Friday, October 26, 2012

Review on The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Heartwarming, Inspirational, Romantic and reminiscent of  “It’s a wonderful life”, are just a few descriptors that come to mind as I reflect on “The Bridge” by Karen Kingsbury.  This charming Christmas novella completely satisfies the inspirational Christmas “feel good” novel that we are all craving during the Christmas season. 

   As the novella opens, we meet the lovely Molly Allen and are introduced to her simple and a little lonely live in Portland, Oregon where she heads up an animal rescue shelter.   It is the day after Thanksgiving, a day that she reserves for thinking on an old friend and one she hoped would be more- Ryan Kelley. Ryan is a guitar player who had just been touring with a popular country band, but as things happen in the music business, he is currently unemployed and looking for a new gig.  Molly and Ryan, years ago were inseparable in their college days in Franklin, Tennessee, and although they were never technically dating per se, they had a very strong connection with each other.  Because Molly’s overbearing father did not want Molly forming any attachments while she was off at college, (He wants her to come home and learn the ropes of running the family business) Molly and Ryan needed to keep up appearances that they were not involved.  And so they would meet secretly in the upper room of a charming little book shop called “The Bridge”.  The Bridge was run by a wonderful couple named Charlie and Donna Barton who in many ways became surrogate parents to both Molly and Ryan.  Charlie and Donna poured their heart into their bookstore and especially into all their customers who entered their doors, offering help and love anyway they could. Molly and Ryan love and respect the Barton’s immensely and it is at The Bridge where their relationship continues to grow.

   Sadly, because of misunderstanding and miscommunication Molly and Ryan part ways and now 8 years later they still think of each other with longing and regret.  Tragedy strikes the Barton’s in a way that draws both Molly and Ryan back to the small town of Franklin to come to the Barton’s aid.  Old feelings are rekindled and grace, friendship and love are prevalent in a very satisfying ending that all will enjoy. 

    As always Karen Kingsbury gives us great character’s that we can cheer on to overcome their obstacles through God’s love and grace.  If you are in the mood for a Christmas miracle sort of story, where second chances come to life, friends rise up and come to each other’s aid and God is the author of it all, then do pick up “The Bridge” by Karen Kingsbury, you won’t be disappointed.


4 stars


I received a complimentary copy of The Bridge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review on Hidden in Dreams

There is a reason that Davis Bunn is an award winning author with national bestsellers to his credit- he’s just plain good.  And not only is he good, he  is also diverse in his writing which is kind of fun as a reader to get different genres for the price of one.  In his new sequel to The Book of Dreams, Davis Bunn brings  Hidden in Dreams with the ever controversial Dr. Elena Burroughs once again at the center of things trying to pick up the pieces of her life that has somewhat spiraled out of control.  As she is trying to rebuild her professional reputation, heal from a romance gone wrong and move forward in her life, she finds herself in the middle of yet another controversy involving dreams.

  This time the controversy revolves around a nightmare that is very vivid and real and quite specific and is a warning in nature as several people around the globe are having the exact same dream.  Elena herself is one of the “dreamers” and a real sense of foreboding and the need to share the news with the world,  is present in every single person that dreams the dream.  As Elena is trying to follow God’s lead on the whole dream phenomenon and what it might mean, she learns a lot along the way, about who God is, how he operates and who exactly He has brought into her life and for what purpose- that’s a lot for a girl to learn!  Also present in this story is her arch nemesis Dr. Jacob Rawlings who all but ruined her professional reputation through a debate in which he dressed her down quite soundly with regards to her dream interpretation.  However because of his own journey and situation with a client having the “dream” he is forced to re-think his stand on dreams himself, and as a result in working together, the two forge a friendship.

This story was very interesting to read and its pacing was picture perfect as the mystery and different parts to the story unfold.  It was that book that kept you reading for sure to find out in the end what was going on and what it meant for all the people involved, end of the world stuff, or…?  Very well done.

If you enjoy a page turner with great characters, a spiritual journey and a bit of mystery, I think you should pick up Hidden in Dreams by Davis Bunn.  It’s a great read.

4 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Review on Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Beautiful and heartbroken Brielle Matthews shows up in her old, small hometown of Stratus, Oregon after being gone for a while chasing her dream of being a dancer/model  at a fancy art school in Portland.  But tragedy hits as the death of her good friend Ali, her friend at her Portland school, haunts her and leaved her adrift and shaken and full of fear.  Even being at home doesn’t help things and the heaviness that is a part of her life now.  However in the midst of this oppressive darkness someone new has come to town.  His name is Jake, Jake Shield and he keeps popping up everywhere- her calculus class, around town.  She starts to feel as though she now has her own bonafide stalker, albeit a really cute one. 

