Thursday, February 25, 2016

VeggieTales Bible

In the VeggieTales Bible, Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and all their VeggieTales friends invite children to join them and get to know the Bible. In this full-text New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) Bible, each feature is specially designed to help children understand and love God’s Word.

My Review:
What a joy for any fan of VeggieTales!

There are so many creative ideas: There are eight different stories presented in cartoon-like pictures. At the end of each story, the location--chapter and page number--are listed to motivate the child to further explore. Each book of the Bible begins with an introduction. Over 100 verses are sectioned off and colored soft blue to encourage memorization. There's a Table of Contents, a Dictionary, and an index to Veggie Values.

One negative must be mentioned. The print is uncomfortably small for me; most children are used to a larger font. However, the entire Bible is presented, which makes for a hefty book.

This hardbound, colorful Bible should please any child 6-10.

Thank you to Zondervan for my copy.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Berenstain Bears' Easter Sunday by Mike Berenstain

The Bear Family, all of their friends and family, and even the nature all around them get dressed in their Easter best for an Easter Sunday celebration at the Chapel in the Woods. Join Mama, Papa, Brother, sisters and Honey as they go to services, have an Easter treasure hunt, and learn what Easter is all about.

This newest 8x8 title in The Berenstain Bears Living Lights collection follows the Bear family as they join their friends and family at the Chapel in the Woods for an Easter Sunday celebration.

My Review:
What a delight it was for me to read this colorful book about Easter! It opens with the Bear Family preparing to go to church on Easter Sunday morning. As they dress, the reason for choosing colorful clothing is given. Once in church, the organist plays while the bears join the congregation in singing a familiar Easter hymn. Preacher Brown delivers a sermon, which sums up the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

An innovative Easter treasure hunt is held after church; afterwards, it is compared to an egg hunt. The tradition of  bunnies and candy is nicely covered.

It's recommended for children Ages 4-8, but my children enjoyed sitting on my lap while I read to them at a much earlier age. The illustrative pages will be enjoyed by children of all ages.

Thank you to Booklook and Zonderkidz for my copy.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Believe Devotional for Kids: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus By Randy Frazee

They know the story of the Bible, but do they know what it means?

This 90-Day devotional, written by Oak Hills Church pastor Randy Frazee, is part of the church-wide, ground-breaking Believe campaign and encourages children to follow the footsteps of Jesus. Think, Act, Be Like Jesus; A Believe Devotional for Kids shares the message that the more you believe, the more Jesus can change you from the inside out to become the best person you can be.

As children ages 6-10 walk through 90 devotions from the Old and New Testament—they’ll complete a journey that will take them closer to the heart of Jesus and deeper into the words of Scripture. They’ll learn what the Bible has to say about everything from the nature of God and the identity of Jesus, to prayer, worship, and the fruit of the Spirit. Foundational and faith-building, this book can be used by individuals or in conjunction with the all-church campaign.

My Review:

As I opened the colorful cover of this hardbound book, the first good idea I noticed was the presentation page, making this a perfect gift idea. Following are two detailed pages listing the Table of Contents. This devotional covers a wide-range of topics.

Each devotion begins with a Bible verse, followed with an interpretation, and concludes with a short prayer.   Beautifully illustrated by Steve Adams.

Thank you to Booklook for my copy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Precious Moments 5-minute Bedtime Treasury By Precious Moments

Create a Bedtime Tradition in Just 5 Minutes

Delight your little ones with these sweet Precious Moments® characters as you share beloved Bible stories and comforting bedtime scriptures with them.

The five-minute format helps parents create a meaningful bedtime. With paraphrased stories from the International Children’s Bible®, you’ll nurture a love for God’s Word.

Take five minutes before bed to create a special connection with your precious child.

About Precious Moments

Since 1978, Precious Moments has grown into an evergreen brand recognized worldwide, with more than 12.5 million books and bibles sold through Thomas Nelson.

My Review:
How special! Bible stories told in language that little people can understand. Each story ends with a comforting Bible verse.

