Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

www.biblegateway.com


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Like a River from Its Course Book Review


SUMMARY:  Enter the often-overlooked history of World War II Ukraine as told through the eyes of four unforgettable people caught up in the chaos and heartache of a country torn asunder by Nazi armed forces.
     As the characters confront the pivotal event of Babi Yar, the "killing ditch" where 34,000 men, women, and children were lined up and shot, the horrors of war are laid bare.  How can faith withstand such atrocities?
     Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with survivors, Like a River from Its Course is a moving and epic story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

REVIEW:  This book was different from other World War II novels I've read before. There were four main characters, each telling their story about life in Ukraine under Nazi rule and how it affected them.  Luda, about 16 years old, becomes pregnant by German soldiers.  After being abandoned by her father, she is taken in by friends who love her as one of their own.  Frederick, about 20 years old, is a Nazi soldier who is determined to advance the German ideal and tries to live up to his father's impossible demands of perfection.  Maria is about 14-15 years old who is forced to leave Ukraine and work in Germany.  Ivan, Maria's father, lives with the guilt of not being able to save his Jewish neighbors and their daughter from the Nazis and his children being forced to work for the Nazis in Germany.  As each one explains the events around them from their point of view, you see their anguish and sometimes despair but also the resilience of the human spirit to perseverance.  They are determined to survive.  Sometimes the stories were difficult to read.  You see the depth of human depravity and the lengths people will go to advance their "ideals."  Then there are stories of those who try to help those around them, even if it puts their lives in danger.  You also see how God will use difficult and hard circumstances to show He is still there and is still in control.  I like how the author wraps up the stories of these people you come to know.
     This was an excellent book!  The fifteen years of research and interviews of people who lived during this time and experienced this hardship shows in the details and the depth of the emotions that is conveyed.   This is a book that should be required reading for high school students.  It will tug on your heart strings but it's well worth it.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Kregel Publications 
for review without compensation.

Kelli Stuart is the coauthor of Dare 2B Wise and Life Creative, and has written for several brands including Disney, American Girl, and Short Fiction Break.  She has served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. Kelli lives in Florida and blogs at KelliStuart.com.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Every Bride Has Her Day Book Review

Brides with Style Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Katie's determined to make it down the aisle this time - but it may be easier said that done.
     Katie Fisher is ecstatic.  Pro basketball star Brady James has proposed, and she can't wait to start planning their life together. But it's hard to focus on her own happily ever after when her calendar is filling up with celebrations for friends and family.  Beyond that, it seems everyone around her has an opinion - and a strong one at that - on what Katie's special day should look like.  Will she ever manage to settle all of the details for her storybook wedding?  Or will she overzealous friends and relations make a mess of everything?

 REVIEW:  With the craziness of life, sometimes you just need to read a book where everything is coming up roses and in the end everyone is happy.  Every Bride Has Her Day is the book to fit that bill.  I've enjoyed this series and this book is probably my favorite.  Katie's fiancee finally proposed so now the wedding planning start.  It drove me crazy to see how everyone was giving Katie their opinions and ideas on the wedding plans without giving her time or any chance to make any decisions.  I like how she is inspired by Crystal's determination to buck tradition and have her dream wedding but also smooths ruffled feathers by offering reasonable compromises.  It was also commendable that once Katie's wishes were know and put into place, no one criticized them and she was able to make everyone happy.  Towards the end, it seemed like the author was trying to wrap up all the different relationships that were mentioned throughout the series.  And wrap up she does!!
     This is a fun and light-hearted book and series.  Every Bride Has Her Day is the last novel in this series and you have to read the others or you will be lost as a ball in high weeds. 

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Janice Thompson is an expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, especially when it come to romance.  She is the author of the hugely popular Wedding by Bella series, the Backstage Pass series, and the Weddings by Design series, as well as Every Bride Needs a Groom and Every Girl Gets Confused.  She lives in Texas. Learn more at www.janiceathomspon.com.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

All Summer Long Book Review

Follow Your Heart Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  A San Francisco Romance
     She's ready to take on a new challenge.  What she doesn't expect is an old flame.
     Tia D'Amico is thrilled to move to San Francisco to help her aunt transform an old luxury yacht into an upscale floating restaurant.  What's not to love?  Sunset dinner cruises, posh wedding receptions - the possibilities are endless and far more appetizing than staying in a monotonous job in her Podunk hometown.  Besides, some of her best memories are tied to San Francisco - especially the memory of Leo Parker, her crush from a long-ago sailing camp.
     When Leo Parker himself turns out to be the yacht's captain Tia is floating on air.  But will it all come crashing down around her when she discovers his heart belongs to someone else?
     Get ready for a romantic summer in San Francisco, where the future glistens brighter than the Bay at sunset.

