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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Death Takes a Ride by Lorena McCourtney

It's official. This case is above her pay grade--and Cate's in over her head.

Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Vintage Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense.

Despite having been merely an unfortunate bystander, Cate finds herself sucked into the case. And the deeper she gets, the more she begins to suspect that the shooting in the H&B office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lorena McCourtney takes you on wild ride in this clever cozy mystery that will keep you guessing.

My Review:
This is the third installment in the Cate Kinkaid Files, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Cate, an assistant private investigator seems to always find dead bodies.  She's working on her license so that she will become a "real" P.I. and take over the business from her Uncle Joe.

Other characters in the novel are Cate's deaf, fluffy white cat, Olivia, who knows when the phone will ring; and Mitch, who comes to the rescue on his Purple Rocket. In this light-hearted mystery, Clancy, a large, hairy dog is introduced. He enjoys giving sloppy kisses and riding on a motorcycle, complete with goggles.

Readers are treated with just enough romance and just enough mystery and suspense to make this book a compelling read. (The conclusion will take your breath away.)

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Love Comes Home by Ann H. Gabhart

When the flush of victory fades, there remains a winding road to an uncertain future.

World War II is finally over and the people of Rosey Corner are joyfully welcoming the boys home. The Merritt sisters in particular are looking toward the future. Kate is eager to start a family and live out her dream of happily ever after with Jay. Evangeline craves a beautiful house and encourages Mike to pastor a big-town church. Victoria wants what can never be. And Lorena is growing up and wondering more and more about her birth family.

Each sister must learn to hold her plans with a loose hand, trusting that God will guide and strengthen them as they share the joys and sorrows of life in their little corner of the world.

Award-winning and bestselling author Ann Gabhart invites you back to Rosey Corner for a heartfelt story that closes the distance between the things that were and things that can yet be.

My Review:
This is the third installment of the Merritt sisters, and this is Kate's story. I have not yet read the first two novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed this Christian fiction. The author effectively filled in all of the information needed to fully understand the backstory.

Each character is well fleshed-out and easy to get to know. I like the people of Rosey Corner. I feel as if I'd be happy living there. In addition, history comes alive as the story unfolds. The war is over and men are coming home. There are the awkward moments of getting reacquainted. I picked up on many details of that time period.

There's enough romance to please the romance reader; there's enough history to please the history buff. This is a book most will enjoy.

Thank you to Lanette Haskins @ Baker Publishing Group, Revell Books for my copy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

Second in the series

After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he'll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he's stunned at not only a warm welcome from his hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events...

If there's one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it's Whisper Shore. For years, she's been stuck running her family's inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.

The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn's the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade--she'll help with the Festival and he'll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who's done running away joins forces with the girl who can't wait to leave.

My Review:
I quickly connected to the protagonist, Autumn Kingsley. She's a woman of today--strong, opinionated, and quite capable. In fact, she entirely runs her family's inn. However, she's always dreamed of traveling, especially to Paris. Enter Blake Hunziker, who I "met" in the first of this series, Made to Last. I was happy to get to know him even better! (The author has the technique of writing characters so real that I feel as if I actually know them!)

Like Romeo and Juliet, the romance tugs back and forth. It is well balanced. This is an enjoyable read with a happy ending. Although this is the second in the series, it easily reads as a stand alone novel. Try it; you'll like it!

Thank you to Amy Green at Bethany House Publishers for my copy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Woman of Fortune by Kellie Coates Gilbert

You never know what you're really made of until you lose everything.

Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream--designer clothes, luxury cars, stunning homes. But everything comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must face incredible odds to save her family--and discover a life worth living.

Author Kellie Coates Gilbert delivers a story both poignant and emotionally gripping that celebrates the kind of fortune that lasts.

My Review:
It's not often that I give 5-stars for a book, but this one deserves that ultimate rating. What a dramatic life the protagonist, Claire Massey leads! The reader watches while she moves from riches to rags. (How is she going to survive this latest blow?) But Claire is a survivor, a strong woman, who withstands whatever comes her way, and believe me, there is plenty for her to endure.