This is no small book; it's 8" x 11" with a padded cover. It weighs 2.5 pounds. This fully illustrated book opens with a presentation page, making it a perfect gift idea. Two pages are devoted to a family tree. Another page allows the owner a place to record his church record. And there are two pages where prayers may be written. Why, even a sweet ribbon is attached so that you might save your place!

 I can envision parents pulling it from a convenient shelf each night to read a short devotion to their small children. (The publisher suggests ages 3-7, but I think toddlers would welcome a nighttime ritual too.)

Thank you to Booklook for my copy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Give Thanks Bible Illustrated by Christine M. Schneider

Easy-to-read storybook Bible for Thanksgiving and throughout the year—perfect for little ones ages 4-8 learning thankfulness. My Give Thanks Bible brings beloved Bible stories such as Noah’s Ark, David and Goliath, and the birth of Jesus to life for beginning readers. The stories chosen for this padded cover board book show children how people in the Bible were thankful for God’s great blessings and remind us that we should be thankful for the blessings in our lives too.

My Review:
Each Thanksgiving, we all hear, "We should be thankful every day, not just on one day a year." Well, this precious book takes care of that issue. It includes sixteen Bible stories that give reasons for us to be thankful to God, and it can be read year-round.

Each story lists Bible verse(s) and then thanks God for that gift. The topics include:

  • How the World Began
  • Adan and Eve
  • Noah's Ark
  • A Baby in a Basket
  • Moses and the Red Sea
  • David and the Giant
  • Wise King Solomon
  • In a Den of Lions
  • Mary and the Angel
  • A Star Lights the Way
  • Jesus Is Baptized
  • Jesus and the Disciples
  • Food for Five Thousand
  • Jesus and the Children
  • Jesus' Sacrifice
  • Jesus Goes to Heaven

The cover is padded, every page is colorfully illustrated, and the Board Book is perfect for ages 5-8.

Thank you to BookLook for my copy.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In Firefly Valley by Amanda Cabot

She's lost her dream job--but has she found the man of her dreams?

Devastated by a downsizing, Marisa St. George has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it means a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining: Blake Kendall, a new guest who might make her believe in love at first sight. But will Marisa's dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers Blake's real identity?

This warm and witty story of dreams deferred and mistaken identity will have you believing in second chances.

My Review:
If it's romance you want, this is the novel for you. Cupid is so busy that he's sure to run out of arrows! Romance begins with the wedding of Kate and Greg. They leave on their honeymoon while more love blooms in the small town of Dupree, Texas.

Love at first sight is experienced when Marisa St. George first spots Blake Kendall; sparks really fly. However, love does not run smoothly for this couple. Both wrestle with challenges. Marisa's abandonment issues stem from her alcoholic father who disappeared seven years ago. Now she grapples with an inability to trust any man. Blake, a prolific writer, cannot manage to put a single word on paper, and his agent becomes impatient. With the frustrations these two face, it's no wonder they fuss and fight!

Marisa's best friend, Lauren, grieves over the loss of her husband, Patrick. Lauren is a likable young mother so the reader hopes that a Prince Charming will appear.  Does Cupid have an arrow left for her? Marisa's mother, Carmen, still loves her absent husband, and she insists that he'll return. You'll need to read the book to see the romantic conclusions.

I found that the characters are not believable.

This is book #2 in the Texas crosswords series. It is a stand alone novel.

Thank you to Revell/Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

My Review:
We get two stories in one with this novel. There's Gracie's tale. She's a troubled teen who seems determined to keep people at a distance. How will she ever feel included? Then there's her half-sister Carmen, the perfectionist. The only thing missing in Carmen's life is a baby, and goodness knows, she does everything she can to become a mother. However, nothing works. Will her marriage survive this stressful time?

With two such interesting characters leading the way, the novel moves at an interesting pace. I really liked the way the author ends the book. It certainly is different from the way most would expect. I also like the way the author realistically handled the church people.

