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, March 30, 2016

Dressed for Death Book Review

The Drew Farthering Mystery Series
Book Four

SUMMARY:  A Regency-era costume party should have been an amusing diversion, but it seems wherever Drew Farthering goes, mystery - and murder - are on the guest list.
     Drew and Madeline Farthering arrive at a Regency-era house party at Winteroak House, excited to be reunited with old friends, including Drew's former Oxford classmate Talbot Cummings.  Tal is there with his fiancee, Alice Henley, and though many present seem worried about the couple, nobody is prepared when Alice dies from an apparent overdose.  Tal refuses to believe she's taken the drug intentionally, and a dark question arises of whether the death is an accident or murder.
     The police have their own information, though, and Drew is shocked when they arrest someone he's trusted since his childhood - someone who's been smuggling drugs into the country for years.  Stunned by what has happened, Tal begs Drew to get to the bottom of everything, but Drew has never felt more unsettled.  Questioning his own ability to see people as they really are, Drew doesn't know whom to trust, and he's not ready for the secrets he's about to uncover - or the danger he'll bring down on everyone he holds dear.

REVIEW:  If you like mysteries and suspense, you need to check out Julianna Deering's The Drew Farthering Mystery series.  The latest book, Dressed for Death, is the first I've read from her but I did not miss anything by not reading the others. 
     Even though he is an English aristocrat, Drew is becoming known for his mystery solving and sleuthing skills.  When tragedy strikes during a party, I like how Drew steps in to help his friend.  When terrible events keep occurring, Drew's concern for his wife and friends is admirable.  He wants to figure out who is involved but worries someone else close to him will die next. 
     The mystery surrounding Alice's death, as well as finding proof of who is conducting the drug smuggling ring and committing the other crimes, kept me guessing right to the end.  When the truth finally is revealed, I was not expecting them to be the culprit.  While the deaths in the story were sometimes graphic, the author does a good job conveying it without going into gory detail.
     This book has peaked my interest to read the first three books, as well as any subsequent ones.  Check out this book and this series.

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

Julianna Deering, author of the acclaimed Murder at the Mikado and Death by the Book in the Drew Farthering Mystery series, is the pen name of novelist DeAnna Julie Dodson.  DeAnna has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen, or the stage. This, together with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity.  A fifth-generation Texas, she makes her home north of Dallas, along with three spoiled cats.  When not writing, DeAnna spends her free time quilting, cross-stitching, and watching NHL hockey.  Learn more at

The Confessions of X Book Review

SUMMARY:  Before he became a father of the Christian Church, Augustine of Hippo loved a woman whose name has been lost to history.  This is her story.
     She met Augustine in Carthage when she was seventeen.  She was the poor daughter of a mosaic-layer; he was a promising student and heir to a fortune.  His brilliance and passion intoxicated her, but his social class would be forever beyond her reach.  She became his concubine, and by the time he was forced to leave her, she was thirty years old and the mother of his son.  And his Confessions show us that he never forgot her.  She was the woman he ever loved.
     In a society in which classes rarely mingle on equal terms, and an unwed mother can lose her son to the burgeoning career of her ambitious lover, this anonymous woman was a first-hand witness to Augustine's anguished spiritual journey from secretive religious cultist to the celebrated Bishop of Hippo.
     Giving voice to one of history's most mysterious women, The Confessions of X tells the story of Augustine of Hippo's nameless lover, their relationship before his famous conversion, and her life after his rise to fame.  A tale of womanhood, faith, and class at the end of antiquity, The Confessions of X is more than historical fiction . . . it is a timeless story of love and loss in the shadow of a theological giant.

REVIEW:  This book is different from any other I think I've ever read.  It is written in first person but the main character is never called by name.  Now, there are nicknames and pet names but the name given to her by her parents is never revealed. 
     It took me a little while to really get into the story.  It is set in 360-430 AD.  The author tells the story of X's beginning, her life with Augustine and their son, and the events that might have taken place after she left.  While the author does not go into graphic detail of X's life as Augustine's concubine, she does not hold back any punches.  Life was hard and especially hard for someone who did not grow up with wealth or position.  Even though she lived with him as husband and wife, X was never granted the privileges that went along with that distinction.  There were many times she was looked down upon but also many places she was honored and loved. 
     If you are not familiar with Augustine, his live and beliefs, you won't learn much about him.  Since I fall in that category, I was surprised that, even though he grew up with a Christian mother, he seemed to come to complete knowledge of Christ at a later age.  This book does not say if X became a Christian but she did support him wholeheartedly in every pursuit he took on. 
     This is not your typical Christian fiction novel.  While it does show you what live was like for concubines, this author imagines X's life a little better than most.  It was an interesting read that I suggest you try out.

