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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Last Juror by John Grisham - Some Thoughts

     I was waiting for my mother-in-law's game of Kings in the Corner to finish up so that we could visit for a bit at the assisted living home where she resides. I picked a copy of The Last Juror from the bookshelf to absorb the wait time, and I was hooked. While it is not a book that would fall into the Christian Fiction genre, Callie Ruffin and a cast of secondary characters give voice to their faith as they minister to Willie Traynor, the young owner, publisher and writer for The Ford County Times. While sinful behavior occurs, Grisham abstains from writing explicit sex scenes. Bad language is existent, but tempered, and is used to establish character and circumstance, not merely for the gratification of using it or the shock value.
     I spent my middle and high school years in the south in the seventies. The setting, the historical events, the southern mindset, they were all very familiar. The book is a page turner that kept me from getting lots of more important things done. I recommend this book to mystery lovers, especially to the baby boomers who fall among that group.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Beckon by Tom Pawlik - A Book Review

   Tom Pawlik       Beckon by [Pawlik, Tom]'

     If you enjoyed Ted Dekker’s books that take place in the little town of Paradise, you will enjoy Beckon, another small town where evil lurks. Anthropologist Jack Kendrick stumbles across the town of Beckon while following up on notes his father left behind before his disappearance. Along with his friend, Rudy, a research scientist, and their guide from the Caieche tribe, Jack descends into a world below the Wyoming town, to encounter terrors beyond his imagination.
     Police officer Elina Gutierrez, also in search for a missing family member, follows a white van from California to Wyoming, a van that unknowingly led her to Beckon. If only she’d told someone of her plans. Elina knew that prayer was her only hope of escaping Beckon’s terrors.
     George Wilcox had intentionally come to Beckon, responding to an invitation, to the promise of a miracle. Miriam Wilcox may not have realized why she’d been brought to Beckon, but she knew that citizenship in heaven was preferred to the life Thomas Vale, leader of Beckon, was offering.
     The people of Beckon had long ago learned to justify their actions. After all wasn’t the world better off without some of its citizens? Didn’t the country’s economy work on the theory of supply and demand? Weren’t they protecting a native culture from the prying eyes of outsiders?
     How different were these people from Jack, Elina and George? How different from them are we? Where do we draw the line? If it is drawn in the sand, what happens when the sand shifts? Where, or in whom, can a firm foundation be found?

     Tom Pawlik uses story to tackle some big questions. He keeps his reader through an engrossing story line, painting vivid mental images, developed characters, and concise language. If you enjoy thrillers, but prefer a sound message over terror just for terror’s sake, Beckon is for you. If you appreciate a story teller who develops suspense and makes you want to leave the lights on without vulgarity, Beckon is for you. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard - A Book Review

Sandra Orchard

     Another Day, Another Dali is the second book in the Serena Jones Mystery series, following A Fool and His Monet.  Special Agent Serena Jones is a member of the FBI’s art crime team, but it was her Nana that got her involved in solving the theft of a Dali painting. This on the heels of rushing into a drug dealer’s home based on the possibility of a valuable painting being found on site. Then things get really interesting when Serena helps out another agent who is investigating the Russian mob. All of these cases seem to be intertwined, and all Serena knows is that someone is targeting her; the trick is to figure out which of the cases her attacker or attackers is linked to.

     When reading a mystery, we expect to be looking for motives, and questioning motives. In life we also look for motives, and unfortunately often make incorrect assumptions about why people do what they do. In Another Day, Another Dali Orchard drives this point home. Those incorrect assumptions may result in hurt feelings and unwanted and unnecessary consequences, feelings and consequences that could be avoided with adequate trust and communication.  

     I am looking forward to reading Serena Jones’ next adventure, and Orchard’s next clever title. I recommend this series to cozy mystery lovers and to those “more mature” ladies who have been looking for fun characters in their age bracket. Both groups (regardless of their age) are going to love Serena’s Aunt Martha. The series makes a great vacation or fun weekend read. I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing me with a copy of Another Day, Another Dali in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Devoted by Suzanne Woods Fisher - A Book Review

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     The Devoted is book three in The Bishop’s Family series. This book focuses on seventeen-year-old Ruthie Stoltzfus. Ruthie is being pulled in so many directions. Should she remain within the familiar surroundings of the Amish Community of Stoney Ridge, or should she pursue higher education outside of the community? Should she continue her relationship with handsome Luke Schrock in spite of his poor life choices which hurt so many around him, or should she pursue a relationship with Patrick Kelly, a guest at a local inn who is considering converting to the Amish? While it is wonderful to have choices, making them can be difficult and life altering.

