Monday, August 31, 2015

Until My Name is Known

Title:  Until My Name is Known (Tell of My Kingdom’s Glory #1)
Author:  Sonya Contreras
Pages:  267
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bull Head Press
My rating is 5!
Jesus loved to tell stories to people and people loved to listen to them until some people turned away because what He offered they didn’t accept.  Now, centuries earlier, God did an amazing work when He took the Jewish people from captivity to a land they were to conquer and thrive in.  If you have ever read about the Exodus or seen the many versions of movies based on this historical event, then you are familiar with that story.
Sonya Contreras utilizes storytelling, an historical event and a Biblical account to give us a novel that takes the reader back in time to the ancient world.  What made this novel different for me was the heart of the author and the unique approach to what we read in Exodus 1-15.  The novel doesn’t cover everything in the passage as it’s the first book in the series with a second book in the works titled, I Have Called You By Name.
The one aspect of the novel that I most appreciated was pointing out that the plagues were to show the false gods versus The One True God.  It was an epic battle for the hearts and souls of those God would call His own against the false gods who weren’t gods at all.  The story shows how through the plagues various characters either realized they were worshipping a false god or some would choose to fight against the God of the Hebrew people.
What I also enjoyed was how the author showed how some of the Hebrew people were struggling with following The One True God.  Throughout the book I was enthralled with the drama between Moses and Pharaoh, and eventually how Pharaoh was eventually revealed to the people as nothing but a mortal man, belying their belief in his deity.
When you read the list of sources the author used, you get a glimpse into her heart to see a woman who believes wholeheartedly in God and via stories tells the world about Him.  The novel will help readers in understanding how each plague was directly correlated with a specific god or gods that was believed to have power and how God totally and unequivocally shredded these false deities.  I appreciate the author’s work, research and her heart to tell the world a story that captures the heart and engages the mind!  I look forward to her second book whenever it’s released and I plan to read it!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yesterday by Amanda Tru

Title:  Yesterday (Yesterday Series #1)
Author:  Amanda Tru
Pages:  198
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Sign of the Whale Books
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
I really was not quite sure how to explain my fascination with the story told by Amanda Tru.  There are many aspects to the novel such as time travel, a mystery, romance and the constant change of direction in the novel.  As I continued to read, I could tell the intensity of the tale was slowly escalating as well as some of the secret characteristics in a couple of the characters I sensed more than read in any description.
I sensed there was a bigger story behind what I read; I am not sure if it was due to the intervention by a male character, who is a doctor befriending Hannah because she experiences time travel or if he really loved Hannah.  The antagonist in the story is easy to notice, but what devious evil plan might she have towards Hannah?  Hannah is the only character who travels in time and some of her actions later on begin to bother her greatly.
The story is for older young people with some of the “kissing” scenes I came across, nothing x-rated but teens are already hormonal and need to read stories that help encourage them to not rush a relationship.  There are six books in all in the series, and I am quite curious to see where it all ends.  Terrific story telling is involved and quite captivating all the way through; I couldn’t put it down until the very last page.  Now I want to grab book two to see how this all progresses and if there is, in fact, a mystery involved or a different crafty ending!  This is a very intriguing tale with eclectic characters and an ending that is still veiled.  I hope you enjoy the series as much as I believe I will, especially when I read the final installment and all the hints come together to form a complete picture.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.

Friday, August 28, 2015

When Night Comes


Title:  When Night Comes
Author:  Dan Walsh
Pages:  346
Year:  2014
Publisher:  Bainbridge Press
My rating is 5+ out of 5 stars.
What a thriller!  I have read other works of Dan Walsh and enjoyed them too.  When I saw the cover of When Night Comes, I must say I was highly intrigued!  Then when I began reading, wow!  The story can be called mystery, thriller, suspense and high octane tension and all of that would be true!  Set in a small town, an upscale private college a student turns up dead, but one look at the victim and it is easy to see something weird is going on!
The further I read the book the deeper the mystery became along with a higher body count.  The test subjects, though they didn’t know they were being sued, had dreams that were very lifelike.  In fact, they could recall everything they experienced no matter how horrifying, scary or weird it felt.  The only person who could attest to the drugs effect was a well-known author who was on campus to give some lectures on history as well as finish his latest novel.  What he got was more than he bargained for with a possible romance so different from his last experience.
When Night Comes kept my eyes glued to the pages as action ramped up and the wonder of how the mystery would be solved was drawing closer.  Part of the cast of characters was former agency man and a doctor who not only forgot his Hippocratic Oath but only saw the end result in dollar signs; no one else mattered.
The hardest part about finishing a great story like this is just that, the end.  I have no idea what Dan Walsh plans next or is working on currently, but I hope he brings on more suspense type tales that engage the reader as thoroughly as this one did.  The interesting part was when Jack, who was the lecturer/author, would dream it was always in the WWII era.  History has a way of coming alive for those of us who weren’t around when it happened and reading it in a novel is a little more exciting than simply a textbook.  So please don’t pass up this wonderful work of fiction!  It captivates without scaring the audience.  I don’t want to be scared; I want to be drawn in to the tale and then share what I think with other readers.  If you know of someone who likes mysteries, history or even suspense books, here is one to give as a gift because they won’t be disappointed!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Not By Sight

