Saturday, January 30, 2016

Winchester 1887

Title:  Winchester 1887
Author:  William W. Johnstone & J. A. Johnstone
Pages:  352
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Pinnacle
My rating is 5 stars.
The story of the Winchester continues with the family named James Mann and the rifle given to him by his uncle which we read about in the previous novel Winchester 1886.  Here we see the young man called Jimmy leave during the night with his Winchester and the badge his uncle bequeathed to him in his pocket.  Now, in the light of day, his father sets out to bring him home after becoming aware of Jimmy’s absence. What he father encounters reveals his past before he got married and settled down.
All Jimmy wants to do is to be like his uncle James and become a law man.  From the moment he leaves his home danger lurks around every corner.  Jimmy, though single-minded, is definitely a green horn which is quite evident when he hops a train and runs smack dab into trouble!  From here on out the adventure begins, but so does the danger when Jimmy unknowingly hooks up with a whiskey runner in the Indian Territory!
In the era where life caused children to grow up very quickly and life being precarious is a characteristic of the old west.  I so enjoyed following the Mann family, learning about their life experiences and the how duty-bound Jimmy felt to follow in his uncle’s ways.  Another aspect of the book that I liked was the passing down of knowledge of how to live on the frontier and how to be a lawman.
I highly recommend both Winchester 1886 and Winchester 1887. If possible, read them consecutively as the tales will bring hours of enjoyment!  Keep on riding toward the setting sun partners!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  The above represents my opinion.  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.” 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Undaunted Hope #3 (Beacons of Hope series)


Title:  Undaunted Hope #3 (Beacons of Hope series)
Author:  Jody Hedlund
Pages:  384
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 5 stars.
This series began with the novel titled Love Unexpected followed by Hearts Made Whole and now the third installment the subject of this review.  When I completed the novel, I knew that to really appreciate the conclusion it would be helpful to readers to read the first two books in the series.
I would be hard-pressed to say I loved one book more than another as each brings out elements of faith with some romance.  In the Undaunted Hope novel, there is tension in the small Upper Peninsula town in Michigan as one man holds people under his thumb via fear.  The villain is Percival who runs the mines, the mining store, and the inhabitants of the town except for the two brothers who attend to the lighthouse.  Michael and Alex run the lighthouse until the winter locks the town in its fierce winter storms when no steamer can get to them; it is then the two men have a break from their labor.  Michael is a widower with two young children, a son named Gunnar and his daughter Ingrid.
When Tessa is hired as the local teacher, her heart wants nothing to do with lighthouses or the two brothers running them.  All Tessa wanted to do is go so far that her dignity would remain intact, her past mistake wouldn’t be flaunted before the townspeople and she can teach.  However, Tessa sees more that she believes she can do to help the poor come out from under their poverty and even have a better life. The results of her attempts will keep you reading for hours!
I couldn’t put the novel down till the conclusion because of the twists and turns in the plot that kept me glued to the book.  The townspeople were captives of fear and I wondered if they were ever going to break free of the one man who wanted them to remain captive for his own benefit.  Tessa’s contract stated she couldn’t marry plus she wanted to stay away from lighthouses, but she was falling in love with one of the brothers.  Then, I wondered when the new mine owner came to visit the town if he had the wisdom and integrity to see who the real villain was and who the victims were before returning  to New York.
In her exceptional way of weaving a captivating, heart-pounding story, I just so enjoyed Jody Hedlund’s latest Beacons of Hope work of fiction.  My heart raced with anticipation in parts and other times I was just amazed at how some of Tessa’s acts of kindness could change the heart of one man in the town very few people took notice of or cared about.  Please enjoy the three Beacons of Hope books.  I can’t wait to see what Jody will share with us next from her imagination and research!

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, January 28, 2016

The Peacock Throne


Title:  The Peacock Throne
Author:  Lisa Karon Richardson
Pages:  336
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Lion Fiction
Anthony Danbury receives a shock upon waking up one morning; his father has been murdered.  A letter is found hidden in one of Anthony’s boots from his father with an almost unbelievable tale.  Anthony vows justice for his father’s murder and will stop at nothing to accomplish it.  The new Lord Danbury, Anthony upon the death of his father, decides on an elaborate plan to lure out his father’s killer.  Along the way, he joins forces with Marcus Harting, a British spy, and Miss Lydia Garrett, an unacknowledged granddaughter of an earl.
Lydia Garrett is working in a rundown coffee house owned by her father’s cousin, who has been acting as her guardian.  She discovers her cousin’s dead body.  Her cousin served on the same ship as Anthony’s father about forty years ago.  Is there a connection between the murders?  What are the chances that both men would be murdered on the same day in the same manner?  Lydia is no wallflower.  She is determined to see justice accomplished for her cousin.  She is smart, persistent and has a will of steel.  She meets Lord Danbury and Mr. Harting and sees they just might be the only way for her to bring her cousin’s killer to trial.
I liked the setting of this story and the intrigue between the French and British at this time period.  I also liked the writing style of this author.  The story was interesting and ensnared me easily.  There is a hint of romance, intrigue, murder, deception and more.  The characters hopefully will be developed even more fully in future stories perhaps.  The ending of the story certainly leaves an opening for a sequel or perhaps a series and I hope the author follows this story with others in this genre.  I’ll be on the lookout for more stories from this author’s pen.
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.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

: Abby’s Crossing


Title:  Abby’s Crossing
Author:  Darryl Harris
Pages:  288
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Covenant
My rating is 4 1/2 stars.
Abby’s Crossing is a tale about a Mormon community during the Civil War years.  In the community, a young widow named Abby is the adopted mother of a little Shoshone boy.  She became a member of their tribe after her husband was killed by Indians.  Abby originally had planned on marrying an older man from the same community, but a twist in the plans begins with a near drowning.
On top of these disasters, Abby is pursued by a man with nefarious intentions on his mind even after he is severely wounded from a prior beating.  Tied into the plot is a mother who has lost her husband and two sons in the Civil War and decides to send her only remaining son west so that she won’t lose him in the war as well.  Scooter is a man who owns a freighting business, bringing much needed supplies from the East to the West to the Mormon community and the gold fields.
While many of the characters are products of the writer’s imagination, there are a few who aren’t fictional but lived during the time of the tale.  The author lists them in the back of the novel for readers to know more about them.  Though I in no way am Mormon, I learned more about Mormonism than I knew before I started reading.  I don’t advocate Mormonism, but learning about history, people and events is something I enjoy doing and sharing with my readers.
There are other characters in the novel from both the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War as well as various Indian tribes and their activities.  One theme was very clear to me was that of the sin of mankind regardless of race, denomination, era, etc. and that Jesus Christ paid for my sin and yours so that we and all who believe can be reconciled to Him.
Enjoy a novel that shares facts about real people in an imaginary story.  Enjoy the learning the history and try figuring out which of the two suitors Abby will choose before the end of the book!