REVIEW:  Looking for a fun, light read for summer?  This may be the book for you.  Ms. Carlson's backdrop of San Francisco in the summer is a great setting.  Tia's desire to break away from her family and make a name for herself is admirable.  I like how she steps up and takes the burden of remodeling the yacht off her aunt's shoulders after her uncle has major surgery and during his recovery.  Tia gets in there and is not afraid of hard work.
     Leo loves the water.  Unfortunately, his fiancee Natalie has extreme sea sickness and hates the water.  I like how he sticks to his desire to be a yacht captain when his father and fiancee pressure him into joining the family law firm.  Leo is also one that works hard to get the yacht ready to set sail with her passengers.
     Despite their attraction for each other, I appreciate Tia's determination to not cause Leo and Natalie trouble and is often put in precarious situations due to Natalie's problem with the water.
     As stated before, it is a great light read that is perfect for summer vacation.  Even though it is the second book in the series, the books completely stand alone with no reference to the other.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than 6.5 million.  She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice.  She and her husband live in central Oregon.  Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

Delilah Book Review

Treacherous Beauty
A Dangerous Beauty Novel

SUMMARY:  A Complex and Compelling Glimpse at One of the Bible's Most Notorious Women
     Life is not easy in Philistia, especially not for a woman and child alone.  When beautiful, wounded Delilah finds herself begging for food to survive, she resolves that she will find a way to defeat all the men who have taken advantage of her.  She will overcome the roadblocks life has set before her, and she will find riches and victory for herself.
     When she meets a legendary man called Samson, she senses that in him lies the means for her victory.  By winning, seducing, and betraying the hero of the Hebrews, she will attain a position of national prominence.  After all, she is beautiful, she is charming, and she is smart.  No man, not even a supernaturally gifted strongman, can best her in a war of wits.

REVIEW:  We all have our opinions of Delilah, the beauty who brought down Israel's judge, Samson.  Most, if not all, are not favorable by any standard.  But, have we ever stopped to think about what her life was like and why she betrayed him?  Angela Hunt's novel explores a possible path Delilah's life might have taken.  She suggests her life may have started out as one of privilege then, due to circumstances beyond her control, she is forced to betray someone she loves.  Since there is no extra-biblical sources to pull from, the author does an astounding job developing a plausible background and story, following the account in Judges 13-16 as close as possible.
     The author did a wonderful job drawing me into the story and keeping my attention, even though I knew the Old Testament tale.  Now, while Delilah made some choices I didn't agree with, I found myself developing admiration for her as she fought for herself, her son and the widow she lived with, facing many trials and tribulations.  One part I was not comfortable with was Delilah and Samson living together without the benefit of marriage but, as I stated before, it's based on verses in Judges.
     This is an interesting novel that you might find as thought-provoking as I did.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Angela Hunt has published more than one hundred books, with sales nearing five million copies worldwide.  She's the New York Times bestselling author of The Tales of Three Trees, The Note, and The Nativity Story.  Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the HOLT Medallion Award.  Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.  For a complete list of the author's books, visit angelahuntbooks.com

Sea Rose Lane Book Review

Hope Harbor Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances
     After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor - only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast.  Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos - and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who's invaded the house with her motley crew.  As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda.  Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor's older residents, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

COME HOME TO HOPE HARBOR -
where hearts heal . . . . and love blooms

REVIEW:  Eric Nash learns that even if your perfect job ends, it is just the beginning for something new and exciting, if you let God work.  I like how the author uses the talents Eric hasn't used in years to help BJ work on a major project during his time off.  BJ's desire to help the elderly in Hope Harbor is admirable and stems from a painful time in her life.  The solution she comes up with to solve a problem the Helping Hands program faces is perfect for all involved.  Charlie is the perfect foil for Eric as he pushes him to think outside the box and beyond what he had hoped to accomplish.  I like how Charlie always seems to know when he is needed and always gives excellent advice, even if the recipient isn't receptive at the time.  The ending is perfect as it shows sometimes God does give us our cake and let us eat it too.  One warning though - you may not want to read this book if you are hungry.  The fudge cake and fish tacos mentioned repeatedly sound absolutely delicious and kept me wishing I had some.
     It is the second book in the Hope Harbor series but can stand alone.  The first book, Hope Harbor, goes into detail about the Helping Hands Program and how it gets started.  This is a great book.  It is a perfect summertime read at home or on the beach.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series.  Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a member of that organization's elite Hall of Fame.   Visit her website at irenehannon.com, on Twitter and Facebook.