Title:  Not By Sight
Author:  Kate Breslin
Pages:  384
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 5+ stars out of 5.
Not by Sight is an exceptional piece of historical writing set during WWI in England with characters that are mesmerizing.  We are introduced to a young woman whose brother is in France fighting.  She despises those who are still at home enjoying life and wealth; her name is Grace Mabry.  Grace’s father owns a tea shop in London, but her mother has died.  Grace believes the only way to get others in the fight is to shame them by giving them a white feather.  Now, if you’re not aware of what the white feather stands for, it stands for cowardice.  This I learned by watching a 1939 movie called, The Four Feathers, which was remade in 2002.
Grace attends a masquerade ball with her maid.  She is uninvited, but she will do what she believes will get the war over sooner and her brother home faster.  The man she sees and slips the feather to is a man named Jack and what occurs after that moment will keep people turning pages until the very end of the novel!  I couldn’t put the book aside for long as the storyline captivated my attention and heart as well as an intense desire to see how the character interactions would play out.
Kate Breslin also wrote For Such a Time, which is another work of historical fiction that reaches out from the pages and captures the heart of anyone who reads the tale.  Inside Not By Sight is a tale of mystery, intrigue, courage, love, and more during a time when life was dangerous and sometimes short.  There is a group known as WFC (Women’s Forage Corps) where women come together to perform various tasks to send aid to those overseas or those living at home.  Grace is a part of a group sent by her father after her actions at the masquerade ball.  It was really intriguing to read how these various women worked together and how their group is singled out and investigated because a spy is believed to be in their midst.
Not By Sight is a rich and rewarding masterpiece that I can highly recommend!  Don’t forget to read her first novel, For Such a Time, which is also captivating.  I highly anticipate whatever may come next from the pen of Kate Breslin!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cold as Ice (A Kristen Conner Mystery #3)


Title:  Cold As Ice (A Kristen Conner Mystery #3)
Author:  M.K. Gilroy
Pages:  400
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Sydney Lane Press
Kristen Conner is visiting her sister in New York City when she decides to take a very early morning job in Central Park in below freezing temperatures before her flight leaves for her return trip to Chicago.  Unfortunately, she stumbles upon a crime scene as the criminal is leaving it.  What follows is an eruption of violence by the Russian mafia in New York City with Kristen right in the middle of things.  She returns to Chicago, but with a protective detail surrounding her.  She is ordered to see the department’s counselor before she will be returned to active duty.  Also upon her return she learns of the murder of one of her neighbors in the old neighborhood where she grew up.  Her mom provides a clue to help the investigation, but seems nervous so Kristen moves in with her temporarily.
Kristen’s love life is also in upheaval as her FBI semi-boyfriend keeps telling her they need to talk, but then is so busy with his job he never has time to tell her what they need to talk about.  This keeps Kristen thinking, but only negative thoughts.  She has these thoughts on the back burner while trying to solve the murder of her neighbor, avoid being a target for the Russian mafia as well as trying to keep a serial killer behind bars from the story in book one, Cuts Like a Knife.  No worries, right?
Wow!  This book kept me glued to my seat as I was drawn in with action, suspense, mystery, fear, faith and a little bit of romance in this crime-fighting novel.  The last fight scene in the story is just great!  Kristen Conner continues to be a Christian in her life as well as her job as a Chicago police detective.  She is tough as nails when it comes to a physical challenge.  She keeps most people at a distance, but begins to see where that path isn’t always in her best interest.  She is learning to allow herself to be vulnerable emotionally, at least a little bit.  One thing to mention though is that there were several typos in the book; it didn’t detract from the content of the story, but was definitely noticeable.  I am anxiously awaiting the fourth book in the series that will be released in the spring of 2016 to see what trouble Kristen has gotten herself into this time and how she gets out of it!
My rating is 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 
This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cold as Ice
Sydney Lane Press
by
M.K. Gilroy


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark won’t claim he has done it all in the world of publishing, but he has packed boxes, edited manuscripts, made sales calls, created marketing plans, directed design and illustration, started companies, consulted, agented the works of others, and written advertising and catalog copy. He’s authored, compiled, and ghost written books that have landed on an array of bestsellers lists and sold millions of copies. His first ghost writing project, The Wal-Mart Way, was done for Don Soderquist, Sam Walton’s longtime right-hand man.