     Patrick’s appearance has had an impact on Ruthie’s father, David Stoltzfus, the Bishop, as well. As Patrick contrasts what he had anticipated Amish life would be like with the reality of Amish life in Stoney Ridge, David is forced to face some realities as well. How has the last three years of prosperity made possible by the discovery of oil on land owned by Amish families impacted their community? Has the community’s faith become misplaced? Have their priorities been altered?  If so, what is the correct course of action? The questions with which David struggles should be questions each and every Christian should ask themselves, whether living in prosperity or not.

      Visiting Stoney Ridge again is like going home, finding out about new relationships, interacting with eccentric uncles, trying to please stern-faced aunts, oohing and aaahing over how the children have grown, and mourning those that are no longer there. Suzanne Woods Fisher allows us to see inside the Amish world, and helps us discover that we really aren’t so different, our challenges are often their challenges as well.

     Suzanne Woods Fisher shows a deep understanding of the Amish, and her love for these people shines through in her writing, while always remaining realistic, not romanticizing the Amish community. Her writing brings out a variety of strong emotions; sometimes gluing me to the story, unable to put the book down; other times causing me to put the book down and step aside for a moment. I would highly recommend this book to Amish fiction fans, and also to those who love to study human nature. Thank you to Revell Publishers and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing me with The Devoted in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tangled Webs by Irene Hannon - A Book Review

      Image result for irene hannon

     The third book in Hannon’s Men of Valor series is the story of Finn, the youngest of the three McGregor brothers, and former Army Ranger. Like his brothers before him, Finn is trying to find his place after leaving military service. While Mac and Lance have not only found new occupations that are a perfect match for their skills, they have also each found the woman who is their perfect match, Finn has no such aspirations when he goes into a month’s seclusion in a national forest outside of St. Louis.
     Dana Lewis, publishing executive turned freelance book editor, has retreated to her late grandparents’ cabin on the edge of the national park after surviving a harrowing experience, one that left her guilt ridden, visually impaired, suffering bouts of dizziness, and waking screaming from nightmares. Now someone is vandalizing her property, possibly working to frighten her away.
     When Finn and Dana’s lives collide sparks fly. Finn’s military training takes over, along with his protective nature. Dana hasn’t had anyone looking out for her for a very long time. Should she give into the temptation to allow Finn to step into that role? Finn has secrets, secrets he hasn’t shared with anyone, not even his family. Should he allow Dana take the role of confidant?
     Hannon develops characters that evoke strong emotions. Readers of Tangled Webs will have deep empathy for Police Chief Roger Burnett, and the difficult choices he has to make throughout the story. Many will think of loved ones as they meet Leah Burnett, the chief’s wife. Hazel, waitress at the Walleye Diner, is endearing in spite of her rather stereotypical role as a small town, good natured gossip. Even the two characters that only appear in the prologue will find a special place in readers’ hearts.
            I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Tangled Webs for my honest review. I thank Irene Hannon for several enjoyable hours between the covers of this book. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.      

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club by Lexi Eddings - A Book Review

   Small town, big stories...with Ozark Snark!

     The title of this book review should be “You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Back Cover Blurb.” When I read the blurb, I moaned to my husband, “If the book reads like this, it’s going to be a long, painful read.” Ah, but instead between the covers lay a tender, sweet story, a story of coming to terms with life’s difficulties and moving on to better things. It’s a story of looking beyond oneself, and the blessings that come from reaching out to others.
     Lacy has returned home after a betrayal that has left her emotionally and financially drained. She feels like returning to the small town of Coldwater, Oklahoma is a giant step backward. Jacob has returned to Coldwater after sustaining severe physical trauma while serving as a marine in Afghanistan, leaving him to cope with PTSD. Jacob, once the local love ‘em and leave ‘em heart throb, is now looking for someone with whom he can have a deeper relationship, someone who can see him rather than his injury. Lacy is not ready to put herself in a position to be hurt again, not ready to trust. Will their friendship stand up to their insecurities; is there hope that it may develop into something more?
     Then there is Daniel Scott, Lacy’s former boyfriend and Jacob’s former best friend. Daniel struggles with his relationship with his wife who is fighting in the only way she knows how to help him overcome his addiction. He struggles with his relationship with the abusive father of his childhood, now an alcoholic, homeless Vietnam vet whom the Coldwater Warm Hearts Club has taken under their wing. Will Lacy’s reappearance make reconciliation with his wife more challenging? How will it impact what little remains of his connection to Jacob, the friend who kept him from making what might have been the biggest mistake of his life?
     Those who read my reviews will be accustomed to their being about books that strictly adhere to the standards set forth for Christian fiction. So, I feel obligated to mention that while The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club does have faith based themes, it would better be described as a sweet romance. There is just a bit of language that one would not find in Christian fiction. While sex outside of marriage is alluded to, there are no steamy, explicit sex scenes. I do not believe fans of Christian fiction will feel as if they have compromised by reading this sweet story. Lacy is a seeker, Jacob is rediscovering his faith. Thankfully God gives each of us grace as we work toward maturity in our faith.

