Friday, November 1, 2013

"Greetings From The Flipside" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Greetings from the Flipside
B&H Books (October 15, 2013)
by
Rene Gutteridge


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rene is the author of seventeen novels. She also has extensive experience writing comedy sketches, and worked for five years as the director of drama for a church. She has a degree specializing in Screenwriting, for which she earned the Excellence in Mass Communication Award, and graduated magna cum laude.

She is married to Sean, a musician and worship leader, and has two children. They reside in Oklahoma, where Rene writes full time and enjoys instructing in college classrooms and writers conferences.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hope Landon has been rewriting other people's greeting cards since she was six years old -- there's always a funnier caption. She's all set to chase those creative dreams with her musician fiance in New York City until he leaves Hope at the altar, deciding he must not really love this girl if he can't write a song for her. That may give her something to write about . . .

Hope disappears alone on what was supposed to be the couple's month long honeymoon. Upon returning she learns of her funeral -- everyone in her life concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it's not that easy to rent a place when you've been declared dead.

Taking shelter at the YWCA, Hope soon lands a job at a Christian inspirational greeting card company as an assistant to Jake, a guy who shut down his organization's humor department. She has lost her faith in love; he needs to find something or someone that will make him laugh.

Is there anything in the cards for these two? Find out in the truly original Greetings from the Flipside by authors Rene Gutteridge (Boo) and Cheryl McKay (screenplay for The Ultimate Gift).

If you would like to read the first chapter of >Greetings from the Flipside, go HERE.

MY REVIEW:
      One of my all time favorite books is a book by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay, "Never the Bride" - I love that book! So I looked forward to seeing what the two of them put together this time. It is one of the most original books I have ever read. I can't really say why without possibly spoiling something for future readers, but my 17 year old daughter is reading it right now and really enjoying it too. She came to me earlier today and said, "So the first part of each chapter is... and the second part of each chapter takes place...?" And I said, "Yep, pretty crazy huh?" And she said, "Yep, it's really cool!" I loved watching the two parts of each chapter cross over each other and bring everything all together. If you are looking for something original, with sweet and funny characters (and loony... don't forget Hope's loony mom!), definite conflict with a wild ride on the way to resolution then you really need to check this book out! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

"The Captive Maiden" by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

MY REVIEW:
     The newest book from Melanie Dickerson releases soon and boy is it worth the wait! Another reinvented fairytale, this time with Cinderella. We meet Gisela as her father sells a horse from his carefully bred stock to the Duke's eldest son. She isn't happy that one of her favorite horses is leaving but she is entranced with the young man. Not long after her father dies and she is left at the whims of her step mother who treats her horribly. But at least she is still around her father's horses. She dreams of the young man but one day realizes that nothing can ever happen there because she is an orphan with nothing. Years pass...
      Melanie has done it again, woven a tale that is incredibly moving and amazing and taking a story that we all "know" so well and breathing new life into it. In this story we enter the world of jousting and tournaments and discovering God's purpose for your life. Gisela and Valten find that you must rely on God for deliverance because in our own strength it just isn't enough. 
      My favorite part of these books is how she weaves them all together. You don't have to read them in a series but it sure is fun if you do!
      I highly recommend the entire set of books (as my 17 year old daughter does too!) and just keep hoping that Melanie doesn't run out of fairytales anytime soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Dark Justice" by Brandilyn Collins Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dark Justice
B&H Books (October 1, 2013)
by
Brandilyn Collins


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.

ABOUT THE BOOK

If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back.

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Dark Justice, HERE.