In early 2012 he put on a new hat as a fiction author. His debut novel, Cuts Like a Knife, was released in April 2012 and was met with rave reviews from USA Today, Fresh Fiction, Publishers Weekly, and other leading national reviewers. His second novel, Every Breath You Take, second in the Kristen Conner Mystery Series, released in Fall 2012 to similar acclaim. Kristen Conner returns in Cold As Ice, which releases in Fall 2014.

Gilroy has extensive writing credits. He scripted and served as creative consultant for a two-hour training video that was honored with the Award of Excellence by the International Television Association. He has compiled and written close to fifty books and penned hundreds articles and curriculum pieces for a variety of periodicals and publishers.

Gilroy and his wife Amy reside in Brentwood, Tennessee. Their six children are Lindsey, Merrick, Ashley, Caroline, Bo, and Zachary—the youngest has now headed off for college, so he and Amy are officially empty nesters.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Detective Kristen Conner is back on a new murder case. She’s still fighting with her sister—and no surprise, someone new wants to kill her! He was a pillar in his Chicago neighborhood: popular school teacher, devoted father and husband, political activist on behalf of underprivileged children—and a master gardener who liked to plant flowers in his neighbor’s yards. What wasn’t to love about him? Who would want him dead?

When Detective Kristen Conner lands the case she knows from day one who the key suspect is. That’s simple. The person most likely to kill you is someone close that you know and love. But the wife? She was always at her husband’s side and just as passionate about his causes as he was. No way could this loving wife and mother of three be a killer. Right? Mix in her on-again, off-again relationship with FBI Agent Austin Reynolds, a quick trip to New York City where Kristen helps her media-star sister for a new apartment—only to discover the body of a man who appears to have been executed by a professional killer on a run through Central Park—and Kristen Conner is once again swept into a world of danger, intrigue, and a confusing love life.

What she doesn’t know just might kill her.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Cold as Ice, go HERE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Every Breath You Take (Kristen Conner Mystery #2)



Title:  Every Breath You Take (A Kristen Conner Mystery #2)
Author:  M. K. Gilroy
Pages:  365
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Worthy Publishing
In this second book of the Kristen Conner series, Kristen returns from a temporary leave of absence spent in an FBI training center.  She arrives in Chicago expecting a little love and recognition from her co-workers and boss for a job well done when she singlehandedly took down a serial killer.  She barely receives acknowledgement that she is back.  She is immediately plunged into another high profile murder case.  A billionaire’s eldest son is brutally murdered with a hammer to the head several times.  What soon comes to light is a high end prostitution service exclusively for the rich.  The madam in charge of the escort service is a suspect for the murder, but events unfold that change that.  As part of the investigation, Kristen infiltrates the escort service as one of the escorts.
As the investigation proceeds, Kristen’s personal life takes an upturn.  She is still coaching her niece’s soccer team, her older sister is about to have a baby any day, her younger sister may have a new job and an FBI agent she went out with a couple of times during her last case gets in contact with her and they begin to date when he is in Chicago as he currently lives in Washington, D.C.  Kristen keeps going over the case in her head and gets an idea.  When she goes to check it out, she stumbles upon something she never expected.
This is another great suspense/mystery book!  Kristen’s feisty personality, wit and grit are evident and I really liked that.  She is tough physically and can hold her own in hand-to-hand fights.  She lives her faith, loves her family and serves the public to the best of her ability.  My next book to read and review here will be the third in the series, Cold as Ice, which I can’t wait to dig into!  I sure hope there are many more Kristen Conner books from the pen of this talented author.  Don’t miss this series!
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream #1)

Title:  Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream #1)
Author:  Susan Anne Mason
Pages:  384
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 5+ stars out of 5.
Maybe the tale drew me into the pages as the central figures are an Irish family or maybe because it was set in the year 1911, thus a historical setting.  Either way Susan Anne Mason has crafted a novel that draws on the hearts of the readers keeping them turning pages until the story ends, at least until the sequel coming in 2016!
Irish Meadows is the family estate where horses are bred, trained, cared for and rode to prepare them to be horses ready for racing.  The family living on Irish Meadows is the O’Leary family who work hard, love much, face trials with determination and occasionally get into spats.  The Irish during this time period and before were not looked upon with anything but hatred, and people were unwilling to hire them to work.  When, in the book, the state of New York bans racing, the demise of Irish Meadows appears on the horizon.
The patriarch of the family, James, rules with an iron hand and temporarily loses sight of what is truly important in life and his faith.  His wife Kathleen is a compassionate woman who longs to see her family’s souls fed and no more secrets kept.  On top of that, one son has left Irish Meadows and two sisters are at times at odds with each other along with having budding romances.  Once readers start this book, the heart will be drawn into the characters quite easily.
I cannot wait to see what the author’s sequel, which will share Adam’s story, will be like.  I am sure it will be as captivating and enticing as this book!  I could relate to the Irish temper as well as the desire to be a better person seeking God’s help.  Like the love interests of the two sisters their suitors can either bring the best out of them or set their tempers to flare.  At times I would smile with the picture that would form in my mind of how the scene would look if it were to be real.  Other times I anticipated eagerly learning how the characters lives and trials would finally be resolved.
Don’t miss this exceptional novel and look with me in 2016 for the sequel to be published!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