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, January 26, 2016

Hannah's Choice by Jan Drexler

Title:  Hannah’s Choice (Journey to Pleasant Prairie #1)
Author:  Jan Drexler
Pages:  400
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 4 stars.
Hannah’s Choice is a riveting story of an Amish family named Yoder who find they are becoming a part of a smaller community.  Neighbors are no longer part of the Amish community but Quaker, Mennonite and Brethren to name a few.  The year is 1842 and slaves are coming north to escape their masters though some are captured and returned back to the south by bounty hunters.
The Yoders are approached to move to new land where a bigger Amish community is starting along with more land available at low prices.  Hannah is the oldest and she tends to carry more on her shoulders, especially when her mother gets depressed and is unable to function or care for her other children.  Hannah’s heart is torn between two suitors, one who is Mennonite but she has known since they were children while the other is a young man new to the area.
Throughout the book I was captivated by the desire to learn which young man, if either, Hannah would choose.  I enjoyed the heart and soul of the book as depicted in the ways characters made wise and foolish choices.  The timeframe is when diseases could easily take a life as not, plus I enjoyed the way marriage is depicted as going through life together whatever may come.
In the Fall of this year, book two of this series will be released and I cannot wait to read and see what has occurred with the characters I met in the first book.  In our day when things are massed produced I love reading books where trades were handed down from father to son.  I enjoyed reading about the family devotions led by the father after dinner each evening.  The tension in the story was whether aiding the escaped slaves was going against God’s Word or not doing anything was the way to live. 
The Amish community is not any better or worse as they are people too, so please don’t look at their lives as being better than yours.  Their life is different and having visited some Amish communities I love the atmosphere and the work of their hands.  Yet, I love where God has me and I enjoy stories of characters of faith.  I hope you will enjoy Hannah’s Choice before the sequel is released in the fall; I did!

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, January 25, 2016

Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings (Christ Centered Exposition)


Title:  Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings (Christ Centered Exposition)
Author:  Tony Merida
Pages:  228
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Holman Reference
My rating is 5 stars.
Why did I want to read a commentary on 1 & 2 Kings in the Old Testament?  What drew me was the
“Exalting Jesus” part of the title.  Many Christians dwell in the New Testament without reading, studying or knowing what riches are revealed in the Old Testament.   However, I thank God that He has led me to the Old Testament many times so as to reveal the truths that aren’t quickly seen with just a perusal of that portion of the Bible.
Usually I read the sections listed before reading a commentary; however, this time I wanted to challenge myself by listening to the Word.  Really listening to it and not casually hearing.  The commentary is not a verse by verse exposition, but a section by section commentary that I believe will draw many readers.  There aren’t notations about the original language or that it is written for purely academic reasons.  In fact, it is written to help all followers of Christ see Christ in the Old Testament.
There are many nuggets of truth that I enjoyed contemplating from the author of the commentary after listening to the Bible section being covered.  I enjoyed the way the Lord was active and speaking to His people, as well as relearning what happened in ancient Israel with her kings.  Both types of earthly kings, evil and good, show us our own personal need for a King and not just any King, but the King of Kings who reigns and will one day return!
If you truly desire to grow in Christ, then don’t dwell exclusively in the New Testament.  That’s only ½ of the book.  There is much for all of us to see and learn from in the many Old Testament books because through them we begin to see Christ.  The New Testament shows us the fulfillment of many Old Testament promises as well as examples of how God’s people did and didn’t please Him.
Here is a commentary that will aid in your understanding and help you see Christ in the Old Testament, and I hope it whets your appetite to learn more from these books.  The author has questions after each chapter that can be used to journal answers, use as a means to pray or as a springboard to a deeper study.  Either way let’s remain students of the whole Bible, disciples of the Christ foreshadowed in the Old Testament and unveiled in the New.

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.”

Where She Belongs (Misty Willow #1)

Title:  Where She Belongs (Misty Willow #1)
Author:  Johnnie Alexander
Pages:  368
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Revell
My rating is 5+ stars.
All I can say is “I didn’t see this coming!”  There was more than romance in this story, such as history, legacy, faith, mystery and so much more!  I cannot even imagine what the next book in the series coming in the fall of 2016 will be like.  There are many options in the plot line the author can take readers.  The tale opens up with a young man named AJ leasing a part of some land including a home he never wanted in the first place.  When he first meets Shelby, all she can manage to do is keep her long held deeply felt feelings of anger towards his family contained.  Yes, a family feud that has gone on for decades, destroying many lives for decades with rippling effects that continue to the present.
AJ and Shelby go to the lawyer’s office to sign the paperwork.  The lawyer, Robert, is related to Shelby and he knows more than he is willing to tell a soul.  As the tale progresses so too does a mystery come to light and the pieces that are missing need to be uncovered.  Yet what is the cost to the local community if the truth ever comes out?
Johnnie Alexander weaves together a tale that is sure to keep you turning pages until the end of the book; it’s that good!  The two main characters, AJ and Shelby, are trying their best to just get along but then their lives become entwined because of past events, most of which they had no clue existed.  Like real people on one hand they did want the truth to come out, but on the other hand they didn’t even though they had no clue as to what really happened in the past.  Like real people the unknown was scary and at times seemed very intimidating, especially to Shelby.
The novel is so enjoyable, entertaining and heart-wrenching in places, but also so very hopeful!  I am so looking forward to more stories about these characters, their lives, futures and finding out what happens to a woman bent on revenge and more!  Join me in the journey to a place called Misty Willow.