     I thank Lacy Eddings and Kensington Books for providing me with a copy of The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no monetary compensation for this review. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This Road We Traveled by Jane Kirkpatrick - A Book A Review

Image result for jane kirkpatrick books           Image result for This Road We Traveled

     Sharp tongued yet loving, opinionated yet understanding, lame yet persevering, brave yet fearful of becoming a burden, a life filled with dichotomy, light well spent. This is Tabitha Moffat Brown, pioneer, also known as “The Mother of Oregon.” Once again Jane Kirkpatrick has fleshed out the life of a strong woman from America’s history, holding true to her life, drawing reasonable conclusions, and adding enough fiction to allow her to live once again in the hearts and minds of readers. In this endeavor, Kirkpatrick is a master.
     Tabitha Brown, along with her son’s, Orus Brown’s, family and her daughter’s, Pherne Pringle’s, family, traveled from St. Charles, Missouri to the Salem and Forest Grove areas of Oregon, traveling together most of the way, then with Orus taking the Oregon Trail, and Tabby and the Pringles separating to follow the California Trail into Oregon. Those following the Applegates through northern California encountered extreme hardships, with the survivors entering their new lives in Oregon with not much more than the clothes on their backs, depending on the kindness of those who had gone before.
     Tabby’s relationship with her children plays an important role in her story. While her deep love for them, and them for her is obvious, there is tension and more than just a bit of friction between them. While Tabby may not totally comprehend the root of this, she does, often unsuccessfully, try to avoid adding fuel to the fire. Success does seem to come more easily once Tabby finds meaningful ways to spend her light during her later years.

     While reading This Road We Traveled I flagged twenty pages on which I underlined pearls of wisdom, quotes that I will copy into my reading log to revisit in the future. How many authors of fiction offer such treasure? I highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction, to those looking for strong female role models, and to those who love the beauty of words. I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing this book for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Raven by Mike Nappa - A Book Review

Mike Nappa      Product Details

     Having read Annabel Lee, I was quite anxious to read the second installment in the Coffey and Hill series by Mike Nappa. At first I thought I was going to be disappointed, and then I reached chapter seven, and I was hooked. I love the way Nappa takes seemingly disconnected details and pulls them all together into a satisfying ending. I also appreciate the way he is unafraid to tackle events and themes often avoided in Christian literature, but handles them in a way that does not sensationalize them.
     When Trudi Coffey first sees, deception specialist, The Raven, he’s in a tight spot. The Raven becomes enamored with this beautiful lady who saves his life, but little did either of them know the trajectory their relationship would take from there. They also had no idea how the men who had placed him in that tight spot would figure so prominently in their future. These men certainly weren’t done with the Raven, and weren’t to be frightened away by Trudi.
     Samuel Hill, Trudi’s ex, has made mistakes, big ones, but he still loves Trudi, and will go to any extent to protect her, whether she feels like she needs to be protected or not. Is his trust placed in the right people to assist him in this endeavor? Only time will tell. Has bringing Trudi in on his Nevermore investigation placed her in greater danger? Well, neither one of them is backing down now. While they may not be able to resume their relationship, Trudi and Samuel’s love will be Forevermore.
     Then there is Mama Bliss, matriarch of Little Five Points in Atlanta, Georgia. There is much more to that sweet, elderly lady sitting in her wheelchair painting outside the store, Sister Bliss’s Secret Stash, that she opened with her late husband, William, than meets the eye. Much more. Mama Bliss is the character in this story that will grab the reader’s attention and hold it firmly until the end, driving the reader to put off other things that need to be accomplished in order to uncover the truth behind Mama Bliss.

     I highly recommend Mike Nappa’s Coffey and Hill series. While The Raven would work fine as a stand-alone read, the reader who has first read Annabel Lee will have greater insights into the characters’ motivations and relationships, and will understand the occasional reference to their previous case. I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing this book for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino - A Book Review

    To Follow Her Heart             Image of Rebecca DeMarino

     To Follow Her Heart is book three in The Southold Chronicles based on Rebecca De Marino’s ancestors, Barnabas and Mary Horton’s, settling in what is now Long Island, New York. In her author’s notes DeMarino clearly separates the fact from the fiction. While this latest addition to the series focuses on the romance between Patience Terry and Barnabas’ brother, Jeremy, it continues the story of the deep love between Mary and Barnabas.

     Life in the 1600’s wasn’t easy with illness and death truly plaguing residents in the New World as well as the Old. The Horton family, while not untouched, was largely spared. The community of Southold demonstrates the reliance those who settled our nation had to have upon one another and upon the original residents in the lands upon which they settled. It also demonstrates the deep attachments that developed.

