Tag: Parenting

Book Review: Wild Things


Wild Things: How We Learn To Read and What Can Happen If We Don’t

– Sally Rippin –

Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing

Published 21 September 2022



Wild Things is a book all teachers, librarians and parents should read. Sally Rippin writes with candour and honesty as she draws upon her knowledge as a writer, her research into reading and literacy, and her experience learning to understand her son’s dyslexia and ADHD and his challenges in the school system that failed to support his learning needs.

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Book Review: The Dating Charade

The Dating Charade – Melissa Ferguson – Thomas Nelson – Published 3 December 2019




Cassie Everson is an expert at escaping bad first dates. And, after years of meeting, greeting, and running from the men who try to woo her, Cassie is almost ready to retire her hopes for a husband—and children—altogether.

But fate has other plans, and Cassie’s online dating profile catches the eye of firefighter Jett Bentley. In Jett’s memory, Cassie Everson is the unreachable girl-of-legend from their high school days. Nervously, he messages her, setting off a chain of events that forces a reluctant Cassie back into the dating game.

No one is more surprised than Cassie when her first date with Jett is a knockout. But when they both go home and find three children dropped in their laps—each—they independently decide to do the right and mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong?

My thoughts

The Dating Charade is a delightful surprise of a novel. It’s quirky, funny and delivers a whole heap of enjoyment. It is both light hearted and yet touches on some serious topics, from child neglect to the importance of families. My only criticism is that I wanted more of Cassie and Jett. I wouldn’t mind a whole extra book to fill in the time between the last chapter and the epilogue, just because it’s so lovely to hang out with them and their families. If you love humorous romance novels, The Dating Charade is for you.

Cassie has almost given up on love and her dream of a family. She’s an expert at escaping from terrible dates. When firefighter Jett Bentley sees Cassie’s online profile, he is intrigued. She seems different from the girl he knew—and crushed on—in high school. No one is more surprised than Cassie when the date goes well. But when one of the girls from Cassie’s work at Girls Haven, a refuge for young girls, needs a safe place to stay, Cassie doesn’t hesitate to take in the teenager and her two younger sisters. And when Jett’s sister arrives and unceremoniously leaves him with her three small children, he knows he must do the right thing and look after them, even if he has no idea what to do with babies and toddlers. Uncertain of their future, Jett and Cassie hide their new young charges from each other, while trying to learn to balance, work, life, and dating with a new family.

I really enjoyed The Dating Charade. Far more than I expected, actually. The deception isn’t quite as bad as what is hinted at in the official summary. When Jett and Cassie first meet and start dating, neither has a family. Yet just a few dates in, through various circumstances, both must become the carers of three children. It’s totally understandable that neither feels comfortable disclosing their uncertain futures with the other and they don’t deliberately hide them from each other (until Cassie has an incident with a cat, a Christmas tree and a certain young lady calling the fire department.)

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Book Review: Smoke Screen

Smoke Screen – Terri Blackstock – Thomas Nelson – Published 5 November 2019




Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado hometown. His mother begs him to come back now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down not long after, people assumed Nate set the fire to get even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left town without looking back.

Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and now she’s fighting a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. Brenna is barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As Nate and Brenna deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—the past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

My thoughts

Smoke Screen is a story about family, love, wrongs dealt unjustly, reputations and the havoc of a messy divorce and custody battle.

Brenna is a mess after her husband left her for a much younger woman and is now fighting for custody of their two young children. Brenna has turned to alcohol to cope and the news that the man responsible for murdering her father has been pardoned only heightens her stress levels. When smoke jumper, Nate Beckett hears of his father’s pardon, he has no intention of returning to the small town that so quickly turned their backs on his family and accused Nate of burning down the church in revenge. But an injury while fighting large wild fires, means he must return, coming face-to-face with the woman who still holds his heart.

I was intrigued by the story in Smoke Screen. It is more a contemporary novel about romance, broken relationships and heartbreak, than suspense novel. There are two investigations in this story, both of which concluded, incorrectly, many years ago. But while these investigations are being re-evaluated now due to current events, they tick along in the background. It is Brenna’s story of alcohol abuse and battle for custody that drives the plot and brings tension to the book. I thought it was very obvious who the murderer would be and I was not surprised to be proven correct. The story just had too many easy fixes and neat endings not to go with that clean tie-up.

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Book Review: On A Summer Tide

On A Summer Tide – Suzanne Woods Fisher – Three Sisters Island #1 – Revell – Published 30 April 2019




Sometimes love hurts–and sometimes it can heal in the most unexpected way.

Camden Grayson loves her challenging career, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. “Moving on” is Cam’s mantra. But there’s a difference, her two sisters insist, between one who moves on . . . and one who keeps moving.