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, January 23, 2016

Veiled at Midnight (Twilight of the British Raj #3)

Title:  Veiled at Midnight (Twilight of the British Raj #3)
Author:  Christine Lindsay
Pages:  278
Year:  2014
Publisher:  WhiteFire
My rating is 5+ stars.
Here is the final book of the trilogy, which is by far the best of the best!  We are introduced to India, her people, politics, religious sects, and flavors of food and more that excite the heart.  When I started reading the book a couple of hours ago, part of me was sad because it was the last novel of the series.  I enjoyed the constant adventure and action, friendships forming, hearts mended and lives redeemed.
The story in this novel takes place a little over a decade from the events in the first book, Shadowed by Silk.  The main focus is on Cam who is now a young man.  He returns to India and longs to express his long-held feelings for Hadassah whom he met at the orphanage years before when they were but wee ones.  Cam has served in British Intelligence and has been keeping his broken heart and alcoholic problems a secret.  On a whim, Hadassah agrees to marry Cam even knowing the future will be anything but easy coming from two different nationalities.
The tension grows even more in India when the exodus of the British along with the land division is moved up from years to mere weeks.  There is also a flavoring of a mystery as to who has been really transformed by Christ and those who may no longer live as if they believe.   With the geographical boundaries changing many wonder how that is going to affect the ability to teach women, share the gospel or how many lives may be lost or harmed in the change.
Above all, I loved the way the author kept me turning pages as I wanted to see how various plots concluded whether on a national scale or personal ones.  At the time in history when these stories take place there is none of the latest technology which many rely on so much today.  Letters would or could take weeks in the story whereas now we can send a note over the internet in seconds.
I love historical fiction because there is much to learn anew.  With so many things happening around the world at the same time other tales get lost for awhile.  I am reminded how the enemies of Christ are deceived and the strength it takes to share the gospel when death could be imminent.  I fell in love with the people who were created uniquely and saw life so colorful, especially if they knew Christ.  I can’t state it enough that reading these novels will definitely touch your soul, heart and mind.  So enjoy Shadowed of Silk, Captured by Moonlight and finally Veiled at Midnight!

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.”

Friday, January 22, 2016

Captured by Moonlight (Twilight of the British Raj #2)


Title:  Captured by Moonlight (Twilight of the British Raj #2)
Author:  Christine Lindsay
Pages:  274
Year:  2013
Publisher:  Whitefire
My rating is 5+ stars.
The main character of the novel is Laine Harkness a nurse in the British service who finds herself being reassigned after breaking a previous warning and being hunted by the authorities.  There are also peeks into the lives of fictional people we meet in book one, Shadowed in Silk.  Whether you know anything of the events in India regarding British rule or not, you’ll find yourself magnetically drawn to these books.
The Word of God is spread liberally throughout the story along with interesting interactions between believers and those who practice Hinduism.  The author really has done her homework in telling us a complete tale that encompasses the spiritual, political, historical, and flavor of a culture that is unique.  In corresponding with the author, I learned she put in over 300 hours of research before writing the first book.
The tension climaxes between those who are British and the Indians with various religious systems as they clash because India wants self-government. However, though not all on either side see a clear solution to releasing the growing fear these issues create as people aren’t sure how India will be partitioned off or when it will occur.  Readers will become engrossed in the personal interactions and challenges that stem from the previous war.  Some of the tension is due to differing spiritual beliefs and the caste system that holds India’s people without hope.
I have really enjoyed Shadowed in Silk and now the sequel Captured in Moonlight.  Soon I will share with you the conclusion of the story in the third book titled, Veiled at Midnight.  After you read the books, go on YouTube and watch the movie Flame over India, starring Lauren Bacall that is from the same time frame and about the same nations.  I think you will gain such understanding and a heart for those who are trapped in the caste system as well as serving a false god.

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, January 21, 2016

Shadowed in Silk (Twilight of the British Raj) by Christine Lindsay


Title:  Shadowed in Silk
Author:  Christine Lindsay
Pages:  276
Year:  2011
Publisher:  WhiteFire Publishing
My rating is 5+ stars.
There are many writers who share with readers tales of wonder, awe, heartache and hope.  Some authors even include a deep thread of God, faith, hope and a host of other believing themes throughout a fictional tale.  Here we are confronted with a very unique work that speaks of historical events and people along with imaginary ones with a bold theme of redemption from the first to the last page.
The story takes place in India during a time of rebellion against British rule and of many faiths existing together.  A collision between various tribes bound together to fight against the British in their land will keep you up reading for hours.  The various twists, turns of intrigue, spies, social outcasts, and the wall between the Indians and British with so many unspoken rules about keeping themselves separate from the people of India was very interesting to read about.  The main female character is Abby who is married with a young son named Cam now returning to India to be reunited with her husband.
When she is finally with her husband, who is in the British army, all sorts of trials are just about to throw Abby into a tailspin as life doesn’t play out as she had hoped.  Her husband Nick is a ruthless chap whose life is out of control and he basically treats Abby like a showpiece not as a wife.  Nick also doesn’t seem to want to get to know the son he has never met till now and avoids him at all costs.  However Abby is no longer the woman he married, she has changed and when she stands up to protect and hopefully see her marriage healed, life literally comes apart.
Readers will learn of India’s history under British rule and how they were viewed or treated.  There are woman who have been disowned by their families for a variety of reasons and in that pain some are drawn to Christ.  You’ll read about evil men who care only about what they can obtain in this life no matter the cost in order to broaden the division between the tribes and Britain.  You’ll meet those who want to bring healing to hurting hearts as well as those who are nefarious to say the least.  Above all, no matter what evil and darkness is trying to do between various people, God takes them in His hands and shows them redemption.  He restores them from the inside out, and in time even while some of the disastrous events will not be forgotten, neither will the restoration of hope be dimmed!

