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, December 22, 2013

The Women of Christmas Book Review

Experience the Season Afresh with 
ELIZABETH, MARY, and ANNA

SUMMARY:  God Reached Down from Heaven with the Best Gift of All
      A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God. Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile.  Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God's Son.  Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts.
     Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way this season.  Best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to The Women of Christmas.

REVIEW:  If you ever read a book by Liz Curtis Higgs (or even if you've never read a book by Liz Curtis Higgs), you definitely need to read this book.  She opens up the Christmas story in a way I've not seen before, focusing on the women God used in bringing the Messiah to His people.  Like the summary says, the author goes verse by verse, going over all the intricate details and presenting old ideas in a new light.  She starts with Elizabeth and the details surrounding the birth of John the Baptist, explaining them in simple but profound ways.  Mrs. Higgs does the same for Mary and Anna but doesn't end there.  She also gives account for the men involved in this important time - Zechariah, Elizabeth's husband; Joseph, Mary's betrothed; and Simeon, a righteous and devout man who was waiting for the birth of the Messiah.  As they are in the gospels, their stories intertwine but Liz lays them out with her trademark humor and way of explaining things.
     This book is for anyone looking for a new way to look at and study the events surrounding Jesus' birth.  It is tops on my list and one I look forward to reading again and again.

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

Liz Curtis Higgs is a popular conference speaker, who has presented inspirational programs for audiences in all fifty United States and fourteen foreign countries.  She is also the author of more than thirty books, with 4.5 million copies in print, including her non-fiction study of Ruth, The Girl's Still Got It, her best-selling series, Bad Girls of the Bible, Unveiling Mary Magdalene, and Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible; her award-winning Scottish historical novella, A Wreath of Snow; and a series of children's books, including The Pine Tree Parable.
     Liz is happily married to Bill Higgs, who serves as director of operations for her speaking and writing office.  They share their life together in a nineteenth-century farmhouse near Louisville, Kentucky.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The God Puzzle Book Review

How the Bible Fits Together to Reveal God
as Your Greatest Treasure!
*Presents the Bible as one seamless story
*Share deep truths in a way kids will understand
An easy to use workbook for kids ages 7 - 12

SUMMARY:  God is not something to study . . . He is Someone to Know!
Parents:  Finally, the resource you've been looking for to teach your child about God!
  • any parent, knowing little or a lot, can teach their child with no preparation
  • deep theology and themes of the Christian faith presented so a child can interact with and understand
  • deeply Biblical, each lesson points to Christ and a personal relationship to Him
  • can be done at any pace that works with your family
  • each lesson connects the pieces so the child understand their faith
Here, at last is a resource:
  • perfect for parents who may not have a strong background in the Christian faith as well as those who have been Christians a long time and are looking to build a solid foundation for their own children
  • written by a Children's Ministry Professional, Sunday school teacher and mom with years of hands-on experience working with children
 www.leadmetoGod.com

REVIEW:  My three kids fall right in the suggested ages for this workbook.  Always looking for new ways to teach them biblical ideas and foundation, I jumped at the chance to look at this book and see what it offered.  
     My 12-yo daughter and I worked through one lesson on our own; my two boys (ages 10 and 6) and I did one together; and the three kids and I worked on two as a family.  The material we looked at was easy enough for my youngest to understand but not so easy that my oldest was bored.  As the summary mentions, you do not have to prepare anything to do these lessons with your kids.  Most of the time, I just decided to do a lesson, picked up the book and a bible and started teaching.  My 6-yo enjoyed it so much he asked if we could do another exercise together.  The presentations are laid out in an orderly fashion with lots of scripture verses to look up.  It also provides activities for the kids to do, like a crossword puzzle, fill in the blank, search a word, and coded puzzles to name a few.  At the end of each lesson, the children are encouraged to write down what they've learned, their thoughts and a prayer.  
     This is one children's bible study that I will gladly share with others (or at least the name, not necessarily the book  :-)  ).  I can't wait to do more lessons with my family.  

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.
 
Valerie Ackermann has a BA in Theology and has been a full time Children's Ministry Director for over 10 years. She is also a weekly Sunday school teacher, wife and busy mom of two boys ages 9 and 11.  She has hands-on experience as a children's ministry professional, teaching and leading children of all ages.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Marriage in Middlebury Book Review



SUMMARY:  One decision changed both their lives... but will love win in the end?
     Charlotte Rose Hill enjoys a comfortable life serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky, devoted customers.  The only thing lacking is someone to share it with.
     At eighteen she denied Sam Wilder's marriage proposal after his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship.  They both moved on...or so she thought.  When Sam walks back into her life more than a decade later, Charlotte is surprised that her heart still quickens.  But is it because of his presence?  Or because of the presence of Sam's new fiancee?
     A second chance at love doesn't happen often, but their past may keep them apart.  Is it too late for Sam and Charlotte?

REVIEW:  This was an interesting story with lots of quirky characters who move in and out of the novel.  Sometimes it was hard remember who each person was, their role and relevance to the main story, and their relationships to the other members.  There are also at least three different tales woven together around Sam and Charlotte's characters and stories that worked together pretty easily that make this book work.  It was an easy read that will tug at your heartstrings.  My 12-year-old daughter even liked it.

This book was provided by Litfuse for review without compensation.

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has written more than twenty books for adults and children, including Winter in Full Bloom, A Merry Little Christmas, and Love Finds You in Humble, Texas.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and lives in the Houston area.  Learn more about the author at www.anitahigman.com.

Aloha Rose Book Review

Quilts of Love
Every Quilt Has A Story

SUMMARY:  Will conflict with one man keep Laney from her dream of a loving family?
     When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawai'ian quilt - a red rose snowflake applique on a white background - in which she was found wrapped as an infant.  Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage.
     Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he loves.  He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold-digger and blocks every move she makes.  As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most - a family.