Cam’s full-throttle life skids to a stop when her father buys a remote island off the coast of Maine. Paul Grayson has a dream to breathe new life into the island–a dream that includes reuniting his estranged daughters. Certain Dad has lost his mind, the three sisters rush to the island. To Cam’s surprise, the slow pace of island life appeals to her, along with the locals–and one in particular. Sam Walker, the scruffy island schoolteacher harbors more than a few surprises.

My thoughts

A refreshing and charming contemporary novel, On A Summer Tide brings together a story of family bonds broken and now given the space to heal, a dream unrealised and now given time to grow, and the sparks of a new romance all set against the gorgeous backdrop of coastal Maine. On A Summer Tide is funny, surprising and a joy to read.

Three sisters, with not much in common, their own separate lives and constant conflict hanging over them, are forced to work together when their father buys a summer camp on a small island off the coast of Maine. At first very reluctant to be drawn into their father’s crazy scheme, each soon finds the island gives them something they weren’t looking for.

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Book Review: A Little Ray of Sunshine

A Little Ray of Sunshine – Kimberly Rae Jordan – The Callaghans & McFaddens #7 – Three Strand Press – Published 28 July 2018




Ryan McFadden warns his BlackThorpe Security team that he senses something wrong with the plan that has been put in place for one of their missions. By the time they realize he’s right, the worst has happened. Trapped in darkness, he has lost track of his teammates as well as the days. Alone, Ryan is left to wonder when—or if—he will ever see his family again. Then he wakes one day to hear a woman’s voice singing a familiar hymn, but is she a friend or foe?

Hannah Walsh had joined a medical mission, CanadAids, to work with refugees in the Middle East. She’d become a nurse in order to help. To have a way to connect with people. Though she’d been aware of the danger, she’d felt it was worth it to serve and to be needed. Wanted. But then came the day when she and two other members of the mission were kidnapped. A year later, Hannah struggles to keep her faith while feeling abandoned by everyone else.

In the darkness, Ryan and Hannah begin a tentative friendship—neither one hundred percent certain that the other can be trusted. But as the days pass and they find things in common, their friendship grows. But as long as they are trapped in a dark room, unable to even see each other, their future seems bleak.

And even if they are rescued, can what began in the darkness, flourish in the light?

My thoughts

A Little Ray of Sunshine is another fantastic offering from Kimberly Rae Jordan. I love returning to the Callaghan and McFadden family, and Kimberly’s books are now automatic preorders for me.

A Little Ray of Sunshine is Ryan McFadden’s story. Readers who have been following the series, will know that Ryan was captured in the last book in the series, and this book picks up where that leaves off – with Ryan still being held by his kidnappers. After months of abuse and wondering if he will ever return home, Ryan is surprised to find he is moved into a cell with fellow captive, Hannah Wells. As weeks of darkness and fear bear down on them both, they find comfort in each other’s presence. When a chance to return home finally seems a possibility, Ryan and Hannah may have the opportunity to discover if their connection will expand pass their imprisonment.

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Book Review: Where Hope Begins

Where Hope Begins – Catherine West Thomas Nelson – Published 22 May 2018




In the aftermath of her husband’s act of adultery and abandonment, Savannah must finally face the ghosts that haunt her and discover for herself whether authentic faith, grace, and ultimate healing really do exist.

When her husband of twenty-one years leaves her, Savannah Barrington believes she’s lost almost everything she’s ever loved. With her daughter in college and her son in boarding school, Savannah retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, where hope and healing come in the form of an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, a touch of magic, and a handsome man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove she’s still worth loving.

But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah is faced with the hardest challenge of all: Forgiving the unforgivable. Somehow she must find freedom from the chains of their past and move forward, or face an unknown future without him.

My thoughts

How do you cope with something that tears apart your marriage and destroys your dreams for the future, leaving your self-esteem in tatters? How do you hold on to hope through all that? Catherine West delivers a powerful novel that is at once both utterly heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful. As the title suggests, Where Hope Begins is about starting over and finding that glimmer of hope in the harshness of broken dreams.

Savannah’s husband is leaving her. After twenty-one years of marriage, three children, and facing devastating challenges, he is leaving her for another woman. Unsure what her next move should be, Savannah heads to the safety of her parents’ holiday home. There she connects with her charming neighbours, writer and single dad, Brock and his sweet daughter Maysie, and Brock’s charming and quaint aunt, Clarice. They open their hearts, home, and greenhouse to Savannah and show her that she is worthy of love and grace. But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah’s world is sent into a spin once again as she must decide what she wants.

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Book Review: Someone Like You

Someone Like You – Victoria Bylin – Bethany House Publishers – Published 3 May 2016




Julia Dare is trying to run her own business, raise her young son, Max, and help her widowed mother. Her biggest worry, though, is keeping Max’s father from being a bad influence while still allowing the boy to spend time with his dad. When an account from her event-planning business sends her to Caliente Springs resort, she’s shocked to encounter Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart.

