Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review on Captured by Love

Captured by love, Jody Hedlund’s latest offering was once again a well done, and seemless historical fiction novel that I have come to expect from her writing. I thought that this particular novel did a wonderful job with the historical element and the British occupation of Michilimackinac Island (what we know as Mackinac Isnalnd) in 1814. All of the true to life landmarks and situations that she wove into the story are explained in the back of the book and her “author’s notes” at the end are always my favorite part as I realize the artistry that Jody uses to bring her historical fiction a ring of truth. As a historical fiction reader, I truly enjoy that.

But onto the characters- the lovely Angelique with a hard past, an unfaithful mother whose decisions and choices always make her question if she is just like her mother? Her cruel step –father fosters these doubts as he makes sure she is clothed in such a way that no one pays her much mind – plain and everything buttoned up. She lives in constant fear that he will sell her off in marriage to the highest bidder as he had done with her sister. However, Angelique has given her pledge of marriage to a kind friend since childhood Jean, who has since left the Island to go and fight for the Americans. There’s just one problem, she has never really loved Jean in a romantic way, that was more reserved for his older brother Pierre who is a bit more of a rogue. Pierre is that “bad boy turning good” type of character who has been out on the fur trading circuit and lived a bit large. He is that cheeky sort and he is delightfully confident in himself , still falls a bit over his own pride, but a very loveable character overall. Having left the Island long ago to pursue his Fur trading, he is returning to check in on his mother and runs into Angelique. When he left her, she was a young girl, but returning home shows him that she was become a most beautiful grown up woman. Angelique attracts him not just for her beauty and red curls, but the fact that she has been taking care of his mother, who in his absence has gone blind and made things around his childhood farm difficult to keep up with.

There are many difficulties for Angelique and Pierre- Angelique’s pledge and duty to Jean, her love for staying on the Island and Pierre’s love for fur trading which would take him far away from Angelique and the Island. Many hurdles to jump over for this couple, make the story unique and interesting. They both in their own way learn to lay down their wants and desires and seek out God’s plan for their future. It was such an interesting contrast as one had to lay down selfishness and the other trying to do things out of duty- a fun story for sure. And as mentioned above- the historical aspect was interesting and played into the story seamlessly. This one is full of romance for sure so for those in for a great historical Christian fiction romance, I think you will really love it.

4 stars

This book was given to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review on Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot

Admittedly, I am a fan of “all things Jane”- Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and yes ,even Jane Erstwhile from Austenland. And so to see another wonderful “Regency era” novel called Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot, arrive on the scene , well let’s just say it very much pleases my Austen-like sensibilities. 

We meet 28 year old Alethea Sutherton, our heroine and a virtual spinster in this time frame, as she is unmarried and absolutely not wishing to be, which of course makes her an unconventional character from the get-go. Instead Alethea’s dreams are to be a master at the violin and move to Italy where she might study under true masters without ridicule. The violin of course was not seen as an instrument fit for women to play as it was considered unladylike, because an elbow might be seen and that in Regency England is a bit scandalous. Enter in Lord Dommick and his quartet who is down one player due to the war, , also a violin player and of the opinion that women should not be playing the violin…until he actually hears Alethea play. And even, Lord Dommick or “Bay” as his friends call him can see the depth of her talent. One element that adds to her playing is the unique and beautiful sound of her violin. It turns out that there is a mystery surrounding this violin as someone wants to steal it and works very hard to do so. As this puts Alethea and her family in harms way, Bay steps in to help protect her and a relationship starts to form. 

There are many things to this story that I really enjoyed, obviously the conflict of the two main characters and the things they have to do to overcome to even begin a relationship. Bay is a man that is working so hard to hide secrets as he struggles with some post traumatic stress from his time in the war and fights to keep control in all situations. Because of times where he couldn’t, a former fiancĂ© dubbed him the “Mad Baron” and he has been fighting that stigma and trying to do everything he could to right his family’s standing in society especially for his sister’s sake so that she would have a chance to marry well. Alethea on the other hand has all but given up caring what those around her think of her and only wants to escape to Italy where she can pursue her musical dreams. And so Bay ,who thinks he will never marry because of his secrets and Alethea .who has no idea of ever marrying and is only biding her time until she can leave for Italy , somewhow make an unlikely couple.