MY REVIEW:
       My favorite book of Brandilyn Collins is Deadly Exposure. Hands down. Until now... kind of. I think this book holds a tight 2nd place spot to Deadly Exposure in my book. It grabbed my attention IMMEDIATELY and I was finished in about 24 hours. It called for me to put my life on hold while I followed Hannah as she tries to determine who the "Bad People" and the "Good People" are all the while she is most importantly trying to keep her elderly mother and her daughter safe as she unravels the mysterious video she is given from a dying man. It becomes harder and harder to do all of those things at the same time that everyone in the country thinks you are a murderer as bodies pile up and the police are looking for you. To top it off, there is a deadline on solving the mystery or the whole country could go black. No power. Chaos. Turmoil. Destruction. Definitely a deadline.

      The great thing about this book is that we keep going back and forth from present time to the action that occurred on the two days that changes Hannah's life. And when it's over, it doesn't end like you think, but it ends right. Very excellent!

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Class Reunion Series" by Debby Mayne - Book Reviews...

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pretty is as Pretty Does (bk 1)
Bless Her Heart (bk 2)
Tickled Pink (bk 3)
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
by
Debby Mayne


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debby Mayne is a best-selling author who has published more than 25 books and novellas, 400 short stories and articles, and devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor, and a copy editor and proofreader. Her novel, Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida received 4-1/2 stars from RT Book Review, and was named a Top Pick for the month of July. She and her husband Wally have two grown daughters, and live in Palm Harbor, Florida.

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Priscilla Slater goes to her ten-year high school reunion with equal parts dread and eager anticipation. Even though she’s a successful owner of a chain of hair salons and no longer has the mousy brown hair, crooked teeth, and discount-store wardrobe, she still feels like the ugly duckling. But when she arrives at the reunion, Priscilla soon realizes that her old classmates aren’t exactly as she remembers them. With humor and a just a touch of sassiness, Priscilla finds herself facing her own truth—and she may be surprised at what she discovers.

As Priscilla Slater’s 15-year class reunion approaches, she decides to attend out of curiosity… and to flaunt her latest achievement—taking her business to a national level with the possibility of a TV show. As if getting ready for the event and putting up with the pranks of her former classmates isn’t enough, Priscilla’s hometown visit is further complicated by her parents’ separation. With the once-solid sanctuary of her home broken at the foundation, there’s only one thing Priscilla’s parents can agree on: no matter what sort of accolades their daughter receives as a hair stylist, she’s not living up to her potential. Eager to escape the painful reality of her childhood home, Priscilla bolts as soon as a call from New York brings good news: her offer to purchase one of the best salons in the country is likely to come through. But returning to New York means returning to Tim, Priscilla’s best friend and business pal who has been impatiently suggesting their relationship should be more than a friendship. Despite her recent achievements, will Priscilla learn that success doesn’t always result in popularity—or love?

Priscilla Slater shows up at her 20-year reunion as a national celebrity. Her hair salon dynasty has skyrocketed, and to top it off, she has her own line of hair products. She has become a huge success with the “Ms. Prissy Big Hair” line that lets women with the thinnest of locks get the coveted “big hair” look so popular in the South. Her classmates have finally come to terms with adulthood, but they’re handling it with the grace of a Southern woman wearing white after Labor Day. It’s just downright awkward! Asserting the maturity that her classmates have often lacked, Priscilla holds her head high. But she can’t ignore everything. When she catches her mother in the arms of her former high school principal, Priscilla can’t get out of town fast enough. Eager to get back to her more comfortable life, Priscilla runs head on into an ultimatum: Tim tells her they’re not getting any younger—as if she has to be reminded.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Pretty is as Pretty Does (bk 1), go HERE
JOIN THE PARTY! Now that all three books have released, let’s party! (Yes, really!) Join our online class reunion the week of October 7, 2013 on Debby Mayne’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/136447929891169/ Stop by to answer questions about the books, respond to fun polls, join in fun activities to help you reminisce your high school days, and win great prizes. Tell your friends and meet us there!

