few of the books may not have been published in 2020 and some were gifts from friends.

Top Ten Eleven Reads 2020 

(in no particular order)

The Best We’veBeen (Thatcher Sisters 3) by Beth Vogt

Like Flames in the Night (Cities of Refuge 4) by Connilyn Cossette

*The Lost Lieutenant (Serendipity & Secrets 1) by Erica Vetsch

On Wings of Devotion (The Codebreakers 2) by Roseanna White

At Love’sCommand (Hanger’s Horsemen 1) by Karen Witemeyer

*The Express Bride (the Daughters of the Mayflower #9) by Kimberley Woodhouse

*Just Let Go (Harbor Pointe 2) by Courtney Walsh

A Dazzle of Diamonds (Georgia Coast Romance) by Liz Johnson

**Once Upon a Christmas: Inspirational Romance (The Christmas Card Series Book 3) by Amanda Tru

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by 

*End Game (Capital Intrigue #1) by 


 Honorable Mentions
Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews…ALL of them on audio!!!
Whatever Happens Next (Everyday Love 4) by Jaycee Weaver
Miss Fanshawe's Fortune (The Brides of Mayfair #2) by Linore Rose Burkard 
The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham
Bride by Blackmail (Moonlight & Magnolia 1) by Debbie Lynne Costello

Stay with Me (A Misty River Romance 1) by Becky Wade

Did you read any of these books this year? Or maybe you have some favorites you'd like to share in the comments. 

* Gift from friend
** Borrowed on KU (Kindle Unlimited)

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Review ~ To Dwell Among Cedars (The Covenant House #1) by Connilyn Cossette

Paperback352 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Bethany House Publishers

Eight years ago, when the Philistines stole and then surrendered the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora left her Philistine homeland to follow the ark to the community of Kiryat Yearim. There, the family she was adopted into has guarded the ark at the top of a mountain in seclusion.

Ronen is a Levite musician determined to secret away the ark to a more fitting resting place, watched over by priests who would restore the Holy of Holies. He never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he's tasked to deceive.

As Ronen's attempts to charm Eliora lead them in unexpected directions, betrayal leaves Eliora with strained family ties and Ronen questioning his own loyalties. Ultimately, Eliora and Ronen are caught up in the battle for the soul of Israel and its future under the leadership of Samuel, the last judge before the era of the kings begins. 


My Review ~ 5 STARS

Cosette has woven an incredible journey of sacrifice and love between the pages of To Dwell Among Cedars. There is not a doubt in my mind that she has thoroughly researched the time, place, and setting because from beginning to end, magnificent descriptors drew me straight into the story. I would venture to say she is becoming (if she isn’t already) an expert on all things Old Testament.

Everything about this story is incredible. I don’t even have the right words to describe the relationships between the characters, the intricate details that never seem too heavy, and the beauty that comes from obeying the Lord. If you choose to begin this journey, your emotions will be tugged first one way, then another. You will not want to put this book down, and then you will anxiously await the next one.

Fans of biblical fiction need to read this book! I received a copy from the publisher and author. No compensation has been received.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Top Ten Reads of 2020 - Rebecca Maney


Veiled in Smoke - Jocelyn Green

The Medallion - Cathy Gohlke

Mountain Laurel - Lori Benton

The White Rose Resists - Amanda Barratt

Like Flames in the Night - Connilyn Cossette

The Gentleman Spy - Erica Vetsch

A Portrait of Loyalty - Roseanna White

The Book of Lost Friends - Lisa Wingate

Port of Origin - Lisa Harris, Lynne Gentry

Set the Stars Alight - Amanda Dykes

Honorable Mention: To Dwell Among Cedars, - Connilyn Cossette, Wings of Devotion - Roseanna White, The Lost Lieutenant - Erica Vetsch, The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus - Jamie Jo Wright

Outstanding Debuts: The Edge of Belonging - Amanda Cox, The Dress Shop on King Street - Ashley Clark, A Mosaic of Wings - Kimberly Duffy

To see all of Rebecca's Reviews, visit her on Goodreads.

Senior Reviewer, Rebecca Maney

Rebecca is a graduate of Bryan College with a degree in Christian Education, and is currently serving at the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina as the Director of Children's Ministry. With over 30 years of experience in her field, she has had many opportunities to use her love of reading and writing in creative ways across the generations. A wife, mother of four "nearly" grown children, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, Rebecca has been able to return to her love of reading and more recently reviewing, with a renewed passion for the "beauty of story".