I thought this story was very well executed and had all the elements that I love in a good Regency novel plus a little bit more. In the Regency novels that I have enjoyed, it usually centers around a strong female character who is making the best of her situation which is usually not an optimal one for her based on the time frame and the fact that she is a woman. But through her strength of character, she is able to pull through. We definitely see that in the character of Alethea . Besides Alethea, Camille Elliot manages to give us other really interesting characters with some good depth to them, witty dialogue, and a lot of excitement and mystery surrounding the violin thrown in for good measure. I really enjoyed how both characters seemed to really help and compliment each other just by being who they were. And so I would recommend this one to those “fans of all things Jane” like myself. It was a lovely read!

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

5 stars

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review on The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury

The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury offers a brand new idea- the idea of Biblical Christian fiction paired up with a bible study section to bring together a brand new experience for her readers. This concept is a good one I think, as I know personally when I read good Biblical fiction, it sends me running to my Bible to see if what the writer’s imagination has come up with is “plausible” in terms of matching up with what the Bible says about that particular person in the scripture. This is exactly what Karen Kingsbury set out to do by using Bible scholars to help her in terms of running these stories by them to see if they could be possible. And so, while we do get a look at the relatives of Jesus in a brand new way with the lovely help of Karen Kingsbury, it is refreshing then to spend some time at the back of the book as she provides 5 days of actual study into the character that she wrote about. And in the end, just as she hoped by taking this journey in learning about the “family of Jesus”, it helps you to love Jesus that much more.

The book opens with the story of Joseph, described as the protective stepfather and what his journey might have been like, his relationship with Mary, etc. We then move to Zechariah, the knowing Uncle, John the Baptist, the chosen cousin, Elizabeth, the faithful aunt, James, the doubting brother and of course ends, with Mary, the loving Mother. In usual Karen Kingsbury style, the reader can’t help but engage with the characters and be moved as you witness the great love shown in the relationships such as in Mary and Joseph’s relationship at the onset in hearing that Mary is pregnant.  You see great faith in the impossible in Elizabeth’s life and heart as the impossible came to pass and great sacrifice in the life of John the Baptist as his whole life was preparing for Jesus and then dying as well. And as a mother, my heart was moved, of course, by Mary’s story, a mother just wanting to save her son, but helpless to do so. Love, sacrifice, and faith and of course the tears were flowing- grab your Kleenex box as you fully engage with this story.  I greatly enjoyed the journey.

As always when you are reading something like this where there is a fictional component, it’s wise to keep the two separate in terms of what we know scripturally versus what can be possible. But I think the beauty and value in this is remembering that they were real people with real emotions, struggles and joys and heartbreak. In taking this journey, it helps to bring these character’s alive in a new and precious way. I am glad that I took this journey and hope that you take it as well, and fully engage in both parts- the story section on the character as well as the bible study section as it makes for a very moving experience and one that makes you dig into these character’s lives through the Bible as well.


4 stars.

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


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review on A Broken Kind of Beautiful

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m that person that …occasionally…..runs a little late.  When arriving at parties it’s socially acceptable to be “fashionable late”, which I often am. However sometimes you might miss the best part of the party if you are too late. I have to say that I’m “late” in joining the party on those who have read and enjoyed A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert, and after reading this book, I feel like wow- I wish I would have read this one earlier it’s filled with great characters, an interesting storyline and so much- “wow, that’s so true” dialogue.  So now that I am fashionably late to discovering this book, it does not diminish it’s enjoyment or impact for me, this was a good one.