One Voice in a Chorus



One voice in a chorus….
When I felt the Lord’s hand on me to write something other than reviews, to be honest it scared me. Why? Well, for one reason, it is definitely outside my comfort zone. Two, in the realm of social media where literally thousands of people share their thoughts, pictures or any number of vast possibilities I wondered who would take time to read my thoughts.
Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? I personally have never visited, however, over the years some have shared their experience with me. I can only imagine the sound of the water cascading down to the bottom, which has been clocked one time as going as fast as 68 miles per hour! Then, I think of all the molecules that are present at any one moment and it amazes me. Yet God can hear but one small voice in the chorus of millions who cry out to Him at anytime from anywhere.
A couple of weeks ago I shared about Esther in “For Such a Time as This”. Esther was a queen, who was an unknown Jew within her sphere of life because she obeyed her cousin not to reveal her heritage. Now, due to an enemy seeking to destroy the Jews who lived in Persia, she comes to a cross road in her life to either reveal herself or hide in the palace. Mordecai, her cousin, challenges her to think outside herself, and that if she wasn’t going to help save her people, she wasn’t to think she would save her life by remaining silent. Esther retreats with a couple of handmaids, asks Mordecai to have her people pray for her and after three days she will go before the king. Going before the king without being invited meant death unless the king held out the golden scepter and after touching it, she would then be allowed to speak. Esther didn’t know when she entered before the king whether she was facing her death or whether he would spare her life. We look back and see her life was spared, and God used her to wisely save the other Jewish people from certain death.
Daniel was exiled at a young age, some commentators say as young as 16 years old. He was Jewish and of noble birth. When he was taken to Babylon, the king issued the following command:  3 Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.[b] The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. (Daniel 1:3-5 NIV)
Now Daniel didn’t just decide not to cooperate, listen, try hard or any other type of action. Read what his response was in Daniel chapter 1:6-21. So, what can we consider after we read Daniel 1?
a)      Do we have the godly characteristics that Daniel displayed?
b)      How would God have us live life like Daniel in our culture which in some ways is like ancient Babylon?
c)       Are we as willing to pray and listen to what God says and then obey?
d)      Do you wholeheartedly believe that like Esther or Daniel that your voice in prayer (one in a chorus) is heard?


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Those Jenson Boys!

Title:  Those Jenson Boys!
Author:  William W. & J. A. Johnstone
Pages:  336
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Pinnacle
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.
Westerns...what is it about these books that tend to arrest the attention of a person and then draw them into history?  I like westerns because of the action, adventure and characters of the genre.  There are some authors who don’t merit my attention or time, but the Johnstones do!  Why?  Well, one reason is the craft of writing a good story was passed down from one generation to another.  Second, there is usually a minimal amount of cussing with no sexual stuff.  Finally, the most important factor is the author’s ability to weave a great story!
In Those Jenson Boys! readers are introduced to the sons of Luke Jenson.  These boys, Ace and Chance, are very different from each other, but very closely knit brothers.  The Jensons know their family history, stick by each other through all situations and they know how the other one will more than likely react in a situation without words being spoken.
I found it very easy to get lost in the tale, waiting with anxiously to see how they would help two young women along with their father fight against a man who wants to own the town.  The action was exciting.  The situations the main characters found themselves in seemed to require cunning besides a quick draw and the ending was a surprise.  The brothers fight alongside the underdogs, which makes readers just want to cheer them on to bring down the “bully” of the town.
I hope you will read and enjoy the adventure penned by the Johnstones as the book was outstanding!  Grab a copy and then prepare to spend a summer afternoon lost in the Old West!
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cuts Like a Knife

Title:  Cuts Like a Knife (A Kristen Conner Mystery #1)
Author:  M. K. Gilroy
Pages:  410
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Worthy Publishing
Kristen Conner has anger issues; just ask her family and friends!  She is a detective with the Chicago Police Department, lives alone and goes to church.  Now, she has been assigned a new case.  There has been a grisly murder of a woman by means of a knife.  The manner of the murder has alerted the FBI, which then sends a task force to work in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department.  This may be the work of a serial killer who has used the same method of murder in several other cities, then goes underground for a little while and pops back up in another city months or even years later.  Chicago could be the sixth city where the killer has struck.  Another body is soon discovered killed in the same manner.  Another thing in common in all the murders is that the killer never leaves any evidence, so the task force has very little to investigate.
As the pressure to solve the case mounts, Kristen’s anger and keeping herself at a distance from others increases.  She spends all her time working the case, trying to catch the killer.  Her love life takes a down turn, but she doesn’t seem too upset by this.  She has no time for a relationship right now, even though she is quickly approaching thirty as her family points out.  As the killer continues to evade the police, Kristen discovers a clue that might solve the case.
I really liked this character.  She has a great sense of humor and is grounded in her faith.  She is a gritty, sometimes in-your-face person who is also well-versed in defending herself the old school way…with her fists.  She will do anything to protect her family and pushes her bosses to the limit by ignoring their orders.  Her father was on the Chicago police force and she feels honored to follow in his footsteps.  The story is full of action, tension, loyalty, family devotion and much more.  Kristen will make you laugh and sometimes make you cringe at some of her more direct comments or observations.  I can’t wait to read book two in the series, Every Breath You Take.
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.