Rebecca also reviews for:

Monday, December 7, 2020

Rebecca Reviews ~ The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark


Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Bethany House Publishers

Harper Albright has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her to sew. As she rethinks her own future, secrets long hidden about Millie's past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston and the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they've both dreamed of. But it's not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams. 


Rebecca's Review ~ 4.5 STARS!!!

"Harper, have you ever considered whether fear - rather than your dream - is what you're holding onto?"

Possibly. But wasn't that what her entire world had been surrounded by lately? . . . . the "possibly" that had suddenly and most cruelly morphed into impossibly? Her dreams had vanished, like the wisp of a cloud, beautiful and fluffy one moment and gone the next, driven by the winds of change and the storms of years that felt wasted. Fashion design had been her passion for so long that Harper Dupree didn't know who she was without it. . . . until she travels back to where it all began, or rather to the "who", the woman who brightened a little girl's days with sewing lessons in her kitchen.

Millie Middleton had so many secrets tucked under her red cloche that she could fill the shelves of a small library with their stories. So many dreams, so many possibilities, so many unexpected sacrifices, so many . . . . As a young woman, leaving the life she knew for one that loomed before her with unfathomable depth, she met the love of her life, birthed two beautiful daughters, and found herself alone again with the same dream . . . . . a dress shop on King Street. When the all-grown-up version of Harper arrives on her doorstep yet again, the two of them decide to give fashion another chance, giving Millie's sewn-up-tight secrets a prime opportunity to burst their seams wide open into a kaleidoscope of success for Harper, along with a handsome young Charleston historian named Peter , "who has always been interested in the stories behind the walls".

Rarely does a debut novel evoke such deep emotion. Layered as softly and elegantly as one of Harper's vintage gowns, this story exposes the necessary authenticity needed to manage grief, endure broken dreams, and cherish forever loves and then . . . . dare to move forward with hope. As Harper's wise father said on more than one occasion, "No matter how long it takes, Harper Rae, when your Jubilee tide comes in, make sure your nets are good and ready". The book's remarkable strength is not only in the ability these characters have to rise above the ashes, but in the confidence they inspire us to have in the One who is "the author of your (our) story, and where He calls, He equips". Such a lovely reading experience; enjoy every page!

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. I also purchased a copy. The opinions stated above are entirely own.

Senior Reviewer, Rebecca Maney

Rebecca is a graduate of Bryan College with a degree in Christian Education, and is currently serving at the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina as the Director of Children's Ministry. With over 30 years of experience in her field, she has had many opportunities to use her love of reading and writing in creative ways across the generations. A wife, mother of four "nearly" grown children, and grandmother to four beautiful grandchildren, Rebecca has been able to return to her love of reading and more recently reviewing, with a renewed passion for the "beauty of story".

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Review ~ Some Bright Someday (Maple Valley #2) by Melissa Tagg


Published November 19th 2020 by Larkspur Press

He’s torn between love and honor...

Lucas Danby has always regretted the decisions that caused his dishonorable discharge from the military—and he’s never stopped trying to redeem his honor. He's spent the past decade taking on dangerous short-term missions as an elite private soldier—the only part of his life that's ever gone right. But the high-risk work never cures his shame. Now he’s stuck stateside, mentoring a new recruit. Worse, he's sick of lying to the people he cares about most—including the woman he’s secretly loved for years.

She can’t escape her house of memories...

Jenessa Belville should be happy. She's the hometown girl everyone loves, after all. But she’s also the last Belville left—and if she had her way, she'd leave the name and all its painful memories behind. Which is exactly what she hopes to do once she sells Belville Park, the massive estate she inherited from her parents. First, though, she needs to restore the property’s once-glorious gardens. But on the same day she puts up the “For Sale” sign, she discovers three children hiding in the caretaker's cottage, thrusting her into the unexpected role of temporary guardian.

Fighting for their future means healing from the past...

Struggling to mentor a young man with scars nearly as piercing as his own, Lucas offers to help Jenessa restore the Belville grounds. Though drawn together by a trio of kids who tug on their hearts and the sparks they can’t deny, past secrets and current sorrows threaten to pull them apart. Only the brightest love and hardest sacrifice can turn the house Jenessa never wanted into the home she and Lucas have always longed for.