The characters are as the book title suggest Broken and Beautiful- Ivy, an aging out supermodel - mind you she’s about to hit the old age of 25- is a heroine unlike most you find in this genre, but there is something about her that you just really care about what happens to her. Her back story is a bit heartbreaking as the novel opens and she is at her estranged father’s funeral. She is a young woman who just never quite felt loved and so with her beautiful outside she would seek it out in all the wrong places leading to relationships that meant nothing. Her walls were way up and no one ever really knew the real Ivy. In a last fitch effort to try and revive her career, her agent and uncle, get’s her a shoot with her Stepmother Marilyn who happens to own a lovely little Bridal shop in Greenbrier South Carolina called Something New, which is a far cry from her usual stomping grounds in New York City.  She is desperate though and out of work ,so off she goes to this job with her walls of armor up high and strong against anyone trying to get in.  Next, we meet Davis Knight a former up and coming fashion photographer who had all the makings of skyrocketing to the top of the fashion industry, but left  his big job in New York because of an accident to his sister that has filled him with guilt and a feeling that he should never pick up a camera again. However ,he does serve as the fashion photographer for Ivy’s shoot as the proceeds are going to go to directly help his sister with an art program for her at a local college.  He rediscovers his love for photography and his amazing talent shows through his work producing the best pictures Ivy has ever taken.   In all of this a relationship starts to brew between the two, although not in the normal way that Ivy is used to having with a man. 

There are so many aspects to this novel that I absolutely loved- the power of forgiveness being one and the idea that God’s forgiveness covers it all and all guilt can be laid down right at the foot of the cross. The pacing to this novel was flawless as we see the character of Ivy develop and grow- her journey from the beginning of the book to the end was one that pulled the reader in and by the end the tears were a flowing.  I also loved the fact that the “hero” of the book had his issues to sort through as well.  In a manner of speaking, “Miss Abandoned “meets “Mr Guilt-ridden” and because of who God is in their lives, they can find the love and the forgiveness they need through God to heal.  And for those of you that are “fashionably late” like me to discovering this book- I truly hope that you will enjoy this as much as I did. This one goes on the favorites shelf and I look forward to reading more great books like this one from Katie Ganshert.

5 stars

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review on Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits

Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits truly is a delightful contemporary Jane Austen romp type of story which follows loosely the storyline of Pride and Prejudice while also throwing in the delightful charm of the south, thus where the cheese grits fit it. The novel opens ,as any good Pride and Prejudice based novel should, with a scene where the main character , in this case Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, crossing swords with a visiting professor named Ransom Fielding, who also happens to be the one who gave her  book a scathing and damaging review. As she enters his classroom and creates quite a stir, she also leaves quite an impression on Ransom. I can’t possibly give you the details here as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but I will say that in Elizabeth Bennett fashion she dresses him down a bit and had me the reader laughing out loud.  Poor Mr. Darcy, uh…Mr Fielding.

With that rough start the two main characters aren’t very fond of each other at first, and with Shelby ,working hard to earn her tenure at her small college named Midlands located in Mississippi is finding that her college’s administration have determined it quite an accomplishment to have landed the prestigious Ransom Fielding straight from Yale to come in for a guest professorship and will basically move heaven and earth to keep him happy.  When the two of them do not get along, they make it very clear that they will come down on Ransome’s side  of any argument, which means she may be kissing her long sought after tenure” Goodbye”.  But just as Darcy against his will becomes taken with Elizabeth, so does Ransom with Shelby.  Despite her many social “faux pas’, he somehow falls for her.  I found Ransom’s backstory to be touching as he is recovering from losing his wife and so he is leaving his Ivy league Academia to come to this small college near his hometown to recover a bit and ends up meeting Shelby and so his journey to seek out peace and quiet is a bit sidelined as she is anything but that .

