Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor #1) by Dani Pettrey {Book Review & Sweepstakes}

Chesapeake Valor #1
Romantic Suspense

Four Best Friends. 
And Then One Went
Missing . . . 

In college, Griffin McCray and his three best friends had their lives planned out. Griffin and Luke Gallagher would join the Baltimore Police Department, Declan Grey would head to the FBI, and Parker Mitchell would study to become a crime scene analyst. But then Luke vanished before graduation and their world--and friendships--crumbled.

Now years later, Griffin has left the police and his friendships behind. Still trying to forget a case that went bad when he was a SWAT team sniper, he's living a quiet life as a park ranger at Gettysburg. Quiet until skeletal remains are uncovered near Little Round Top--and they aren't Civil War-era.

Griffin just wants the case to go away, but charming forensic anthropologist Finley Scott discovers evidence pointing to the work of an expert sniper. When FBI agent Declan Grey steps in to take over the case, past and present collide. Griffin soon realizes he'll need to confront some of the darkest days of his life if he--and those he cares about--are going to escape a downward spiral of crime, danger, and murder.


My Thoughts

When Cold Shot landed in my mailbox I was so excited. I absolutely loved Dani Pettrey's last series and could hardly wait to start this new one. 

Once again she has created a cast of characters that draw you in and make you want to know more and more about them. The story (and the series) revolves around four best friends (or at least they were at some point). We get to meet each of them one at a time and slowly we learn about why they have fallen away from each other over the years. This dynamic is going to make the rest of the series quite interesting.

In Cold Shot the main story line is about a mysterious body that is found at Gettysburg where Griffin McCray is a park ranger. So much for leading a quiet life away from all the past! Not only will this discovery bring back Griffin's best friends but it also throws him in very close proximity to the delightful forensic anthropologist Finley Scott. 

Cold Shot is not only a heart pounding suspense novel it is also a tension filled romance. Just as the relationship between Griffin and Finley begins to heat up so does the danger. One of the elements that will make you want to yell advice to the characters is the fact that you know what is going on from the perpetrator's perspective. You get to see what he is planning and it will make you crazy worried for Griffin and Finley. 

If you are a fan of Dani Pettrey you are going to love this new book and series. If you've never read any of Dani's work now is your chance to get on board from the beginning. If you like your suspense novel sprinkled with a bit of romance you can't go wrong with this one.

The Sweepstakes

Enter the COLD SHOT Sweepstakes from Author Dani Pettrey!

To celebrate the launch of this exciting new series, Dani and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the COLD SHOT SWEEPSTAKES, and your chance to win one of three marvelous prizes, all closely connected to the story.

This giveaway starts February 16, 2016 and ends March 7, 2016 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Tuesday, March 8, 2016, and announced at

Our Grand Prize winner will receive: A $250 gift certificate to, good for reservations at lodges across the Continental US, plus a $50 Darden restaurants gift card, and a Chesapeake Bay tote bag, to pack your road trip essentials.

Our Second Prize winner will receive: A $150 value cedar wood steamer trunk and vivid Maryland coffee table photo book.

Our Third Prize winner will receive: The beautifully lithographed, $50 value Taste of Maryland Tin, including the Chesapeake Bay Cookbook and famed local treats such as Old Bay Seasoning, Maple Syrup, Maryland crab soup mix, specialty dip, and Goetze’s Caramel Creams.

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Photo Credit: © Michael Pettrey Photography

Best Hair Book Ever! Cute Cuts, Sweet Styles and Tons of Tress Tips {Book Review}

Cute Cuts, Sweet Styles and Tons of Tress Tips
From the Editors of Faithgirlz and Girls' Life magazine
Juvenile Nonfiction

Buh-bye, bad hair days! This complete guide to care, cuts and cute styles makes it easy to have amazing hair each and every day of the week. With tons of tutorials for pretty ponies, bold braids and easy updos, you'll go from school to sports to sleepovers with your loveliest-ever locks.

Plus, get the answers to your trickiest tress troubles: How do you fix frizz once and for all? What's the best way to get tousled curls or an awesome blowout? What are the secrets to growing out your hair . . . fast? All these answers (and more) inside this girly guide filled with tried 'n' true tips and techniques.