Note:  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.

Through Deep Waters


 Title:  Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom #1)
Author:  Sarah Sundin
Pages:  384
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 5+ stars out of 5.
Wings of the Nightingale Series contained the first novels by this author that I read, and I lost a lot of sleep thoroughly getting lost in those stories.  Now, Waves of Freedom starts her new blockbuster series set in the era of WWII.  The setting is the Boston Naval Yard where ships were being built, but tensions between groups whose view of war was vastly polar worked on the docks together with tensions running high.  Mary was the secretary at the naval yard and she loved being out of the limelight, supporting others' dreams never imagining romance to be a part of her life.
Jim is an Ensign in the Navy fresh out of the academy who prefers letting whatever way the wind blew direct his naval career.  Jim’s viewpoint stems from an accident as a young boy when he dared to let one of his sisters follow himself and his brothers into the woods, which resulted in an accident.  Jim became a very quiet Ensign and risking making the wrong decision that could cost lives was something he tried to avoid at all costs.
When I started the novel, I couldn’t imagine the depth of the story and the many aspects that drew me to stay up late into the night to finish reading.  There are romance, danger, adventure, faith, learning, changing and so much more that shows in the way the characters evolve throughout the book.  Then, when the FBI is added to the storyline along with a growing list of possible suspects guilty of sabotaging a ship, all the more reason to read on!
There is a sequel planned for 2016 and I cannot wait as I know Sarah Sundin’s stories are well worth time to read, enjoy and share with family and friends.  Those who plunge into the murky waters of these books are sure to love rooting for the budding romance, friendships growing and God receiving the glory!  Nothing stirs the patriot blood more than reading a fictional story of how God can and does use people willing to answer His call to serve Him wherever He sends them!  So don’t miss the first book of the newest series and while waiting for the other books in the series read Wings of Nightingale Series if you haven’t read them!
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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Greenfield Legacy


Title:  The Greenfield Legacy (A Novel)
Authors:  Meredith Resce, Amanda Deed, Paula Vince, Rose Dee
Pages:  258
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Even Before Publishing
My rating is 4 stars out of 5.
What a roller coaster of emotions as the plot thickens around a family torn apart at one time by bitterness and fear.  By the end of the novel the brilliance of weaving such a captivating and heart rending novel was just amazing.  It starts with a father denying his daughter, Mattie, marriage to a man she loves as he envisioned her marrying someone he considered a more equal partner.
When Mattie learns her boyfriend is going to Vietnam, their time together results in a child being born.  While that alone was tough, it was even tougher being forced to let the baby be adopted without Mattie having held her.  Then, as readers continue on, they will learn both the history of the family and how Mattie now lives her life guarding her heart from any type of love for fear of being hurt again.
Legacy is the major theme of the novel and being able to decide what type of legacy to leave.  Will it be an unforgiving one or one redeemed by faith in Jesus?  The way the characters are related is slowly revealed as well as the untangling of the mystery of why some of them have acted so distant.  There are budding romances, tears of good-bye, but more so of the hope and peace Jesus can bring to any heart that is open to Him.
The authors did a superb job of crafting the characters very lifelike with both positive and negative aspects of human nature.  Time wasn’t rushed in the novel, but used to show how God’s timing is perfect along with how forgiving or breaking down the walls around the heart can take a chunk of time.   Even when forgiveness is given or received it takes our human hearts, minds and souls time to heal.  Only the healing and moving forward as a changed person can happen because of Christ, which is shown as truth in the book.
I loved how married couples were shown to sometimes lose their first love and need work to be reminded why they got married in the first place.  There are some answers still left open in the book, so don’t expect all loose ends to be tied up.  I think it allows for thought and imagination on the part of the readers.  So take time to read the novel and think about what type of legacy you would like to live out before others so that it is passed down from one generation to another.  Also consider purposely passing down your faith in Jesus Christ and reading His Word as well as praying daily for those who are to come after us.  Great story!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Sapphire Season