For true Jane Austen fans, this isn’t an exact replication of  the story Pride and Prejudice in a contemporary setting, as certain characters are morphed into one- e.g- the Mr Collins and Mr, Wickham character become one to make up the “bad guy” of the story,  and there isn’t a whole lot of emphasis on Shelby’s siblings and their stories, but as I was engaged in this story, it didn't matter to me as I enjoyed this storyline and where the author took these characters. The character of Shelby certainly had plenty of “Elizabeth Bennett” spunk as well as a bit more thrown in for good measure as her mouth so often got her into trouble whenever she was in social situations- very cringe-worthy at times- but I have to say that just led me to really loving the character of Shelby even more.  Just as in Pride and Prejudice, Shelby and Ransom butt heads a lot initially and their pride and their prejudice keep them from each other, but as the story unfolds and they understand where each other are coming from, their relationship  starts to develop.

This was an enjoyable read for me and I am so happy to see that there is a series here with Emma, Mr Knightley and Chili Slaw dogs on deck. If it follows the same vein as Pride,Prejudice and Cheese Grits, then it will definitely be a winner.  Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits delivers, faith love and fun all rolled up into one great book with some good old fashion Southern charm thrown in as well. 

4 stars

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Review on Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Submerged, Shattered, Stranded and now Silenced- all title’s in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series and I must say that I have enjoyed each one as you get to know up close and personal the McKenna siblings and all the many suspenseful happenings in their lives. I have to say that I really was looking forward to this one as this time it was Kayden MeKenna’s turn. This is the McKenna  daughter who looked exactly like her mother, but ever since her death had remained  pretty closed off to those around her. The story opens with a bang as Kayden finds a dead body while she is out on one of her recreational rock climbs- so much for a relaxing rock climbing experience.  Kayden teams up with  former police detective Jake Westin (Cavanaugh) as he is coaxed out of retirement by newly appointed local Sheriff Landon Grainger - (Piper McKenna’s fiance’.) As this case unfolds and the two are working closely together to crack it we get a closer look at Jake’s  back story as well- a police detective with a sad story- a case gone wrong which ended the lives of his wife and their precious daughter, not yet born. As the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, a whole other mystery pops up, one which is very dangerous for both Kayden and Jake, but which also draws them closer and closer together. 

I have to say that this story begged the question- “what drives you?” If you think about it we are all driven by something- whether it be fear, guilt, revenge or love, and we get to choose what that might be. Our choices then dictate the course that we set ourselves on.  As the stories of Kayden and Jake come out more fully and even the “bad guy” of the story, it is a clear picture of what drives each character.  I feel it is very well done and so all those choices make sense  and play out well in the storyline . And so  for instance, we understand why Kayden is the way she is in terms of extreme self- discipline with her health etc., and  we get it why Jake’s has a  fierce protective side towards Kayden. And  so of course, that leads to why it makes total sense that Kayden and Jake are attracted to each other and how they help each other see that the thing that we should be driven by is a relationship with God, any other forces lead to ruin. The suspense part of the story, as usual is well played and you will find the pages turning faster and faster towards the end of the book as you reach the climax of the story. 

I am very glad to have discovered Dani Pettrey and have really enjoyed this series. I know that I will be among the many that will be greatly looking forward to the next book in the series- Sabotaged which tell’s Reef McKenna’s story, oh Spring of 2015, hurry up and get here! 

5 stars

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review on Somebody like you by Beth K Vogt

We all love a good “hook” in a book don’t we? That storyline that’s just a little bit different from what you are used to reading and so it just captures your attention . And when your attention is captured, the pages turn quickly as you are fully engaged in the story.  And I would say that Somebody like you, Beth Vogt’s latest book had my attention captured and also had me fully engaged.  I mean it isn’t every day that a poor pregnant widow named Haley Ames has a man turn up on her doorstep looking exactly like her husband Sam and so she instantly wonders if the military got it wrong and her husband isn’t truly dead , only to find out that this man in front of her isn’t  Sam or his ghost, but rather his estranged twin brother…who she has never heard of.  And so Haley being thoroughly shocked and completely unprepared does what any of us would do-(insert heavy sarcasm here)  she draws a gun on poor Steven Ames, her husband’s brother, and proceeds to run him off her property.  How do you like that for a meet cute?

