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?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Finding Me Book Review


SUMMARY:  What would you do if you learned your life was a lie?  How far would you go to discover the truth?
     All her life, Kelli Huddleston has been told the story of a fire - a fire that killed her mother and two siblings when she was an infant.  After her father's death, though, she uncovers evidence of a different story, including clippings about a boat accident that killed a young father and his infant daughter.  And Kelli quietly realizes the story of her life has been a fiction.
     Armed with only a few pictures of what she thinks might be her family, Kelli crosses the country to Tennessee, determined to uncover the truth about what happened over twenty years ago in a small southern town.  When the trip threatens to open doors to the past better left shut, and her plans for the future are jeopardized, Kelli is faced with an agonizing choice that will change her life forever.

REVIEW:  This book grabbed my attention from the summary and held it all the way to the end.  I loved the story line because it's not something you read about all the time.  The struggles Kelli goes through really tugged at my heart.  While reading, I kept wondered how everything was going to work out in the end.  I like how everything was tied up neatly and gave you hope that Kelli/Darcy would keep in touch with her family in Tennessee and that her future, once bleak and unsure, was filled with bright promise and hope.
     I really wish the author wrote more about Kelli and her journey to learn more about the real Jesus and have her come to faith in Christ.  I did like how, towards the end of the book, Kelli recognized the differences between her family's belief in God and her friends' in California's and knowing what her dad said about God and religion was wrong.
     This was a great story.  I loved reading it and hated to see it end.  This is one I HIGHLY recommend to everyone.

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

Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy.  She is the author of seven previous novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction. Katie and her family live in Santa Barbara, California.  Learn more at www.kathryncushman.com.

The Legacy Book Review

The Restoration Series
Book Four

SUMMARY:  One young man is about to discover the true cost of independence.
     For years, Doug Anderson has been drifting slowly but steadily away from both his family and his faith.  His parents have been trying to reach him before he falls too far.  His friend Christina hopes what she is seeing online isn't true.  But sometimes you have to hit bottom before you're ready to grow up. 
     Just as things begin to settle down a bit, Doug's life begins to take a turn that requires every bit of faith and patience for both his family and Christina - whose growing feelings for Doug, a man who writes her off as not worth his time, keep her off balance.  Will Doug's crisis finally clear his vision and help him focus on what he has right in front of him?

REVIEW:  Dan Walsh is one of my favorite authors.  The series he has written with Gary Smalley has been a good one with some interesting story lines that, unfortunately, are common place in today's society.  That said, I had some difficulties with the last book in this series.  It was a good book and a nice finish to the series but just didn't grab my attention like the first ones.  The whole story was anti-climatic.  To me, it felt like Doug's problems at school (drinking, sleeping with his girlfriend) were minor compared to his best friend Jason's (drugs, alcohol, fighting, skipping class, low grades).  I did find it admirable that Doug still has a conscience that he sometimes listens to in regards to the choices Jason makes. He also puts everything aside to finish a project (not school related) AND studies for his finals.  But, he does put the cart before the horse in regards to cutting ties off with his family and not having an income readily available.  The route Jason takes to get back to his family is difficult and heart wrenching but makes the story more realistic.
     While it wasn't completely my cup of tea, this novel is a good book and a sound read.  The series is excellent and very enjoyable.
    
This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of many books, including The Dance, The Promise, and The Desire with Gary Smalley.  He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year.  He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.
Gary Smalley is one of the country's best-known authors and speakers on family relationships and has appeared on national television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, and TODAY, as well as numerous national radio programs.  He is the bestselling and award-winning author or coauthor of many books, including the Baxter Family Redemption series with Karen Kingsbury.  Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 50 years and live in Missouri.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Double Cross Book Review

An FBI:Houston Novel
Book Two

SUMMARY:  She put him in prison.  Now he's their only lead in a deadly new case.
     FBI Agent Laurel Evertson's investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to a felon she arrested on her last undercover assignment.  That case has haunted her since, and though she's vowed to forget Morton Wilmington - and what she sacrificed to put him away - he is now her best lead.
     Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammers' next targets, , and he'll do anything to protect his family, including force inter-agency cooperation.  But he's quickly drawn to Laurel's zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon.