     While it is satisfying to revisit Barnabas and Mary Horton, and to rejoice in the depth of their love for and dedication to one another, it is the ever changing relationship between Jeremy and Patience that keeps the reader engaged with this story. The author does a wonderful job of keeping the reader guessing as to what direction she will take this relationship. Patience, in her early forties, has waited a long time for Jeremy to commit to her, while it seems that that time has finally arrived, Jeremy seems to like the idea of commitment far more than actually committing. Might there be another suitor far more ready to do so?

     There is one aspect of To Follow Her Heart that kept me unsettled. That was the question of to what degree did the characters act and interact in a way that was true to the time period in which the story is set. Would they consider that a certain color gown would make the color of their eyes, “pop”? Would a couple, not officially engaged, spend so much unchaperoned time together in the confines of one’s home? Would there be such public displays of affection? Would women and men compete against one another in a game of tug-of-war? This line of questioning did not, however, diminish my enjoyment of the story, and would not keep me from recommending it to others.

      I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing To Follow Her Heart for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Without Warning by Lynette Eason - A Book Review

      Lynette Eason

     Book two of the Elite Guardians series far outshines book one. Without Warning is Lynette Eason at her best. She has created a believable story with endearing characters. There are several suspects with motivations to commit the crime, and some come under suspicion again even after having been found unlikely candidates. Eason leads you to the solution of the mystery, but then provides a surprising twist that the reader won’t have seen coming.
     Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection agency, is a strong, self-confident woman. Daniel Matthews, restaurateur and client of the agency, is a former Marine who appreciates those qualities in a woman. Being a Marine, Matthews is more than capable of taking care of himself, but his niece insists he hires the Elite Guardians. After all she has already lost her mom and dad; she cannot allow anything to happen to her uncle. No one is quite sure why Daniel Matthews is being targeted by a killer and arsonist, and no one is sure when and how that person will strike again. Singleton and Matthews have the skills necessary to deal with the situation, but it is their vulnerabilities that create a bond between them.
     While Eason refers back to characters and events from book one in this series, Always Watching, it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to understand and enjoy the second. Each book in the series has as its main character one of the partners of the Elite Guardians. It would appear that the author is designing them to be read in sequence or as a stand-alone book. Something I always appreciate.

      I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing Without Warning for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What Matters Most by Kellie Coates Gilbert

What Matters Most - Kellie Gilbert   
     I eagerly awaited this book’s arrival in the mail as I had so enjoyed Where Rivers Part, a previous book in Gilbert’s Texas Gold series. While I did enjoy this book, had I not known it was by the same author I would never have suspected it. Where Rivers Part  would appear to have been written by a more seasoned, mature author. Both books dealt with strong themes, What Matters Most’s being the need for integrity in all walks of life, but especially in positions of leadership, very apropos for our current election cycle.
     What Matters Most has two protagonists that are poster children for integrity, even when they are thrown into situations which pose significant challenges to that integrity. The antagonists are everything the American public has grown to despise in our political arena. The greater message here is hope, hope that when things are tough that doing the right thing will lead to a positive outcome, hope that a new generation is rising that will embody moral character, hope for our states and our country. Hope that is found in God.
     One of the most basic comprehension strategies we teach students is to bring their background knowledge to the task of comprehending, one type of knowledge is the knowledge of how particular genres of stories work. Readers who are familiar with this type of story are waiting for the other shoe to drop well into this story, because we all know that it will. Once it does, the author wastes no time in moving to clean up the subsequent fall out. The final piece to that solution comes from a very unlikely source.

     I recommend What Matters Most to romantic fiction readers, and to those who, during this presidential election season, need a message of hope. Thank you to Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for making What Matters Most available to me in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no monetary compensation for my review.   

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Honor Redeemed by Christine Johnson - A Book Review

Honor Redeemed     

     Reading this book during a major heat wave with heat indices in the triple digits, I was really able to imagine the heat and humidity of Key West, the swarms of pesky insects, and the tropical fevers that plagued residents during the mid-1800s. The discomfort was complicated by the fashions of the day; imagine soldiers in the tropics being required to wear wool! The reader can’t help but be grateful for modern day air conditioning, advances in medicine, and cooler fabrics and fashions. Even if one were reading Honor Redeemed mid-winter, the author’s integration of the setting into the storyline and the clarity with which she describes its significance would create a powerful mental image.
     Honor Redeemed is book two in the Keys of Promise series. It was a delight to visit with Elizabeth O’Malley again as she befriends Prosperity Jones who has arrived in Key West with no money and one change of clothes, in search of her fiancĂ© after the death of her mother left her alone and destitute. Circumstances, however, are not what she anticipated. Lieutenant David Latham is now married, and his wife is expecting a child. Only the Christian goodwill of people like the O’Malley’s and a kindly, older doctor will keep Prosperity off of the streets. Things are not as they seem within the Latham household, and David is in need of some Christian goodwill himself. Themes of honor, forgiveness, unconditional love, faith, and the value of all humans regardless of race and social standing are intricately woven together in this emotionally charged novel.