As if relationships are not difficult enough, let’s throw in a twin brother who looks exactly like your dead husband. Talk about your ghost of relationships past. But somehow as Steven keeps coming around in the effort to learn more about his estranged brother, he also happens to forge a relationship with Haley. And when he is there for her in the day to day things where she needs help with her house and her new baby, etc, a relationship is forged that is truly sort of fascinating to watch .  Haley discovers that while he looks just like Sam her dead husband, that he is a completely different person offering her exactly the type of love that she really needs.

This book is what I love in a good contemporary novel- it’s got the “hook” as mentioned above, it’s got imperfect characters who are trying to figure things out, fun dialogue between the character’s with laugh out loud moments as well as the moment’s that bring you to tears. And also the moment where you can see a bit of yourself in the story. The love story is unique and definitely  fun to read. And finally you see how the character’s grow in the story both in their relationship with each other and in their relationship in trusting God that His ways are not our ways, but He’s always got a plan.  Beth K Vogt is a new author to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed her writing and will look for her in the future.

4 stars

My thanks to Howard books who supplied a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review on Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

  Love Comes Calling, Siri Mitchell’s latest offering takes a unique turn in that her main character Ellis Eton is not the stereotypical heroine- she does not have it all together…at all.  As we meet Ellis at the beginning of the story, she is a  failing co-ed who is poised to pursue her dream of acting and basically bolt from her education at Radcliffe to escape to Hollywood to be a movie star.  The problem is, even though she comes from a wealthy family, that plan would never fly with her family or her pretty wonderful long time friend who wants to be something more -Griffin Phillips.  With Ellis constantly failing to meet her family’s expectations, she  alway’s hear’s the phrase “Oh, Ellis” and is pretty pressed down by the feeling of constantly disappointing those around her- professors, family, etc. Our heroine is comical in all the scrapes she finds herself in, but she yearns to be able to do something that she feels good at.

Ellis tries to help out her friend Janie by filling in for her as a switchboard operator, as she was not permitted leave by her job to attend her mother’s funeral, and take her away for a two week period. Ellis and Janie share an uncanny resemblance and since Ellis is an aspiring actress and needs the money to help her make her trek to Hollywood, she decides to go to work in Janie’s stead, posing as Janie. As she is trying to learn the ropes of being a switchboard operator, she accidentally forgets to flip a switch and in turn hears a conversation that she shouldn’t be listening to, one where her very own Griffin is at the center of things and sadly it all sounds very   dangerous. Thus begins a journey for Ellis that starts to quickly spiral out of control, meeting shady characters, seeing the insides of a Speakeasy and seeing first hand the many issues surrounding  Prohibition.  

I have to say that the author’s research and after notes in the back of the book are most impressive. It was a fascinating concept to me to take a modern day issue - the heroine having ADHD- and placing her in a historical setting (the 20’s) and see what that might look like. Exploring the idea of that ADHD translating into always feeling like a disappointment to her parents, worked well I believe. This is tough for me because I really wanted to like this book and for me, with no pun intended , it was just hard for me to connect to it. Trust me, I love a bumbling, scatter-brained heroine, (I feel that is me most of the time ), but I didn’t feel like the relationship with Ellis and Griffin developed in a way that made me cheer for them at the end.  I just needed a little bit more to their story. It also would have been nice to know how things worked out for poor Janie as well.  However, I believe that if you are a Siri Mitchell fan, then you will enjoy this book as her usual excellent attention to historical research is present and accounted for.  

3 stars

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review on Miss Brenda and the Loveladies

In the book, Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell you first meet Brenda in one of those life-altering moments.  For Brenda Spahn, her moment of truth came in the form of a possible jail sentence when things went very wrong with her business, Fortunately, things worked out and she did not serve any time in jail, but she did get a wake up call from God and in that moment came a new calling on her life- a call to help women who were serving time find a way to actually make it back to lives that were meaningful and whole. The more Brenda tried to help these women, which so easily could have been her, the more she realized that there was a big need for a “whole-way” house to help them to really heal and live well and with meaning and purpose. And this is how the Loveladies house was born-  a community of women fighting the odds for survival on the outside.