One thing that Claire and I have in common is the belief in family. Not much is more important. She works to keep her family together.

Here is a story that will keep you flipping those pages until the very end. Buy it; you'll like it.

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

Check out this video.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris

Southern Crimes (Book 2)

Emily Hunt might come from a family of cops, but she never goes looking for an adrenaline rush. She lives the quiet--well, relatively quiet--life of a teacher and thrives on making a difference in the lives of her students. But she'll have to draw on a well of strength and savvy she didn't know she had as student Rafael Cerda takes her class hostage for ransom money to save his brother's life.

Undercover cop Mason Taylor has been working with Rafael to find his brother and bring the cartel thugs who hold him to justice. Can he talk Rafael down from his impulsive actions? And is there something more sinister at work here than he realizes?

Fatal Exchange draws readers into a complex matrix of intertwining lives and unraveling secrets, where every answer creates more questions. Romantic suspense fans will hardly want to come up for air.

My Review:
Shari Lewis, a puppeteer who worked Lamb Chop, used to end her show with a song:
"This is the song that doesn't end. Yes, it goes on and on my friend."
Like that song, this story goes on and on. Indeed, it even ends with a cliff hanger!

It reads a bit choppy. Every time a conclusion begins, it's closely followed by another beginning. On and on . . .

I think that a novel should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This story is missing the all-important ending. I suppose the author did this on purpose so that readers would buy the following book. I won't.

I feel gypped.

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

Thursday, May 1, 2014

One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he's used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn't asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an elderly neighbor.

As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire's will become--nor how one little girl's kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings.

Through compelling characters and surprising plot twists, Irene Hannon offers readers this tenderhearted story of family connections that demonstrates how life is like lilacs--the biggest blooms often come only after the harshest winters.

My Review:
Ever wonder what makes a workaholic? Even though he's good looking and likeable, no girl has ever caught Keith Watson's eye. There's no time for romance; he's in love with his work. Truth be told, Keith has some skeletons in his closet that must be brought to light before he can trust or love a woman. His early childhood haunts him.

Have you ever considered how anyone could give up her child for adoption? Could you? In this novel, adoption is examined from many perspectives.This well-written story contains some suggestions that make sense.

I enjoyed the way Irene Hannon weaves the story of Keith. The pace is believable, and the ending is just right. I highly recommend this one.

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lip Reading by Harry Kraus, MD

She Could Save Millions, or Save Herself

She just needs a little longer. She's really close. Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a medical researcher, stands on the verge of a breakthrough that will transform medicine.

But she soon discovers the reason behind the miraculous progress in her research, and it leaves her with a nearly impossible choice . . . and little time to decide. More than her research is at stake. And more threatens it than this latest revelation. Something she's tried hard to cover up. There is a high cost to some things in medicine and it's not always the patient who pays.

Can Rebecca find the faith and wisdom she needs to make the right call? The clock is ticking and the pressure is on.

My Review:
I enjoyed this medical research novel about Dr. Rebecca Jackson's work in creating artificial blood. If she succeeds, so many can be helped. Imagine, AIDS would no long be a concern with transfusions. But what a price she must pay! Although I find myself agreeing with Becca, I doubt my ability to stick to this decision.

Harry Kraus knows how to grab the reader's attention. I quickly connected to the protagonist. The other characters are small-town friendly people and easy to like. Noah keeps a secret better than most. Mel is a study in patience.

I liked the romantic tension between Becca and Noah. On again, off again. I can't say more without spoiling it for others.

The ending is unexpected, but I must admit, it made good sense.

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.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Follows After by Dan Walsh

In 1962, life was simple, the world made sense, and all families were happy.
And when they weren't, everyone knew you were supposed to pretend.

For the past year, Scott and Gina Harrison have been living a lie. While they show up at family get-togethers in the same car, they've actually been separated for over a year. To keep up the charade, they've even instructed their sons, Colt and Timmy, to lie--to their grandparents, their teachers, and their friends.