     I recommend Honor Redeemed to Christian historical fiction and Christian romance fans. I recommend it to those who enjoy reading books where good prevails over adversity, and hearts are changed through Christian love.  Thank you to Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for making Honor Redeemed available to me in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no monetary compensation for my review.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Missing by Lisa Harris - A Book Review

   Heart of Africa       Welcome to my blog!

Join Special Agent Nikki Boyd of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Missing Persons Special Task Force as her investigation of Lucy Hudson’s disappearance follows a trail of dead bodies and finds some of those dearest to Nikki in mortal danger. You will encounter danger at every turn, as Nikki, her TBI colleagues, and her friend Tyler search for the truth that will lead to Lucy. Surprises abound on this journey; the unexpected becomes the norm.

     While working tirelessly to find Lucy, a kindergarten teacher running from those who would harm her, before it is too late, Nikki wrestles with the emotions that drive her into the past as she recalls the events surrounding her sister’s having gone missing. While this book works well as a stand-alone read, the story of Nikki’s search for her sister’s abductor is threaded throughout the series, of which Missing is book two. Nikki also deals with her changing emotions towards her deceased best friend’s husband. Helping him through his grief has turned into so much more, but can she let him know? Can he ever see her as something more than a friend?

     Lisa Harris’ writing style is fast paced, contains smoothly flowing dialogue, and has tight, clear descriptions of the scenes in which the characters find themselves. She lets the readers in on her characters’ inner turmoil without getting lost there. I am looking forward to reuniting with Nikki in the spring of 2017 in book three, Pursued. I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Missing for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.    

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Calling by Rachelle Dekker - A Book Review


     Fear. Fear from without: fear of persecution, fear of punishment, fear of retaliation. Fear from within: fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of letting others down, fear of letting yourself down. Fear. Debilitating, enslaving, imprisoning, defeating.

     Grace. Grace from the Father. Grace sometimes offered by others. Grace, something we rarely offer ourselves. Grace, once accepted: freeing, releasing, joy evoking, undeserved, a gift, the foundation of freedom.

     The Calling is a story of both fear and grace. It is a story of surrendering the things that fears are built upon in order to grasp the grace that is offered. It is a tale of forgetting and remembering, only to forget again. In the midst of life’s joys and turmoils, it is sometimes difficult to remember who and whose you are.

     The continuing story of Carrington and Remko that began with The Choosing, is extremely well written, and completely enthralling. Readers will need to have read the first book in this series in order to truly understand and appreciate this second book. An investment of time and money that will pay great dividends. You will emerge changed. Not many books or authors have such a significant impact

    One important bit of information for readers new to The Seer series, this series is of the dystopian genre. For those who are fans of this genre, you are in for a treat. For those who have never read a dystopian novel, this is a great place to start. For those who have previously tried this genre and found it less than appealing, this is the perfect opportunity to give it another chance. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Love Finds You in Holiday Florida by Sandra D. Bricker - A Book Review


     My mother-in-law read this book and recommended it to me because she really enjoyed it. It was a sweet, light read. I had recently visited the area in which the book is set, and enjoyed that connection. However I felt like I was two people reading this book. On one side I was enjoying the romantic story with a touch of mystery. On the other I was feeling angry with the main character for living out the life that she deprived her late husband of during their marriage, and seemed to be doing so without regret. The realization that my feelings about how a member of my own extended family was living after the death of his wife was clouding my enjoyment of the book made it easier for me to separate those feelings and enjoy the sense of freedom and personal growth experienced by the main character. I would recommend this book as a nice beach read.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Warren W. Wiersbe's Be Series - A Comment


     I have read the Be Series studies of Isaiah and Ephesians, and have been truly blessed. I began the Be Series study of Galatians today, and am already hooked. Wiersbe takes his students deeper into the Word of God with clear, logical writing backed by Scriptural references. My time in the Bible has been more productice with these studies to guide me due to the additional insight they provide. I have allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me as to which study to do rather than my typical start at the beginning and work my way through. They have been very timely, thanks to this guidance.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Silence in the Dark by Patricia Bradley - A Book Review

        Patricia Bradley

     Missionary Bailey Adams is anxious to return home to Logan Point, even if only for a visit. Bailey has made some very dangerous enemies in Mexico and needs to gain perspective on her role there. On her last day in Mexico those enemies, a disgruntled shaman, someone from the Calatrava drug cartel, or a kidnapper after Bailey’s charge, young Maria Montoya, have Bailey and Maria on the run. How long is the arm of those who would do these two harm? To what extent will they go to carry out their plans? Will Logan Point, Mississippi put enough distance between them?
     Bailey has known all along that going home to Logan Point means inevitably running into her former fiance, Danny Maxwell. She had not however considered the possibility of their paths crossing in Chihuahua, Mexico, and is totally taken aback when that is just what happens. Now it seems Danny is the only one she can trust to get her and Maria to safety.