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, January 20, 2016

Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2) by Irene Hannon

Title:  Thin Ice (Men of Valor #2)
Author:  Irene Hannon
Pages:  394
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Revell
Lance MacGregor is a rookie FBI agent assigned his first case.  He has joined the FBI after retiring from the Special Forces.  His first case is a possible kidnapping of a woman named Ginny Reed.  The woman’s sister, Christy Reed, received a letter from her sister dated two months after her death.  Then she receives another and another.  Lance must investigate to find out if this is in fact a kidnapping or a cruel hoax.  He also has moved to the same town as his older brother Mac, so he is adjusting to a new city, a new job and his first case.  He has strayed from his relationship with God, but with Christy’s encouragement renews his faith.  He also learns of a very serious accident involving his younger brother and rushes to the hospital 900 miles away where he has been transferred.  Lance and Christy immediately feel a spark between them, but agree they must keep things professional until Christy’s case is solved.
Christy Reed is a former Olympic figure skating team member, who in the span of nine months lost her parents in a car accident and then a few months later she lost her sister in a house fire.  Then she receives a letter in her sister’s handwriting two months after her alleged death.  The letter warns her not to contact the authorities, but Christy knows she is out of her depth.  She discreetly contacts the FBI and meets the agent in charge of her case, Lance MacGregor.  She immediately feels confident in his abilities and that she can trust him.  As the case gets more mysteriously and threatening for Christy, the bond she feels toward Lance and vice versa strengthens.  Can this bond outlast a killer out for his next victim, which just happens to be Christy?
The pace of this story was quick and kept me turning the pages quickly to find out what was going to happen next.  There was suspense, mystery, romance, grief, and tension throughout the story.  The faith these two main characters display, especially Christy after enduring so much loss in her life, made the story so enjoyable for me.  I thought the criminal’s character very realistic and believable.  I can’t wait for Finn’s story in book three of the series!
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.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Double Play

Title:  Double Play
Author:  Ranee S. Clark
Pages:  208
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Covenant Communications, Inc.
David Savage will soon be graduating from college and has a choice to make for his future…professional football or baseball?  His best friend Anthony is getting married soon, so he knows his future is going to change no matter what profession he chooses.  His best friend’s ex-girlfriend Sophie has made it her mission to win him back, so David tries to keep her from succeeding in this mission.  As David and Sophie spend more time together, he discovers that there is more to the shallow Sophie he has known for two years.  She is much more than fashion and makeup.
Sophie Pope is going to college and working for her mother, who is in the wedding planning business.  Sophie has always had a great fashion sense and been able to pick out the right clothes for various body types to make the person look their best.  However, does this focus make her appear shallow to others?  Sophie wants to run her own PR business someday and has an opportunity to get some face time on TV.  However, she would be working for her ex-fiance on this job and she begins to realize how she has been presenting herself to others.  Will she realize this before her relationship with David is ruined?  Will this opportunity give the potential good exposure for her mother’s business as well as gain potentially valuable experience for her career?
Since I didn’t realize this was a sequel, I missed out on the background of these characters that were introduced in book one.  I kind of felt like I jumped into the middle of a story and didn’t get a chance to connect with the characters.  I would definitely recommend reading book one, Playing for Keeps, before reading this one.  With that said, I still liked the story.  Trying to change someone to fit the way one thinks they should be as well as being comfortable in your own skin without changing to please everyone are just two of the themes presented in this entertaining story.
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, January 18, 2016

I Hope You Dance

Title:  I Hope You Dance
Author:  Beth Moran
Pages:  384
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Lion Fiction
My rating is 4 stars.
I Hope You Dance is a story where characters are not perfect, and there was a mysterious feeling in the air as I read the book.  The Hendersons are a fictional family that definitely has very lifelike qualities and four sisters each having their own quirks.  The parents have been married almost 50 years though right now they have hit a very rough patch in the marital journey.  The youngest daughter, Ruth, was a teenage mom who lived with her partner until he was killed in a car accident.  Now Ruth along with her daughter Maggie have to return to her parents’ home because Ruth’s partner left no money, will, or insurance and a huge amount of debt.
As I progressed further into the novel set in England, I was wondering where or if the gospel message would be a part of the book.  What I loved most was that the people who belonged to a local congregation were very unique.  The church had five or six women who met in their homes, taking turns in hosting their gatherings.  The women were transparent and vulnerable, sharing their deepest heartaches with the rule that nothing said in the group was shared with anyone outside even if they went to their church.  The women shared their lives as they were without dressing them up or wearing masks to hide the emotions they really were dealing with in life.  Laughter, food, teasing and showing love to each other also characterized the small group.
Ruth was my favorite character because she was in many ways the funny, rebellious and tell it like it is kind of a woman.  Ruth was looking for love in all the wrong places with the wrong people.  She wrestled with the reality of God much like real women.  I wonder if there are either men or women who meet today who can be themselves, sharing whatever they need to because they feel loved, safe and not judged; they can be transparent.  There were a few British words I had to look up to discover their meaning, but that’s the fun of reading a book; you learn while being entertained.
Ruth discovered how valued and loved she really was, letting go of the lies she once believed as well as all the other chains that kept her captive and feeling all alone.  Will you be that safe place for someone?  Will you share God’s love and grace with whomever God shows you He has for you to love on?  Perhaps reading this novel will not only make you laugh, tear up, hope and restore your faith, but it might give you ideas of how to be real with others.  I highly recommend 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.”

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Captive (DVD)

Title:  Captive (DVD)
Studio:  Paramount
Year:  2015
My rating is 4 stars.
This movie is based on a true story that can be read about in the book Captive:  The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero.  In 2005, Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols are about to meet in a dramatic and life- changing way.  Brian Nichols is set to appear in a courtroom to face criminal charges when he accosts the sheriff guarding him, steals her weapon and then proceeds to take the lives of four people and escapes.  Brian then steals various vehicles to avoid capture.  When he captures Ashley outside her apartment, he then proceeds to keep her there with him for hours.  During that time, she reads a book given to her called, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, which originally she had trashed after leaving a meeting for those trying to break free of living on drugs.
I read the book first which helped fill in some of the gaps not shown in the movie.  When seeing the movie, please don’t allow young children to watch it due to the violence.  There is a vast difference when I read a book as to see it played out on the screen.  The movie really grabs ones heart and attention, drawing the audience back to a tragic event in 2005.  At the end of the movie, there is a clip of the real Ashley Smith when she appeared on Oprah as well as the sheriff who was beaten.
There is also a memoriam to those who lost their lives that day in court.  I remember this event when it broke on the news, but hearing what went on in the courtroom and then with Ashley really was very moving.  It also reminds us that just because the moment he is captured is over the ripple effect of the aftermath continues today.
Above all, we see God’s hand moving and working on hearts when evil is trying to ruin many lives.  My heart went out to the families who lost a loved one and to Ashley Smith.  It is beyond understanding why Brian chose to commit the actions he carried out.  I pray the families have been able to work through their suffering and see how God is carrying them, loving them and healing them.  I saw too how God kept Brian from doing worse to Ashley and protected her from falling back into the drugs after it was over.