REVIEW:  This was an interesting book.  Laney has always felt a little out of place because of many different things:  her darker coloring, being adopted, moving a lot as an Army brat, and now with her dad's remarriage after her mother's passing some years earlier.  Something that stood out to me was the sacrifices made by both Laney's birth mom and adopted mom.  Her birth mother, Rose, knew she could not care for her child like she needed so she finds a family to take the baby, even though the family is unsuspecting.  Laney's adopted mom, Gisela, gives up her family in Germany because they would not accept Laney as hers because of her dark coloring.  She often heard rude comments that the child was the product of an affair her husband had while serving in Asia. 
     As Laney struggles to feel like she fits in with her birth family, I like how her grandmother, in the early stages of dementia, loves and accepts her without any hesitation or reservation.  I also like how Aunt Teah, who has a huge heart, adopted Kai, a young boy who came from a very difficult home life, and loved him just like he was her own.
     This is a good book that has enough twists to keep you guessing on how things will work out in the end.

This book was provided by Litfuse for review without compensation.

Lisa Carter has taught at the university, high school, and middle school levels and currently teaches music at a preschool.  She is a member of the ACFW, RWA and several online writers' forums and has been published in MomSense and Christian Parenting Today.  Lisa and her husband, David, live in North Carolina and have two beautiful daughters.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Christmas Quilt Book Review

Quilts of Love
Every Quilt Has A Story

SUMMARY:  Babies have their own schedule.  But so does God.  Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs.  She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife.  And most days, she finds herself taking the buggy to her brother Adam's home.
     When her friend Leah is due to deliver her first child before Christmas, Annie becomes determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives.  But God's plans are different from Annie's, and she may not finish the quilt in time.  As each piece of the quilt comes together, Annie discovers the quilt holds far greater significance than she ever imagined.

REVIEW:  This is a sweet novel about best friends and sisters-in-law who go through their first pregnancies together.  I like how the girls used the quilt for one of Leah's twins to change their outlook during difficult circumstances. Using Galatians 5:22-23 regarding the fruit of the Spirit and the nine squares of the crib quilt, they told a story that matched each fruit and started focusing on positive things instead of negative.  Doing this not only changes their outlooks but their husbands and the people around them.  This book is a great way to start off the Christmas season.
    The author mentions that this book returns to visit Annie, Samuel and their friends from her novel, A Simple Amish Christmas.  This book does not seem like a follow-up (it's not quite a sequel) and the extra characters and their relationship to Annie and Samuel are explained very well.


This book was provided by Litfuse for review without compensation.

Vannetta Chapman is the author of five books about the Amish and has published more than one hundred articles in Christian family magazines.  She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania.  Vannetta lives in Texas hill country with her husband.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Simple Christmas Wish Book Review


SUMMARY:  One GIRL in need of a home.  One WOMAN in search of a home for her heart.  One CHRISTMAS where it all seems possible.
     Rachel Milligan never imagined that she and her seven-year-old niece would spend the week before Christmas on a quaint Amish farm in Ohio.  But with so many unexpected occurrences of late, perhaps she shouldn't have been surprised.
     With her young niece Holly in tow, Rachel anxiously makes her way from Chicago to Ohio's Amish country.  As love begins to blossom, family secrets emerge, and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.
     Join bestselling author Melody Carlson on an emotional journey into the heart of what family truly means at Christmastime.

REVIEW:  This book has a few twists and turns I wasn't expecting.  Without giving too much away because it would ruin the ending for you, I was astonished at some of the directions the author took.  Not in a bad way astonished, but just "I hadn't thought about that happening." One of the relationships seemed a little unorthodox but I guess it is possible.  I love the ending and how it all works out.  This is a good book but make sure you have some tissue handy.  You will need them in some areas.

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 five million.  She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Box, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington's, and The Christmas Pony.  She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice.  She and her husband live in central Oregon.  For more information about Melody, visit her website at www.melodycarlson.com.

Christmas at Harmony Hill Book Review

A Shaker Story

SUMMARY:  A Stirring Story of Healing, Hope, and Home at Christmas
    It is 1864 and the nation is torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child.  With her husband at the front and nowhere else to turn, she seeks refuge in the Shaker village of Harmony Hill.  Amid the tumult of the times, Heather yearns for the peace she sees in this strange community.  But can this longing really be fulfilled amid these people with their peculiar beliefs about family?
     As Christmas approaches, the joy of new life and the love that is born of forgiveness may hold the answer.
     Join bestselling author Ann H. Gabhard for a peek into the world of the Shakers - and the world of the human heart.

REVIEW:   This is an interesting book.  Never having read much about the Shakers other than the little bit I learned in History class many years ago, I was curious to see what this book was about.  Even though they were basically isolationists, the Shakers did not turn away anyone in need.  I like how the author sets up the story by having Heather's Aunt Sophrena living in this commune.  Though they do not want you to contact family outside their community, Sophrena had corresponded with Susan, Heather's mom on occasion, paving the way for Heather's stay with the Shakers before her baby's birth.  While the community dynamics are strange to me, they are hard workers and take good care of Heather and her child.  I love the tenderness, affection and caring portrayed in this tome.  The community cares for Heather and the baby; Sophrena cares for Heather and the child, much to her angst.  Gideon loves his wife and wants to be with her.  Because of the love Beth has for her sister, she defies her dad to help a cold and hungry Heather. This is a good book and a fairly quick read.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels - The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted - as well as other historical novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Words Spoken True.  She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky.  Find out more at www.annhgabhart.com. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Jesus Story Book Review


Everything That Happens in the 
New Testament in 
Plain English

SUMMARY:  Rediscover this compelling story.  The story of Jesus is the most remarkable ever told.  It's an exciting adventure, a tender love story, and a drama full of danger, betrayal and the ultimate sacrifice.  But sometimes the genealogies, the confusing repetition, and the varying order of events in the Gospels can distract readers from this powerful narrative.  Or maybe you've heard the story so many times that it has lost its impact.
     Here, Dr. William Marty presents the complete narrative of Jesus in an easy-to-read, chronological account.  It's a fascinating retelling of everything from his birth to his ascension - as well as what happened in the church after he left.  The Jesus Story is perfect if you want to get to know Jesus better or recapture the amazement of hearing his story for the first time.

