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?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Whispers in the Reading Room Book Review

Chicago World's Fair Mystery Series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Lydia's job at the library is her world - until a mysterious patron catches her eye . . . and perhaps her heart.
     Just months after the closure of the Chicago World's Fair, librarian Lydia Bancroft finds herself fascinated by a mysterious dark-haired and dark-eyes patron.  He has never given her his name; he actually never speaks to a single person.  All she knows about him is that he loves books as much as she does.
     Only when he rescues her in the lobby of the Hartman Hotel does she discover that his name is Sebastian Marks.  She also discovers that he lives at the top of the prestigious hotel and that most everyone in Chicago is intrigued by him.
    Lydia and Sebastian form a fragile friendship, but when she discovers that Mr. Marks isn't merely a very wealthy gentleman, but also the proprietor of an infamous saloon and gambling club, she is shocked.
     Lydia insists on visiting the club one fateful night and suddenly is a suspect to a murder.  She must determine who she can trust, who is innocent, and if Sebastian Marks - the man so many people fear - is actually everything her heart believes him to be.

REVIEW:  Everything is not always what it seems or looks like.  Appearances and actions can be deceiving.  Lydia is believed to be a wealthy debutante, but in reality her father's death left her and her mother penniless and destitute.  Sebastian looks to be the finest of gentlemen, well educated and refined but he was raised on the wrong side of the tracks and learned everything he knows from reading anything and everything he can.  
     I like how Lydia doesn't accept society's "norms" and kinda does what she wants. She wears her glasses all the time, when society thought such practice was very unacceptable and frowned upon.  When she realizes her fiance Jason has a very bad temper and he hurts her in public, Lydia does not sit back and take it but refuses to marry him.  She is willing to do what it takes to make sure her mother is taken care of and feels secure.  
     Sebastian struggles with getting close to anyone, even Vincent and Bridget, who work closest to him constantly.  I like how they stick by him and support him when it looks like Sebastian is being arrested.  Bridget risks her life to help Sebastian when he is followed into a bad part of town by a disreputable and dangerous man.  
     This was an engrossing book, capturing my attention at the beginning and keeping it until the very end.  Even though it is the third book in this series, I did not feel like I was missing anything since I had not read the first two.  The story flowed seamlessly.  It is one I would highly recommend.

This book was provided by The Fiction Guild for review without compensation.

Shelley Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers' prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner.  She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail. She also spends a lot of time online.  Please visit her website at  Find her on Facebook at

The Tears of Dark Water Book Review

SUMMARY:  Daniel and Vanessa Parker are an American success story.  He is a Washington, DC, power broker, and she is a physician with a thriving practice. But behind the gilded facade, their marriage is a shambles, and their teenage son, Quentin, is self-destructing.  In desperation, Daniel dusts off a long-delayed dream - a sailing trip around the world.  Little does he know, the voyage he hopes will save them may destroy them instead.
     Half a world away on the lawless coast of Somalia, Ismail Adan Ibrahim is living a life of crime in violation of everything he was raised to believe - except for the love and loyalty driving him to hijack ships for ransom and plot the rescue of his sister, Yasmin, from the man who murdered their father.  There is nothing he will not do to save her, even if it means taking innocent lives.
     Paul Derrick is the FBI's top hostage negotiator.  His twin sister, Megan, is a celebrated defense attorney.  They have reached the summit of their careers by savvy, grit, and a secret determination to escape the memory of the day their family died.  When Paul is dispatched to handle a hostage crisis at sea, he has no idea how far it will take him and Megan into the past - or the chance it will give them to redeem the future.
     Across continents and oceans, through storms and civil wars, the paths of these individuals converge in a single, explosive moment.  It is a moment that will test them and break them, but it will also leave behind an unexpected glimmer of hope - that out of the ashes of tragedy and misfortune, the seeds of justice and reconciliation can grow.

REVIEW:  When this book first arrived, I was very hesitant to read it.  While the description sounded interesting, I wasn't sure I wanted to read a book about hostages, pirates and families falling apart.  But, after opening its pages and reading the first chapter or two, my interest was cautiously peaked.  The author does a marvelous job keeping all the characters and stories engaging.  The depth of the characters and the story lines still reverberate through my mind, weeks after the book was finished.  Hope and restoration are the recurring themes throughout the book.  Each character is holding on to hope that their families can be restored and that the situation will resolve itself.  They also believe restoration will occur, even very slowly in most predicaments, in their families and their own lives.
     Now, I do need to state that this is not a Christian faith-based novel.  A couple of characters pray at different times but it seems to be a last minute "Oh, I should pray" but not looking to God for direction or peace.  Ismail and his family are devout Muslims.  Their practice of Islam is prominent and at times central to their story.  There are a couple of curse words and, towards the end of the novel, a character mentions sleeping with another without the benefit of marriage.
     This novel is gripping and very intriguing, one that I recommend cautiously but without hesitation.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild for review without compensation.

Corban Addison is the author of two international bestselling novels, A Walk Across the Sun and The Garden of Burning Sand, which address some of today's most pressing human rights issues.  An attorney, activist, and world traveler, Addison is a supporter of numerous humanitarian causes, including the abolition of modern slavery, gender-based violence, and HIV/AIDS.  He lives with his wife and children in Virginia.  He can be found online at, Facebook: Corban Addison and on Twitter: @CorbanAddison.

At Love's Bidding Book Review

SUMMARY:  She sells priceless antiques. He sells livestock by the pound.  Is he really the man to made a bid for her heart?
     After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder.  Desperate to appeases the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again.
     Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock.  And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat.  Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count - but no mysterious painting - Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

REVIEW:  This book has it's ups and downs.  I love how Miranda stays by her grandfather's side, looks after him and defends him when his memory takes a turn for the worse and he starts to alienate the people in Pine Gap.  Her concern and care for him is always in the forefront.  Even though Wyatt is not happy that the new auction house owners haven't the first clue on how to conduct livestock auctions, he tries to help them the best he can.  He does a good job trying to balance their big-city ideas with the reality of small town living.  I like how Wyatt doesn't give up easily.  His determination to work hard without taking advantage of people plays out in his favor at the end of the book.
     Sometimes it was hard to figure out who the "bad" guy was.  There were four different people looking for this portrait.  At times, it was difficult to follow who was trying to help the LeBlanc family (the owners of the portrait) and who was trying to steal it away to hurt the Auction House.  Throw in the possibility of a missing heir and it took some effort to keep things straight.
     The ending was delightful.  I loved how things worked out for Wyatt, Miranda, and the auction houses.  All in all, it was a pleasant read.

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

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English.  She is the author of Sixty Acres and a Bride, Love in the Balance, Caught in the Middle, A Most Inconvenient Marriage, and she contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas.  She and her family make their home in Oklahoma City.  Regina can be found online at