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.”

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Imitation of Christ (Classic Devotions in Today’s Language)

Title:  The Imitation of Christ (Classic Devotions in Today’s Language)
Author:  Thomas A. Kempis; edited by James N. Watson
Pages:  288
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Worthy Inspired
My rating is 5 stars.
Thomas A. Kempis wrote a very serious and compelling even convicting devotional to use in personal quiet time with the Lord.  I looked up some information on Thomas A. Kempis who was a very intelligent and serious man who sought God.  I also learned that this devotional has been the second highest seller of books right behind the Bible.  Not only that, this writing has been around for centuries plus it is in several languages.  When many other works have long since disappeared, why has The Imitation of Christ not only continued to be around but is still being demanded by readers all over the globe?
While it is true that it isn’t inspired and without error like the Bible, I can say I now understand the draw to many people.  Originally written in Latin this new edition is in today’s language, making the compelling words easier to understand and apply to our lives.  In the edition put together by James N. Watson, the writings are compiled by topic making the devotions easier to find when searching by topic.
A couple of the devotions I really marked up because they spoke to my heart by exhorting, pruning or sheering my spirit to imitate the Savior in my life.  For example, here is part of a devotion I marked so I can return to it to contemplate it often:  “In the cross is health, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross I heavenly delight, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of the spirit, in the cross is the height of good deeds, in the cross is holy living.” (pg. 19).   What do you think of the quote or better yet what do you sense in your heart as the Spirit speaks to you?
There are devotions that are underneath topic headings such as trust, loving, wisdom or obedience.  While this is not the complete list at least I hope it gives you enough to really consider obtaining a copy.  Then sit before the Lord with your Bible, journal or notebook, writing utensils and this devotional.  I promise it won’t take long before you just sit there in awe of God along with coming away from quiet time with a challenge if you really think about the pearls of wisdom within the book.

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, January 14, 2016

Daughter of Liberty (The American Patriot Series #1)

Title:  Daughter of Liberty (The American Patriot Series #1)
Author:  J. M. Hochstetler
Pages:  432
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Sheaf House
My rating is 5 stars.
I found this series quite by accident when searching for books of interest on Amazon.  Now I am so glad to have read book one as there are five others in the series published thus far, though Amazon is out of stock on some of the books.  I think these wonderful faith-filled historical stories have caught the attention of readers as they so richly deserve to be noticed and shared!
I could tell right away the author knew her subject well and then set to write novels that remind us of where liberty was birthed along with the cost; however, that is not all.  It is also the faith of the leaders and followers that caused them to put all of what they owned even their lives on the line.  Readers will enjoy the suspense and mystery involved in trying to figure out just who is spying on both rebels and British troops. 
I loved some of the surprising twists in the storyline, and the characters who made choices on both sides of the beginning of the war with heavy hearts.  Some of the characters returned to England and others remained in America to keep the light burning bright, especially the Sons of Liberty.  There is a daring young person who is known only as Oriole because of the sound made before meeting to share intelligence gathered.
I was reminded of families torn apart by the choices they made or the ultimate sacrifice paid for future generations.  J. M. Hochstetler is now one of my new favorite historical authors.  I have plans to read her other stories and share with you my thoughts in the hope you will read them too.  Plan on enjoying the suspense, mystery, intrigue, romance, battles, danger lurking in the darkest shadows and more!  There are a couple of more books the author plans on adding to her series for a total of seven.  These will go on my shelves at home right by the classics to be passed down to those who come after me.  May the message of faith, God, and hope inspire the next generation to press on in sharing their faith and our history!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  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, January 13, 2016

Centralia by Mike Dellosso

Title:  Centralia
Author:  Mike Dellosso                                                                                
Pages:  386
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Tyndale House
What would you do if you woke up one morning and realized that your world was not what you thought it was?  How would you feel if you found out that your memories were untrustworthy?  In Mike Dellosso’s Centralia, Peter Ryan can’t find out where his wife and daughter are, and he is told that they died in a car accident two months prior; however, Peter finds a hidden note from his eight-year-old daughter that says she and her mother went to Centralia.  Memories start to surface, and before he knows it, Peter Ryan finds himself the target of sinister agents of a secret government organization.  He fights for his life and starts to discover that his life is not what it seems as he pursues the truth and his family while being pursued by ruthless men who want to keep him from discovering who he really is.
Mike Dellosso has written an action-packed thriller that once gets moving, continues non-stop as the mystery and memories of the main character’s identity unfolds.  The nuances and details of the characters are well written and create situation that keep readers engaged and on the edge of their seats as each scene reveals more questions than answers to drive the story.  It is easy to like the protagonist and hate the antagonists who pursue him.  The way the story plays out is brilliant, and the key to the main character finding answers into his past and identity is rooted deeply in his heart and mind that could not be wiped away through any brainwashing or mental reprogramming that he had been subjected to.  Readers will be happy to know that the story resolves happily, yet it leaves room for more action and adventure to follow. 
If you like stories that involve mystery, action, mayhem, and resolution for the protagonist, you will enjoy Centralia.
A sequel to this thriller is coming summer 2016!
My rating is 5.
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


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Your Heart’s Desire

Title:  Your Heart’s Desire
Author:  Melody Carlson
Pages:  192
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Center Street
My rating is 5 stars.
I fell in love with this author’s books when I read Love Gently Falling.  In her latest offering, the scene opens with a young widow at a train station getting ready with her young son to embark on a new adventure shortly after WWII concludes.  Caroline seeks to start fresh and not be known by others as a young widow providing for her son.
Caroline’s sister lives in California with her two children and husband who works as a driver for a chocolate manufacturer.  Caroline is able to live in the house of her sister Marjorie in the finished basement, though when she arrives Caroline sees how much work is to be done to make the space livable for her and her son Joe.  Caroline’s biggest challenge is to redo her whole wardrobe now that she no longer lives in Minnesota and having to make due with her current outfits.
I really enjoyed the romance that blossoms for this single woman along with the maturity her son Joe provides for other kids his age. Once again, I am reminded of the cost not just to those who served on the front lines, but to their families at home along with the children.
So choose an afternoon, grab an afghan and enjoy Your Heart’s Desire!