REVIEW:  This was an interesting book.  I've read through the New Testament chronologically before and found it tiring going back and forth between all four gospels and letters.  This book lays everything out in an orderly fashion.  Some may have a small issue with where some of the miracles and stories fall on the timeline but I didn't.  Some stories made me go back and re-read the gospels to see what the original writers had to say but that wasn't very often.  This book also covers the book of Acts, the Letters and Revelation, showing how they also fall in on the timeline after Jesus' resurrection.  The only problem I had (and it was small) was sometimes the book was a little dry.  It is not written as a fiction story but just putting everything in order.  This would be a great reference book for a seasoned Christian or a bible study leader.  It would also be a great start for a new Christian wanting to learn more about Jesus and early Christianity.

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

Dr. William H. Marty is a professor at Moody Bible Institute.  He has written two other books:  The Whole Bible Story and The World of Jesus.  Dr. Marty lives in Chicago with his wife, Linda. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

To Know You Book Review



SUMMARY:  Julia Whittaker's rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants.  Now she must find them to try to save her son.
     Julia and Matt Whittaker's son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds - and his liver- crash precipitously.  The only hope for his survival is a "living liver" transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon's time is short.  His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.
     But can Julia ask a young woman - someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with - to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she's never known?  Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
     And what if she discovers in her own daughters' lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself?
     Julia knows she's probably embarking on a fool's errand - searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them.  But love compels Julia to take this journey.  Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?
     In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present ... and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

REVIEW:  This book is very interesting.  The idea of having to go to the daughters you gave up at birth and ask them to help the child you kept is a hard decision to make but one Julia and her husband decide to do.  I like how the authors did not gloss over the difficult parts but shows the readers that we all have choices and, sometimes, we have to face difficult consequences.  Some parts were harder to read than most because of the emotions involved and the choices that were made when you knew they were the wrong ones.
     When I first started reading this book, I had some difficulty following at times because of all the different characters involved with their own story lines and background information.  But, as I continued reading, following everything became a little easier.  The ending was not what I expected but I loved it.  One of the problems that occurred during a visit to one of the girls' fathers seemed to be "wrapped up" too neatly as an afterthought.  That said, this was a great book and I am definitely interested in reading the next book.

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

Shannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, international speaker, and certified life coach with a master's degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University.  She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of twenty books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman's Battle series.  She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs, and she mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her online B.L.A.S.T Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers).

Kathy Mackel is the acclaimed author of Can of Worms and other novels for middle readers from Putnam, HarperCollins, and Dial.  Her latest book, Boost, tackles the thorny issue of steroids and girls' sports.  Writing as Kathryn Mackel, she is the author of the YA fantasy series The Birthright Books and of supernatural thrillers including the Christy finalist The Hidden.  She was the credited screenwriter for Disney's Can of Worms and for Hangman's Curse, and has worked for Disney, Fox, and Showtime.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Frame 232 Book Review

A Jason Hammond Novel

SUMMARY:  The time had come, she decided, to rid herself of this burden, to take the steps necessary to put the matter to rest once and for all.  And the first step, she knew - against every instinct and desire - was to watch that film.
     During the reading of her mother's will, Sheila Baker discovers that she has inherited everything her parents ever possessed, including their secrets.  A mysterious safe-deposit box key leads her to the answers to one of history's greatest conspiracies:  Who killed John F. Kennedy?  Not only does she have the missing film, revealing her mother as the infamous Babushka Lady, but she has proof that there was more than one shooter.
     On the run from people who would stop at nothing to keep secrets buried, Sheila turns to billionaire sleuth Jason Hammond for help.  Having lost his own family in a tragic plane crash, Jason knows a thing or two about running from the past.  With a target on their backs and time running out, can Jason finally uncover the truth behind the crime that shook a generation - or will he and Sheila become its final victims?

REVIEW:  This was a great book!!  The story kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to turn the page to see what else happened.  Even though I am vaguely familiar with the Kennedy Assassination, I was able to follow the details without any trouble.  There were plenty of twist and turns and wondering of Shelia and Jason would make it all the way through to the end.  The ending is full of surprises.  Something I found refreshing was how Jason and Sheila kept their relationship chase and did not form a romantic relationship in the few weeks they were together.  Most authors would have had them making a long-term commitment by the end of the book but Wil Mara went a different route.  I can see them developing a relationship in future books but nothing permanent was decided here.  This is an awesome book that should be checked out.

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

Wil Mara has been writing books for the last twenty-five years.  He began with non-fiction for school libraries, moved into children's fiction by ghostwriting five of the popular Boxcar Children Mysteries, then into adult fiction with his 2005 disaster thriller, Wave, which won the New Jersey Notable Book Award.  His next disaster novel, The Gemini Virus, was released in October 2012 to rave reviews from critics and public alike.  Wil also spent twenty years as an editor, working for Harcourt Brace, Prentice Hall, and other publishers.  For more information, visit Wil at www.wilmara.com.

Unspoken Book Review



SUMMARY:  Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history.
      The FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them, and rescued her, but it took four long years.  The fact that she was found just three miles from her home, had been there the entire time, haunts them.  She's since changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life.
     She's never said a word - to the cops, to her doctors, to her family - about those four years.
     A family legacy has brought her back to Chicago, where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping.  Her options are limited: either hope the reporter doesn't uncover the full truth, or break her silence about what happened.  And her silence is what has protected her family for years.
     Bryce Bishop doesn't know Charlotte's past; he only knows she has coins to sell from her grandfather's estate - and that the FBI director in Chicago made the introduction.  The more he gets to know Charlotte, the more interested he becomes, an interest encouraged by those closest to her.  But she's decided she is single for life, she struggles with her faith, and she's willing to forgo a huge inheritance to keep her privacy.  She's not giving him much of an opening to work with.
     Charlotte wants to trust him.  She needs to tell him what happened.  Because a crime the cops thought was solved has only opened another chapter. . . .