So no matter what your strand-styling skill level is now, you'll soon be the girl who's showing her friends how to finesse a fishtail or do a double Dutch braid. And what's more beautiful than that?

Each style gives a detailed description of how to achieve the look as well as other pertinent tips.

My Thoughts

Girls and hair drama just seem to go together. In our home there has been plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth over a particularly bad hair day. Best Hair Book Ever! is the perfect solution to all those hair nightmares. 

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is so much more than a hairstyle book. It is a very detailed book on hair that includes care, cut, and style. I loved that it came at it from an angle of "every girl can have terrific tresses." 

The beginning of the book is a tutorial on learning about what style and texture of hair you have (straight, wavy, curly, or kinky) and what looks best on your face shape. It starts with the basics like how to wash and dry your hair correctly and then moves into six different sections of different types of hairstyles.

While I would have liked more step-by-step pictures to go along with the directions I did find the directions on achieving the style to be pretty clear. The styles are designed to appeal to tween girls but I have to admit that as an adult I learned quite a bit that I plan to implement into my hair regimen. 

There are even some DIY recipes for things like dry shampoo and beach or salt spray. What sets this book apart from other styling books really is all the tips and tricks it contains. Your girl is going to devour all the wonderful information.  

Charts like this are included in the book to help you make decisions on your best look.

On Lone Star Trail (Texas Crossroads #3) by Amanda Cabot {Book Review}

Texas Crossroads #3
Contemporary Fiction

A woman without a future. A man running from the past.
One enchanting place where broken dreams are mended.

If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. Unsure about the next phase in her life, she heads to Rainbow's End Resort for some R&R when a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash right in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He has spent the past year wandering the country on his motorcycle, trying not to think about the future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor.

As these broken people collide, they find that a bright future is still ahead--it just might not be the one they imagined for themselves.


My Thoughts

Can you imagine spending your entire life working towards your dream only to have it snatched away in one fateful moment? That's exactly where Gillian finds herself. She spent years becoming a concert pianist but on an ordinary day an accident shattered that dream.

After months of physical therapy to restore full movement in Gillian's hand the therapists have decided that they've done all that they can and Gillian's career as a concert pianist comes to an end. For a change of scenery and a time to regroup Gillian heads to Rainbow's End Resort.

If you've read the previous two books in the series you know that Gillian is good friends with the resort owners, Greg and Kate, who by the way are expecting their first baby. Just before she arrives at the resort T.J. Benjamin crashes into her. No one is hurt, but what's a body to do but offer a lift to the stranded motorcyclist.

T.J. has no plans to stay in Dupree, TX but finds himself stuck until his motorcycle can be repaired. As Providence would have it Greg offers T.J. a room in exchange for a favor. That favor will prove to be pivotal in T.J.'s future. 

On Lone Star Trail was so much more than a warm and fuzzy romance. Amanda Cabot allowed us to look into the lives of two people who where searching for answers to the future and found not only what they needed but each other as well. 

I've enjoyed the entire Texas Crossroads series. It was a delightful trip to Rainbow's End each time. I was excited to see the new developments and also the new faces. If it were a real place I'd head there in a heartbeat just to meet everyone and eat some of Carmen's amazing meals!

If you are reading this book with your reading group you can download a discussion guide here.

Other Reviews For This Author

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Hannah's Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1) by Jan Drexler {Historical Romance Review}

Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1
Historical Romance

When love and family 
conflict, will she listen to 
her head . . . or her heart?

HANNAH YODER loves her quiet life on the banks of Conestoga Creek. In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful--yet problems lurk beneath the placid fa├žade. Hannah strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her father's worries, her mother's depression, and her sister's rebellious ways. But her world threatens to unravel.

When two young men seek her hand in marriage--one offering the home she craves and the other promising the adventure of following God's call west--Hannah must make a choice. Will she stay true to the faith of her family or defy her father and abandon her community?


My Thoughts

Hannah's Choice combines two of my favorite genres, Amish Fiction and Historical Romance. The story takes place in Lancaster County in early 1842. We quickly learn that Hannah's family has suffered tremendous loss and is struggling to regain their footing. Hannah's mother is in the throes of depression and her father is at a loss of how to help her.