This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers 
for review without compensation.

Suzanne M. Wolfe grew up in Manchester, England, and read English Literature at Oxford University, where she co-founded the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society.  She is Writer in Residence at Seattle Pacific University and has taught literature and creative writing there since 2000.  Wolf is the author of Unveiling: A Novel (Paraclete Press, 2004) and co-founder, along with her husband, of Image, a journal of the arts and faith.  Suzanne and Greg have co-authored many books on literature and prayer and are the parents of four grown children.  They live outside of Seattle.  Visit the author's website at

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Red Door Inn Book Review

Prince Edward Island Dreams Series
Book One

SUMMARY:  Marie Carrington is broke, desperate, and hoping to find sanctuary on Prince Edward Island while decorating a renovated bed-and-breakfast.  Seth Sloane moved three thousand miles to help restore his uncle's Victorian B and B - and to forget about the fiancee who broke his heart.  He wasn't expecting to have to babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her.
     The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take everything they've got - and they have to find a way to work together.  In the process, they may find something infinitely sweeter than they ever imagined on this island of dreams.

REVIEW:  Liz Johnson has done an excellent job!  The characters were engaging and the storyline had me turning pages, anxious to read what would happen next.  The three main characters have all come to PEI looking for a fresh start.  Marie is running away, trying to escape an opportunist father who wants to use a horrible situation that happened to Marie to further his real estate empire.  Seth moved to PEI to get away from a disastrous relationship that found him without his company, his money, his good reputation, and his fiancee.  Jack wants to honor his late wife's desire to open a bed and breakfast on Prince Edwards Island but is it really what HE wants to do? 
     I love how everyone seems to be keeping secrets and how, little by little, they learn to trust each other and find they can depend on each other.  There are some major hurtles and preconceptions that each one must overcome before they realize they have become a family.  This little inn and the surrounding village sounds like a place I would really love to visit.  This book was refreshing.  I look forward to reading the rest of this series when they are released and other novels by this author.
     If you are looking for a story about hope and redemption, check this book out.  It will be worth the time.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it.  When she's not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as a full-time marketing manager.  She is the author of nine novels, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories.  She makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Burning Proof Book Review

Cold Case Justice Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  After months of investigating the brutal homicide of a young girl, Detective Abby Hart finally has the evidence she needs.  But when the arrest goes terribly wrong, Abby beings to doubt her future as a police officer.  As she wrestles with conflicting emotions, old questions about the fire that took her parents' lives come back to haunt her.
     "There is proof."  PI Luke Murphy can't stop thinking about what Abby's former partner, Asa Foster, mumbled just before he died.  When Luke uncovers a clue to the murder of Abby's parents and his own uncle, he's reluctant to tell Abby, despite his growing feelings for the beautiful detective.
     A decade-old abduction case brings Luke and Abby together, but will his secret tear them apart?
REVIEW:  Author Janice Cantore knows how to grab her reader's attention, keep it until the end, and leave them wanting more.  The whole time I was reading, I kept trying to guess what would happen ahead, who the culprits would be, how everything tied together and what the resolution would be.  
     The story of the ten-year-old abduction cold case is an excellent addition to Abby's parents' murder.  I like how even though they were completely separate crimes, the circumstances surrounding the closure of the abduction incident tied perfectly into the other case.  I also love how the author has her characters realize their dependence on God.  Abby has been through her share of troubles and has tried to keep God at the center of her life.  After an arrest goes horribly wrong, she realizes her foundation has slipped and she needs to refocus her life on God and not the world around her.
     You will need to read the first book in this series, Drawing Fire, before this one as Burning Proof does draw heavily from it. 
     If you like suspense novels, check out Jancie Cantore's novels and this book.  I'm looking forward to reading the next one in this series.