  As she gets to know Jake a bit better and his story unfolds she finds that there is more to Jake than meets the eye, especially surrounding his guardian Canaan. And as a whole new Celestial world opens up to Brielle, she sees things in a whole new way.  However her heartbreaking past in losing her mother at a young age coupled with the death of her best friend Ali keeps her from really having a true faith and trust in God as frankly she doesn’t trust Him based on what she sees He has or hasn’t done with those she has loved.  As she sees true forces of good and evil battling it out through people and celestial beings she gains more understanding and her relationship with Jake deepens. 

There are a lot of different facets to this novel and a lot of things about it that I thought were well done.  The author explores that “why would a good God let bad things happen?” question which many of us wrestle with, through Brielle’s’ past and her journey throughout the novel.  I thought that the angels vs. demons portions were suspenseful and the characters believable.  I definitely will continue to read more in this series as the author gives great foreshadowing, along with a bit of a cliffhanger making the reader really want to find out the future for these characters.  Lastly I felt that Brielle’s journey was a good one, well paced and you felt for her through the whole thing. 

  So while I will definitely recommend this as a great YA read for teenagers, I really enjoyed it as well, so a great read for all ages.

4 stars

I was given a free digital copy of this book through the Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest, non-biased review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Review on Starring Me by Krista McGee

Ok all for whatever reason, the reviews I have been doing a lot lately are in the YA genre- so if you have teenagers- I would recommend this one...

Starring Me, Krista McGee’s second offering in the YA genre follows well behind “First Date” as a charming and very age appropriate YA novel aimed at young teen girls and at the young at heart.  Following in the footsteps of the reality TV show gig, Starring Me centers around the charming character of 17 year old Kara McKormick who readers will remember as Addy Davidson’s best girlfriend from her first book.  But this time the spot light is all on Kara and her own shot at staring in a new up and coming teen show along the lines of a teen versioned Saturday Night line and what Kara doesn’t know is that if she were to get this shot, she would be co-starring with none other than Chad Beacon, an instant teen pop star who soared to popularity by winning America’s Next Star.  But here’s the deal, Chad’s parents are loving and protective and wants to make sure that his co-star isn’t just any girl and aspiring starlet, but one that has integrity , character and that they hope shares their Christian faith as well since their son would be spending so much time with this girl.  So the family hatches a plan to put their beloved housekeeper undercover as a sort of “house mother” living in with the girls that get chosen to be the top ten girls vying for the shot at this show and going through a grueling audition process.  Their housekeeper “Flora” is very flamboyant and so many girls show their true colors around her which helps Flora really see which girl is the best girl. Kara has all the right qualities except the most important one- she does not believe in God.  

  Kara gets to know Chad a little bit through his friendship with Jonathon who happens to be the President’s son and the guy who is seeing her best friend Addy.  There is an instant connection between the two and a friendship starts to grow.  As the story unfolds it takes the reader on another sweet story about faith, relationships and what is the most important thing in the end- faith, family and love.  As a mother of teen girls I can recommend Krista McGee’s books with confidence knowing that they are sweet and yet carry a message that I hope will make a teenage girl think with regards to her relationships in life and her standing with God. 
 My only bit of criticism might be that I felt the “audition scripts” were a bit too young and perhaps corny for me to believe they would be used in a program designed for teens. But that is being pretty nit-picky and a very minor part of the story.

Overall, another great read to recommend to your daughters!

4 Stars

I was graciously provided with a digital copy of this book by the publisher through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest, non-biased review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Review on Prophet by R. J. Larson

Riddle me this. What if God asked you to leave your family, all that you know and become his prophet- to bring truth and prophecy to people that really don’t want to hear it, don’t want to obey it and oh yeah, the kicker, being in His service will mean that your life will be cut short. It doesn’t sound like a job that most would sign up for. But Ela Roeh of Parne a young 17 year old girl somehow with her close relationship with “the Infinite” just can’t refuse. She is a most remarkable girl with many of the insecurities of most 17 year old girls feeling inadequate and unworthy of the task ahead of her most of the time. Yet Ela perseveres and gets better and better throughout the story in hearing the Infinite’s voice, seeking Him at every turn and doing what He tells her to do.

  Along the way she meets a young handsome Traceland ambassador named Kien who is seeking justice and help for his downtrodden people. Ela and Kien’s paths cross and the Infinite is working in both of their lives to bring about His plans for all people involved in this war filled time.  In Ela’s mind, Kien can’t be a part of her future because she is a prophet for the Infinite. And yet they are thrown together time after time. Could the Infinite’s plans for them both be different than what she thought? 