Title:  A Sapphire Season
Author:  Lynn Morris
Pages:  359
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Faith Words
Mirabella and Giles have been best friends all their lives.  Good or bad Giles has always been by her side to make things better.  This year, when they both turn 22, they and two friends have decided to attend the Season in London.  Mirabella has decided that she will become betrothed before the Season is over.  She and her best female friend Josephine begin making the social rounds at various balls and dinners.  Privately, Mirabella has a list of potential men that she will entertain the thought of them perhaps being a good match for her.
As the Season progresses and one man, then another fall off her list, Mirabella begins to notice that Giles is not spending as much time with her as usual.  In fact, he has been spending most of his time in the company of one of Mirabella’s friends.  Mirabella is down to the last man on her list of potential suitors when she makes a stunning discovery. 
If you have a yen to read something face paced, full of action and tension, then this is not the book for you.  If, however, you are interested in the life of ladies in the early 1800s, romance, heartache and spiritual awakening, then here is a book for you.  The many details regarding clothing and food and setting at first helped me feel a part of the story; however, these same details when used so much slowed the story somewhat.  The best part of the book for me was the spiritual life of Mirabella that is transformed from shallow contact with God to a place of total surrender and dependence on God to get her through each and every day.  She learns that only God can get her through depression, grief, sadness and to appreciate His many blessings in her life.  I am a new reader of this author and I look forward to more of her works.
My rating is 4 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trial Run: Fault Lines


Title:  Trial Run (Fault Lines #1)
Author:  Thomas Locke                                                                                    
Pages:  385
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars. 
Thomas Locke, also known as Davis Bunn, has written many award-winning novels which I have thoroughly enjoyed.  In this latest venture, he tackles the techno-thriller genre with a well-researched novel that deals with teams of people who try to unlock the mind and project themselves to other places and other realities.
Locke’s novel was difficult to read, not because of his superior writing ability as much as my interest level and understanding in the areas of quantum mechanics and psychology; however, the dialogue between characters was wonderfully constructed.  What I liked most about the novel was the short chapters with frequent scene changes and the amount of dialogue to advance the story.  What I think could be improved upon is the different settings, which seemed to be lacking enough details to understand what was happening in the story.  Although the mysterious factors of the story were important and lead to my desire to find out what was happening, I found it difficult to maintain an interest because I was clueless as to what was going on through most of the book.  Perhaps this was due to the scenes jumping back and forth from one group of characters to another, or it could have been that I just did not click with the subject matter of the novel.
Much of the book’s storyline had potential with all the  various sets of characters and scenes.  I felt as if I was dropped into the middle of a sci-fi plot without any background or understanding of what was being conveyed.  I enjoyed many of Davis Bunn’s other books and will continue to read his novels, but this one fell somewhat short of what I envisioned and hoped it would be.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ .  Also follow me on Twitter@lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Remembering My Father


Yesteryear I hear the laughter that no longer rings aloud.
I see in my mind’s eye the loved one who is but a memory.
I grieve for what can no longer be recaptured.
Though at times I sure wish I could return to yesteryear and live the days again,
I doubt I ever really thought those days would never come again.
Life just seems to keep on going.
Then, one day I looked back down the road with longing in my heart and a tear going down my face, I realized I couldn’t truly relive the moments of laughter, parties, games, sibling stuff and getting ready for Dad to come home.
They will forever live in my heart and I will remember the late night math tutoring after you just got home from work,
Throwing me pop flies until you needed to go inside and love on the woman of your dreams,
The encouragement to always do better and more important be a better person,
The laughter around the dinner table, especially with extended family there,
The times on the back porch as you grilled even when snow was flying,
Your ability to identify an airplane simply by the sound of the engine.
Though I could go on for pages and pages of my memories of yesteryear, let me simply say that I will forever love you as you loved me and may I strive to serve as you did.
Though the later years scared the hell out of you when you realized your mind was fading, the love always showed through; the light in your eyes will never dim in my mind or heart.
I love you Dad.
And on this day while tears stream down my face
Know that I miss you so very, very much and if I could, I would gladly relive a day or two of yesteryear just to hug you, hear you laugh and see your smile once again.
  


Friday, August 14, 2015

Through Deep Waters by Sarah Sundin


Title:  Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom #1)
Author:  Sarah Sundin
Pages:  375
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Revell
Mary Stirling is a secretary at the Boston Naval Yard in 1941.  She loves her job and is comfortable being “invisible” or behind the scene.  She never wants to draw attention to herself as she is fearful of experiencing pride, which can lead to humiliating events.  Mary knows this from her past when she experienced such humiliation from firsthand knowledge.  She runs into an old friend from high school, Jim, who has just arrived in town, having recently graduated from the Naval Academy.  Mary agrees to show him around Boston and they both indulge their love of history.  While spending time together, they also encourage one another.  Mary discusses the strange happenings at the naval yard with Jim as she diligently records conversations as she overhears them.  She is determined to solve the case and bring the saboteur to justice.
Jim Avery is new to town and to the Navy.  His philosophy of life is that he “floats” in whatever direction life takes him.  He isn’t bold or demanding.  He lets others or situations determine his path.  He runs into Mary and soon is enjoying more and more time in her company.  He soon ships out for a mission escorting ships to Great Britain, leaving Mary behind.  He realizes how much he misses her and wants to pursue a relationship with her, but he isn’t sure what to do.  Should he even be thinking about starting a relationship with Mary when the country is on the brink of war and he will soon be right in the midst of it on the sea?
Great story!  Both characters suffered scars from past incidents that left them fearful of making waves or drawing attention to themselves.  Through their learning to trust God in every circumstance and place their cares with Him, they both gained freedom from their fears.  In the midst of dire straits, they both prayed and placed their trust in God that no matter the outcome they were trusting in Him.  What inspiration!  This is a wonderful beginning to this new series, which continues in the summer of 2016 with the release of book two.  I can’t wait!
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