Details make any narrative come alive. It was fun reading about the restoration of the Treasure Chest. I especially liked the description of the hospitality room with its wall of wisdom.

I recommend this thought-provoking read.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and WaterBrook Press for my copy.

If you'd like to read a chapter, click here.
If you'd like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Passing Strangers by Angela Hunt

A train roars over the rails, carrying passengers on a trip that will change their lives. Among the many people aboard the 97 Silver Meteor are Andie Crystal, a lonely young woman hiding from her youth as a reality TV star; Matthew Scofield, a widower trying to balance his career and his responsibilities for his two young children; and Janette Turlington, a middle-aged mother running from a troubled home and marriage. These three form a makeshift family on an Amtrak tour through the Southern seaboard, a journey that just might heal their wounded hearts and restore them to the people to whom they matter most . . .

My Review:
Here is one novel with three relatable characters who connect while escaping from their three distinct lives. They meet while traveling for ten days on a Southern Heritage Tour via an Amtrak train. Janette Turlington is a woman of mystery, trying to hide her black eye. Andie Crystal hopes to avoid paparazzi, and attorney, Matthew Scofield wrestles with the grief of his wife's sudden death. In addition to his firm's obligations, he's responsible for his two small children.

Each of the stories are enough to hold the reader's attention, and each has a hidden twist. Angela Hunt never disappoints!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Really Woolly Nighttime Lullabies by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman

Sweet bedtime lullabies and prayers . . . just before you turn out the light.

A case-bound padded board book from the Really Woolly® brand gives children sweet lullabies to help them fall asleep. Little ones will love the charming Really Woolly illustrations, engaging verse, and Scripture from the International Children’s Bible® that allow them to drift off in sweet dreams, knowing they are loved and safe. Prayer starters also encourage children to end their day talking to God.

Other books in the series regularly appear on bestseller lists and have sold more than 850,000 copies.

Really Woolly products by DaySpring® include cards, videos, and gift and are Dayspring’s bestselling children’s brand.

My Review:
This is the ideal before-bedtime book to read to a little one. Although the suggested age is 2 - 5 years, I think that an infant would enjoy seeing the colorful pages while the rhythmic verses are read aloud. (I began reading to my children and to my grandchildren when they were babes in arms.)

My favorite verse is titled, Who? because it reminds me of William Blake's The Lamb. It assures the reader/listener that God will hear our prayer and watch over us. What a treasure for every child!

The cover of the padded board book is an eye-catcher with a sweet lamb in a hammock reading to a yellow duck and a fuzzy bunny. The book is just the right size (5 x 7) for little hands to hold.

Thank you to BookLook and DaySpring for my copy.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Berenstain Bears God Made You Special by Mike Berenstain

Series: Berenstain Bears/Living Lights

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Matthew 5:8

In this newest 8x8 softcover title in the Berenstain Bears Living Lights collection, the Bruins join the Bear family for a cookout and bring their cousin Tommy along. It isn’t long before the cubs start up a game of baseball and Sister soon notices that Tommy doesn’t play like the rest of the group. 

When Sister asks about Tommy, Mama takes the opportunity to talk to Sister about how God makes each of us unique in our own way. And that we all have special gifts and talents to share with the folks around us.

My Review:
I love that Mike Berenstain is following in Stan and Jan's footsteps by writing children's literature. The illustrations are colorful and "spot on." The storyline handles the complex issue of diversity in an easy-to-understand manner. The Bruins join the Berenstain family for an outdoor cookout. They bring along a special guest, Tommy, who seems to be like Brother and Sister except he acts young for his age.

During a game of baseball, Tommy loses interest and begins finding joy in the beauty around him. Sister speaks to Mama about Tommy's difference. Mama explains that we are all made special by God, and we can learn from others. This sets up the perfect platform for discussions with children.

Grammar is important, especially in children's books; after all, they're learning from what they hear and read. The book contains a glaring error that I hope will be corrected in future publications: "lead him to the backyard" should read "led him to the backyard."