This story does well by the Christian Fantasy genre and it is fun to see a new face on the scene in R J Larson.  I thought the characters were engaging and relatable and enjoyed the addition of the trusty steed “Scythe” of “Pet” and the humor that he brought to the story.  I liked the pacing with Kien being a total   non-believer at the beginning of the novel, but as the story progresses and he starts seeking out the Infinite, how He is finally able to hear his voice. It wasn’t instantaneous and I like that, it had a ring of truth to it.  I am looking forward to the next book in the series titled Judge.

4 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review- all opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review on Coming Home- A story of Unending Love and Eternal Promise by Karen Kingsbury

Coming Home.  Ah, those two words for many of us evoke thoughts of family, safety, warmth, togetherness. In Karen Kingsbury’s last Baxter book Coming Home- A Story of Unending Love and Eternal Promise, I would say the descriptors are more like heartbreak, battle, loyalty and eternal hope.  This book opens with Ashley Baxter rallying the troops (her siblings and their families) to pull off a 70th surprise birthday party for their father and patriarch of the family John Baxter. And so all of the siblings are invited and heading back to Indiana to take part in this special celebration with each one asked to write a special letter of love for their father.  In the process the reader gets to take a walk down memory lane as each sibling recalls their own story and how their Dad was influential in it.  For me, a true blue Baxter family fan, I found it enjoyable to look back on each character’s story and journey and how love of family and faith in God brought them through. The Baxter’s weren’t perfect, in fact some of their choices along the way were choices that were not what we would hope they would make, but no matter what, their love for each other and trust and faith that God was working in the midst of the rebellious times proves to be what gets them through.     For a new reader, you could actually learn about each character’s back story in a condensed fashion and so I believe you could engage in this story.  I thought it was well done.

 The tragedy in this story, and there is tragedy, was pretty heartbreaking. I can’t give it away as that is too much of a spoiler. But, I will say that the Baxter family rallies around each other as they have never had to do before and it is hard, heartbreaking and yet in that way that Karen Kingsbury always has with her storytelling, it is filled with heart, faith in God and their deep abiding love for each other that actually leaves you with tremendous hope and faith.  I thought this ending was very fitting and there is a hope that Karen Kingsbury will still give us certain little sneak- peaks into the Baxter’s lives in the future through other books.  I will have to say that for some reason this series has struck a chord with me and I know many other’s as her books are often NY times bestsellers.  There is just something about the Baxter family that you just really care about these characters and what happens to them. And so with this last book, as I began to read it, I thought that the title was so apropos “Coming Home” as that is how you feel about the Baxter’s that they are real and could be your next door neighbors, and what wonderful neighbors they would be.

5 stars

I received a free digital copy if this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review on Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Bethany Quinn is a girl who seemingly has it all- a great job as an architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, youth, beauty and a boyfriend of three years.  But appearances can be deceiving as she also has a past; a past she has definitely moved on from, living in a trailer park in Iowa with a difficult, confusing relationship with her mother as well as a father that left her life too soon, leaving her with heartache and despair. The past wasn’t all bad though as her Grandpa Dan also lived there on his extensive farm where so many good childhood memories were born.

  Tragedy with a friend sends Bethany rather reluctantly back to her home town of Peaks as a good childhood friend whom she has lost contact with is facing huge grief coupled with her Grandfather’s health issues and she cannot avoid her past any longer.  While in Peaks she crosses paths with her Grandfather’s farmhand Evan Price and as much as Bethany dislikes her hometown of Peaks, Evan loves it- the farmland, the people and the rural way of life. Peaks is a place where people take care of each other and rise up and help one another especially in times of tragedy.  Bethany’s old childhood friend Robin is in need of much support. Bethany is not really sure at first if she can lend it, but several circumstances that occur draw these two friends back together and their friendship is renewed in a newer and deeper way.

Evan and Bethany are definitely an" opposites attract" kind of combination- He’s a farm hand; she’s a big city architect. He wants to farm for the rest of his life, and she… doesn’t. He has a faith in God and she’s been burned by legalistic Christians in her past and really has no need for Him. But as the story unfolds and Bethany learns the difference between who God really is and who she thought he was from a legalistic point of view, she gradually discovers that the love her Father has for her is what she really needs to help heal those past hurts.