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, January 11, 2016

: A Dash of Daring (Taste of Romance #3) by Elizabeth Maddrey

Title:  A Dash of Daring (Taste of Romance #3)
Author:  Elizabeth Maddrey
Pages:  226
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Janotima Books
My rating is 5 stars.
In the final novel, we enjoy the growing friendship and blooming romance of Zack and Amy.  What makes this book unique is the ethnicity differences that keep Amy wondering If Zack could really love her as she has seen some bad examples of ethnic marriages in her extended family.  Through the other prior novels, A Splash of Substance and A Pinch of Promise, hints have been dropped about Amy and Zack’s friendship.
Amy’s parents are really some special people in the tale, but I will leave you to discover that for yourselves.  One truth that really comes across more than once is that no matter who one marries, marriage is hard work and both have to be committed totally for it to be successful.  The setting is in the inner city of Washington D. C.  Another theme is how the teachers wonder at times if they are making a difference in their students’ lives.  Why?  Some of the struggles inner city students face are different than suburban students.  While there are, of course, some struggles all teens wrestle with such as growing up.
I applaud the author for handling a sensitive issue and how the Bible doesn’t speak against interracial marriages, but instead marriages that aren’t of the same faith in Jesus Christ.  While the Christian divorce rate isn’t smaller than other divorce rates in our society, novels like this can help encourage working to stay true to the vows both made before God.
I liked to how Amy would go to her parents for advice and how they knew her so well as to speak truth to her even though it wouldn’t feel good at that moment.  The tough part for teachers is being able to be vocal about their Christian faith in schools today and thankfully many live lives that are sparkling examples of Christ before their students.  Plus I liked how the characters prayed before meals, holding hands and actually talking to each other and not having their faces in their phones or other electronic gadgets!  Bravo Elizabeth for a well written series!

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.”

A Pinch of Promise (Taste of Romance #2) by Elizabeth Maddrey

Title:  A Pinch of Promise (Taste of Romance #2)
Author:  Elizabeth Maddrey
Pages:  242
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Janotima Books
My rating is 5 stars.
The first book in the Taste of Romance series is A Splash of Substance where we meet three young men Jackson, Zach and Ben.  Each of them has a different job, and different tastes; yet, they share a solid faith in Jesus Christ.  Besides having their faith in common they each also have the desire to wed a strong Christian woman but are waiting on God to show them who He has for each of them.
In A Splash of Substance, we read about Jackson’s unique job situation along with its challenges plus how he meets Paige who is a chef.  A Pinch of Promise focuses on Ben who needs to have surgery for a torn ACL followed up by weeks of physical therapy.  When Ben comes in to the physical therapy office, he is sees a face that seems similar to a woman from his past.  Their journey of getting to know one another again begins and is filled with tension as Rebecca must chose to trust Ben or let him walk out of her life again.
For me, I enjoyed the second book even more than the first one, though book one was a great story too.  I liked that the chapters were short which helped move the tale along plus made taking breaks easier.  I got hooked by the heart of the story as well as the real life issues that the characters had to wrestle with.  Both books will grab your heart and challenge your mind while renewing the hope of living sold out for Christ!

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.” 

Splash of Substance (Taste of Romance #1) By Elizabeth Maddrey

Title:  A Splash of Substance (A Taste of Romance Book #1)
Author:  Elizabeth Maddrey
Pages:  278
Year:  2015
Publisher:   Janotima Books
My rating is 4 stars.
A Splash of Substance has two sequels; the first is titled A Pinch of Promise which focuses on Jackson’s roommate named Bed.  The third book is A Dash of Daring whose main character is Zach Wilson who is the other roommate of Jackson’s in the Washington, D. C. area.  The first novel starts with introducing the audience to the two main characters along with their jobs.  The lead female is Paige who is attempting to start a catering business from the ground up with food that is quite unique.  Jackson is the lead male who is an aide to a senator in Washington.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure I would like the tale, but the further along I went in the story the more I saw the depth to what the author was weaving together.  There is romance, care for what God has created, politics and above all listening for God’s voice.  I enjoyed following the two main characters as they wrestled with daily life issues like roommates and friendships, while bonding as friends.  Then different experiences start to test their relationship.
I cannot imagine working in the political scene with all the various issues and personalities.  Plus the multifaceted demands made on peoples’ time.  For a Christian it is like standing on the frontline of a war.  The novel reflects how hard and the cost that it brings to stay true to the Biblical convictions one has and living them daily.  I knew as soon as I was done I wanted to read the remaining stories in the series to see how it is brought to conclusion.  So join me as we explore the fictional characters lives along with the issues they must face in living out their faith without compromise!

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.”

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Refuge at Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides #3)

Title:  A Refuge at Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides #3)
Author:  Carrie Turansky
Pages:  340
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Multnomah Books
Penny Ramsey has left Highland Hall for London to help her sister take care of eight orphaned children that have come into their home and Kate is expecting her first child.  The children’s parents have either been killed in the war or have abandoned them.  Keeping the children occupied with the restrictions of war time is a challenge for Kate and Penny.  While in London, Kate’s physician husband Jon runs into an old friend who has been injured during pilot training.  Jon invites Alex Goodwin over for dinner and he entertains the family with stories of his training and life growing up in India.  Alex also hits if off with Penny.  Eventually, the bombings in London make it unsafe for the family to remain so they return to Highland Hall, which is located in the country.  Alex heals and returns to training and the war.
Alex has poured his life into becoming the best pilot he can be.  He feels a sense of duty and honor to protect the innocent women and children of his country by trying his best to prevent the German zeppelins from bombing England.  He and Penny correspond by letter, with each eagerly looking forward to receiving the others letter.  As their correspondence continues, their feelings for each other grow.  They share a faith in God, but can their budding romance survive war or become a casualty of it?
I have enjoyed this entire series, especially this last book.  The way this family lived their faith daily was truly a joy to read about.  With William and Jon leading their families in daily devotions, prayer and as living examples for their wives and children to see was just marvelous!  When mistakes were made by some who made wrong choices, grace and compassion were extended time and again.  I thought the author did a great job depicting the anxiety and reality of the emotions during this time period of war.  The book contains romance, faith, acts of heroism, bravery, courage and much more.  I’m anxiously awaiting the next series this author pens.  I’m sure it will hold true to her sense of Christian values.
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.”