The age group is 4 - 8 years old, and the back page is dedicated to "Activities and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear," a wonderful idea!

Thank you to BookLook and ZonderKidz for my copy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

God Bless My Boo Boo by Hannah C. Hall, illustrated by Steve Whitlow

God Bless My Boo Boo is the perfect remedy for healing little hurts with a healthy dose of love!

Even the smallest scratches, bumps, and scrapes can sometimes be traumatic for children. When simple injuries happen, God Bless My Boo Boo is like a warm hug that helps ease the pain. Comforting, sweet, and sometimes silly rhymes guide readers through adorable scenes of baby animals and their boo boos and remind children that God is there to help. Just like Mommy Zebra makes a scraped knee better or Mommy Walrus helps tend a toothache, real moms will be able to use this book to make their little ones' boo boos all better too!

A perfect gift for new parents and a great addition to every mom's first-aid kit!

My Review:
This is an excellent picture book for children ages 1 - 4 years. It's a board book with a padded cover. It is made to survive rough treatment. Each colorful page has an adult (father, mother, or grandparent) loving a wounded baby. In addition, the text points out that God loves and cares too; therefore the title, "God Bless my Boo Boo."

I especially like the choice of animals used. There's a zebra with a boo boo, a bunny with an ear ache, a monkey with an injured tail, an elephant with a stuffy nose, a gator with a splinter, a flamingo with skinned knees, a bear with a belly ache, a porcupine who has been stuck with a needle, a walrus with a tender tooth, and a sloth with an "owie" on its toe.

The text is rhyming and fun to read. I imagine it being chosen to read over and over again.

Thank you to BookLook and Thomas Nelson for my copy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bunny's First Spring by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by David McPhail

A baby bunny discovers hope is at the heart of things.

When a bunny is born in spring, the world is green and new and full of hope. But as the months pass the breeze turns cold, the leaves on the apple tree fall, and the swallows leave the barn. The little bunny begins to worry that everything is dying.

Illustrated by New York Times Bestselling award-winning illustrator, David McPhail, Bunny’s First Spring celebrates the joy-filled rebirth and renewal at the heart of Springtime. As the earth thaws and the robins return to their nests, the little bunny discovers hope, transformation, and the miracle of new life everywhere around him.

My Review:
This delightful story of a baby bunny learning about the change of seasons will help children learn about the seasonal changes of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Bunny has a supportive mother and father who assure him that just as he is growing beautiful and strong, so is the world. When the bunny's world turns cold, he fears it is dying and scurries into his burrow where he sleeps until Spring returns. His parents then tell him that the world celebrates his birthday.

Written for children ages 4 -8.

I'm including a copy of a page with text so that the reader can appreciate the beautiful illustrations.

Thank you to BookLook and Zonderkidz for my copy.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Esther: Royal Beauty (A Dangerous Beauty Novel) by Angela Hunt

When an ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews, an inexperienced young queen must take a stand for her people.

An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.

When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king's heart and a queen's crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king's permission to exterminate all Jews--young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people...and bind her husband's heart.

Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt's return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her--and can change the course of history.

My Review:
Angela Hunt has long been a favorite author of mine. When she writes, I cannot help but admire her commitment to biblical truth and her extensive research.

This work of Christian fiction reads as truth. The story is told in two voices: Esther (Hadassah) and one of the king's eunuchs, Harbonah. Chapters alternate between the two, allowing a deeper perspective.

I've loved the story of Esther since I first read it in the Bible. This novel opens up the tale with so many details. For instance, talk about beauty! Esther was so gorgeous that even when she was a young girl, people stopped to stare. I found myself impressed with the description of the Queen's carriage scene.

However, she was not born into privilege; rather, she was born a Jew, outside the palace walls. This was a challenging time. I feel that a really good action film should be made from this book.

I recommend this one!