     Each mystery in Bradley’s Logan Point series has included well laid out clues and plausible red herrings. The fast paced action, crisp dialogue, and engaging characters will have readers carrying the books wherever they go, snatching moments whenever possible to catch the next turn of events. While reading the books in sequence will allow the reader to understand some references regarding characters and events from previous books, the books do work well as a stand alone read. Patricia Bradley has become one of my favorite mystery authors. Mystery fans of Irene Hannon, Lynette Eason, and Colleen Coble will be proud to display Bradley’s books on their shelves as well. I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing Silence in the Dark for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

 The Quieting        
     On her Amish Wisdom website Suzanne Woods Fisher explains the concept of quieting. We are all familiar with the Amish custom of shunning, a form of discipline for unrepentant church members. Quieting revokes the ordination of an unrepentant Amish bishop, deacon or minister. It is rarely done, and never taken lightly. The entire Amish community feels the pain of such an action of discipline. Fisher introduced readers to this form of discipline in her first book in The Bishop’s Family series, The Imposter. While reading this second book in the series, I was on pins and needles waiting to see which way the tide would turn and which church leader would undergo the quieting. Would the one deserving of this discipline receive it, or would he be able to manipulate the church members into believing there was another that needed to be the recipient?
     While the community and church leadership dealt with the situation that threatened to split the community, one of the leader’s nieces was dealing with a situation of her own. Driven to complete her ailing father’s genealogy work for Francis Glick in order to pull him from his state of depression, Abigail is pursued by one of the few eligible bachelors in Stoney Ridge. Abigail’s singular focus on her task, lack of social skills and her tendency to take all things literally work to derail the budding relationship. Will she be able to pull herself out of the past to see what is right before her in the present?

     Even if you are not a fan of Amish fiction, but love books where relationships are put to the test and there are deeper lessons to be learned, you will love this series. You may also gain valuable insight into what your own pastor’s life may be like as he works to meet the needs of his church without neglecting the needs of his family. I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing The Quieting for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.          

Friday, May 13, 2016

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin - A Book Review

       Anchor in the Storm
     Sarah Sundin’s second installment of the Waves of Freedom series brings minor characters from the first book, Through Waters Deep, into the forefront and into another mystery centered in the city of Boston as our country enters the Second World War. Jim Avery’s best friend, Ensign Archer Vandenberg, and sister, Lillian, both have trust issues that interfere with the progress of their relationship, but working to bust a drug ring that provides prescription sedatives to sailors draws them closer together. The relationship is bolstered by the fact that Lillian is totally unimpressed by Archer’s wealth, and Archer challenges Lillian to try new experiences in spite of her prosthesis.

     While I enjoyed the well developed mystery and the romance in this book, it was the way the author captured the attitude and reaction of the American people of the 1940s toward those with disabilities, both civilian and military that captured my interest. This stood out in such stark contrast to today’s support of our wounded warriors and others with disabilities. The book also allows the reader to see the difference in how the military and civilian business community viewed those with combat fatigue versus how we view our active duty personnel and veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. Our society has come a long way in the past seventy-five years.

      Anchor in the Storm is a really good read. Historical fiction fans will enjoy it as will mystery and romance readers. Even though it is set in another time, I believe military spouses will find insight in Archer and Lillian’s story as they deal with the emotional side of the war effort. I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Anchor in the Storm for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White - A Book Review

Pelican Bride by Beth White        
I am drawn to words, and have never been one to notice book covers and illustrations, not even in children’s books. Many was the time that my students pointed out an element of the story provided by the illustrator that I had overlooked. However, I frequently found myself flipping back to the cover photo of The Magnolia Duchess, inserting the cover designer’s image into my mental image of the many faces of Fiona Lanier. (Hmmm, that might make a good subtitle: The Many Faces of Fiona Lanier.) There is Fiona the horse wrangler, Fiona the patriot, Fiona the nurse, Fiona the independent, and Fiona the beautiful to name a few. Charlie Kincaid might not have recalled meeting Fiona prior to the day he washed up on the beach near her home, but she made a lasting impression during his period of recuperation among the Lanier family, creating inner turmoil between love of a woman and duty to his country. Many unexpected events occur as Charlie learns to trust God, and to trust the plans He has for his life. Just how will Fiona and her family fit into those plans, or is there a place for them at all? Answering that question is the reader’s quest.
The Magnolia Duchess is book three in the Gulf Coast Chronicles series. The series features independent, brave women who work alongside the men they love to safeguard the growing country they hold dear. Each book can be read as a stand-alone read, but much pleasure can be had by reading them all in sequence. Readers will enjoy meeting the Lanier family and welcoming new generations. It would be amazing if the author continued to expand the family line. We might even one day meet Fiona’s namesake that we might identify as Fiona the western pioneer or Fiona the suffragist.
Below are links to my reviews of the first two books in the series: written in April of 2014.