On Shifting Sands


Title: On Shifting Sand
Author:  Allison Pittman
Pages:  416
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Tyndale
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
The story is told from the main female character named Nola who lives in Oklahoma with her husband Russ and two young children.   As I began reading I remembered a movie I watched which depicted quite realistically the Dust Bowl conditions of the land many years ago.  The Dust Bowl is used as a setting by the author to depict both a physical as well as spiritual realities of what life is like without care, watering, proper stewardship and more.  Nola is struggling as a ministers wife feeling like she is always second to the needs of those in the church.  After each storm the people of the small town would gather at the church to pray as well as count heads to see if any people were missing.
As time goes on not only does the town population diminish but so does the heart of Nola.  When she is at her lowest point she rationalizes her choice to commit a sin which leads her despair all the while it seems her husband never notices.  The hurt feelings Nola experiences and loneliness for time with Russ her husband brings to drive a wedge into her marriage and makes her blind to the rationalization she uses when she chooses not to flee from temptation.
Later in the story it was really awesome in the way the author uses descriptions to help readers visualize the depth of need for God in our hearts.  There is hope in the novel by the ending and depicts that while marriage is not all roses there is always a choice to draw near to God during the times of thorns, or hardship.  Forgiveness can be easily spoken even requested but when Nola really sees with new eyes the depth of her sin, she finally faces the hard task of bearing it all to her husband.
Unlike other novels the authors doesn’t rap the tale up in a pretty bow, but leaves the ending open for reasons which she shares in the author’s notes section.   Any person who has been married for a time knows that times of drought come and they are no picnic, nor are they pain free.   Yet, there is always a choice before both the husband and the wife to completely honest with the Lord and each other.  In the novel we see Nola had to honest about her reoccurring affair and her choice to participate in the sin.  Russ has a part of his soul that needs forgiveness and healing too but I will let you discover that as you read this very captivating book.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book from www.bookfun.org  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Among the Fair Magnolias



Title:  Among the Fair Magnolias (Four Southern Love Stories)
Author:  Tamara Alexander, Dorothy Love, Shelley Gray, Elizabeth Musser
Pages:  384
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
My rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
A Heart so True by Dorothy Love
The setting is 1860 in South Carolina during the summertime.  What most fascinated me was the interplay between a father and daughter at odds with whom she was to marry.  Abigail Clayton always shows a spirit of adventure even when pushing the boundaries of propriety.  Abigail’s mother usually a quiet and submissive wife must now choose to remain so or speak in support of Abigail.  I truly enjoyed the tale that had romance as well as action, mystery and beautifully described scenery.
To Mend a Dream by Tamara Alexandra
A fascinating and captivating story!  Savannah is a seamstress in Nashville, Tennessee during the year 1870.  Though the War Between the States has been over for a few years Savannah still misses the brothers and father she lost in the war, and a mother who died shortly thereafter.  Now she cares for her two younger siblings.  When she is asked to sew at her former farm, it isn’t only that she finds it difficult but discovering what her father left behind long ago. I loved the ending and the new hope Savannah comes to discover!
Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
In Georgia in 1868 the war is over and reconstruction begins although not all is smooth, transitioning to equality regardless of race.  A brave white woman named Emily does all she can to educate and help the freedmen of the south.  What Emily hasn’t counted on is the KKK coming around to strike fear in the hearts of the freedmen so they won’t vote.  As I read this tale, I was again reminded how much history has taught us if we would seek to know and understand.  The author did an excellent job of showing the brutality as well as the hope for those who were said to be free in the South.
An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray
In Texas the year is 1878.  A man gets down off of his horse to enter a house he was asked to leave years before due to his actions. Now he has returned to hopefully see his mother one more time as well as to see if the woman he loved named Nora is still in the area and available.  I love western stories and this short story is no exception!  Horses, bad guys, good guys and a romance thought to be gone, but isn’t as well as the way the other characters come together to see the couple have what they need for an occasion are all included in this short story.
All four authors write unique stories that grab your attention and heart, not letting go until the very end!  So grab a comfy spot, maybe have a cold iced tea and get ready to lose yourself in the past era of the south and west!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Ticket by Debra Coleman Jeter



