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?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Always Watching Book Review

Elite Guardians Series
Book One

The Bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son.  But, when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.
     Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him - including Olivia.  But in her mind, even more dangerous that the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

REVIEW:  If you are looking for a book that will grab your attention from the beginning and keep it until the end, Lynette Eason's latest novel is one you need to read.  She does a great job twisting and turning the story, keeping you guessing until the end, and making the reader feel like you are there watching everything unfold.  
     It is admirable how Olivia steps up and fills in the slot left by her injured employee and how she cares for each one deeply. They are treated like family.  The love held by Wade and his daughter is commendable.  As a single dad, he does his best to be there for his daughter Amy, even helping her find her calm place when she has an anxiety attack.
     A couple of times it felt like information was left out in regards to the back stories of the members of the Elite Guardian Agency.  But, having read Ms. Eason's novels before, any gaps that may seem there will be filled in during the rest of the series.  
     There were a LOT of characters to keep track of.  If I had to set the book down for a while, I often wished there was a list reminding me who's who and how they tied in to the plot.  But, that is my only complaint.  
     This book and upcoming series is one I highly recommend.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice, the Deadly Reunions, and the Hidden Identity series.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and romance Writers of America.  She lives in South Carolina.  Learn more at

The Forgotten Recipe Book Review

An Amish Heirloom Novel
Book One

SUMMARY:  After losing her fiance' in a tragic accident, Veronica Fisher finds solace in the old recipes stored in her mother's hope chest - and in a special visitor who comes to her bake stand to purchase her old-fashioned raspberry pies.
     Veronica Fisher knows how lucky she is to be marrying her best friend.  Seth Lapp is kind, hardworking, and handsome - but most importantly, he loves Veronica.
     When an accident on the job steals Seth away from her, a heartbroken Veronica is certain she will never love - or be loved - again.  Yet when she discovers a batch of forgotten recipes and opens a bake stand to sell her Mammi's raspberry pies, Veronica picks up a regular customer who gives her heart pause.
     Jason Huyard was with Seth when he lost his life - a memory that haunts him still.  So when he seeks out the grieving fiancee to convey his condolences, the last thing he expects - or wants - is to fall in love.  Nonetheless, Jason soon finds himself visiting Veronica's bake stand every week . . . and it's for more than the raspberry pies.
    Now, as Veronica's heart thaws, Jason can't bring himself to tell her he was there when Seth died.  Can he ever reveal where he was on the day her life derailed?  Or will his secret rob them of the second chance at love they both want?

REVIEW: The author does an excellent job conveying the depth of Veronica's grief and Jason's reluctance to tell Veronica who he is - Seth's best friend and co-worker.  He saw her crumble and weep uncontrollably at Seth's funeral and wanted to spare her the pain of remembering that dreadful event again.  This book shows their relationship as it grows very slowly from acquaintances to friends and their attraction to each other.
     When Veronica finally finds out Jason's connection with Seth, I didn't fully understand her anger.  Yes, he withheld the information that he was close to her fiancee and was there when he died, but why would she get so worked up?  I would think she would be grateful that Jason was there during Seth's last moments, knowing he was with friends and loved ones.  But, everyone grieves differently and understands differently.
     Making her grandmother's raspberry pie and opening her bake stand was a good way for Veronica to heal.  It helped her come out of her grieve-induced shell and started living again. On a side note, that raspberry pie sounded so delicious.   The way everyone raved about it in the novel and ordered dozens made me want to try one.  Umm!
     This story was interesting.  I look forward to reading the others coming in this series.

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

Amy Clipston is the award winning and bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Kauffman Amish Bakery series and the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series.  Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA.  Amy holds a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons and four spoiled rotten cats.  Visit her website at, on Facebook: Amy Clipston or on Twitter: @AmyClipston

Undaunted Hope Book Review

Beacons of Hope Series
Book Three

Eagle Harbor, Michigan
In a Town Mired in Darkness
She May Shine the Light They Need 

     Running from the mistakes of her past, Tessa Taylor heads to the uppermost reaches of Michigan, planning to serve as the new teacher to the children of miners.  She quickly learns the town had requested a male teacher, but Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since it's too late to replace her.  Tessa can't help but thank him and say she is in his debt.
     Determined to make herself irreplaceable one spring thaw arrives, Tessa throws herself into her work, and soon two students have decided Miss Taylor is the right match for their grieving father.  At the same time, charming assistant lightkeeper Alex Bjorklund makes his interest know, surprising Tessa, who has never had men fight for her hand before.  But not all is well as she feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