Zeke is determined to keep Caliente Springs running despite financial trouble. When Julia walks back into his life, he’s surprised at the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client’s wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. With Zeke and Julia both pushed to their limits, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?

My thoughts

I have come to really enjoy Victoria Bylin’s writing. Realistic, flawed characters facing relatable challenges come together to confront everything that life throws at them. Someone Like You also celebrates second chances, family, and those special moments in life (even if they sometimes don’t go quite as planned).

Julia Dare is slowly rebuilding her life. She has started her own event planning business, has left her emotionally abusive partner, and is enjoying spending time with her delightful four-year-old, Max. An event planning opportunity leads her to Caliente Springs resort and into the path of old friend and boyfriend, Zeke Monroe. For Zeke, Julia is the bright spot in an otherwise challenge point in his life. The resort is in serious trouble, along with his job, his faith is on the rocks, and he is uncertain about what his future will hold. As Julia and Zeke reconnect, reminisce over their history, and face their current challenges together, they have a chance to rebuild a truly special relationship.

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Book Review: Wild Montana Skies

Wild Montana Skies

Wild Montana Skies – Susan May Warren – Montana Rescue #1 – Revell – Published 18 October 2016



Search and rescue pilot Kacey Fairing is home on leave in Mercy Falls, Montana, twelve years after she joined the military to escape the mistakes of her past. With a job waiting for her as the new lead pilot of Peak Rescue in Glacier National Park, Kacey hopes to reconnect with the now-teenage daughter she sees only between deployments. What she doesn’t realize is that someone else is also back in town. 

Ben King has been building his country music career since the day Kacey shut him out of her life. Now all of that’s on hold when his injured father calls him home to help run Peak Rescue until he’s fully recovered. It doesn’t take long, though, to discover his father’s ulterior motives as Kacey Fairing walks into the house and back into his heart. 
With Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben are forced to work together to save lives. But when floodwaters turn personal, can they put aside the past to save their future?

My thoughts

This book has enough action, adventure, mystery, romance and plenty of family tangles and drama to keep any reader glued to the page. There are also a whole host of new characters to fall in love with and a rugged mountain setting that perfectly offsets the dangerous conditions the characters face.

I really enjoyed reading Wild Montana Skies, not quite as much as I loved the all-consuming Christiansen series, but I think it is a great start to what will be a thrilling series. And the romance promises to be just as exciting as the rescues.

Kacey is returning home to Mercy Falls after another stint on duty in the army but this time she’s shaken and a little broken over what transpired while deployed overseas. In Mercy Falls her thirteen-year-old daughter is waiting for her, along with a new job as helicopter pilot for the Mercy Falls search and rescue team. Ben King, too, is on his way home to Mercy Falls, a crumbling music career in his rear-view mirror. Ben just wants to help his ailing father regain his feet before hightailing it back to Nashville. Neither Ben nor Kacey expect to see the other or to dredge up the past and all the hurts and misunderstandings that go with it.

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Review: The Dandelion Field


The Dandelion Field – Kathryn Springer – Zondervan Fiction – Published 27 January 2015

The Dandelion Field is beautiful – achingly raw and yet full of hope.

Raine is pregnant and Cody is the father. This was not the future the two high-school seniors had in mind when a romance sparked between the new girl in town and the son of the town hero. Gin, Raine’s mother is ready to run – like always, but Raine is determined to stick around. And then there is Dan. He helped raise Cody, is like a father to Cody, and is the man that will stand behind him while he and Raine sort through this. As the four interact, they learn to balance their own plans for the future, the town expectations and finding God’s grace and will in their lives. Interspaced with the story are flashbacks, detailing Cody and Raine’s first meeting and their growing friendship, Dan’s history with Cody’s parents, and Gin’s past. These flashbacks help keep the story moving, while adding wonderful depth to the characters, backstory and relationships.

Gin is used to standing alone, looking out for herself and protecting her daughter. Witty and sharp, she and Dan butt heads from their first meeting. And Dan can’t get her out of his head. Dan is a town hero. Strong and steady, with a good dash of charm and handsome looks, he is combination Gin has never before experienced, and she finds him both irritating and irresistible.

The Dandelion Field is a wonderfully written and a truly moving story. Honest and heartwarming, Kathryn Springer expertly blends human struggles with God’s hope. A perfect ending, and yet I want more. So much more of the loveable, flawed characters, simple and yet deep faith, and the little, touching moments. Very highly recommended as your next great Christian contemporary romance read. Enjoy.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fiction. Christian. Contemporary. Romance.

If you liked this try Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family Series


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