REVIEW:  Never having read one of Dee Henderson's books before, I was excited when this one came across my email as I have heard a lot of great things about her books.  The idea of the story was a good one and the development of the characters was thorough and good but the storyline seemed to drag on and on.  I understand that for Bryce and the reader to fully understand everything about Charlotte, some things aren't answered quickly.  Solving her kidnapping and the secondary story involved here seemed anti-climatic.  I liked how the stories intertwined but I felt like something was missing.  Also, the idea of Charlotte selling off her grandfather's multi-billion estate and all of its peculiar collections is unusual but NEVER. SEEMS. TO. END.
      While I wasn't a fan of this book, I am still interested in reading something else written by this author.

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

Dee Henderson is the author of eighteen novels, including Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story, Full Disclosure, the acclaimed O'Malley series, and the Uncommon Heroes 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.  Visit her at DeeHenderson.com.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sisterchicks Do the Hula Book Review


SUMMARY:  Watch out, Waikiki!
     Wherever there's chocolate, there's sure to be a Sisterchick celebrating, and this trip to Hawaii is no exception.  Best friends Hope and Laurie are on an audacious mission to commemorate their fortieth birthdays in style.  Surfing and sailing, sushi and snorkeling - these two macadamia nuts from the mainland sample it all, unhindered by a surprise little stowaway.
     Luaus are only the beginning.  The island experience binds Hope and Laurie's souls together, gently restoring their unfinished dreams.  Garlanded with leis or swimming with sea turtles, they join the dance of delight in their Maker, entering the next season of their lives filled with the unforced rhythm of grace.

REVIEW:  Look out, Hawaii!  Sisterchicks are coming!
     Laurie and Hope have been friends since college.   After losing touch for many years, they reconnect and pick up where they left off.  Since their previous plan to visit Hawaii did not happen, Laurie and Hope decide to go and celebrate their 40th birthdays in the Aloha state.  They meet native Hawaiians who give them insight into the native culture and the meanings (even spiritual meanings) behind some of the traditions, like leis, hula and more.  These sections are my favorite parts.  I also like everyone's reaction to Hope's pregnancy, even though her kids are getting ready to finish high school.  They are all genuinely excited about this coming bundle of joy.
     This novel is a great read if you are looking for something fun and enjoyable.

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

Robin Jones Gunn has written more than eighty-five books, including the well-loved Glenbrooke, Christy Miller, and Sierra Jensen series.  More than 4.5 million copies of her books have sold worldwide.  Robin and her husband live in Hawaii and have two grown children.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Church Builder Book Review


SUMMARY:  One group focused on destroying all religion.  One group struggling to preserve the church.  One woman searching for the truth.
     For two months, small-town lawyer Bethany Barclay has been mourning the hit-and-run death of her enigmatic best friend, Annabelle Seaver.  Then the son of her wealthiest client is found murdered in her kitchen.  When Bethany herself becomes the leading suspect, she must flee both the authorities and a mysteriously killer.
     But there is more at stake than she knows.
     Bethany is caught in the web of a shadowy organization determined to destroy Christianity.  The final outcome rests on her ability to piece together the last three months of her best friend's life.

REVIEW:  This is a book that will keep you turning pages and sitting on the edge of your seat all the way to the end.  At times, trying to keep straight all the different characters and their roles was difficult for me.  I do not read many suspense novels so when shadowy characters are introduced and not fully explained to keep the intensity going, I had some problem keeping everyone straight.  But I was able to follow the story pretty easily and keep up.  The story was intriguing and unique.  As I read, I could see the novel being played out in movie form.  While the drama was not brought to a close at the end of the book, I can't wait for the next book to be released to finish Bethany's search for answers.
     If you are a fan of suspense novels, this is a book you will want to check out.

This book was provided by Booksneeze, Harper-Collins and Zondervan for review without compensation.

A.L. Shields is a pseudonym for Stephen L. Carter, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught for almost thirty years.  He is the author of seven acclaimed works on nonfiction, and five best-selling novels, including The Emperor of Ocean Park, which spent eleven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Perfectly Matched Book Review

The Blue Willow Brides Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  His life runs like clockwork.  Hers is a spontaneous adventure.  But God's timing is always perfect.
     Anna Olsen knows it's time to leave her sister's increasingly crowded house and start a life of her own.  Following both of her sisters' examples, she becomes a mail-order bride, and after a short correspondence with clock maker and jeweler Edward Parker, she moves to Denver to become  his wife.
     Almost immediately it's painfully apparent that Anna and Edward are very different.  Anna is a free spirit who would rather be painting and enjoying the company of friends than cleaning house.  Edward is a consummate perfectionist who, on their wedding day, hands Anna a list of chores that need to be down around the house daily.
     Can this mismatched couple see past their difference to a harmonious future?  Or will their disparate passions create obstacles neither is willing to surmount?

REVIEW:  Opposites attract in this book.  Edward loves for everything to be in its place and to closely follow a set schedule.  Anna loves to be free and loves all kinds of animals.  Both have to make concessions but are determined to make their marriage work.  When Anna hears about Edward's difficult life as a child of an alcoholic, she tries even harder to keep things right about their relationship.  The changes Edward goes through in this book is neat.  Even though he is not fond of animals, especially in his house, he understand Anna longing to help hurt and injured pets.  He helps her start an animal shelter and becomes her biggest supporter.  When Edward is wrongly accused of stealing, even though she has doubts, Anna doesn't let them get in her way and supports him in proving his innocence.
     This is a good book and a wonderful ending to this series.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 
Maggie Brendan is the author of the Heart of the West and the Blue Willow Brides series.  Twice nominated for a RITA Award, she is a member of the Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers.  She lives in Georgia.  Visit her at www.MaggieBrendan.com.