This book was provided by Tyndale House for review without compensation.
Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired.  Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories.  She is the author of the Pacific Coast Justice series, Visible Threat, Critical Pursuit and the Cold Case Justice series.Visit her website at and connect with her on Facebook at

The Prophetess Book Review

Daughters of the Promised Land Series
Book Two
Deborah's Story

SUMMARY:  Canaan has ravaged Israel.  The people are in hiding.  All that stands between surrender and hope is one untested woman.
     Deborah will never forget the day her father and brothers left to worship at the Lord's tabernacle - or the wails of her mother after finding their bodies at the city gates.  The memories of Canaan's cruelty haunt her and all of Israel.  Now in this dark time, the Lord calls on Deborah to lead His people away from the idols of other nations and back to Him.
     Deborah never asked to be a prophetess or a judge over God's people.  Still, she cannot deny His voice or the visions that accompany it.  Can her family ever understand?  Will her people believe God's calling on her life?  And can the Canaanite menace be stopped?
     With her trademark impeccable research and imaginative storytelling, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the story of Israel's most powerful woman in this intriguing and inspiring novel.

REVIEW:  As always, Jill Eileen Smith brings the story of Deborah to light with wonderful detail and vision.  The story of the judge Deborah is only two chapters long in the book of Judges, with one chapter being the song that she sang after Barak's defeat of Sisera and the Canaanite army.  Using the little information provided and her masterful imagination, the author does an excellent job creating characters that her readers can relate to and understand.  Deborah is reluctant to act as a judge, being that she is only a woman, but is quickly admired and sought out for her godly wisdom.   Barak still grieves for his wife that was killed years earlier by the Canaanites and is determined to fight to free Israel from their grasp.  There are many other characters that come to life and really help fuel the story. Heber the Kenite, Jael his wife, their daughter Daniyah, Deborah's husband Lappidoth, their daughter Talya all make this biblical story seem like it happened exactly this way.  It also helped me better understand this period of judges ruling the province and the idol worship that kept God's blessings at bay and the cruelness of terrorism on their doorsteps.
      As always, if you've never read a book by Jill Eileen Smith, you need to pick this one up, along with all of her others.  Even though this is the second book in the Daughters of the Promised Land series, it is a complete stand alone.  Make sure you check it and her others out.
This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling Wives of King David series and The Crimson Cord, as well as the Wives of the Patriarchs and the loves of King Solomon series.  Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.  She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.  She loves to hear from her readers.  Contact her at, or follow her on Facebook at or Twitter @JillEileenSmith. 

The Gift of Friendship Book Review

Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments

SUMMARY:  Sharing secrets. Laughing until it hurts. Hugging through tears.  True friends are one of God's greatest gifts.
     Whether next door or in the next time zone, our friends are some of our most vital relationships. We cherish time spent together and look forward to the next time we can solve the world's problems over coffee.  There is something about a true friend that no other relationship can touch.  
     Collecting over fifty true stories from some of today's best writers, Dawn Camp offers you a chance to sit back and experience the gift of friendship.  With its beautiful photographs and poignant prose, this collection is the perfect pic-me-up anytime you need a boost.
     You'll cherish these stories of true friendship from Lisa-Jo Baker, Holley Gerth, Bonnie Gray, Liz Curtis Higgs, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Tsh Oxenreider, Crystal Paine, Myquillyn Smith, Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Jessica Turner, and many more.
 REVIEW:  This book shows the bond between old friends, the uneasiness of opening up to new friends, and can helps those who do not appear friendly but who desperately want/need a friend.  The stories are short.  Some will have you laughing; others, grabbing your box of Kleenex.  The authors of these short stories are open and honest about their relationships with their friends.  Some have even stepped out of their comfort zone of aloneness and reached out, wanting what others around them have.  This is an excellent book for those friends who are close to you or for one you would like to know better.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
Dawn Camp is the camera-toting, homeschooling mother of eight children and the editor of The Beauty of Grace.  She is also a featured blogger at (in)courage, and her beautiful photography previously graced their monthly calendar and currently decorates the desktops of women around the world.  Camp blogs at and is a featured photographer on Adobe's website for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software.  She lives with her family in north metro Atlanta.