MY REVIEW:
      What a fun idea!!! Here is a set of 3 books that takes you through a 10 year, 15 year and 20 year class reunion with a batch of people (not necessarily friends...) that all went to school together. The cool thing is that we meet them in the first book and find out their personalities, who they were in high school, who they are now, where the drama in their lives is, and just why they feel the need to either stand up to who they were in high school or why they need to leave that behind. The "main" character is Priscilla who dropped out of college to own a hair salon that has turned into a chain. She is joined by a newer friend Tim, the only one who is a central character that actually did NOT go to school with everyone else. He just happens to be in love with Priscilla and will do anything to spend time with her including going to her high school reunions. Then there are all the secondary characters who lend lots of humor, drama and more drama to everything going on.
      I absolutely loved following everyone over the span of 10 years... it's not often you get to go that far in the lives of characters you become friends with. These are contemporary novels that are lots of fun. I would definitely start at the beginning and follow the whole journey, don't jump in the middle. You will enjoy this series! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Raw Edges" by Sandra Bricker Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Raw Edge
Abingdon Press (September 17, 2013)
by
Sandra D. Bricker


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie's spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"

ABOUT THE BOOK

Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raw Edge, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

MY REVIEW:
      Sandra Bricker is becoming one of my favorite Chick Lit authors with her witty style of writing contemporary romance (Always the Baker, Never the Bride...). She departs from that style with "Raw Edges". It is contemporary, but certainly not witty Chick Lit. It is still excellent writing, but in a more serious form. The subject matter is heavy - Ovarian cancer... survivors and families without survivors. They are putting together a memory quilt to honor them and bring awareness to Ovarian cancer and the research to find a cure. This quilt brings together a survivor with a widower and his young daughter who lost their loved one to the same cancer. It is well written and moving, but very enjoyable at times as well. Sadie, the 9 year old daughter, lends a quirky breath of fresh air with her approach to life (and match making) while Annabelle is a wonderful heroine in all of her imperfections, but eagerness. Gray actually makes a great hero - still living in the past of losing his wife, raising his daughter, running his business - but not moving on (it has only been a year). Then the ball starts rolling for him because of a request his late wife made before she passed away... and boy does it start rolling. A wonderful book, but a departure from the style I have come to know Sandra for.

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Love's Awakening" Book Review



Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?

Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love, loyalty, and the makings of a legacy. With rich descriptions of the people who settled and civilized a wild landscape, Frantz weaves a tapestry of characters and places that stick with the reader long after they turn the last page.


MY REVIEW:
     Is blood thicker than water? Can someone overcome what they are born into? Is who we are a product of who we are born to or is it who we make of ourselves? What sacrifices will we truly make for love? These are the kind of questions that are explored in Love's Awakening and it is a beautiful exploration. Laura Frantz became one of my favorite historical authors the day I picked up her debut novel The Frontiersman's Daughter. She has won me over again and again everytime I pick up her new books. This is the first time that she has penned a book #2... all of her first books were stand alone books. I was curious how a series would work in her style. After reading Love's Reckoning with Eden as the central character and her sister Elspeth as the bad girl, I expected book #2 to be about Elspeth and to somehow find her some redemption. I was wrong. Instead of staying in the same time with basically the same characters, Laura takes us to a new generation. When we come back to New Hope we find that Silas and Eden now have 4 grown children, none of which are married, and we actually take refuge in the thoughts and actions of the youngest, Ellie. 
       Ellie is trying to figure out who she really is when she comes back to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia and the finishing school she was at. She comes home to find Silas and Eden on a trip and her brothers and sister holding down the home at New Hope... with some unexpected visitors. Her family has been helping fugitives on the Underground Railroad the whole time she has been away from home. Her family struggles with sheltering Ellie or allowing her to grow up and help out. In the meantime she has become reacquainted with her family's nemesis - the Turlocks and their whiskey making, slave owning ways. There is just one problem, she can't stop thinking about Jack, the second son. But a Turlock and a Ballantyne could never be anything more than enemies, could they? 
        Elspeth does make an appearance in this book and it really made me want to go back and read the first book again! It was great to meet up with Silas and Eden again, but I truly loved some of the new characters, Jack and Chloe Turlock and of course Ellie and her brother Ansel. I am looking forward to the next book, but not the fact that we will skip another generation and join up with Ansel's daughter... I want to spend more time with these characters!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"Trapped" Book Review




When librarian Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James "Dev" Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn't just dangerous--it's deadly.