Sins of the Past Book Review


SUMMARY:  Secrets and lies.  Danger that will never go away.  Join three beloved masters of romantic suspense for novellas where the past will not stay buried.

Dee Henderson - "Missing" 
     A Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing from her retirement community.  Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two soon launch into a race against the clock when they realize something dark may lie at the heart of the disappearance.

Dani Pettrey - "Shadowed"
     Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young Alaskan fisherman nets the body of a Russian open water swimming competitor.  Another swimmer, who'd been the dead woman's roommate years ago, is pulled into the search for answers as it grows more and more clear that something sinister is at play.

Lynette Eason - "Blackout
     A young woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong finds herself at risk years later when the real culprit is up for parole.  The loot taken that night has never been found and he believes she knows where it's hidden - only her memory of that night has always been unreliable.  Can she remember enough to find her way to safety?

REVIEW:  This novella collection is probably one of my favorites.  The authors are my go-to ones for great suspense without all the gore and junk.  If you like suspense novels, this collection is one you might want to pick up.
     In "Missing," the relationship between John and his mom is sweet and admirable.  His concern for her is one we all should have for our parents.  I also like how the developing admiration between John and Sharon, the lieutenant assigned to his mother's missing person case, does not move too quickly as in most stories but slowly over time.  The resolution of the kidnapping story was anticlimactic.  The way the story is summarized led me to believe more action and suspense would be involved. I felt it fizzled at the end.  The story line was interesting but I wonder if more could have been added.
     "Shadowed" is written as a prequel to Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series.  The suspense grabs your attention right from the beginning.  I enjoyed trying to figure out who killed Kat and why they were after Libby.  Sometimes it was a little difficult keeping track of everyone and how they were involved but that is probably my only complaint.  The story kept my attention all the way to the end.  Probably my favorite of the three novellas.
     In "Blackout," the action starts immediately and doesn't let up much until the end.  There were times when I really wanted to help Macey get her memory back.  I like how her neighbor Chad is determined to help her find out who was terrorizing her and protect her along the way.  There were times in the story I wish I had written down the past events and how they tied into Macey's memories but at the climax of the story, everything falls into place and everything is clear.  Lynette Eason did not disappoint.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without compensation.

Dee Henderson is the author of numerous novels, including Taken, Undetected, Unspoken, Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story, Full Disclosure, and the acclaimed O'Malley series.  Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion.  Learn more at DeeHenderson.com or facebook.com/DeeHendersonBooks.

Dani Pettrey is the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged.  Her newest novel, Cold Shot, is the first book of her Chesapeake Valor series.  Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others.  You can find her online at www.danipettrey.com.

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust, Nowhere to Turn, and No Place to Hide in the Hidden Identity series.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.  Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

Jilted Book Review

Mended Hearts Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  A heartbroken woman desires to move beyond old memories.  But will her past give way to hope?
     Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.  Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest.  As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life in which the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.
     Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, of a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and of a town that must - once and for all - leave the past where it belongs.  It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

REVIEW:  Jilted is different from any other book I've read.  The main character, Lynda, struggles with depression.  She wants to hide herself away from everything and everyone, except her daughter. Lynda fights it by taking a job in a local diner and helping her sister.  The romantic lead, Clyde, is an ex-con who was convicted of a crime he didn't commit.  Even though he's been released, the town will not let him forget.  I really struggled with the attitude of the townsfolk and church members.  Even though Clyde has changed for the better, no one in the community or church want much to do with him.  Even Lynda had been asked to find another place to worship because of her struggles with depression and the stigma of her husband leaving her.  That's not the way the church should act.  The author uses a major event to help the church overcome their pharisaic bias and reach out to all peoples.
     The way Clyde treats Lynda when she is having an episode is tender and encouraging.  He talks to her, listens to her and does what he can to diffuse the triggers.  When information about her husband is uncovered, Clyde is there for Lynda, helping her find ways to adjust instead of retreating into her all too familiar depression. 
     This is the third book in this series but is great on its own.  The other books provide more information about Lynda's daughter Ruthie, Fawn and the town where they live but are not necessary to read Jilted

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and David Cook 
for review without compensation.

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face.  She has five children, teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local homeschool cooperative, and boasts 16 years as a home educator.  She resides with her family in North Texas.  Her first novel, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award.