Colt, for one, has had enough, so he hatches a plan. He and his little brother will run away from their Florida home, head for their aunt's house in Georgia, and refuse to come home until their parents get back together. But when things go terribly, terribly wrong, Scott and Gina must come to grips with years of neglect and mistrust in order to recover their beloved sons, their love for one another, and their marriage.

In this emotional story, bestselling author Dan Walsh takes you on a journey to rediscover the things that matter most in life--love, truth, and family. With profound insight into the heart of a hurting child, he reminds us that a time will come to look back on hard times and smile, because we'll know that what follows after . . . is not what we expected at all.

My Review:
I didn't get much sleep last night; I stayed up and finished reading this magnetic book. What a compelling story! Because of a horrific tragedy, a family rediscovers their priorities. The story even contains secrets of a happy marriage!

Set in 1962, when divorce was an ugly word, a husband and wife separate but continue to put up a front so society won't learn of their broken marriage. Their two boys feeling unloved and neglected decide to run away from home with the hope that their parents will somehow get back together. Things don't work out as planned, and . . . Well, I can't say any more without ruining your reading experience.

I lived in Florida during this time period, and I clearly remember the events depicted, the bomb shelters, President Kennedy's blockade of Cuba, and the sure knowledge that World War III was upon us. The author did a good job setting the scene, writing believable characters, and telling a story that will have readers choose to read over sleep. This is a book I heartily recommend!

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

Quilts of Love, Book 16

Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it. At first, it’s just a way to fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden Kanzinzki, is away fighting in World War II.

Yet when Maybelle discovers that the quilt is made from scraps of material that can be traced back through her family heritage, the project is suddenly much more important. Then word comes that Holden is missing in action, and with little else to do, Maybelle clings to the quilt as much as to the hope that her husband is still alive. As neighborhood friends gather around Maybelle to help her through the unknown days and nights ahead, it is the quilt that becomes a symbol of her unflagging belief that Holden will return—to her, to their home, and to their quilt-covered bed.

My Review:
The premise of the story is a good one. Maybelle is a woman without many talents; however, her best friend, Doris, seems to be able to do most anything. There is a good bit about quilting, and a small group of women comprise a quilting bee. The quilt fills the long hours while the ladies wait for their husbands to return from the war.

I did not enjoy this one. The slow pace of the novel frustrated me. It is repetitious. For example, the phrase, "Loose lips sink ships" is mentioned five times! In addition, better editing would weed out grammatical errors like, "... Logan approach Maybelle" (173).

Discussion questions are included.

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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Sweet the Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

A Southern Novel of Second Chances

From a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface.

Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama. Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.

This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.

My Review:
Talk about a dysfunctional family! The Harlan clan defines the word. This is a dark tale of rape and incest--the opposite of a fluffy read. Based on the biblical story of Tamar who was raped and told to keep it quiet, one of the characters suffers years of abuse while heads are turned away. With no one to comfort her, she thinks less and less of herself.

Chapters are written in first-person with the voices of two characters: Anniston (Anni) and Comfort. By writing with this two-narrator structure, the author allows the reader to see the story from two perspectives. I liked this and thought it helped me dig into the "meat" of the novel. I felt closely to both characters.

Discussion questions are included along with several Southern recipes. It might be a good choice for a book club to read, followed by a supper using the recipes found at the book's end.

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.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Distortion by Terri Blackstock

Moonlighters Series #2

Juliet Cole’s life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn’t know who—or what—to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie. When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is gunned down in a dark parking lot before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning. When she’s finally allowed to return home to break the news to her boys, she hears a voicemail that takes the situation from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack. "Mrs. Cole, we know you have access to the supply and the money. If you don't turn fifty million over to us and give us the codes, then you'll be burying more family members."