A Reluctant Courtship Book Review

The Daughters of Bainbridge House Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  A woman without a prospect.  A man without a homeland.  Can love give them a future?
     Honore Bainbridge has been courted by two men, one of whom turned out to be a traitor, the other a murderer.  Banished to her family's country estate, where she will hopefully stay out of trouble, she finally meets the man she is sure is exactly right for her:  Lord Ashmoor.  Tall, dark, and handsome - what more could a girl ask for?
     But he too is under suspicion because of his American upbringing and accusations that he has helped French prisoners escape from Dartmoor Prison.  If he's to keep out of a British prison himself and secure his place in British society, Lord Ashmoor needs a wife beyond reproach - something the vexingly beautiful Honore certainly is not.  Though they find themselves drawn to each other, family obligations may conspire to keep them apart forever.
     For the sake of her heart, Honore determines to prove Ashmoor's innocence - even if doing so risks her own life.
     From the first sentence, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes thrusts you into high drama amid the rocky cliffs of Devonshire, England, and keeps you suspended there until the final page.
REVIEW:   This book did grab my attention from the very beginning, as stated above, and the ending is good, though my attention did waiver from time to time throughout the story.  I love Honore's character.  Even though she is basically shunned by royal society, the servants she grew up with and their families treated her well and respectfully.  She was determined to not let her banishment get her down but she was hurt when she was left out of many socials and gatherings.  Honore is a strong character and very well written. 
     Lord Ashmoor is another favorite.  He is determined to help his family and support them, even if that means he spends the rest of his life away from his homeland and in a society so foreign to his poor upbringing.  Ashmoor reaches out to Honore when others turn their back on her and treats her with respect, even after hearing about her poor choices in suitors. 
     Out of the three books in this series, this is my favorite.  Honore is determined to not let her circumstances get her down and rises above all the scrutiny.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of Lady in the Mist, Heart's Safe Passage, Choices of the Heart, A Necessary Deception, and A Flight of Fancy which won the October 2012 Clash of the Titles Award, voted on by readers.  she won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian.  Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.  Visit www.lauriealiceeakes.com for more information.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Return to Me Book Review

The Restoration Chronicles
Book One

SUMMARY:  After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true - King Cyrus has declared the Jews may return to Jerusalem.  Iddo, a priest, is sure this is a sign of God's renewed favor.  For too long they've remained in Babylon, and many, including Iddo's sons, are losing the faith that sets them apart.  And so only a few choose to leave everything to return - return to their home and their God.
     Nothing about thier journey to the Promised land is easy.  As hardships mount, even the faithful, like Iddo's beloved wife, Dinah, question the sacrifice of following God's leading.  Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the family they left behind.  But one life-changing encounter with the Holy One gives him insight that will change Zechariah - and history - forever.
     Bringing the Old Testament to vibrant life, Return to Me tells the compelling story of two men living by faith in the midst of doubt, the women who love them, and the faithful remnant struggling to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

REVIEW:  I don't know about you but I am interested in reading fictional stories about people, places and time in the bible.  Even though the stories are made up by the author, they give me a better sense of what life may have been like and more insight into that particular place and time in history.  This novel fits that bill.  Set the time of the return of some of the Jews to Jerusalem from Babylon, the author shows us how difficult life was.  They had to build houses out of the rubble; there were no walls around the city to protect them; and they faced latent hostility from the people who were left behind.  Memories of what Jerusalem had been, the horrors that took place during the Babylonian siege and what is left behind in Babylon assail them at every turn.  Everyone also struggles with doubts as to whether or not it was God's leading to return and about the situations they currently face.  But, time and time again, God shows Himself to this little band of people who listened to Him and are doing what He asks.  He does this through his prophets Zechariah and Haggai and in the temple when God accepts their sacrifices and follows through with His promises.
     While, the book seemed to drag a bit in places, the details provided are necessary to cover all the details involved and to understand everything going on.  This is a great book and I'm looking forward to reading the next ones in this series.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group and Bethany House for review without compensation.

Lynn Austin has published twelve novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We're Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film. For more information, visit her website at www.lynnaustin.org.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Beloved Book Review

Where the Heart Lives Series
Book Three

 SUMMARY:  A most unwelcome guest surprises Diana at her engagement party - the husband she thought was dead!
     Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her.  At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner.  After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba.  Receiving no word of him in years, Diana is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.
     But when Tyson returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate.  While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.  
     He agrees with one condition - she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

REVIEW:  Beloved is written with two time lines going on at the same time.  You read about Diana and her struggles with Tyson after he returns but, sprinkled throughout the story, you also read Tyson's story before he met Diana, their meeting and courtship, their brief time together as a married couple and what happens to Tyson when he leaves Diana and after he "disappears."  At first, I couldn't quite figure out what was going on, but the more I read, the back story (mainly Tyson's) came through and I was able to follow along quite nicely and see that Tyson's spiritual relationship and his feelings for Diana were genuine.
     There were a few times I felt Brook Calhoun's character was stilted and unnecessary, like the author was needing an adversary and he was an afterthought.  It also would have been nice for Diana to meet her siblings earlier in the novel instead of in the Epilogue.  I did like how Tyson's father, Jeremiah Applegate, had changed over the years and was more accepting of Tyson and Diana's relationship and how he found one he wasn't looking for.
     All in all, this was a good book, one I enjoyed.  The series was interesting and one I wouldn't mind reading again.

This book was provided by Lituse Publicity Group, Booksneeze, and Zondervan for review without compensation.

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of seventy books.  Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  Robin and her husband reside in Idaho.  For more information, visit www.robinleehatcher.com.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Under a Blackberry Moon Book Review


SUMMARY:  Which wilderness is more treacherous - the one she must cross to find her home . . . or the one she must traverse to find love?
     Just a few days after she gave birth alone in the northwoods, a recently widowed young Chippewa woman stumbled into a nearby lumber camp in search of refuge from the winter snows.  Come summer, it is clear that Moon Song cannot stay among the rough-and-tumble world of white lumbermen, and so the camp owner sends Skypilot, his most trusted friend, to accompany her on the long and treacherous journey back to her people.
     But when tragedy strikes off the shores of Lake Superior, Moon Song and Skypilot must depend on each other for survival.  With every step they take into the forbidding woods, they are drawn closer together, until it seems the unanswerable questions must be asked.   Can she leave her culture to enter his?  Can he leave his world to enter hers?  Or will they simply walk away from a love that seems too complicated to last?
     Get swept into a wild realm where beauty masks danger and only the truly courageous survive in a story that will grip your heart and your imagination.