Title:  The Ticket
Author:  Debra Coleman Jeter
Pages:  205
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Tray is a 14-year-old girl who sees herself as tall, skinny, bony and ugly, but her Gram sees her as exceptional.  Tray’s mother has mental problems and spends most of her days in bed suffering from deep depression, so Tray is left to depend on her grandmother or Gram to raise her.  Gram is always quoting from the Bible or some cliché that Tray feels never fits the moment until she stops to think about it and realizes Gram is almost always right.  Gram lives with Tray, Tray’s mother and Trays’ father.  Tray’s father works a lot and is not home very much.  When he arrives home, he is usually very tired and irritable.  He really doesn’t know Tray well and doesn’t show her much attention.
One evening her father receives a phone call telling him he has the winning lottery ticket.  Her father can hardly believe it.  Someone gave him the ticket as a gift, and he hasn’t thought about the ticket since receiving it.  Now, with the winning ticket, how will their lives change?  Tray imagines herself with new clothes.  Tray likes to design clothes, but is embarrassed that she has to wear clothes her Gram sews her.  However, with the ticket winner made public, many people begin to seek her father so he can give them money, including the man who gave her father the ticket.  Tray thought that with all this money her life would be easier, but now she is not so sure.  Once her mother finds out about the money, she is bright and cheery one day, then back to her usual day in bed with a headache the next.  Will Tray ever survive her teenage years?  Is Gram’s unconditional love enough to see her through this trying time?
If you want to revisit your teenage years, the ones full of angst and feeling different from everyone else, feeling unpopular, being a “spaz”, the rollercoaster emotions and physical changes, then this story will certainly ring a bell with you.  I remember those years and this author captures those feelings perfectly.  Tray reveals the cruelty we can inflict on the ones we love the most, the guilt and regret we then sometimes feel, the rarely telling those we love that we love them and many other emotions evoked by this heart-tugging story.  I had some laugh out loud moments during the story too.
My rating is 4 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Heart’s Home (Journey of the Heart Series Book #6)


Title:  A Heart’s Home (Journey of the Heart Series Book #6)
Author:  Collen Coble
Pages:  112
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
My rating is 5 stars out of 5.
The series is now complete with the last installment titled, “A Heart’s Home”.  The order in which to read the books is:  “A Heart’s Disguise”, “A Heart’s Obsession”, “A Heart’s Danger”, “A Heart’s Betrayal” and “A Heart’s Promise”.  The story is completed, but not in the way I had expected it to in some ways and in other ways it ended happily.  I think the author does a wonderful job describing the harshness of life on the plain along with the danger of sicknesses that can end a young life as well as an older one.  Now the families are together and heading out to start homesteading in land open to new people, but away from land given to the various Indian tribes.
As with all life, there are times when there is sadness and times of happiness which the author wove well in each book.  There is faith that kept the folks in the fort from despairing for long and gave them renewed hope with each new sunrise.  I cannot say enough how much I enjoyed the way Colleen Coble put the tale together and kept me on edge after each book.  Life here is fleeting, but heaven is forever was one of the best thoughts I walked away with from the stories.  I pray you too will be filled with hope and strengthened in faith through the tales shared.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Camelot Conspiracy


Title:  The Camelot Conspiracy
Author:  Diane and David Munson
Pages:  344
Year:  2009
Publisher:  Micah House Media
There are two storylines going on at the same time with this complex plot.  One involves illegal drug smuggling and the other involves illegal information gathering.  The story takes readers from Washington, D.C. to Michigan as well as overseas.  There are other subplots going on as well that tie together at the end of the story nicely.  There are reappearances of characters Eva Montana and Griff Topping from the prior two books as well as investigative reporter Kat Kowicki.
This story centers on Kat Kowicki and her crusade to take down Senator Lars Zorn, as well as uncovering new information on John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  Kat also gets a love interest in this story in the form of Detective Jack McKenna.  It is Jack’s father, a retired Chicago policeman, who provides Kat with new information that was covered up at the time of Kennedy’s assassination.  The plot is complex and requires attention to detail, but keeps readers interested.
I was expecting most of the book to be about the Kennedy assassination, but that was not the real focus of the story so I was a little disappointed on that front.  I would also have liked to see more interaction between Kat and Jack so I could see their relationship develop and not suddenly have deep feelings for one another.  I didn’t see them making that connection as one minute they were quarreling and the next they couldn’t stop thinking about each other, but I didn’t read much dialogue between the two so I didn’t feel the development of their relationship.  I did like the faith elements in the story via Jack and his father, Big John.  The amount of research and hands-on detail included made the story interesting.  I also liked the terrorist angle added to the story as it put more suspense into the plot.  I’ll be reading the next book in the series, Hero’s Ransom, and posting the review here.
My rating is 4 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”