On the whole I would say that I enjoyed the book very much. There was a sincere journey that Bethany took and I think that the back story made sense and fit together nicely. I think that Katie Ganshert as a debut novelist put in a very solid first novel.  The opening is attention grabbing with the scene of young Bethany in the pool. I would say that I felt the pacing was a little slower in the first part of the novel, but I feel picks up towards the end. Other than that I would say it was a great story with interesting characters and a good message – relationships are worth fighting for, with old friends, and especially with God.

3.5 stars

I would like to thank Waterbrook Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review on The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd

As those in London are celebrating the 60 year reign of their beloved Queen Elizabeth with the Diamond Jubilee, we in America have cause to celebrate as well.  For us, it’s the release of another “Tudor Treasure” The Secret Keeper which comes to us compliments of the multi- talented Sandra Byrd. For those that enjoyed her first offering of To Die For featuring Ann Boleyn, I am sure that you will equally enjoy this new book highlighting dear Henry’s last wife Kateryn Parr as told through the eyes of her friend and lady in waiting Juliana St. John.

As with any Queen of Henry the VIII, there were those amongst her court that were for her and those that were definitely against her- “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is very apropos here.  Those in power are seeking out more power and the sharks are circling particularly as the King’s health is waning.  There is much jockeying for position in the court and in influencing of the Henry’s children.  Kateryn Parr tries to influence her step-children as best she can particularly in reformist type ways, which brings out enemies against her.  With her friendship with Juliana St. John, she gains a powerful ally as Juliana has the gift of prophecy through dreams which proves to be very beneficial to Kateryn.  The Tudor history and reformist storyline is well written and woven into a convincing chain of events, but also as compelling is Juliana’s storyline which showed the demands of the court as well as secrets, intrigue, and heartbreak.  Juliana endures some difficult situations at court which I don’t want to give away here,  but at one point my heart broke along with Juliana’s and I was cheering for her to not give up and press on.

Juliana’s loyal friendship to Kateryn plays out to the very last page and when you finish this story you can’ help but think of her love, her sacrifice and loyalty to her friend and Queen and admire her for it.  This is Historical fiction at its finest as I love how you are transported back to Tudor England, picturing the knights and ladies in waiting, the gowns, etc, but the dilemmas of the character’s are not that different than what we face today- heartache, betrayal, greed,  as well as joys and triumphs. It was a wonderful book, which I am sure many will enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

5 stars.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review on Prize of My Heart

A Missing child, the kidnapping of a lovely young lady and thrilling battles at sea are just a few of the captivating adventures that you will find in the wonderful historical novel Prize of my heart by Lisa Norato.   The novel opens with the very tall Captain Brogan Talvis, a privateer Captain searching for his lost son.  His late and rather wayward wife had not been the best of mother’s and had abandoned their son to strangers and not disclosed to Brogan where the boy was.  Through much searching and after surviving the war of 1812 as he captained a privateer he was always haunted with the knowledge that his son who he dearly loved was out there and he needed to find him.  Finally he has discovered that his son has been adopted by a good family, a New England shipbuilder Nathaniel Huntley who also happens to be the father of  Lorene Huntley, a lovely young woman who has been a mother type figure to “Andrew”, Brogans long lost son.  Brogan’s initial plan was to get in, find a way to grab his son, and get out quickly with his new ship commissioned to be built by Nathaniel Huntley. As always in a good historical fiction novel, things didn’t quite work out as the Captain planned as he realizes that the way to win over his son is to also win over Lorena.  However, in the process, he finds his heart is caring for more than just his son.

There were several things that I enjoyed about this novel.  The opening for one- I always love a good opening to and the way that Lisa Norato introduces her character’s to each other is just so well done- there is a little bit of tension and miscommunication as Lorena and Brogan meet for the first time as well as Drew (Brogan’s son) as he rises up to protect Lorena against the giant that is Brogan that is very humorous.  Also, who doesn’t love a hero that drops everything to save the woman he loves by taking off in his ship to rescue her from a kidnapping- love it!  But the themes in the book were the best, love, forgiveness, letting go of the past and surrendering and trusting God with the future are all present and enjoyable to read.
For those that enjoy a good historical Christian novel with some adventure, humor and heart, definitely pick up Prize of my Heart by Lisa Norato.

4 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review on The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Four women, one wedding dress managing its way through different times and situations, a one size fits all kind of dress, never needing any altering, never aging or looking out of date, always looking perfect on each bride. Spanning in time from 1812 to present, the reader discovers the origin of the dress and how it came to be and the mystery behind all the women that wore the dress and how they were linked together.  I found this storyline to be most captivating and most charming as the story unfolds taking it’s time in a most wonderful way.