Suddenly, Juliet realizes that she and her children could be in danger. She teams up with her sisters and PI Michael Hogan to dig into the sham Bob has been living for years. The more she learns, the worse the betrayal. A drug trafficking history, a fortune in cash, and a secret family all emerge to turn Juliet’s belief system on its head, and threaten the things she loves. Are she and her sisters skilled enough as sleuths to get to the truth?

My Review:
Terri Blackstock knows how to make me hold my breath! Even though this fast paced suspense novel kept me flipping pages, I found myself anxious to read even faster. What a good read! It kept my full attention, and I never suspected the ending.

I immediately connected with the character Juliet Cole. Poor woman; she witnesses her husband, Bob, murdered. She actually sees the killer! As the police investigate, her world continues to crash down around her as she copes with ever-growing ugly revelations about the husband she dearly loved and thought she knew. However, Juliet is a strong woman, and she dedicates herself to helping the police and the FBI solve this crime.

I especially enjoyed the part where Juliet wonders if Bob was a Christian. "Could he have been a Christian and still been involved in drug trafficking? Could he have truly loved God and still done something that would devastate so many lives?" (304)

I highly recommend this one.

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for my copy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson

Weddings by Design (Book 3)

A seamstress at a swanky bridal boutique, Gabi Delgado dreams of doing more than ripping out seams and fitting dresses to doe-eyed brides. She wants to see her own dress designs gracing the young women of Texas. When Jordan Spencer, the editor of Texas Bride magazine visits the shop to do a feature, Gabi is devastated to lose her job in his very influential presence. Convinced she'll never get her dreams off the ground now, Gabi needs lots of encouragement--especially from her friend Bella Neeley--to take a chance and start her business. And as she gets to know Jordan, she discovers that she may have to take a chance on love as well. Could it be that she'll have to design her own wedding dress soon?

As always, Janice Thompson delivers fun, laughter, and romance as she takes readers back to Galveston, Texas, to spend more time with their favorite quirky characters along with fabulous new ones.

My Review:
Gabi Delgado, the protagonist for this Christian fiction, easily connects with readers. She's an unappreciated, talented, single lady who is working in a Cinderella-like situation. While others in the shop work in an ample space, Gabi works in a cramped closet.

Her Prince Charming, Jordan, a reporter for Texas Bride magazine is introduced early in the novel, and the author takes the time necessary for romance to build.

Gabi's dream models are Hollywood's dance stars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Jordan incorporates them into the most romantic date ever. The expected plot includes a happily-ever-after ending. I liked this; it's a fun, sugar candy for the brain book.

Thank you to Lanette Haskins at Baker Publishing and Revell Books for my copy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Prime of Life by P.D. Bekendam

Ben used to be a cardiothoracic surgeon before he suddenly abandoned his career and became a janitor at a retirement facility. Now, other than dealing with minor problems such as an unhealthy obsession with prime numbers, an inept boss, and a feud between two cantankerous retirees, he lives a relatively stress-free life. There is even hope for romance when an attractive podiatrist shows an interest in him.

But it is not long before his past catches up with him and his carefully protected world begins to unravel. He is forced to face deep issues about life, love, and God head-on, rather than hide behind his cleaning cart.

My Review:
This novel is told in the first person voice of Ben, a handyman for Heritage Gardens, a retirement home. Ben lives a wacky life as the retirement home's obsessive compulsive janitor. He hates the number four and avoids making left-hand turns. He loves prime numbers and mind games. I enjoyed learning how Ben's mind works.

In his previous life as a surgeon, Ben experienced a traumatic event which caused him to become a doctor-in-hiding and to turn against God. However, one of the home's senior citizens discovers Ben's former occupation and threatens to tell.

Marvin and Frank, two residents, have known each other since childhood, and they still behave quite childlike with their constant bickering and competition. Their personalities bring a good deal of humor into the tale.

Throughout the first half, the pace of the book is good. Then, the author speeds up and leaves out bunches; I longed for details! When I finished reading the hasty conclusion with its magical allusions, I actually found myself blinking.

Thank you to Leeanna Case at Worthy Publishing for my copy.