Thank you to Amy Green at Bethany House Publishers, A Division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When Night Comes by Dan Walsh

Jack Turner comes back to Culpepper to give a series of lectures for his old history professor. Within days, he starts having bizarre experiences at night. Like he's traveling back in time, experiencing the epic events in his lectures firsthand. He has no control over these experiences and can't make them stop.

Joe Boyd thought he'd left big city crime back in Pittsburgh when he took a detective job in Culpepper, Georgia, a sleepy southern college town. His peaceful life ends when two students turn up dead in two weeks. The coroner is saying natural causes, but something doesn't add up.

Rachel Cook, a teaching assistant at Culpepper, can't believe Jack is back in her life again. She's had a crush on him since she was fourteen, but Jack never knew. He instantly seems attracted to her, but she can tell...something is deeply troubling him.

Watching all this from a distance is Nigel Avery. He's certain this experiment's about to unravel. It'll be his job to tie up all the loose ends when it does.

My Review:
Ever wake from a nightmare and think that it was real? Of course, as the head clears, you realize that it was only a bad dream. The protagonist in this novel experiences bad dreams that are quite believable, and he cannot understand why. As his head clears, the dreams seem even more like real life memories! How could this be?

To complicate matters, there are some unusually strange deaths in this quiet, small college town. As the reader turns page after page, tension mounts. If I were this character, I'm not certain that I could let myself fall asleep.

The author's extensive research shows in his writing, giving the reader a close-up look into history. Dan Walsh has effectively written a hold-your-breath thriller. I recommend it.

Thank you to Bainbridge Press for my copy.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Love Without End (Kings Meadow Romance #1) by Robin Lee Hatcher

Chet and Kimberly have both failed when it comes to love. Will they risk their hearts to love again?

Chet Leonard's life was forever changed when his seventeen year old son died and then, soon after, his wife walked out on their family. Over two years later, all he wants to do is hold onto his horse ranch and raise his remaining sons to be honorable men.

Kimberly Welch, widowed mother of Tara, a rebellious fifteen-year-old, has reached the end of her finances and nearly the end of her rope. She and Tara come to King's Meadow to try to piece their lives back together again. Kimberly has no intention of become involved with the residents of this remote mountain community and certainly not with any man.

When 84-year-old Anna McKenna returns to King's Meadow and to the Leonard ranch, she becomes an agent of change and healing for the two hurting families. With her help, Kimberly and Chet's families at last discover a love without end.

My Review:
Readers get two love stories for the price of one in this book! The character of Anna fleshes out nicely with flashbacks of her story from the 1940's to the present. It's interspersed throughout the novel.

Rather than a story about young love, Chet and Kimberly are middle-aged. They've both loved before. Chet's wife has left him and their two sons, and Kim's husband has died, leaving her with one daughter and deep in debt. Their stories are worth reading. I like the way the author draws them together. It's a nice pace; there is no rush.

I really enjoyed the ending.

There are a couple of confusing errors that editing should have discovered. Editor's notes appear in the margins of pages 66 and 146. And a confusing antecedent: Tara speaking to her mother and Chet: "Wait until she sees what we uncovered after you left" (126). These glitches caused me to scratch my head and pause while reading; however, I still liked the story.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Dream of Home, Book 3 by Amy Clipston

Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel

When she moves to Amish country to find peace and healing, Madeleine finds a special community—and a special man—who pull her out of her solitude into a new life.

Moving to Pennsylvania wasn’t in Madeleine’s original plans. She should still be in California and should have married her pilot fiancé a year ago—but death has a way of changing everything. Now the former Air Force flight nurse is living alone in Paradise, Pennsylvania, and working as a maid at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. She isn’t exactly a widow . . . but she sure feels like one.

Saul Beiler isn’t exactly a widower . . . but his wife is long gone. His eleven-year-old daughter, Emma, doesn’t know that her mother fled the Amish community—and married another man—but she does know that her dat is lonely, and that a pretty young maedel just moved in next door. Madeline’s numb heart begins to thaw as she spends more time with the innocent and ever optimistic Emma. The stronger her friendship grows with the young girl, the more intrigued Madeline grows about the humble, strong, man raising her on his own.