  The story opens with our present day heroine Charlotte inexplicably finding herself at the annual Ludlow Antiques auction at the Ludlow estate, bidding on a mysterious trunk with who knows what inside; 1,000$ of bidding later the trunk is hers.  She is a bit surprised at herself for splurging so to speak, as she is a future bride herself saving for her own wedding that is rapidly approaching. But this little purchase sends her on a mystery of her own as she seeks to know the story behind what’s in the trunk which is of course “the wedding dress”.  While this contemporary storyline is happening, the book also flashes back to 1812 and Emily Canton a young beautiful woman with 2 men that have caught her eye, one that she thought was only in her past and one who is very much in her present.  As the story unfolds Emily discovers who is after her heart and who has ulterior motives.  Two other “wearer’s of the dress” Mary Grace and Hillary have lesser storylines but they are still intricate to the novel and an important part in the story.

Rachel Hauck weaves joy, heartache, coming of age struggles , love and a charming element of magic in a certain male character that pops up throughout the novel that just make this story a delight to read.  This novel has wide range appeal as who doesn’t love to read a little romance, but also in this novel a strong historical component as the dress spans through time and what was happening to the women, as well as a nice contemporary storyline as well, as a friend of mine said- “it has something for everyone”. I heartily agree. I also want to mention that the author’s note at the end is not one to be skipped as it brings even more light to the precious spiritual elements to the book.

I highly recommend this book, there’s just something really special about it.

5 stars

I was graciously provided a digital copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review on Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

To me, there is just always something fun, intriguing and downright captivating about a good “fish out of water story.” You know those stories I mean, where the main character is taken completely out of their element, where they really don’t know which end is up and so inevitably they do things that are wrong and often times embarrassing. And they usually do them, never in a small way, but with pure unadulterated gusto bringing the audience/reader to that place where you laugh out loud at the character’s mistakes as you can relate because you have been there yourself.  Spunky Rosa, the main character in Sixty Acres and a Bride, by Regina Jennings delivers these moments in spades.

  It was with a little bit of trepidation I must admit that I began this novel as I thought- here we go – an updated Ruth/Naomi story set in Texas  in 1878,  I wonder how this will fly?  But trust me, this first offering by Regina Jennings does fly, in fact I might say it soars.  I really, really, enjoyed the character of Rosa, a beautiful Mexican widow returning to Texas with her mother- in- law Louise Garner to save the family farm so to speak. Of course, this is Rosa’s first time in Texas and so poor Rosa doesn’t know how to dress, how and when to speak, or how to impress this small town’s people as she is the object of much gossip and naysayers because of her outsider’s ways. But she is smart, beautiful and a very hard worker and thus captures the essence of “Ruth” perfectly, but in a fun and new way.  Then there’s Weston Garner, her now dead husband’s cousin, who is attractive, well off, and a widower himself with a story to tell. He is of course cast as the Boaz character to the story, the kinsman redeemer. But it seems to me as the story progresses that they seem to rescue each other.   I felt that both character’s were written well as their attraction built, but both coming to the table with a little bit of relationship baggage that needed to be dealt with before the relationship could  fully develop.  The story is rounded out with a really good villain in a neighbor named Mr. Tillerton who is easy to despise. He brings that sense of tension and suspense to the story as every good story needs a really good bad guy!

Through many dangers, toils and snares, goodness and love do finally prevail in this really fun story by Regina Jennings and for those that are fans of a good Christian historical fiction books, I think you will find this a delightful twist on the age old story of Ruth and Boaz. Regina Jennings gives us a heroine to cheer on, a hero with room to grow and grow he does, and a delightful ending where all is as it should be. Congrats to you Regina on a wonderful debut novel.

4 stars

This novel was graciously provided for me to read for review by Bethany House publishers with the sole intent of soliciting an honest and unbiased review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review on Stand By Me by Neta Jackson

Have you ever had that situation where you were reading a book and you find yourself just plain irked with the characters?  I mean they were really getting under my skin, their choices, what they say, how they are treating the people in their lives, etc.  As I started reading  Stand by Me by Neta Jackson I gotta say, I was feeling a little irked.

 If you have read any of the other novels by Neta Jackson , then you will see yourself once again returning to Chicago and once again you will  see some of her Yaya Yada prayer group characters in this novel, mainly Avis Douglass and her husband Peter as the novel opens with them celebrating their 6th anniversary. Sadly Avis’ daughter Rochelle is in a tough spot as she tries to make things work in her life,  a single mom, HIV positive, an abusive ex-husband, and now she has lost another job and shown up on her Mother and Step-Father’s doorstep once again. Peter takes a stand and recommends using tough love with Rochelle in not letting her stay with them indefinitely. But the rub is that Rochelle has Conny- Avis’ 6 year old Grandson in tow, so poor Avis is conflicted in what the right thing to do is. Rochelle leaves with Conny and  no word and no contact. 