REVIEW:  Serena Miller has outdone herself.  Her most recent novel quickly grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept it all the way to the end.  At times when I thought I had the storyline figured out, the author would throw a curve ball.  Moon Song has become one of my favorite heroines; she can stand up for herself and doesn't back down from a fight.  She loves with everything she has but doesn't trust everything she hears.  I like how her story plays out and Skypilot's role in it.
     Though not marketed as such, this book is a follow-up to The Measure of Katie Calloway.  While it does reference characters mentioned in the other book, they are brief. You don't need to read the first one but it will give you a little better understanding of Moon Song's time in the lumber camp and a little more information on Skypilot.  
     This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. 

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Serena B. Miller is the RITA Award-winning author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and A Promise to Love, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman's World, Guidepost, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more.  She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.  Please visit www.serenabmiller.com for more.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Plain Disappearance Book Review

An Appleseed Creek Mystery
Book Three

SUMMARY:  It's Christmastime in Amish Country, and Chloe Humphrey has begun settling into her life in Appleseed Creek.  She's especially excited to see where her new relationship with Timothy Troyer will lead.  Unfortunately, it leads to murder when the couple discovers the body of Amish teenager Katie Lambright while on their first date.
     Near the scene there is evidence that Timothy's friend and auto mechanic Billy Thorpe is involved with the crime.  The police reveal Billy is not really who he said he was and has been living the last decade in Knox County under a stolen alias.  Now, Chloe and Timothy must find Billy, bring him to justice or prove his innocence.

REVIEW:  This is a different type of suspense book.  Instead of the story centering in the Amish community, the main characters are an Englischer and a former Amishman who still have some contact with Amish family members.  The storyline is interesting, suspenseful, and kept my attention.  While the actual story occurs over about about a two week period, it moves along at the right pace and doesn't get bogged down in details or move too fast.  Also, even though this is the third book in this series, I did not feel like I was missing anything by not reading the others and followed the characters pretty easily.
     If you are looking for a suspense novel with a different twist, check this one out.  I think you will be pleased.

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

Amanda Flower is an academic librarian for a small college in Ohio and grew up visiting the state's Amish Country with her family.  Her 2010 debut, Maid of Murder, received an Agatha Award nominations for Best First Novel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Governess of Highland Hall Book Review


SUMMARY:  Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall.  Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?
     Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India.  But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents' financial support.  Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly find that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging that expected, and she isn't sure what to make of the estate's preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.
     Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph's two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from financial ruin.  The last thing he needs is the distraction of a kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.
     While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families - common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings  But will William choose Julia's steadfast heart over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall's future?

REVIEW:  Set in 1911, this story captured my attention from the start.  I like how Julia wasn't afraid to speak up for something she believed in and, if she thought she had misspoken, she was quick to apologize.  Her strong faith was another item that caught my eye.  In any difficult situation, whether it was when she was giving William advice or trying to tutor William's difficult nieces, she always prayed about what she should do and say.  She wasn't afraid to stand up for what she believed was right - even if it went against societal norms. 
     I also like how William lead his staff and family in Scripture reading and prayer every morning.  Not many characters (or real people) do that and it was refreshing and inspiring. 
     At first, I thought the three different relationship storylines would bog the reader down.  But, seeing how each one was woven together seamlessly with each attachment focusing on different ideals and their different outcomes help make the narrative flow.
     This is a good book I think any reader would enjoy.

This Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of nearly a dozen novels and novellas, including Snowflake Sweethearts, and Along Came Love.  She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award.  She lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, counselor, and the author of several parenting books. Visit her website at http://carrieturansky.com.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Stranded Book Review

Alaskan Courage Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  When her friend goes missing, every minute counts!
     Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of the big story.  But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared.  Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.
     The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy.  And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.
     He'd love to just forget her - but something won't let him.  And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters.  Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

REVIEW:  This is the third book in the Alaskan Courage series and Dani Pettrey does not disappoint.  This book focuses on Gage and Darcy as they search for Darcy's friend who disappeared while working on a cruise ship.  I like how the storyline moves at just the right pace to keep it interesting without too much fluff.  The ending is great, eye opening, and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  I also like how the ending deals with a topic that is not talked about often in our day and time - sex slave trade.
     Even thought this is the third book, it stands well on its own.  If you want more information on the other McKenna siblings and the background of how Gage and Darcy meet, the other books will provide it.  I've really enjoyed this series and can't wait for the next novel to come out.

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

Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author.  She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves - the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance.  She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her website at www.danipettrey.com.

Rebellious Heart Book Review


SUMMARY:  Massachusetts, 1763
     A Love That Would Shape History Forever
     Because she's a woman, higher learning was always closed to Susanna Smith.  But her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge.  And she's determined to marry well, so she'll be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.
     Growing up with little to his name, poor country lawyer Benjamin Ross dreams of impacting the world for the better.  When introduced to the Smiths he's taken by Susanna's intelligence and independent spirit, but her parents refuse to see him as a suitor for their daughter.
     When the life of a runaway indentured servant is threatened, Susanna is forced to choose between justice and mercy, and Ben becomes her unlikely advisor.  But drawing closer to the man of principle and intellect lands her in a dangerous , secret world of rebellion and revolution against everything she once held dear.

REVIEW:  Set before the Revolutionary War, this story shows the struggles Colonists faced if they didn't agree with the policies, laws, and taxes out in place by the British; the limitations put on women whether they are aristocrats, poor, or slaves; and the limitations of those who did not have money or land of their own.  Susanna loved to learn but, because she was a woman, she was not allowed to further her education beyond the basics.  Ben wanted to make a difference in his community but, because he was not a landowner or came from money, his legal work for the disadvantaged or wrongly accused didn't garner him much other than admiration from the lower classes.  When Susanna helps an indentured servant who escaped a very abusive situation (which is highly illegal and involves the death penalty), she and Ben have to keep Lieutenant Wolfe, the commander of the local British troops, from finding out.  The story keeps you turning the page until the very end in anticipation of what will happen next. It is also loosely based on the courtship of John and Abigail Adams, which makes it even more fascinating.   This is a good one to put on your "Must Read" list.