  This story is utterly compelling to see a woman who according to the world’s standards had it all -a successful business, vacations, clothes, etc,- but whose focus was mostly on making money. When her very world and living are rocked and she finds what she is really meant to do, she literally rocks the world with this new idea- to open the Lovelady house. In march some pretty tough ladies who each have heartbreaking stories and who Brenda describes as “never having a chance” with the environments that they came from. As was usual with ex-cons, leaving the penitentiary system, they were issued a pair of pants and a shirt, 10$ and a bus ticket back to where they came from, which almost always resulted in re-offenses and they went right back to prison. Brenda was frustrated with the system and just knew that she could do better and help these ladies find hope. And so she does, by offering love, faith in Jesus and a listening non-judgmental ear, as well as lots of practical life lessons and encouragement. 

  This story is told with humor, love, passion and some heartbreak. The descriptive phrase on the front of the book describes it perfectly- “A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God and Gumption.  I was very moved by this book- the courage and obedience of Brenda in some pretty discouraging circumstances, the stories of the Loveladies are truly heartbreaking at first and then stand up and cheer inspirational by the end. All I can say is I hope this story is being made into a movie because these Loveladies are an inspiration to us all. 

5 stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review on Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

History meets the present in a most unique and creative way in Wildwood Creek, Lisa Wingate’s latest in her Moses Lake series. (This one can be read as a standalone.)  Allie Kirkland a young woman with a passion to continue on in her belated  father’s footsteps in the film industry and  lands a production’s assistant job for a docudrama which chronicles the life of a frontier settlement known as Wildwood.   The trouble is there were many mysterious disappearances among the settlers back in 1861 and  as history has a tendency of repeating itself, strange things start happening  in the present day “Wildwood” as well,  which makes things very interesting.  

  A wonderful and fascinating part of this book is the dual narrative where you follow a storyline of an Irish school teacher named Bonnie Rose trying to flee her very difficult past and raise her younger sister in this brand new settlement of Wildwood in 1861. At the same time we are also learning the story of Allie who is working on a film set where all of the actors are being asked to actually live as the settlers lived  back then with a functional setting, period clothing and of course no modern conveniences or communication to try and mimic what life was really like  and then to document their journey on film.

  When the past meets the present and the truth of the past comes out, it becomes a very poignantly told story where you are rooting for both women as they struggle to make their way in their own world’s.  This book feels like a mix of a lot of elements - a bit of history, a bit of drama and definitely suspense, mystery, and a touch of romance. The spiritual thread is not heavy handed but present in the aspect that no matter how bad things look, God is active and working in the lives of both women.  I still was left wanting to know a bit more of how Allie’s story played out, but I don’t consider that a negative thing- it just makes me wonder.  

  For those who love the blend of history with contemporary, and Lisa Wingate’s wonderful writing, I think you will enjoy this special book Wildwood Creek.

4 Stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review on Friend Me by John Fabion

As you take in the cover of Friend me by debut novelist John Faubion you notice the descriptive phrases “Current and Captivating” by one reviewer , as well as the words “A novel of suspense”, both of which I would heartily agree with. This novel definitely clips along at a suspense novel pace and draws you in right away. So if you are inclined towards a fast paced Christian suspense novel with a bit of an edge to it, then I would say give this novel a try.

Husband and wife ,Scott and Rachel Douglas are both in a rough spot, their marriage is on shaky ground as Scott is starting to cave under the immense stress at work. The only solution in his mind is to work harder so that he can be more successful in order to provide for his family. As a result, Rachel begins to feel more and more lonely as those long hours Scott is working is erecting a wall between them. And so as a young mom with 2 small children, she comes up with a solution which fits into her stay at home lifestyle. She signs up for a virtual friend through an up and coming new company called VirtualFriendMe.com. From there she shows Scott her new virtual friend patterned after an old friend of hers who passed away, and from there Scott ends up designing a virtual friend for himself, although his virtual friend is female, which leads to some difficulties which I am sure you can imagine.