 Enter in Kat Davies, a college student who is new to the Souled Out Community church that Avis and Peter are long time members and leaders of  as well. Kat saunters in one Sunday with many friends in tow and sort of plops herself among them rather like a bull in a china shop. She is so eager to make a difference in an Urban experience program that she sometimes fails to see the people and their real needs. One of her counselors at her college urged her to “talk less and listen more” which she got a little bit better at as the book went on, but it was a real struggle for her. She is a relatively new Christian with lots of zeal but little discernment. 

Kat and friends end up renting an apartment below the Douglass’ and Kat proceeds to rub Avis the wrong way again and again. This is where the irksome moments come into play as I kept getting mad at these characters for how they were treating each other, Avis’ constant irritation with Kat, Kat’s impulsiveness and tendency to run off at the mouth, Avis’ daughter continually shying away from getting help, etc.  But as the story played out, as the character’s were honest with each other, etc. I realized that all this frustration with these characters was a good thing as it revealed to me that these characters read as real people. They all had their own inward motivations as to why they responded as they did and Neta Jackson does a great job with this storyline in making you really connect and care about these characters.  I was irked because I really wanted the best for them. You see people are rarely what we take them as at face value, in that there is usually a lot going on and if we take the time to stop, care, listen and truly find out what their needs are, then amazing relationships are formed and especially with those people that we maybe didn’t like at first.

Great read! 4 stars

A free copy of this book was provided for me through the Booksneeze program through Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review on Not this Time

I have to be honest; I prefer that my fast paced suspense novels come served with a bit of romance on the side.   With Vicki Hinze’s novel Not this Time, you get both served in pretty much equal portions-a very nice meal so to speak.

 The opening of the novel is fast paced and starts off right away with a terrorist act at a wedding where all the guests are completely knocked out and sadly, one is dead.  As I had not read the previous two novels in this series I had a tough time keeping everyone straight as there are many characters in this novel, but things do get clearer as you read on, so I urge you, read on!  Two women Sara and Beth are multi-millionaire co-business owners with a bit of strife popping up in their longtime friendship as sadly Beth has some pretty strong negative feelings towards Sarah’s husband. To make matters worse Sarah’s husband winds up kidnapped and Beth jumps to the top of the list of suspects. Talk about putting a strain on a friendship. Then there is the matter of a certain guy that Sarah just can’t get out of her mind named Joe.  He is everything she is not looking for in a man- charming, handsome and women flock to him like a moth to a flame.  Beth, having been badly burned in a previous relationship is guarding her heart a little too well as she really, really does not want to let Joe in, but Joe is a persistent guy and just won’t go away.

This novel explores themes such as betrayal and how we move through it and learn to trust again to how we can heal from our bad decisions in the past and let God work in our lives.  Vicki Hinze maneuvers her characters through many situations to get to these points and the reader will enjoy how this comes to a conclusion in several of the character’s lives.
I feel this novel can be read as a stand- alone novel, but I would highly recommend that you read the other novels in this series entitled “The Crossroads series” first, as I feel that things would be less confusing for the reader. Those novels are Forget Me Not and Deadly Ties.

4 stars

I was graciously  given a complimentary copy of this novel through the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review on Illusion by Frank Peretti

You know that feeling  you get when you see an old friend  that has been so special to you in the past, and you haven’t seen them in ages, but you just fall right back into conversation with them as if no time has passed at all, instant re-bonding.  That is my feeling when I picked up Illusion by Frank Peretti. I thought- “Ah, he’s back!” ;  and the book is great, filled with all the adventure, intrigue, and suspense  of a great  Peretti book, take those components and combine them with a story filled with relationship, spiritual allegory, a bit of time travel/sci-fi, and literary and literal magic and you get the gift that is the book Illusion. Forgive the wordiness here, but I found this book to be a very special one.

 Two magicians- Mandy and husband Dane have lived a life together filled with relational magic as well as stage magic  and seem to find their life together at an end when the book opens with Mandy suffering fatal wounds from a horrific car accident and you the reader  surmises that Mandy is gone from Dane forever.  But is she?  Because it is rather unexplainable when  a young 19 year old suddenly surfaces in Idaho ,where Dane has relocated to start a new life, that looks remarkably like his own wife Mandy when she was younger, and guess what? She happens to be an up and coming magician.  How can this possibly be happening, and why are their paths crossing as Dane is 60 years old?  As this story unravels and shows a fascinating plot outlining a love that will never let go , one of sacrifice, intrigue , and of course plenty of great magic, I was enthralled with it from beginning to end.