Chilling and at times terrifying, Trapped is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

MY REVIEW:
     I love a good mystery/suspense book. Probably my favorite genre. When it comes to good mystery/suspense authors I always turn to some of my favorites... Brandilyn Collins, Robin Caroll, Lynette Eason, Terri Blackstock and of course Irene Hannon! This book is #2 in the Guardians of Justice series and in the first book we got to meet Moira and then her hero Cal. Now that they are married we are introduced to Laura, her missing 16 year old half sister, and her soon to be hero Dev. 
      The interesting part about this book is that it is not a mystery. We know from the beginning who the bad guy is. That doesn't change. He is the bad guy the whole way through the book, we don't know just how twisted he is until later on, but it is never a question of who he is. Since I like mystery/suspense I was a little bummed that we didn't have any questions there... or so I thought. It was still suspenseful to the max. Irene does a great job of building tension and drama so that you are basically on the edge of your seat waiting for the next skeleton to jump out of a closet. And that is just the suspense part. She is also an expert at building romantic tension as well. And the tension definitely builds between Laura and Dev as they try to be professional until the case is solved but that isn't working too well. Love this one! I am guessing that book #3 will propel us into Connor's world and I can't wait to see where that will take me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Unforeseeable" by Nancy Mehl Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Unforeseeable
Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2013)
by
Nancy Mehl


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Mystery, Romance, and Suspense Seamlessly Combined in a Mennonite Small-Town Setting Callie Hoffman knows she has a good life in Kingdom, Kansas. She's thrilled to be engaged to Levi Housler, the new pastor of Kingdom Mennonite Church, and she spends her days working with her friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Lizzie Housler, at Cora's Cafe. However, Callie's idyllic life is interrupted when a body is discovered on the road outside Kingdom and the deceased turns out to be a victim of a serial killer. As Washington County's new sheriff begins questioning Kingdom residents, Callie and the rest of the town are appalled at the prospect of a killer among them. The very reason Kingdom exists is to protect the people from the temptations and dangers of the outside world, but all the town founders' attempts to plan ahead couldn't prevent a threat like this. Unsettled at this unforeseen danger, Callie is concerned when it appears Levi knows more than he's telling. Desperate to find answers for herself, Callie never expected that she'd have to face some of her own past's skeletons. As Callie and the residents of Kingdom fear this danger for which they never planned, they must learn anew that only God knows the future and their trust must always lie in Him.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Unforeseeable, go HERE.





MY REVIEW:
   I have really enjoyed this series by Nancy Mehl. It is always bittersweet to read the 3rd book knowing that the series is coming to an end and you won't be able to visit these characters anymore. Nancy writes such engaging characters that I will miss them. The setting is what really set these books apart from other Amish/Mennonite series that I have read. This series takes place in Kingdom, Kansas. A small (tiny...) village that is run by the Kingdom Mennonite church basically. You can only live there if you have been invited or accepted by the church board. Over the first two books we saw the community get rocked by murder and outside influences. In book #3 we see them get targeted by a serial killer - the question becomes... is it one of their own or an outsider putting a bullseye on them. Callie and Levi are right in the middle of everything as they end up questioning whether they are really meant for each other after all, or did Levi only get engaged to her because he became the pastor and pastors are supposed to be married. Will Callie live long enough to get married anyway!
     This was a good wrap up to the series and a great way to revisit the wonderful characters. The very end was a little abrupt for me in the decision made by the characters but it certainly did wrap up the series. Overall, I really enjoyed this entire series and have loved discovering Nancy Mehl!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Icing on the Cake Review



Scarlet Lindsey's aunt Wilhelmina may be Texas's most popular cake baker extraordinaire, but she's also getting on in years. When Scarlet decides to take on the role of cake decorator at her cranky aunt's bidding, it's just the beginning of a series of misunderstandings and mishaps that will lead her to compete in a cake challenge on national television--and might even lead her to finding true love.