I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing The Magnolia Duchess  for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.           

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mistaken Target by Sharon Dunn - A Comment

Mistaken Target

In the past I almost always finished books I started unless I felt they had inappropriate material. On page 52 of Mistaken Target I decided life is too short and there are too many other books I'd rather be reading to commit any more time to this one. I am not being critical, and this book may be great for a different reader, but the writer's style just wasn't for me.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Fool & His Monet by Sandra Orchard - A Book Review

A Fool and His Monet       Sandra Orchard

Have you ever taken a big gulp out of a glass of sweet tea only to discover it was Pepsi? You like Pepsi, but at that moment your brain is startled and that first swallow just doesn't seem right. Expecting the style of writing in Orchard's Port Aster Secrets series, A Fool & His Monet was a bit of a shock to my brain at first. In the same way a few more sips of Pepsi brings back your equilibrium and you enjoy the rest of the glass, a few more chapters of this book and I enjoyed it for the cozy mystery it is.
While Serena Jones is the FBI agent on the Art Crimes Team, she is not the only sleuth in the family. Her mystery loving Aunt Martha finds ways to actively involve herself in Serena's cases, and to put herself in danger. When two paintings go missing from a St. Louis museum, there is no shortage of suspects and theories. There is also no shortage of men who would like to be considered a love interest in Serena's life. The author even provides a web site where readers can vote for which love interest they would like for Serena pursue.

Fans of Lorena McCourtney's Ivy Malone Mysteries are sure to love Sandra Orchard's Serena Jones Mysteries. I recommend A Fool & His Monet to cozy mystery fans and those looking for a lighthearted read. I thank Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for providing this book for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation for providing this review.

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson - A Book Review

Red Door Inn Cover           About Liz Johnson
God is our heavenly Father, correct? What about when He allows bad things to happen? When He allows those who should love and protect us to betray us? When He allows disaster to fall on those that least deserve it? What then? These questions plague Marie as do the panic attacks that accompany them. They eat away at Seth who struggles to trust, who brings others' motives into question. Shall we admit that they sometimes niggle at the backs of our minds as well? While Johnson does not presume to answer these questions, she does give us a glimpse into the beauty that God, our Father, can bring from the ashes. We need only open our eyes in gratitude.
Marie believes she has walked away from everything after a bitter betrayal. Seth believes everything has been taken from him. Both make their way to the refuge offered by Jack Sloane, a widower, trying to fulfill his late wife's dream of opening a bed and breakfast, a healing place for the soul. Eventually the unlikely pair realize they have been led to everything that really matters. Readers may be called to reassess their own priorities, and to identify blessings to which they have been blind.
Set on beautiful Prince Edward Island, with a cast of caring neighbors, and with many references to L. M. Montgomery's books about a special red-headed orphan, The Red Door Inn casts our world of problems and worries against a backdrop of healing in a kinder, gentler time and place. Johnson's dialogue flows smoothly. Her crisp descriptions paint pictures of places, characters, and actions filled with emotions that will linger in the readers' minds. Both major and minor characters are well developed giving insight into what motivates them in life. I look forward to visiting them again in book two of Prince Edward Island Dreams.

Thank you to Revell Publishing and the Christian Blog Alliance for making The Red Door Inn available to me in exchange for my honest opinion. I have received no monetary compensation for my review. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa - A Book Review

Cover Art      

     I like watching Steven Seagal movies on TV where the bad language has been bleeped out, and I can enjoy the storyline and action. Reading Annabel Lee was a lot like that. In this book, I think Seagal would be cast as The Mute, a former Special Forces warrior who would lay down his life for his former commanding officer and his niece, Annabel Lee, and who wasn’t beyond taking a few other lives with him. Trudi Coffey, private investigator, is unwittingly drawn into the mystery surrounding Annabel by Samuel Hill, her ex-husband, ex-partner and CIA agent. Little did she know that she had been intrigued by the mystery ever since she first discovered the “Safe” message in the classified section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution three years prior, not long before she discovered Samuel’s duplicity. This action packed story will have readers turning pages long into the night.
     In the author’s notes Nappa tells of the difficulty he had finding the right niche for this story. Including one Christian, a seeker, a handful of agnostics, mercenaries, and a cult member, along with quite a bit of violence, it isn’t your typical Christian fiction tale, but it had enough of a Christian slant that secular publishers were not sure it fit their market either. I am so glad that Revell publishing decided to publish Nappa’s story. It was a wild, bumpy ride, and one I have thoroughly enjoyed. I hope that some of you will decide to take the ride as well. I am looking forward to future books in the Coffey and Hill series.