I have come to expect a great story from Peretti as I have greatly enjoyed his writing over the years and his amazing attention to detail and imagination have always left me in awe.  His praise for being a master storyteller I never find to be an exaggeration.  I would say the added element to this story is heart- tenderness, relationship, longing for connection and with that there will always be an element of sacrifice and intense love which shows the strong allegory of God’s love for us, a love that will not let go as you see throughout the thematic elements in Illusion. 

I highly recommend this book to those tried and true fans of Peretti as well as to those that have never cracked open one of his books.  I think that you can’t help but be moved by this powerful story and you will love the magic that is the book   Illusion

5 stars

I was graciously provided a review e-copy of this book from the publisher through via the Netgalley program.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review on Heart of Gold

Well we have all had that feeling like a fish out of water, right?  Like for instance you have just moved to a new place and everything just seems foreign, the people, the places, the way they do things. Well that is how the poor heroine Shannon Adair of Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher feels as she is starting a whole new life with her widowed father Reverend Delaney Adair as they are trying to get settled in Grand Coeur, Idaho, this rather –rougher –than- what -she’s- used –to- type of place, so much different than where she was raised in Virginia. The setting is 1864 smack dab in the middle of the civil war and her Southern allegiances are strong.   Her father feels firmly called to this new community of less refinement and sentiments both towards the union and the confederacy, but people he feels called to minister to; Shannon is not so sure.  Thus begins her struggle to surrender to God in this new place.

  Shannon soon finds purpose to her time in the gold mining town of Grand Coeur by drawing on her nursing skills honed back home in Virginia while tending to many wounded soldiers. But as there is no battlefield here, just a critically ill woman who has recently arrived in Grand Coeur herself, seeking to reconnect with her brother Matt Dubois and with her young son in tow, she is in need of much care and help caring for her son. Shannon immediately has compassion on this woman and a friendship is forged.  Not at all impressed by her brother Matt Dubois at first, as his political views did not line up at all with hers, she is not immediately inclined to pay much notice of him, but as time goes on, her interest in Mr. Dubois grows as does his interest in her. 

 I enjoy books in the civil war era for sure- such a confusing, complicated time for our country at war against itself.  I really enjoyed this book and especially liked the character of Reverend Adair as he was a man who really loved God, and although a southerner at heart, he still took a stand with regards to the South’s view on slavery and how he did not feel it was right.  He also was very in tune to the prejudice in this small town towards the Chinese population and was taking steps to try and remedy that.  I just enjoyed that the character was able to look beyond what the North thought, what the South thought and try to be more concerned with what God thought concerning, people, politics and the church. I thought that was very well done.  The romance between Shannon and Matt had a good flow to it and even that moment of crisis (a couple of them) where you hoped that all would turn out right in the end , but you weren’t sure to which I will not divulge how that ends up!

For those that enjoy a good civil war, historical fiction read, this one is for you. Robin Lee Hatcher delivers a lovely read once again.

4 stars

I was graciously provided a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a favorable review.  All opinions expressed were honest and my own.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review on The Shadow of your Smile

Imagine you wake up to find yourself in a hospital room with the memories of 25 years of your life just missing, gone, kaput. In your mind you are a college student at the beginning of your life ready to pursue your dreams and make a difference.  You prefer diet Coke to coffee and want your parents to come to the hospital to see you, not this 50 year old stranger who keeps holding your hand telling you he is your husband. And let’s just say that the shock of seeing your reflection in the mirror is a bit jarring.   This is the predicament of Noelle Hueston, the main character in The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren. Only Noelle isn’t a college student, she is a married woman with children and a husband and some tough memories that she cannot recall. 

  The struggling marriage of Noelle and her husband Eli is simply forgotten by Noelle after suffering an accident where her head is hit incredibly hard causing her to lose all memories from the last 25 years.  So while she is struggling to remember her past and the people closest to her, she also discovers that things have not turned out for her as she thought they would.  She was an aspiring artist that all but gave up her dreams for others and she feels a bit disappointed to see what her 40-something self did with her life in comparison to what her 20-something self thought she would be doing.  What a fascinating perspective for her to see.  She’s not too happy with her waist size either.  (But then again, who is?)  Her husband Eli seeks to have a brand new start with this new wife who doesn’t remember all the heartache of their past and wants to build forward from there.  They both learn though that it’s impossible to divorce our past from our present, it’s what grows us and something we need to make peace with in order to move forward.  It cannot be ignored.  There are some other family dynamic stuff that comes into play with the sons that shows some pretty realistic moments, I believe- people placing blame, the importance of honesty and forgiveness. Very well done here.