REVIEW:  Jody Hedlund's latest novel does not disappoint.  Tessa is a strong character who has learned from her mistakes and is trying to become a better person.  She also hopes to aspire those around her to better themselves by starting a night school for the miners and parents who don't know how to read, write or do simple arithmetic equations.  She has big plans to help the community but, unfortunately, keeps hitting roadblocks set up by Mr. Updegraff, who lives above the law and who keeps the miners and their families on a very short leash.  I was pleasantly pleased to see the changes in Tessa after reading the previous book.  She has really grown up in her thinking, actions and faith.  She tries to be a light to those in her little community when it looks like the darkness will never end, physically and spiritually.
     The struggles she has with her suitors is comical at times and very serious.  Sometimes they try to out-do each other when helping her with school house repair projects and little gifts.  When one decides to take a step back and let the other beau have a chance, Tessa doesn't know what to think or do.  She has a tough decision to make.
     To fully understand Tessa's abhorrence to lightkeeping and her insistence on keeping her reputation spotless, you need to read the second book in this series, Hearts Made Whole.  Even though she is a minor character, her background and actions are fully explained and makes greater sense.  This book does a great job of trying to fill in the gaps for those who haven't but doesn't go into great detail until later in the story.
     This is a delightful book.  I love how all is made right in the end and everyone has a happy ending.  The Beacons of Hope series, and this book, would make a wonderful addition to your bookshelves.

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

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher's Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance.  She makes her home in Michigan, not far from the lighthouses she writes about, and loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Monday, February 1, 2016

Amish Christmas at North Star Book Review

Four Stories of Love & Family

REVIEW:  One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife on the edge of North Star, Pennsylvania.  Rebekah's Babies, as they were called, are now adults, and in four heartwarming novellas each person experiences a journey of discovery, the possibility of love, and the wonder of Christmas.
Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert
     Curiosity gets the best of Englischer Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby.  When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa, will his revelations upend her world?

Mourning Star by Amanda Flower
     Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents' shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac.  Who is guilty?  Isaac's handsome great-nephew Jesse, an angry Englischer, or someone else?

In the Stars by Cindy Woodsmall
     Heartbroken Kore Detweiler avoids North Star after Savilla Beiler rejects his love.  But when he is unexpectedly called home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark
     Andy Danner left North Star to join a new Amish settlement in Mississippi.  His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in a reclusive widower's life.

REVIEW:  These stories were so enjoyable to read.  I love how they all fit together very well and especially loved the Epilogue at the end.  My favorite is probably Guiding Star.  Elle knew she was adopted but was surprised to find out about her birth family.  Chase's investigation and gentle assurance helped her when she met them and learned more about herself and them.  I love the forgiveness she had for her birth father and how her Amish family accepted her and loved her right from the start.
     Eden from Mourning Star was a sweet friend.  As she mourned for Isaac, when she found out about the questionable circumstances surrounding his death, she wanted to honor him and his memory and find out the truth.  My favorite part is how the identity of the true culprit was finally revealed.
     My heart went out to Savilla and all she had to endure.  Her part of the story was totally unexpected and surprising but I wished she would have told Kore and not hid what had happened.  I loved how she and Kore worked together to keep the Adler children safe and protected while their parents were away, even though it was very difficult for them.  Kore's taking his brothers to task for their treatment of Savilla was very admirable and welcome.
     The story of Star of Grace seemed more about Andy's brother Sam and Vincent and the grace and forgiveness that was found.  Andy and Nellie's story seemed secondary but I enjoyed it.  The changes in both Sam and Vincent shows just how far a little kindness, determination, and forgiveness can go.
     This book was very pleasurable and entertaining.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah and Blogging for Books 
for review without compensation.
Katie Ganshert worked as a fifth-grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time.  She lives with her family in the Midwest.  Visit her website at
Amanda Flower, a three-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, also writes as national best-selling author Isabella Alan.  In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.  Visit her website at

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who has written seventeen works of fiction and one work of non-fiction.  Visit her website at

Mindy Starns Clark is the best-selling author of more than twenty-five books, both fiction and non-fiction.  She has received numerous honors, including two Christy Awards, an Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and RT Book Reviews Magazine's Career Achievement Award.  Visit her website at

Emily Clark is currently an MFA Creative Writing candidate at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where she was awarded a merit-bases writing fellowship. She was also the recipient of Eastern University's Thyra Ferre Bjorn Creative Writing Award, which is given to the graduating senior "with the greatest writing potential."  She is the daughter of Mindy Starns Clark. 