A Pattern of Lies

Title:  A Pattern of Lies (Bess Crawford #7)
Author:  Charles Todd
Pages:  336
Year:  2015
Publisher:  William Morrow
Bess Crawford finds herself still serving as a nurse during World War I with rumors of the war soon being over heard more and more often.  She has a few days leave and plans to spend it with her parents.  Her train is delayed at the station and she runs into a former patient, Mark Ashton, who lives nearby.  He is a soldier still on medical leave from his injuries.  While recuperating, his family becomes pariahs in their small town.  He invites Bess to stay overnight until her train arrives.  Bess finds herself the subject of the same persecution as Mark’s family.
Bess sets out to find out what is at the root of the mean treatment this family is receiving.  She asks questions, but no one knows who started the rumors.  The villagers turn against the family readily enough with no proof and Bess wonders how this happened.  The one man who can perhaps help the Ashtons’ cause is fighting in France.  Bess manages to find him, but he refuses to ask for leave to come home to straighten things out.  The rumors turn even the local law enforcement against Mark’s father, the former owner of a gunpowder factory that experienced a tragedy two years prior.  Many think Mark’s father involved in the explosion that destroyed the factory and killed 100 men.  He is arrested and set to stand trial.  Can Bess figure out who is fanning the flames of injustice before it is too late?
I had a difficult time getting into this story, but I knew that if I kept reading the story would improve and draw me in, which it did.  This isn’t the best story in the Bess Crawford mystery series, but still worth reading as the main character’s history and personality continue to develop.  There was not enough action in the story for me, and the plot seemed to drag slowly to a conclusion.  It seemed Bess was poking her nose into something that really wasn’t her business.  Hopefully, her next mystery will feature more action.
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.” 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House Series)


Title:  A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House Series)
Author:  Kristi Ann Hunter
Pages:  368
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 4 stars.
One of the main reasons I requested to review the book was because Kristi Ann Hunter is a new author and I wanted to see what she brought to her audience.  The main female character, Lady Miranda, desired to break out of the societal constraints of her life, but kept that secret closely guarded until her brother’s new valet sends one of her letters to Duke Marshington.  The letters were Miranda’s way of releasing her pent up feelings and desires were she to write them in a journal.
Miranda’s problem is that she is attracted to her brother’s valet, but then she receives a response from the Duke that was never expected!  There are Christian themes throughout the book, which I am glad to see in the novel as some publishers have not been publishing novels with any Christian themes even though they are clean.  Readers will love the fast-paced action in the book and be entertained as they read how Miranda decides what to do with two men in her life.
My knowledge of this era is very little, but the author does a great job of bringing humor to her first full length novel.  If you desire to read the prequel, A Lady of Esteem, it is readily available as an ebook.  I didn’t read the prequel and enjoyed this first book in the Hawthorne series.  I look forward to the next installment.  The novel will make a great gift for the readers you know whether family or friends!

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, January 6, 2016

Step by Step by Candace Calvert

Title:  Step by Step (Crisis Team)
Author:  Candace Calvert
Pages:  400
Year:  2016
Publisher:  Tyndale
My rating is 5 stars.
Whew!  What an exciting, suspenseful and heart-tugging ride as I read the story from start to finish.  I enjoyed Candace Calvert’s latest book plus I am excited to know another one will be coming out later in the fall of 2016!  Readers follow Taylor’s journey through her grief, her work as an ER nurse along with learning about God being in control.
In the book is a reflection of how as humans we want life to go faster, especially when we are hurting without thinking that we might be missing God’s work.  The story is, I believe, factual in how burnout in any service job that requires such emotional giving is high.  Here we read of a crisis team that goes to walk alongside those who have experienced tragedy.  Readers will also learn how those who volunteer to be there to help others through hard times at all times of the day need to be cared for too.
In the story we read of a nurse who has been wounded in her soul and heart very deeply in the past, and it is affecting her life in negative ways.  The nurse’s name is Sloane and she is not open to believing in love or God due to the deep wounding in her soul plus the hopelessness she carries around inside. 
There is suspense, a mystery that is not easy to solve and characters that are strong in their faith; yet, who at times wrestle with their walk in the Lord.  When we cannot see the next step we are to take or how God is taking care of us, it sure can shake us up.  For me, the main theme is that all the bullet point planning or any attempt to control our lives is futile.  The peace we seek comes when we give that control back to God and trust Him to take care of us and understand the deep love He dispenses personally on each person.  This is a great novel and one that touches the heart!

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, January 5, 2016

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings


Title:  At Love’s Bidding
Author:  Regina Jennings
Pages:  352
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Bethany
My rating is 5+ stars.
What a wonderfully entertaining and heart-touching work of fiction!  There are several characters that bring a unique personality to the story which brings climatic moments for the reader.  First, there is a woman named Miranda who helps run the family auction house in Boston. What brings them together is a mistake at the auction house regarding a painting that now has disappeared.
The small town in Missouri named Pine Gap where Miranda shows up with her grandfather whose health and state of mind seems to be in decline.  Wyatt is Isaac’s adopted brother and his families’ experiences are what bring a drastic change many times over in Wyatt’s life.  Isaac is the son of the parents who adopted Wyatt; unfortunately he was always compared to Wyatt in a way that made Isaac feel unloved.
The town of Pine Gap holds a variety of characters that seek to help the people in the towns eking out a daily living.  I enjoyed the parts of the plot line that caused me to chuckle along with rising tension between Wyatt and Miranda’s growing attraction framed against a backdrop of mystery.  Boston in the book sure had a ranking in society that would take courage to rise above.
Regina Jennings has written a tale that shows the differences words can mean, depending on where one resided at the time as well as how Miranda’s grandfather thought that since he could run an antique auction house it couldn’t be hard to run a cattle auction.  Two themes struck me as I read the book:  One was caring for the grandfather with gentleness and respect even though he was slowly losing memories along with some personality changes.  Second was the importance of the character of a person and not their station in life or their finances.  Above all was the theme that God is a loving God who cares for his children always even when one cannot easily see His hand.
I started this book late at night and remained reading until I finished it.  I was hooked from the first page, so be careful when you start the book in case you have to arise early the next morning!