 I thought the pacing of the novel was good, enjoyed the character development and storyline.  I actually thought the ending was good, realistic, although I might say that part felt a little rushed.  Overall, I enjoyed what this novel explored, the whole idea of are you happy where you are, is it what you imagined and if not, what can you do to change it?  I think we all have that question in our mind to a certain extent.  Is my life really what I pictured it would be?  My answer is no, it’s not, but I think this alternate route, personally, is better than what I had planned.

4 stars.

I was graciously provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review on Eye of the Sword

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be that reader that likes a little variety in genre in her reading. I like a good suspense book, love some historical fiction a funny contemporary and yes even a good fantasy book filled with swords, princes and even a bit of magic thrown in.  Karen Henley’s offering Eye of the sword- Book two in the Angelaeon Circle definitely satisfied my hankering for a good fantasy story quite well, and even though I had not read Book one in this series, I was still able to follow along just fine and understand what was going on. 

 Our imperfect hero is Trevin who is revealed as being a “Nephili” or half angel, half human is on a quest.(There is always a good quest involved in a great fantasy book) to serve his King, King Laetham of Camrithia. His mission is to find the missing comains –the captains of the king’s army- and bring them back to Camrithia as they are needed because there is evil and rumblings happening in Camrithia.  Another part of his quest is to find 2 missing harps and bring them back to the princess Melaia who needs them to restore the stairway to heaven.  Trevin of course has an emotional attachment to Melaia and wants to prove his worth as well.  It is a dangerous mission with a time limit of one season in which to complete it.  Add in a dark and evil prince bent on wanting to marry Melaia to form an alliance between 2 kingdoms and you have an exciting fantasy book filled with angels, evil workings and interesting secrets that pop up to truly show the true worth of Trevin.

Strong points in this book really touched on Trevin’s identity, and struggling with his past decisions and mistakes and how that guilt impacted him now.  It begged the character to explore the question- “Am I the sum of my mistakes or am I able to be redeemed, move beyond them, learn and become someone with noble character?” I thought that was very well done and even encouraging if the reader goes deeper and asks themselves the same question.  I also have to say that I appreciated at the front of the book how the author had an easy referral guide, explaining each character and even the hierarchy of the different angels as it really helped me keep track.  I enjoyed this book very much and am definitely going to read the first book as well.

4 stars

I was given a free copy of this book from the blogging for books program in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review on First Date by Krista McGee

Isn’t it always a wondrous thing to behold a shooting star as it crosses the sky? It’s something special and new each time and sort of a thrill to get to see. Those are my thoughts in meeting this new author Krista McGee.  Her first novel entitled First Date is a charming novel. I love the creativity behind it. I mean who would have thought to cross the ages old Esther story with a little contemporary reality TV show ala “The Bachelor” style and oh yeah, let’s make it a YA book making it G rated and appropriate for a great teen read. (Although I am not a teen and enjoyed it very much.)

 Meet teenaged Addy Davidson singularly focused on her studies and getting into an Ivy League University, hand selected to represent her small Christian school as their representative on a reality TV show called “The Book of Love”. On this show the “Bachelor” or rather Prom date seeker is none other than Jonathon Jackson, the movie –star looking ,son of the leader-of-the-free-world, which makes him sought after by teenage girls all across America…but not by Addy. Being on this show is not on her list of things to do and she makes her feelings known…in front of millions of viewers.  But somehow this very fact endears her to Jonothan and to America and as Addy goes on this little adventure filled with all kinds of challenges ranging from athletic prowess on the golf course to academics to good manners and etiquette, she finds herself making friends and a few enemies and also becoming more than a little enthralled with this Jonothan Jackson guy.

Krista McGee does a great job with her first novel.  She makes Addy a very likeable heroine and does it by giving her that perfect balance of spunk and vulnerability. Her back story is heartbreaking as she lost her missionary parents when she was a young child and this very fact drives her to succeed in her studies and life. Addy is not perfect and makes mistakes along the way, but the reader sees that she truly allows God to guide her path and trusts Him with the outcome.

To sum up, I think the premise is fun, characters interesting and pacing just right.   I really enjoyed this story and am always on the lookout for great YA Christian fiction for my own daughters and am very pleased to be able to recommend this one without reservation. I look forward to seeing more novels by this author !

Great book!- 4 stars.