My Review  4 STARS

"I'm good at cracking mysteries. One day I will discover all your secrets."

Some Bright Someday is a compelling story with a labyrinth of emotions running through the pages. Interesting twists and turns involving Lucas’s new recruit, and the trio of siblings that Jenessa finds in the cottage, keeps the narrative moving forward.

Melissa Tagg is a not-to-be-missed contemporary romance writer. She takes intriguing subject matter and draws the reader into the story with exceptional descriptive language. Maple Valley is definitely a fictional community I would love to live in. The people and places entice you to come on in and sit a while.

Some Bright Someday is Christian fiction and a clean read that I recommend. The first book in the series, Now and Then and Always does not have to be read first but I highly recommend reading it.

I received an electronic copy of the book from the author. No review was required. No compensation received.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Review ~ One Plus One Equals Trouble (Love that Counts #1) by Sondra Kraak

Kindle Edition302 pages Published October 31st 2015 by Trail House Publishers 

The one room schoolhouse isn’t big enough to hold thirty-four students, let alone the egos of two teachers. He can’t afford to lose the position, and she refuses to lose her heart.

Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired.

When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land.

Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart.


My Review ~ 4 STARS

I finally got around to reading a book by Sondra Kraak and I can certainly see why so many readers adore her books. One Plus One Equals Trouble is filled with spunk and sass and lots of laughs, while at the same time a longing for acceptance and grace is woven throughout. Some of the vernacular and ideas seem a bit contemporary but the story still resonates a lovely historical romance.

I bought my Kindle copy back in 2016. That's how long it sometimes takes me to get around to reading a book that I buy. It's FREE on KU right now if you subscribe. 

Have you read any of Sondra's books? Let me know in the comments. 

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Review ~ Once Upon a Christmas (Book 3 of the Christmas Card Series) by Amanda Tru


If I only see you once...

When her flight home is canceled a few days before Christmas, Moe Scott spontaneously agrees to spend a few hours sight-seeing with a fellow passenger. At the time, she doesn't know the moments with James will change her life, nor does she know that before her plane takes off the next morning, she will turn around to find James gone.

With no way to contact him, Moe returns home only to lose everything before the new year dawns. Completely alone, jobless, and faced with the news that she is going blind, Moe remembers her time with James and clings to the idea of embracing the moments of vision she has left.

When opportunities for love and friendship come in the most unexpected places, Moe faces the choice of whether to continue to wait for the man who changed her life.

Will Moe and James ever find each other again? Can she learn to appreciate the beauty in each moment God provides and inspire those beyond her own darkness, even if she never sees again?

A once upon a Christmas inspires her story. Her ever after changes the world.

Author website -

Purchase: Amazon

My Review 5 STARS!!!

Oh. My. Goodness. A friend of mine shared some highlights from this book on Goodreads that intrigued me. I borrowed a copy on KU and started reading it immediately. I had trouble putting it down and would have stayed up all night to read it, if possible. The story certainly wasn't what I expected. I was thinking it would be a fairly lighthearted, sweet Christmas romance but it was so much more!!! 

If you're looking for an inspirational story that will leave you contemplating and perhaps re-evaluating your "once" moments, this is the one. Amanda Tru will be an author added to my must-read list. This book is a stand-alone, as are all the books in this series.

Let me know if you read it and what you think of it!

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Review ~ To Steal a Heart | The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency 1 | Jen Turano

Paperback352 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Bethany House Publishers

After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she'd put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend's innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend—until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he'd be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

Read an excerpt HERE.

Purchase: Christian Book


My Review ~ 4 STARS

In classic Turano fashion, To Steal a Heart is a funny, heartwarming tale filled with mystery and slightly (okay, maybe more than slightly) crazy antics. I do enjoy the way this author is able to combine unfortunate circumstances and comedy to a degree that I never feel too overwhelmed by emotions. It’s entertainment, pure and simple.

Because this is the first book in a new series, there are a lot of characters. Even though I had a little trouble keeping them all straight in my head, I still recommend this to fans of historical fiction.

I received a copy from the author and publisher. No compensation has been received.


Drop a comment and let me know if you've read Jen's books. If not, how about letting me know what you're currently reading?