The Bronte Plot Book Review

SUMMARY:  When Lucy's secret is unearthed, her world begins to crumble.  But it may be the best thing that has ever happened to her.
     Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties to reach her goals.  When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend, James - leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt and trouble.  Something has to change: she has to change.
     In a sudden turn of events, James' wealthy grandmother, Helen, hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion.  Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own.  In fact, Helen understands Lucy's predicament better than anyone else.
     As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen's wisdom as Helen confronts ghosts from her own past.  Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters' beloved heroines who, with tenacity and resolution, endured - even in the midst of impossible circumstances.
     Now Lucy must face her past in order to move forward.  And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail - if only she can step into the life that's been waiting for her all along.

REVIEW:  Before reading this book, I had seen a lot of posts saying how much they enjoyed this book; the characters were engaging and they loved everything about it.  As much as I want to say the same thing, I can't.
     I did enjoy some of the story, like Lucy and James when they first met and dated, and Lucy and Helen's time at Haworth.  My favorite part was Sid's forgiveness of Lucy's "liberties" at work.  Even though he had to do damage control, I love how he still mentored and forgave Lucy and did what he could to help her.  Lucy taking responsibility for her actions and calling the people involved in her dishonorable exploits made me really admire her.  It took a lot of courage and determination.  The redecorating of the Inn in Haworth was another fun part.  I love the creativity Lucy had and how she tailored it perfectly for Bette's budget. 
    There were many times I felt the story fell flat.  The story references the literary works of the Bronte sisters many times.  Since I haven't read any of their stories and know only a very little about any of the story lines, I wasn't able to really pick up or understand the associations the way someone who is familiar with these things would.  When Helen returns a watch, I found it difficult to relate to her actions and reactions afterwards.  Lucy's plans to visit Bowness-on-Windermere and trick Helen into going just seemed odd.  I understand why she wanted to go, but it seems to me Helen would have understood if she would have just explained why.  The part that included Anthony, Lucy's dad, was difficult to read in that I could see exactly what he was doing and the trouble it would bring.  Lucy was so much like him but I'm glad she realized it and wanted to make a change.
This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a lifelong affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries.  After earning degrees in history and marking from Northwestern University, she worked in not-for-profit development before returning to school to pursue her MTS.  Katherine lives with her husband and three children in Chicago, Illinois.  Visit her website at, on Twitter at @Katherine_Reay or on Facebook at katherinereaybooks.

The New Vintage Family Book Review

A Vintage Look for the Modern-Day Family

     In The New Vintage Family, Drenda shows you how to embrace God's design for family and how to refashion your family while pursuing your destiny together.  In a world that has traded the ability to mentor children God's way for a world of fast-paced instant gratification, we need real answers to the modern day struggles we face as parents.
     Drenda combines her wit, humorous stories, and dynamic teaching to equip you with the tools you need to make parenting fun again.  Learn to use the four pillars of family, to effectively communicate, and to fit the pieces of family mentorship, business, and home life together for success.

REVIEW:  Family is not just something you do on the weekends and holidays, but every part of every day.  Drenda includes stories from her husband and five kids about how they did life and business together.  She and her husband, Gary, included their children in their business ventures, traveling across the United States in a camper when Gary had business trips.  They home-schooled their children and had them help around the office, using each child's talents and strengths.  She shows you that struggles are real but they can be weathered and overcome, whether it is a lost job, health issues or a wayward child when they are faced together.
     As a parent of grown children, Drenda offers advice for all stages of life: from newlyweds to new parents, toddlers, pre-teens and teens, and empty nesters to grandparents.  She shares bible verses and stories of how God works in your life, your family's lives and those around you, encouraging you to keep striving for a God-centered family.
     If you are longing for the "good ole days" of close families and were wondering how to try to recapture those times, this book is a good place to start.

This book was provided by SON Studios for review without compensation.
Drenda Keesee is a television show host, author, speaker, entrepreneur, and pastor whose mission is to bring people into spiritual, emotional, and relational wholeness.  Drenda and her husband, Gary, have created several successful businesses, and are the founders of Faith Life Now, which produces two television programs - Drenda and Fixing the Money Thing, as well as worldwide conferences, and practical resources.  They also pastor Faith Life Church near Columbus, Ohio.