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, January 4, 2016

A Thousand Shall Fall

Title:  A Thousand Shall Fall (Shenandoah Valley Saga #1)
Author:  Andrea Boeshaar
Pages:  278
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Kregel Publications
This love story takes place toward the end of the Civil War in the year 1864 in the state of Virginia.  The two main characters are Carrie Ann Bell and Peyton Collier.  Peyton is an officer in the Union Army.  Carrie Ann is a journalist and server at the local town inn.  After her journalist father left to document the Civil War as a reporter, the family farm burned.  Carrie Ann as the oldest daughter is left to find lodging and food for her mentally disturbed mother, who has alienated most of the town, and her two younger sisters.  One morning Carrie Ann finds a note from her 15-year-old sister, Sarah Jane.  She has run away with a peddler who had been passing through.  Carrie Ann sets out to bring her wayward sister home, but finds herself caught in the middle of a fight between Confederate and Union forces.
She is captured by the Union Army, arrested and set to work in the field hospital, aiding wounded soldiers.  When captured, Carrie sees a familiar face.  Peyton Collier had been wounded about a year ago and Carrie Ann had stitched up his wound.  Now as they meet again, sparks fly.  However, Carrie has a secret she is keeping.  Peyton has turned his life around spiritually since the two last met.  Carrie has always counted God as her best friend.  As Peyton has Carrie placed under his protection, he also helps her search for her missing sister.  As the battle for the Shenandoah Valley heats up, Peyton sends Carrie to his aunt’s home for her safety, to continue her search for her sister and also to work as a journalist.
I liked the detailed setting and battle scenes as it made the story more realistic.  I also liked seeing the interactions between the loyalist, Aunt Ruth and her secessionist neighbors.  I appreciate the research the author did to make the story more authentic.  However, the beginning half of the book was too slow for my tastes and I had a hard time pressing forward.  I did stick it out and the last half of the book was much more interesting.  The character of Peyton held my interest more so than Carrie.  His openness about his past and his spiritual enlightenment gave him a deeper appreciation for life in the midst of war.  There is a sequel planned for release in November 2016 titled, Too Deep for Words, featuring Carrie Ann’s sister Margaret.
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.”

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The First Hostage

Title:  The First Hostage (A J. B. Collins Novel #2)
Author:  Joel Rosenberg
Pages:  448
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Tyndale
My rating is 5 stars.
What occurs in this novel I learned from Joel Rosenberg’s recent blog post happens six seconds after the close of the first book in the series, The Third Target.  Before you begin either book plan on being glued to the action for hours because it is nonstop from start to finish.  In some ways the evil that nations were fighting against defied description.  The characters who fought to protect the innocent and leaders had actions, thoughts and decisions that were at times surprising.
J. B. Collins is living through more experiences of hell than he ever has had on any major news assignments because every time he turns around his life is on the line.  Whether it is due to ISIS or other unknown assailants, J. B.’s level of frustration grows as he can’t reconcile faith in Jesus or his access to report the danger he witnesses firsthand.  Trying to identify those who are backing ISIS and seeing how far they had infiltrated our government was extremely thought-provoking and added tension to the tale.
Israel is trying to help locate those who are guilty of causing mass destruction and those who have captured the President and hidden him.  I read this novel in one sitting because I was very engrossed in the nail-biting tension and a possible romance for J. B.  Plus the danger and loss of friends that J. B. had suffered was a high cost he never thought would be attached to his journalism career.
There is so much to this book and the prior novel that isn’t revealed in the review, but I believe it is worthwhile for people to read and consider the picture though fictional that is being painted on the pages.  As in Old Testament times, I see there is major spiritual warfare going on.  Some of the various Muslim characters in the book are radical and others are peaceful, bringing the challenge to rightly identify the enemy.
I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot along with those who come together regardless of differences to halt the killing some wished to unleash on people.  I hope you take time to read both books as Joel Rosenberg is a well-informed Middle East columnist and author.  Joel brings his understanding of current events into the world of fiction, which makes the stories more tantalizing and believable.

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.”

The Third Target by Joel Rosenberg

Title:  The Third Target (A J. B. Collins Novel)
Author:  Joel Rosenberg
Pages:  448
Year:  2015
Publisher:  Tyndale
My rating is 5+ stars.
I knew that before I read the latest Joel Rosenberg installment in the J. B. Collins series, The First Hostage, I had to reread The Third Target.  While it is true that part of the reason for doing so was due to the fact I read tons of books a year, it is equally true that the story inside this series is multilayered.  The action and tension in the book are unending while readers also try to figure out if there is someone on either side of those for good or evil who may not be who they appear to be at first glance.
J. B. Collins is a journalist who has an insatiable thirst for adventure.  He is attempting to run away from facing his lack of a spiritual walk with the Lord.  J. B. learned a lot of his craft as a journalist in the Middle East at his grandfather’s knee.  Times now are more dangerous than ever and there are those who don’t want J. B. revealing what he learns to the world.  Why?  Evil men wish to attack their targets unaware and therefore unprepared.
If memory serves me correctly, one reason Rosenberg is writing the series is to inform people via fiction of events that are a touch of the reality he sees and knows.  Rosenberg realizes he can reach many more people with the truth of current events and the gospel through stories rather than in a lecture format.  For me, it is easier to read and learn than to listen; I am not an audio learner.
Both The Third Target and its sequel The First Hostage are inextricably connected and need to be read in order.  The Third Target ends on cliffhanger that caught me off guard the first time I read the book.  Now I am ready to delve into The First Hostage to once again see how J. B. Collins is not just following a story, but is also part of the story in the articles he is writing.  Plus I want to see if J. B. is yet at a point where he sees that without Jesus Christ he isn’t ready for eternity.  So grab something warm to drink, climb under a blanket and lose yourself in the adventure which is unlike any adventure you have ever been on before!

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.”