But even as a strange attraction pulls Saul and Madeleine across a stark cultural divide, they—and everybody else—have to wonder: What could they possibly have in common besides heartache? Will love allow Madeleine to finally find the home she’s been dreaming of all along?

My Review:
Although this is the third book in the series, it is a stand-alone novel. It's the first one I've read, and I had no problem. I quickly connected to the protagonist Madeline, an Englisher, who has inherited her Amish Grandmother's house. It feels like home to her because she spent so many happy summers there as a child. However, Maddie's mother left the church and raised Maddie as an Englisher. Now Maddie is balancing between the life of an Englisher and the community of Amish. I appreciate the way the author handled the character of a young lady trying to find peace in her life after the tragedy of her fiance's death. She runs to reduce stress, her cell phone is a valuable asset, and she loves her truck.

Maddie's Amish neighbors are Saul, a cabinet maker and his daughter, Emma. They have a loving relationship; still, motherless Emma misses her mother. Emma and Maddie become good friends. Tension builds as Saul decides that this relationship can only bring heartache. He fears that Emma might want to turn English or Maddie might decide to move away, leaving Emma hurt.

There are other characters who question the ways of English vs. Amish.

Which way is right? The author skillfully lays out the many differences between the two lifestyles without judging. There are several examples of others who are torn with the same decisions.

English vs. Amish, which way will Maddie choose?

I found that most words are easily understood without the extensive glossary. Even so, I used the glossary several times.

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll

Quilts of Love, Book 21

Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn’t help either, so Julian hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.

Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer—still at large—silence her forever?

My Review:
Talk about confusing! Sophia Montgomery wakes up in a hospital room, barely able to move and unable to speak. She's been tortured and brought to death's door. Her mother was killed right in front of her! And in the hospital room, she meets--for the first time--a grandmother who she thought was long dead.

With a quilt as the centerpiece, this is a good suspense novel. It reads at a steady pace, and I did not figure out the solution until right before the end. In addition, there is a touch of romance. You don't want to miss reading this one!

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Abingdon Press for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead by Diane Noble

A Professor and Mrs. Littlefield Mystery, Book 1

She’s Passionate about Solving the Case ... with the Town’s Life-Long Bachelor.

El Littllefield runs The Butler Did It catering. It’s the perfect cover for her to solve “who-done-its” (nothing too dangerous, please!) in this small university town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While catering her most important event yet—a fancy retirement dinner for Dr. Max Haverhill, life-long bachelor and history dean—countless guests fall ill, a 200 year-old relic is stolen, and her best friend vanishes. All in the first hour.

As El and Max race to solve the mystery, they discover there’s more to their relationship than simply solving the case. Welcome to Eden’s Bridge—the perfect small town setting for big intrigue, romance, and humor.

My Review:
This first book of a new series centers around a female sleuth. It contains humor, romance, as well as a good mystery. The protagonist, El Littlefield, is a caterer who owns a company called, "The Butler Did It." She loves to cook and turns to baking cookies whenever she's under stress. As the story opens, everything is running smoothly for a huge dinner party. Shortly after the final bite is consumed, dinner guests begin dropping like flies! (Perhaps the butler DID do it!)

To complicate matters, a valuable, recently discovered relic is stolen.

El has a quick wit and a snappy personality. Of course, she immediately begins to investigate these unfortunate events. Helping her is handsome Max Haverhill. It's no mystery that he plays the romantic lead.

I love the way El thinks. For instance, after saying an extended grace, thanking God for more than the meal, she explains, "I like to let God know how much I like the life He's given me. I think He loves it when we notice." (183)

El's best friend, Hyacinth, is someone I'd like to know better. I hope she plays a big part in the next volume. I also expect to read more about the relationship between El and Max.

Chapters are written in the point of view of several characters allowing different perspectives. I really enjoyed this technique.