     I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Annabel Lee for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.      

Angel Sister by Ann H. Gabhart - A Book Review

Angel Sister   AnnHGabhart

     I read and reviewed the third book in the on-going story of the Merritt sisters in July of 2014. It was a treat to read Angel Sister, the story of how it all began. Set in Rosey Corner, a small town in Kentucky, in 1936, the story follows the trials and the blessings of the Merritt family and their closest friends. Two of the main characters struggle with a crisis of faith, as another maintains faith in the Lord while having little in herself.  The reader encounters an elderly woman with unshaken faith that has been strengthened through times of adversity and loss, and a young girl with blind faith who is just beginning her journey. Each of these characters will touch the readers’ hearts and will live on in their thoughts.
     Recently Chris Tomlin released the song “Good Good Father.” You can listen to it at The lyrics resonated with me as I read Angel Sister. Both of the Merritt sisters’ parents struggled throughout their lives with earthly fathers who could not be described as good fathers.  As a result their views of God as Father were impacted. The same may be true for many of us. The message in this book is the same as in the song; God is indeed a good good Father.   

     I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys meeting deep characters and lingering in their lives, to those who themselves need to know God as Father, to those who have experienced or are experiencing a crisis of faith, and to those who have not yet experienced the pleasure of finding themselves immersed in a story by Ann H. Gabhart. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Always Watching by Lynette Eason – A Book Review

      Lynette Eason
     The Elite Guardians, bodyguards led by Olivia Edwards, are always watching over their client, radio personality, Wade Savage. Unfortunately, Wade’s stalker is equally vigilant in watching his every move. As the stalker begins to expand his, or is it her, focus to include Wade’s young daughter, Amy, and one of his bodyguards is severely injured in an attack outside the radio station, Olivia is forced to call in back up from local law enforcement. Even with the extra resources, much of Olivia’s time is spent with Wade, and the growing attraction is undeniable. Will the attraction prove too much of a distraction, and will that lead to deadly consequences? After all, Wade has done something to make the stalker very angry.
     When reviews are posted on web sites, the reviewer is often asked to give a star rating of the book or product. When considering the number of stars I consider how well the item being reviewed met my expectations and how pleased I was with it. Well, if I were to give Always Watching a star rating, and I was comparing it to how other mysteries I’ve read over the last few years met my expectations and provided reading pleasure, I would give it four stars. However, if I were to compare it with the last two Lynette Eason books I’d read from her Hidden Identity series, I would probably give it three stars. As mysteries in general go, Always Watching is a great read, but for my reading pleasure it was less engaging than Nowhere to Turn and No One to Trust. I found the characters to be less endearing and the events less realistic. Am I saying that I wouldn’t recommend this book, absolutely not. It simply is not my favorite Lynette Eason book. Will I read the next book in this series, certainly; after all it’s a Lynette Eason book.
     I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Always Watching for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hannah's Choice by Jan Drexler - A Book Review

  Picture       Picture

 I have a confession to make. I am that reader who sometimes, okay maybe often, takes a peek at the last chapter sometime during the first half of a book. Most often I do this during a mystery and I just have to know whether a favorite character survives to the end of the book. Then I can read on comforted or braced for the inevitable. Hannah’s Choice drove me to the last chapter because I just had to know what her final choice would be. This is the only time that I remember really regretting taking that little peek because at that time I was really disappointed in her choice, but by the time I legitimately got to the last chapter I was quite satisfied with the ending. I highly recommend this first book in the Journey to Pleasant Prairie series, but I don’t recommend peeking.
     Hannah Yoder lives with her immediate family in a dwindling Amish community in Pennsylvania prior to the Civil War. Amish families in the area are both moving west into Ohio and Indiana, and joining other Anabaptist denominations. The dwindling community poses a major problem for Hannah’s parents: How can they best keep their children true to their faith, separate from the outsiders with whom they are being surrounded. For Hannah the problem is more specific. She must choose between marrying in or outside of her faith. Which is more important marrying in her faith, and keeping her family together by avoiding the bann, or marrying for love?
     The author adds an interesting twist to the storyline that greatly enhances the story. Adam, one of Hannah’s suitors, becomes a conductor in the underground railroad. He, his family, and his friends must struggle with their consciences regarding the Bible’s instruction to obey government authorities and the belief that those authorities are going against the teachings of Christ. Which takes precedence?
     Jan Drexler is a new to me author. I would say that if you are a fan of Suzanne Woods Fisher, you will become a fan of Jan Drexler. I have! Jan, a descendant of Amish, Mennonite and Brethren immigrants, draws from her well researched family history resulting in a historically accurate story with deep characters and believable dialogue.

     I thank Revell Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for providing Hannah’s Choice for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.