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

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of A Noble Groom, Unending Devotion, and The Preacher's Bride, which won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award and the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers.  Jody loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on he blog at JodyHedlund.com.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Love's Awakening Book Review

The Ballantyne Legacy Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  The path to true love lies somewhere between two feuding families.
     In the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburgh only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay.  Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.
     But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line.  Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of the abolitionist leanings.  As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan - particularly the handsome Jack Turlock - she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future.  Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?
     Master storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love and loyalty.  This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

REVIEW:  This novel picks up about 20-25 years after the first book in this series, Love's Reckoning, ends and focuses on Silas and Eden's youngest daughter, Ellie.  To fully comprehend the rivalry between the Ballantynes and Turlocks, better understand the history of Silas and Eden's relationship, the conflicts with certain family members and how all this relates to this story, you really need to read Book One.  That said, this storyline was great, another Romeo and Juliet-type romance between Ellie Ballantyne and Jack Turlock.  Both Ellie and Jack know they cannot be together and try their hardest to fight any feelings they have for each other.
     This story is interesting and I liked how the author intertwined everything together.  You see how the conflict between the two families affects more than just them with their attitudes and decisions.  The Ballantynes help slaves escaping to freedom and the Turlocks try to expose their efforts, endangering both families and townspeople.
     This is a great book and I can't wait to read the third one, due sometime next year.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Laura Frantz is the author of several books, including The Colonel's Lady and Love's Reckoning.  A two-time Carol Award and INSPY Award finalist and a recent Christy Award finalist, she currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Invention of Sarah Cummings Book Review

Avenue of Dreams Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  In a world where everyone is putting on a show, there is a love that is genuine.
     Sarah Cummings has one goal in life - to break into Chicago's high society.  Desperate to stop serving dinner to members of the wealthy Banning family and to start eating at society tables, Sarah spends her meager free time altering cast-off gowns to create the perfect wardrobe for her future life.
     When opportunity knocks at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name.  But as she gets closer to her goal - and closer to Simon Tewell, director of St. Andrew's Orphanage - Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of.
     Can she piece together the perfect life from scraps?  Or will it all come unraveled in the face of true love?

REVIEW:   Sarah Cummings is tired of being a maid and wants something better in life.  She is an excellent seamstress and reworks the dresses given to her by Mrs. Banning, making them into completely different gowns.  She also wants to forget her time at the local orphanage, where she spent time after her parents were tragically killed, but she is asked to show the girls there some basics of sewing in hopes of expanding their futures.
     This book was good but I had a few problems with it.  The main problem was Sarah's faith, or lack thereof.  Throughout the second book (where she is a minor but important character) and in parts of this book, Sarah is resentful that she is forced to work as a maid instead of living in the middle class she was born and raised into.  She is resistant to God and recognizing His hand in her life and only goes to church when she needs to, not when she wants to.  Her lack of faith in God aids in her deception as Serena Cuthbert in that she may have some qualms in what she is doing but it does not stop her from continuing the charade.  At the end of the book, when Sarah's secret is found out by those who care about her, she does seem repentant but I still didn't see an obvious turn to faith in God.
     The other problem I had was all the lying and deceiving going on.  Since it was a major part of the story, I understand why it took place, but it still bothered me.  I guess I get too much into my characters and don't want to see them get hurt if they continue on the path they are taking.
     Overall, this is a good book and ties up the series in a nice way.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow.  Her husband and two twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books.  She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.  Find out more at www.OliviaNewport.com

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sisterchicks On the Loose Book Review



SUMMARY:  Helsinki or Bust!
     Meet unlikely best friends Sharon, quiet mother of four, and Penny, former flower child/motorcycle mama.  For these young moms, a twenty-year friendship is about to take a surprising leap!  Penny hatches plans for a "post-kids" trip to seek out her only living relatives - somewhere in far-off Finland.
     The land of reindeer, Finnish saunas, and starry, starry nights holds infinite promise for the free-flying Sisterchicks who feel their hearts fill with a new zest for living...and a fresh view of the One who flung the galaxies across the heavens..

REVIEW:  Penny and Sharon have been best friends for many years even though they now live in different cities and states.  When Penny decides to visit her mother's homeland to see if she can connect with family, she drags Sharon along for the adventure.  And an adventure it is.
     I love how Penny stretches Sharon and helps her get out of her comfort zone and experience new things.  When her luggage is lost, Sharon learns to live simply and to roll with the flow. Penny learns a lot about her mother and her father, who have both been dead many years and the family Penny's mom left behind when she moved to America.
     The book was good but I'm not sure about some parts.  At times, Penny seems flighty, not wanting to stick around anywhere long.  She stays with her aunt she's never met but only heard about while she was growing up for just a few days then leaves again to meet and stay with a cousin in London she's never met.  In London, she and Penny impose on her cousin Elina who is under a lot of stress with her job, family and husband's job situation.  The very next day, Penny, Sharon and Elina go to Liverpool to meet up with someone Penny met on their flight to Helsinki and cause a ruckus in the hotel spa.  After a few bumps and awkward moments, everything all works out in the end but it just seemed awkward to me.

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

Robin Jones Gunn has written more than eighty-five books, including the well-loved Glenbrooke, Christy Miller, and Sierra Jensen series.  More than 4.5 million copies of her books have sold worldwide.  Robin and her husband live in Hawaii and have two grown children.

A Surprise for Lily Book Review

The Adventures of Lily Lapp Series
Book Four

SUMMARY:  Change is in the air!
     Eleven-year-old Lily Lapp wants her life to stay just the way it is.  Instead, it's constantly changing.  New jobs, new schoolmates, and new challenges sure keep life interesting.  It seems like the only thing Lily really wants to change - Effie Kauffman's mischief making - is the one thing that never does.  Effie is up to her old tricks, and Lily is her favorite target.
     With each chapter in Lily's life comes another ever-more exciting adventure.  But no one could have prepared Lily for the biggest surprise of all!