I look forward to reading book two of this series.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Desire by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley

The Restoration Series, Book 3

Can faith build a bridge between their dreams?

For two years, Allan and Michele have been trying to have a baby. The emotional ride has been taking a toll on their hearts--and their relationship. Michele is obsessed with researching fertility treatments while Allan seems content to spend his time--and their money--on supporting displaced children in Africa. Something's got to give. But they both hope it's not their marriage.

Still, God has a plan for Allan and Michele that they could never have imagined. And all it takes to set it in motion is a change of heart . . .

My Review:
I've read each of the books in this series, and although I think that's the best way to enjoy the Anderson family saga, this Christian fiction could easily be read as a stand-alone novel. It covers some sticky subjects: adoption, unwed pregnancy, and infertility. And it covers them with finesse.

Christians often want to know just how to find God's will.  Many feel that it's a fuzzy road to travel. I really liked chapter 33 when Allan and Michele discuss how they spent their day--each separately seeking God's direction, and yet, each coming up with the same answer. The writer nailed it when he showed us step by step how its done!

I also liked the character Christina, a pregnant, unwed teen. She has a tough decision to make, and I feel she made the best choice.

I think most will benefit by reading this novel.

Thank you to Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Nowhere to Turn by Lynette Eason

Hidden Identity, Book Two

She thought her days of hiding were over . . . but the danger has just begun.

The day Danielle Harding takes her eleven-year-old son and flees from her abusive husband is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, things are just heating up. When Kurt was alive, he took something important from a mysterious individual--who wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold you in its iron grip as bestselling author Lynette Eason propels you along in a race to discover the truth.

My Review:
After the death of her husband, who had abused her, Dani Harding, and her son, Simon have people trying to kill them. So they go into hiding. Unfortunately, no place remains safe for long. This Christian fiction thriller keeps the pace moving. It's difficult to tell just who the bad guys are as even the abusive husband was FBI. 

I've read other books by the author and enjoyed them; unfortunately, I was able to easily figure out the twists and turns in this tale.

In addition, the novel needs more careful editing. There are many sentence fragments and even some misspelled words. One page has Simon eleven-years-old and another states that he is twelve. Errors like these prevent me from enjoying an otherwise good tale.

Thank you to Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Driftwood Tides by Gina Holmes

He made himself an island until something unexpected washed ashore.

When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making driftwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually his late wife’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d given saint status to was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.

My Review:
Results from a blood test prove that Libby is adopted, and her mother provides the paperwork that confirms it.  Libby then begins the hunt for her birth parents. I believe that I would act much the same way.

The author writes believable characters with flaws.

The reader first meets Holton, when he's close to the proverbial bottom of the barrel. When his wife--the love of his life died, Holt began his long journey with alcoholism. He's truly unlikeable, but somehow Libby sees something worthwhile, and through her eyes, this reader relates.

Here is a realistic story of the horrible life of an alcoholic, the frustration of an adopted child seeking acceptance from a parent, and the desperate need of several people to believe that their futures have the hope of love. Although this may sound like a depressing story, it's not.

Forgiveness is a theme that threads its way throughout the tale. Each character has to struggle to forgive. We cannot be forgiven until we first forgive. I especailly like the discussion that Tess and Libby have about whether alcoholism is a choice or a disease.

My favorite quote is: "She couldn't change what was done to her, but she could show them what love was supposed to look like.
She could at least be the daughter she always wanted to be." (220+221)

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

Quilts of Love, Book 20

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

My Review:
Alyssa, the protagonist, is a single lady who feels that she will never find Mr. Right. When she wins a trip for two to Mackinac Island, she invites her best friend, Libby, another single gal. Libby has the sparkling personality, and Libby is the one who attracts all the good looking fellows. The trip takes place, and the ladies meet two handsome men. Now, the author describes both ladies as beautiful. (I know. It's confusing.)

Alyssa's grandmother lives on the island, is a wonderful cook, and a quilt is made during the two-week vacation.