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Review ~ Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection

Paperback336 pages
Published October 13th 2020 by Kregel Publications 

Inspirational Regency romance with a Christmas twist from three best-selling authors

In Joy to the World, three popular romance authors come together to offer a heartwarming collection of holiday Regency romance. Based on lines from a beloved Christmas carol, these three novellas have depth, faith, and satisfying stories all packed into the perfect length for readers to curl up and take a brief break from their holiday busyness.

"Heaven and Nature Sing" by Carolyn Miller
Two music lovers, deeply devoted to each other, were on the brink of engagement when family circumstances drove them apart. How can they ever overcome both their obligations and their fears to find their way back into each other's arms?

"Far as the Curse Is Found" by Amanda Barratt
One winter night, a woman struggling to provide for her illegitimate child encounters a scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars on the streets of London. Can love conquer the darkness of two broken pasts?

"Wonders of His Love" by Erica Vetsch
A Scots portrait painter finds work at a noble manor house over the holidays. He never imagined he'd fall in love with the emotionally frozen widow there. Now he wants nothing more than to thaw her heart. 


My Review ~ 4 STARS

Carolyn Miller’s Heaven and Nature Sing is a sweet second chance romance. Fans will enjoy a lyrical reuniting of George and Edith. 3 stars

Amanda Barratt’s Far as the Curse is Found is one of the most brilliant novellas I have ever read. I was spellbound the entire time and couldn’t put it down. 5 stars

Erica Vetsch’s Wonders of His Love is simply delightful. Watching Cilla and Hamish break the class barrier, excellently done. And it didn’t hurt to see Marcus and other beloved characters again. 4.5 stars

I highly recommend this collection to Regency fans. You’ll be swept off your feet!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher. No compensation has been received.


Let me know if you've read this or other Christmas stories this season. Or which ones you plan to read in December. :-)

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review ~ A Haven for Her Heart (Redemption's Light #1) by Susan Anne Mason

Paperback, 368 pages - Bethany House Publishers - Oct 13, 2020

Homeless after being released from a women's reformatory in 1939 Toronto, Olivia Rosetti is taken in by an angel of mercy, Ruth Bennington. The two discover they share a painful past and together decide to open a maternity home for troubled women.

Despite the success of the home, Olivia is haunted by her inhumane treatment at the reformatory and the way her newborn son was taken from her. She feels undeserving of love--until she meets businessman Darius Reed. Although his attention makes her heart soar, he can never learn of her past.
Greek widower Darius Reed is determined to protect his daughter from the prejudice that killed her mother. He'll ensure her future by marrying a woman from a respected Toronto family. But when Darius meets Olivia, he's immediately drawn to her beauty and compassion.

Can love prove stronger than prejudice and past mistakes? Or will Olivia's secrets destroy any chance at a future together?


My Review ~ 4 STARS

Spasms wracked Olivia's chest as tears slowly slid down her face onto the pillow. "I can't do it. I can't take any more pain."

Susan Anne Mason has woven a tale of heartache, sorrow, and love that was difficult to read at times because of the subject matter. I knew she was going to bring beauty from ashes but I had no idea that my emotions would be so deeply invested in the lives of these characters. Born out of a horrible experience, Olivia Rosetti helps start a maternity home for unwed mothers with Ruth Bennington, an endearing older matron who stole my heart.

“…life goes on, whether you want it to or not. Right now, you probably think it’s preferable to shut yourself off and exist in a state of numbness. I did that successfully for a very long time. The problem, however, is that you’re not actually living.”

Darius Reed took a while to burrow into my affections but once there, he settled quite nicely. A widower with a young daughter, he is determined that she won’t grow up facing the same prejudices he did. In his quest for a different life, he almost loses the opportunity to make real change.

A Haven for Her Heart has multiple layers and when the characters stories are fully revealed, they envelope both sorrow and joy. Olivia is Italian and Darius is Greek, which I enjoyed a lot. It is always fun to be introduced to different cultures. This is an inspirational story well worth reading.

I received a copy from the author and publisher. No review was required. No compensation received.

Read an excerpt HERE.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Rachael Farnsworth-Merritt Reviews ~ Nothing Short of Wondrous (American Wonders #2) by Regina Scott

Paperback336 pages
Published October 20th 2020 by Fleming H. Revell Company

It is 1886, and the government has given the US Cavalry control of Yellowstone. For widowed hotelier Kate Tremaine, the change is a welcome one. She knows every inch of her wilderness home like the back of her hand and wants to see it protected from poachers and vandals. Refused a guide by Congress, Lieutenant William Prescott must enlist Kate's aid to help him navigate the sprawling park and track down the troublemakers. But a secret from his past makes him wary of the tender feelings the capable and comely widow raises in him. When her 6-year-old son is kidnapped by a poacher who wants the boy to guide him to the place where the last of the Yellowstone bison congregate, Will and Kate must work together to rescue him, save the bison, and protect the park. In doing so, they may just find that two wounded hearts can share one powerful love when God is in control. 