REVIEW:  DiAnn Mills' second FBI: Houston novel is a page turner.  Trying to figure out who the scammers' are before they con someone else or kill their target kept my head spinning.  Having the time and day stamp on each chapter to help when the storylines overlapped was very beneficial in seeing how everything worked together. While I thought I had some of the characters pegged and the ending already figured out, I was totally wrong.  The ending caught me by surprise but tied everything up neatly.
     Probably my all-time favorite character was Abby, Daniel's grandmother.  A tragedy from her teenage years, along with the encouragement of her husband and his family, helped Abby become a strong, adventurous woman who had no regrets in life.  Her reliance on God, and her S&W :-), make her very admirable.
     While this book is the second in the series, it is a completely stand alone novel.  This is one I would gladly recommend to anyone who likes a book that keeps them guessing.

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

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author whose novels have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards, and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, and Carol Awards contests.  When she's not writing, DiAnn is busy teaching and doing research through the FBI Citizens Academy.  She and her husband live in Houston, Texas.  Visit her online at www.diannmills.com.

Buried Secrets Book Review

Men of Valor Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  They both wanted quieter, safer lives.  But crime never sleeps . . . and killers keep killing.
     After years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant is ready for the kinder, gentler life of a small-town police chief.  But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes department resources.  Enter ex-Navy SEAL Mac McGregor, the detective sent by the county to assist on the case.  As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them.  Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales - and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

REVIEW:  When I heard this book was coming out, I was eager to read it. As always, Irene Hannon's latest novel did not disappoint.  She has you sitting on the edge of your seat, quickly turning pages to see what happens next. While I was able to figure some of the ending, I was not able to figure out how all the twists and turns would play out, which was wonderful.  Like in real life, the bad guy doesn't get everything deserved, but just dues are paid handsomely.  My heart went out to the victim and her family.  Stories like her's are so sad.  I was very happy her family finally had some closure. 
     If you like wonderful suspense novels that keep you guessing, this is one you might want to pick up.  

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 
Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women's fiction novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series.  Her books have garnered dozen of honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a two-time Christy Award Finalist.  More information about her and her novels can be found on her webpage at www.irenehannon.com.

The Creole Princess Book Review

 Gulf Coast Chronicles
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Torn between loyalties to family and flag, one young woman is about to discover that her most important allegiance is to her heart.
     It is 1776, and all along the eastern seaboard the American struggle for independence rages.  But in the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is much quieter - though no less deadly.
     Lyse Lanier may be largely French in heritage, but she spends most of her time in the company of the ebullient daughter of the British commander of Mobile.  When a charming young Spanish merchant docks in town, Lyse is immediately struck by his easy wit and flair for the dramatic.  But is he truly who he makes himself out to be?  Spies abound, and Spain has yet to choose a side in the American conflict.  Is Lyse simply an easy mark for Rafael Gonzalez to exploit?  Or are his overtures of love as genuine as Spanish gold?
     With spectacular detail that brings the cultural gumbo of the Colonial Gulf Coast alive, Beth White invites you to step into a world of intrigue and espionage from a little-known slice of the American Revolutionary War.

REVIEW:  Even though I grew up in North Mississippi (in the same city as the author :-) ), it never occurred to me that fighting during the Revolutionary War could have occurred at the forts and land holdings of the British along the Gulf Coast.  Beth White's characters not only bring this conflict to life but also the issue of slavery and the difficulties people of mixed blood and heritage had.  
     Lyse is a probably one of my favorite heroines.  She is caught in between many worlds.  Her mother was of mixed blood (African and white) and her father is French. Her family carries on with some of the French traditions in a predominately British city.  Her faith follows that of the Huguenots in a largely Anglican and Catholic population.  Members of her mother's family are slaves while she is free.  She was poor due to her father's bad choices but was well-educated and well-read due to her wealthy grandfather and his vast library and was best friends with the fort commander's daughter.
     The story had many different pieces going on all at the same time but all flowed together seamlessly.  Sometimes it was a little difficult switching gears when the characters and storyline changed but I quickly caught up. The hardships faced by those who were forced to pick sides during this struggle is evident but they help make this story.  Faced with the challenging decision where they may be arrested or killed, the characters make the choice and stand by their beliefs.  Something every interesting was the idea that Spain, a neutral country during this conflict, may have been spying on the British and helping the American cause.
     This is a fabulous novel that is worth the time to read.  The author's efforts researching volumes of material shows in the details but is not overwhelming.  Plus, you learn some fascinating and intriguing history.  Bonus!!