There's not much of a plot. The characters are flat as pancakes. Simply put:  I did not like this book. In fact, I found it tedious--a simplistic romance.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Abingdon Press for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Weddings by Design, Book 4

She didn't expect to fall in love--but roses aren't the only thing blooming on Galveston Island.

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her boisterous Greek family--especially her father--has other ideas. They've all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant located on the Strand--directly across the street from iconic pizza place Parma John's--and they want Cassia's full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston's premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family's faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into this former Rossi's good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

My Review:
This is volume 4 in the Weddings by Design series. Although I've read the others, it is meant to be enjoyed as a stand alone novel. Even so, I've enjoyed "seeing" more of the Rossi family. (It's not necessary, but if possible, I'd recommend reading them in order.)

I appreciate the humor that Thompson inserts, and I find myself smiling as I read.

The protagonist, Cassia Pappas, a twenty-three year old single lives with her Greek family above their sandwich shop. She loves flowers and has even obtained an accreditation with the American Institute of Floral Designers. She dreams of working in a flower shop, and discovers that just such a job has a position available in a floral shop a few blocks down from her family's new restaurant.

However, her father, Babbas, rules his roost and makes all decisions--even those for his grown daughter! Cassia fears approaching him about leaving the sandwich shop to work with flowers. It's hard for a non-Greek woman to understand the ties that Babbas has with his family.

To complicate matters, Babbas instructs his entire family to ignore the "enemy" pizza shop across the street. That proves quite difficult when that very shop is filled with the Rossi clan--a large Italian family. The tension of both shops marketing for the same customers provides interesting developments.

Thank you to Lanette Haskins at Baker Publishing Group Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sky Zone (The Crittendon Files) by Creston Mapes

A rally for a controversial presidential candidate.
A terrorist threat.
A nightmare of cataclysmic proportions.

Jack and Pamela Crittendon have hit the breaking point. After months out of work as a reporter, Jack is playing Mr. Mom and working part-time at Festival Arena with his survivalist friend Brian Shakespeare. Meanwhile, Pamela has gone back to work full-time while eight months pregnant. Having her recently widowed mother on hand isn't making matters any easier.

With financial pressures boiling, Jack reports for duty at a rally for controversial presidential candidate Martin Sterling where he expects a mindless night on the job. But when Homeland Security picks up intel about a potential terrorist threat, Jack and Shakespeare are thrust into a life-or-death battle to save their own lives--and the lives of thousands of innocent people.

This third book in The Crittendon Files reminds us of the power of family, friendships, and faith--and why we are never in as much control as we think.

My Review:
I first met the character, Everett Lester, when I read, Dark Star. It was good to see him again in this book and note his continued growth as a Christ-centered rock star. (He has stayed the course.) Creston Mapes has the talent of writing believable characters. I feel as if I understand them while they wrestle with life's tough decisions. Jack Crittendon, the protagonist in this Christian fiction, feels as if he's fighting a losing battle and wonders when God will show up to help. With no permanent work for almost a year, a wife and two children, and one more on the way, life is tough for Jack. But Jack is a likeable guy, and this reader quickly connects with him. 

Chapters flip-flop between the present time with a crisis occurring and three months earlier. The reader sees pressure mounting. This is a hard book to put down! Mapes is an expert at building tension and stopping just in time for the reader to breathe!

I highly recommend this thriller.

Discussion questions included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Firewall (FBI: Houston) by DiAnn Mills

FBI: Houston (Book 1)

After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.

My Review:
Heroes are not always male, as proved by the protagonist of this Christian fiction. With her IQ of 150 and her knowledge of martial arts, Taryn Young knows how to handle herself. Add in her courage in the face of grave danger, and . . . WHAM! Female Hero without a cape!

Suspense and romance intertwine as the story unfolds. People die. Some are brutally murdered. Who is the cause? Who can be trusted? This is a complex tale sure to keep the reader's interest.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.