Rachael's Review ~ 3.5 stars

A lovely story of hope and second chances. I’ve never been to Yellowstone. This book sure makes me wish I had. The characters are wonderful and incredibly well portrayed. The story is a beautiful one with a strong faith and hope of learning and growing. The scenic view that a God created is definitely the star of the book, and its beauty and treasures are well described. A book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. 

 I received this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Guest Reviewer; Rachael Farnsworth-Merritt 
Rachael is a homemaker, wife, mother, homeschooler, and disciple of Christ who enjoys crafting, simple money saving tips, and loves farm life. She is also an avid book reviewer and blogger.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Rachael Farnsworth-Merritt Reviews ~ Burden of Proof by Davis Bunn

Paperback320 pages
Published November 3rd 2020 by Fleming H. Revell Company

Three weeks after his twenty-third birthday, Ethan missed the chance to save his brother's life when he was murdered on the steps of the courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida. Ever since that fateful day, Ethan has sensed a deep disconnect between the man he should have been and the one he has become. His days play out a beat too slow, his mind replaying the scene of his failure again and again.

But when his brother's widow appears, asking for his help in uncovering what was really behind his brother's death, Ethan is stunned to hear that she and her late husband were involved in a much larger case than he knew--one that threatens the global power structure. As Ethan joins the search for answers, he will enter into his own past--and discover a means of redeeming his future.

Bestselling and award-winning author Davis Bunn invites you into a world of intrigue as a man held captive by his failure learns how to move forward with hope.
Rachael's Review ~ 3 STARS

This author has a wide range of genres...I’m not sure what this one is called, but it includes time travel. This type of time travel was totally different than any other to which I have been exposed.

The plot is a fascinating one, and it really kept me engaged. The mystery part was well done. I didn’t find myself thoroughly connected with the characters. I felt like I wanted a bit more there, but I was glad to see the characters grow from the beginning.

What really stuck with me was the talk of doing things for the “eternal.” None of us are guaranteed tomorrow so each day should be spent on those things that have eternal consequence.

It had a rather abrupt end, characters felt distant, and I was disappointed in the lack of any spiritual content. However, I did finish this in one sitting because it was somewhat fascinating, and the plot/mystery kept me plenty engaged ( and because I’m a ridiculously fast reader which does bother me at times.) If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts. This might be an interesting book for a book club as I think it does provoke thought...that was the best gift this book gave me.

Guest Reviewer; Rachael Farnsworth-Merritt
Rachael is a homemaker, wife, mother, homeschooler, and disciple of Christ who enjoys crafting, simple money saving tips, and loves farm life. She is also an avid book reviewer and blogger.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Review ~ The Anne of Green Gables Devotional: A Chapter-by-Chapter Companion for Kindred Spirits by Rachel Dodge

Devotional Inspiration Especially for Kindred Spirits
The Anne of Green Gables Devotional offers lovely inspiration that explores the theme of God’s love and faithfulness through the pages of the classic L. M. Montgomery novel, cherished by generations of readers. Each reading corresponds with a chapter from the book and invites you to embrace God’s redemptive plans for your life as His very own adopted daughter in Christ.
This beautiful 40-day devotional includes original artwork throughout, and each reading includes examples from the novel, scripture, life application, prayers, and discussion questions perfect for groups, book clubs, or personal reflection. It’s perfect as a personal read or gift for a bosom friend!


My Review ~ 5 STARS

Fans of Anne Shirley will absolutely adore this devotional, gaining insight into the heart of a lonely little girl and the people who came to accept and love her for who she was. You’ll see how beloved characters change and grow and how faith in the Lord is woven throughout a timeless classic story. And the illustrations are beautiful!

Each day’s offering is simple and yet filled with truth of Scripture. I delighted in every moment reading these wonderful devotionals. Remember this lovely rendering is meant to be used as an enrichment tool, not as a replacement for the Word of God.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. No compensation was received.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,