With the background of the struggling marriage comes something even more sinister, a woman named Melissa who is very intelligent, but not playing with a full deck. As she has programmed the software to flag when a man who would be her perfect match, shows up, the flag waves for Scott. It’s just a small trifle that he happens to already be married. However, Melissa uses her job at the VirtualFriend Me company to manage to find out all she needs to know about Scott and Rachel and use that knowledge to get what she wants which is Scott and Rachel out of the way. The story unfolds and the suspense begins. 

This story was definitely a page turner and I think that most people reading it will enjoy the current times aspect of it with the inclusion of the Virtual friend concept, that did draw me in. In reading it there were a few word choices that sort of put me off e.g.- describing something as “super secret” vs perhaps “top secret”, etc. I only mention it because when word choices like that happen and it takes me out of the story, then I think it’s odd. The other thing I would like to mention is that there is a pretty tough scene to read towards the end. I just like to forewarn folks as for me as a mom it was hard to read. As far as the themes of the book- the author talks in the question and answer section at the back of the book about the themes of “being real and being faithful“ and wow in our virtual world of Facebook where we can be and project whoever we want to be and have conversations with folks we have never met, I think that it’s a good message, very timely. As far as the ending, I think the author brought things together pretty well, it was maybe on the edge of believability for me and slightly rushed, but I think readers will be satisfied. All in all, I would say a good first novel and I hope the author keeps writing suspense novels. Well done.

3 stars

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review on Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh

“Desperate times call for Desperate measures” might be the mantra for Maizy Grace Stewart the main character in Tamara Leigh’s novel Faking Grace as she is most definitely desperate. Maizy is an investigative journalist whose lost her prominent job in Seattle and now has fallen to the depths of her journalistic career as she has a part time job with a Nashville newspaper writing lifestyle fluff pieces . A girl can’t pay the rent on a part time salary so here’s where the fun comes in- she finds another part time job that she is applying for where she would be working for Steeple Side Christian Resources- a Christian publication. Here’s the deal- they only hire committed Christians and well Maizy isn’t exactly what you would call committed. And so, to solve her problem, she “brushes up” on Christianity by buying  a copy of “A Dumb Blonde’s guide to Christianity” to make sure she can fake it effectively in order to land the job.  After purchasing a“Jesus is my co-pilot” bumper sticker, and toning down her regular look from edgy to modest, she feels ready to play the part of a “committed Christian”. There’s only one little glitch in her plan- Jack Prentiss- the managing editor who happens to see through Maizy’s little charade (although now she has dropped the Maizy and is going by Grace- a more Christiany  name). Perhaps one of the tip offs  for Jack was Grace “taping” her bumper sticker onto her car for easy removal later. Anyway, Jack, with his cool British accent and suave demeanor is on to her and she knows it. It doesn’t help that he keeps popping up wherever she is and of course the relationship begins.

  And then the conflict- Maizy (Grace) is asked to write an expose on her time at Steepleside by her other employer to show the hypocrisy that takes place there. Maizy is excited, her big shot to return to investigative reporting. But as she gets to know the people at Steepleside and sees both their strengths and their weaknesses she’s not so sure about this whole investigation thing. Will she really be able to stay “Faking Grace” or will she need to extend some and receive some as well?

In reading Faking Grace there are many hysterical moments as Maizy is trying to fake her way through the Christian world- trying to learn the lingo, talk the talk, and even attend church. As she goes along and sees authentic people with authentic faith she is definitely drawn in to real faith in God and of course, it is life changing. A very poignant scene was when she was volunteering in a soup kitchen and helping to feed the people coming in and she was so touched by a woman who had nothing and yet could still thank God for his provision for her. That really affected Grace and will affect the reader as well.  This was a great contemporary fiction novel with humor, poignancy, and imperfect people meeting their perfect God. Very enjoyable read!

4 stars

I was given a free copy of Faking Grace by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.