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Beth White is the award-winning author of The Pelican Bride.  A native Mississippian, she teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama.  Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers' Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award.  Learn more at www.bethwhite.net.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Pharaoh's Daughter Book Review

A Treasures of the Nile Novel
Book One

SUMMARY:  Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt's good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment.  She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment that awakened in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child.  Now she is to become the bride of Sebak, the kind but quick-tempered captain of Pharaoh Tut's army.  In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives - women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.
     When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt's gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son, Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
     As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king.  Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan for them all?

REVIEW:  Having read most of the books written by Mesu Andrews, I was intrigued when I saw the posts for this one.  When I first started reading it, it was difficult keeping all the characters straight due to name changes (essential to the story) and understanding some of the cultural terms without a glossary.  But, as I kept on, the story grabbed me. The twists and turns of human manipulation, along with backstabbing and murder, were important to show the depravity of man when he follows other gods.  Often I wondered how Anippe, since she was the main character, would turn away from the Egyptian gods she's always known and come to know El Shaddai as the one true God.  Mesu did not disappoint me here.  She came up with a way I was not expecting but fully admired and was thrilled to read.  The main idea that I took from this book was no matter where you are, no matter how many times you create a new identity, and no matter how far you go, the God of the Bible sees you where you are, knows your name and loves you just the same.
     While this story may be a little harder than some to read, it is well worth the time if you just stick with it.  This is a great novel.  I look forward to the next book in this series and any others from this fabulous author.

This book was provided by Blogging for Books and Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Mesu Andrews' deep understanding of and love for God's Word brings the biblical world alive for her readers.  Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes, won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year for a Debut Author.  Her three subsequent novels, Love's Sacred Song, Love in a Broken Vessel, and In the Shadow of Jezebel, all released to great reader enthusiasm.  Mesu lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Roy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Halo Found Hope Book Review

A Memoir
A portion of author proceeds will go to the
National Brain Tumor Society.


SUMMARY:  Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope?
     A young woman lay, packed in ice, as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life . . . and her family waited.
     Six days turned into eight weeks.  She awoke to discover that she was not the same.  She saw two of everything, couldn't feel half of her face, couldn't hear from one ear, and could not speak.  She couldn't even tell anyone that she felt hopeless . . . or could she?
     Halo Found Hope is the story of a beautiful, busy wife, and mother of three whose life changes instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor.  An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackle the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles.
     Helo's story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body.  It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it.  While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer.  Helo's story is simply this:  Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there.  He doesn't need to be recognized by you, to be there for you.  He can replace fear with courage and discouragement with determination, if you let Him.  Helo did, and that is how she found hope.

REVIEW:  Helo (pronounced Halo) tells of her journey of being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and how it has changed her life.  It not only impacted her life physically but also spiritually and has helped her see everyone around her in a different light.  She writes about how even though on the outside she looks fine, the tumor and its removal has affected her physical stamina, thinking abilities and some physical abilities.  She takes advantage of any and every situation to help others and spread the Good News of Jesus. 
     The story starts out in the typical fashion with her life before the diagnosis and some information on her family history.  After telling the details of surgery and the touch-and-go events afterwards, the information jumps around going back and forth between current events, rehabilitation and stories about people she has helped.  While the back and forth took some getting used to, it helped me see how life has changed for Helo.  Things that used to be important are not so much anymore.  Her focus now is on telling others how Jesus has been there for her and helping her fellow man, even if it is just a kind word or paying for a birthday cake, just because.
     Helo's story is inspirational.  This is one book everyone needs to read and to be motivated to do more with what God has given us.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Dog Ear Publishing for review without compensation.

Helo Matzelle is a happily married and devoted mother of three children.  She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Washington in 1986.  She is a dedicated advocate of the National Brain Tumor Society.  Helo remains passionate about inspiring others to seek the One in whom true hope is always found.  Helo and her family live in Redmond, Washington.

National Brain Tumor Society is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States.  They are fiercely committed to finding better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for people living with a brain tumor today and those who will be diagnosed tomorrow. To learn more visit www.braintumor.org.