Hannah has been able to seek solace and friendship throughout her growing up years with her neighbor Adam. Now that they are both adults there is a longing to make a move toward marriage but Adam is Mennonite and Hannah is Amish. Neither wants to convert to the other's faith so the relationship seems doomed.

 When Amish men from a nearby settlement come for a visit it appears that many things may be changing for Hannah's family. Not only are circumstances possibly changing but one of the visitors is a young Amish man looking to marry and begin a family. Hannah struggles to decide if she fits in that plan.

What I liked about this novel is that there were multiple story lines going on. Hannah's younger sister is headstrong and spoiled. She isn't very taken with the Amish lifestyle and seeks a way out. But there is a very high price to pay. 

Adam and his family are involved in the Underground Railroad. Through an unexpected twist Hannah gets drawn into the rescuing. It was interesting to read about the struggle she had with participating. 

Hannah's Choice is an intriguing look into the early settlers of Lancaster County and how they grew and expanded their numbers locally and in other communities. I can't wait to read the next book in the series and see how the People are settling into their new homes and lives.

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Photo Credit: © Magnified Photography

Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible For Kids from Zonderkidz {Bible Review}

New International Version
Age Level: 8-12 Grade Level: 3-7

The Big Dreams, Big Prayers Bible for Kids, NIV includes the complete New International Version (NIV) of the Bible along with devotions, prayers, and highlighted verses to help kids pray and listen for God’s answers to their prayers. Features include:
  • Presentation page for personalization and gift giving.
  • Devotions about people who prayed and listened to God such as Abraham, Hannah, and Job.
  • The Lord's Prayer explained for kids.
  • The "hand" prayer model to help kids remember to pray for others and themselves.
  • Highlighted verses great for memorization and meditation.
  • Book introductions explain what each book of the Bible is about.
  • Prayer journaling pages with space to record personal prayers and answers to prayer.
  • Reading plans.
  • Complete text of the New International Version (NIV).

There are devotions throughout that show examples of what conversations with God can look like. There is a list of all the devotions in the back of the book. The verses that are highlighted show specific words about conversations with God.

My Thoughts

I'm so pleased with this new Bible from Zonderkidz. The text is from the New International Version (NIV) which is a normal thing for a Bible from Zonderkidz. What sets it apart is that all of the features throughout the Bible focus on prayer.

Prayer is a major tenet of our faith and we spend a lot of time teaching our children about it. The Big Dreams Big Prayers Bible For Kids is such an asset in our family to point out how important it is to incorporate prayer into our daily lives. 

From the devotions to the highlighted verses to the extra pages of visually appealing graphics the theme of prayer is carried throughout with the intent of not only teaching children about prayer but also empowering them to incorporate it into their lives.

One of the pages has a visual of a hand and gives a list of five things that you should pray for each day. Thumb: People closest to you. Pointer: People who point the way (leaders, teachers, pastors). Tall Finger: People in authority. Ring Finger: People who are weak. Little Finger: Yourself. You could easily use that model with your children. What a perfect way to teach them to use their prayer time for more than a selfish wish list. How great would it be to have our kids praying for those around them?!!

There is also a very doable reading plan in the back of the book. It is broken down into three different courses. Course 1 is an introduction to the Bible and it spends two weeks each on the Life and Teachings of Jesus, the Life and Teachings of Paul, and finally an overview of the Old Testament.  The second course is a Guided Tour Of The Bible. Your child will spend 180 days getting a sweeping look at the Bible from Creation to Revelation. Finally Course 3 is designed for your child to read Every Word In The Bible. A chapter a day is assigned (two chapters are sometimes combined if they are short) with the goal of reading through the entire Bible in three years.

My favorite feature of this new Bible is the Prayer Journal in the back of the book. There is space for your child to list their prayers to God and to also record the answers from God. Wouldn't this make a wonderful keepsake years from now. It would be such a great testimony to God's faithfulness in the big things, little things, and the everyday things.

If you are looking for a new Bible to take your older child to the next level of daily Bible reading and prayer this is an excellent choice.

The extra pages of beautiful graphics help to drive home the importance of prayer.

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