REVIEW:  Like the others that have come before, this book is fun to read.  Lily is so adorable and loveable!!  Just like the rest of us, Lily experiences changes in school, with her friends and in her family and learns how to adjust and keep moving forward.  When a friend loses her home in a fire, Lily and her family reach out and help them.  Aaron Yoder is still a pest but he shows Lily he can be a friend and helpful, too.  This is a wonderful book for kids (and adults) of all ages!!  I hope this is not the last we see of Lily, Aaron and their friends and families.  I would love to see what the future has in store for them.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
www.AdventuresofLilyLapp.com 

Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  She is the coauthor of the Adventures of Lily Lapp series and lives in Pennsylvania. 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County series and the Stone Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.  She lives in California.  For more information, please visit www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewoodsfisher. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Promise Book Review

The Restoration Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  One home, two hearts, and the power of a promise kept . . .
     For the last five months, Tom Anderson has been without a job, a fact he's been hiding from his wife Jean  - and everyone else.  He leaves each morning, pretending nothing has changed, and spends his disheartening day rotating through coffee shops and the library, using their WiFi to search job listings online.  The stress of keeping this secret is beginning to put serious strain on his marriage.
     But Tom's not the only one hiding something.  Jean Anderson has a secret of her own - one that will seriously complicate their situation.  Will the promises they made on their wedding day hold firm?

REVIEW:  This book shows what can happen when pride comes before family and how lies can destroy everything you hold dear.  Only when the truth finally comes out can healing take place. 
     This is the second book of The Restoration Series.  While reading the first book, The Dance, is helpful to completely understand everything going on, this book does a good job briefly explaining what has happened beforehand.  I like how the changes made in Marilyn and Jim's marriage are continued throughout this book as a beacon to Tom and Jean during their turmoil.  While Jean struggles with the lies Tom told and the changes in their life because of them, she is willing to forgive and work on repairing their marriage and life together. 
      This is a good book, reminding readers that marriage takes work from both husband and wife but that the rewards are endless. 

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Dance with Gary Smalley, The Discovery, and The Reunion.  He has won three Carol Awards, and two of his novels were finalists for RT Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year for 2011 and 2012.  A member of American Christian Writers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years.  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 OprahLarry 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 and The Dance with Dan Walsh.  Gary and his wife Norma have been married for 49 years and live in Missouri.

Trapped Book Review

Private Justice Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  A runaway teen.  A desperate sister.  And an intrepid PI determined to discover the truth.
     When Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen.  That includes recruiting ATF agent turned private investigator James Devlin to help.  Dev knows time is of the essence with runaways - just forty-eight hours can mean the difference between recovery and ruin.
     But the deeper he and Laura dig, the more Dev begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance.  And in the icy winter weather, the trail is going cold . . .
     In her latest thrilling read, queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon outdoes herself with a fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

REVIEW:  Darcy, thinking her older half-sister is too strict and wanting to just get away, runs away for what she thinks will be greener pastures.  But, after a massive snowstorm hits the city, Darcy finds out quickly that living on the street is dangerous in more ways than one and someone she thinks she can trust turns out to be the devil in disguise.
     Irene Hannon does not disappoint her readers in her latest novel.  She has you sitting on the edge of your seat, anxious to turn the page, trying to guess what happens next.  This is a great book and, even though it is the second in the A Private Justice series, it does a fantastic job on its own.  So many times I thought about having my twelve-year-old daughter read it to see what Darcy goes through and seeing how much Laura cares for her, but, even though the intense scenes are absolutely necessary, it is a little too much for her right now.
     If you like suspense novels, this is one for you. Check it out.

This review was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty novels, including Vanished and the Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series.  Her books have garnered many honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, and a Daphne du Maurier Award.  Booklist also included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011.  In addition, Irene is a Christy Award finalist.  For more information, visit www.irenehannon.com.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold Book Review


SUMMARY:  Adventure is never far away.
     After a whirlwind cross-country move, Harriet and her donut-loving basset house, Humphrey, have settled in to a new life in Grass Valley, California. When Harriet learns that she's going to be a grandma for the first time and gets a new suite with room for her salt-and-pepper shaker collection,
she can't wait for her best friend, Martha, to come visit so she can share her good news.
     But adventure is never far away when Harriet is around.  After listening to the pleas of a desperate teen whose daddy needs money right away - and happens to have a gold mine to lease - Harriet falls hook, line and sinker into the venture.  Although she's nervous about her investment, Harriet chooses to keep it a secret from her son, Henry, and his wife.  She can only imagine what she'll do if this turns out to be her ticket to a golden windfall.
     When suspicions arise, though, it becomes clear that Harriet may never see an ounce of gold.  But will she continue to trust and risk losing everything?  The fate of the young teen and a family emergency show Harriet where her true treasure lies.

REVIEW:  Harriet loves her family.  When she finds out she is going to be a grandma, she decides to invest in a gold mine in hopes of striking it rich so she can help her son and daughter-in-law.  With her best friend Martha in tow, she finds out the mine and the people she invested in are under FBI investigation.  Throw in the chaos of a new addition to the house, and you have yourselves a mess! 
     I love how Harriet still wanted to help Lily have a better life, even though she was a big part of the mine fiasco. Harriet and Martha believed the best in this young teen and their faith was proved right.  When Henry and Prudence finds out about the mine and the problems surrounding it, they didn't condemn Harriet but helped her figure out what she could/should do.  This family supports each other and is there for each other, no matter what.
     This is a good book and is perfect for some light reading.

This book was provided by Booksneeze for review without compensation.

Joyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular and quirky Bright's Pond Series and the middle-grade novel Carrying Mason.  She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor.  Joyce lives in Pennsylvania with her son, Adam, and their crazy cat, Mango, who likes to eat nachos.