Fan favorite Janice Thompson is back with more wit, more weddings, and more of what her readers love best--bridal business drama. Bella and the gang are all here and readers will fall in love with the newest quirky characters straight from the creative mind of a fantastic storyteller.


MY REVIEW:
    Every once in awhile a series of books comes along that develop such fantastic characters, usually in a delightful setting with fun plots and ideas, that you just can't help falling in love with the entire series and you wait with bated breath for the next book to be released so you can go back to your favorite spot and reconnect with some of your favorite characters while you are introduced to more fun people. In the past I have seen Mary Connealy accomplish that with some of her Christian Westerns, Julie Lessman definitely did that with her Boston series... so much so that she wrote a second series about the same family! Janice Thompson has definitely accomplished the same thing with her Bella books that she has continued in her Weddings by Design series! The cover is lovely and fun, but it is just the gateway back to Galveston where we get to meet back up with Bella and her crazy friends and family but we really have the opportunity to get to know cake designer, Scarlet and Bella's brother (troublemaker) Armando!
     The storyline is fun (love the tv contest and the descriptions of the hot lights and the horror of going through all of that!) but you know the girl will get her happily ever after... with Janice's books it isn't so much the suspense of - whoever will she end up with?!?! but more the witty journey that gets you there. The writing style is hilarious and a mile a minute riot. I absolutely adore her books and Icing On the Cake is just the next in a wonderful series that I encourage you to start from the very beginning with Fools Rush In and then go all the way through (and don't forget the Backstage Pass series that picks up with characters that first appear in the Fools Rush In books...) I can't wait for the next one!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Into The Whirlwind" By Elizabeth Camden Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Into the Whirlwind
Baker Publishing Group (August 15, 2013)
by
Elizabeth Camden


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.




ABOUT THE BOOK

After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Into the Whirlwind, go HERE.

MY REVIEW:
      Elizabeth Camden is a master with storytelling in historical fiction! I couldn't read this book fast enough to satisfy my curiosity. She absolutely brought the Chicago fire to life for me and I have always been fascinated with that scenario anyway - how a whole town can basically burn down from one little fire... Elizabeth answers that and so much more in "Into the Whirlwind".  I absolutely devoured this book and finished it in record time. Zack and Mollie are obviously the love interests here, but I honestly didn't know if things would work out for them or not... I can't tell you either. Elizabeth Camden has penned a beautiful story that historical romance readers will love! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Paige Torn" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Paige Torn
Think (May 1, 2013)
by
Erynn Mangum

MY REVIEW:
         Paige is a people pleaser that can't say "no" when of course everything people are asking of her are good things that someone should be doing and God would want her to help out. Right? This book really hit home to me as I saw her life unfolding with more and more stress, less and less time for herself and finally at the point where she herself wasn't even really there anymore. Is that really where God wants us? To the point of losing ourselves because we are so busy doing good things? 
         Paige is a wonderful character that I can't wait to visit again in the next book, and she has a wonderful support cast with her friends and co-workers. But honestly the best part of this book for me was seeing the eye opening truths in it that I really needed spoken into my own life right now. Like Paige, I will be doing some praying to see what I can let go of to find myself again. With 7 kids, homeschooling, owning my own business, running fundraisers and much more... I'm not sure where that will start but I think God can help me figure it out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





A few things about her: So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!



ABOUT THE BOOK




Everyone knows they can count on Paige Alder. But between volunteering at church, putting in overtime at work, and helping her best friend plan an anniversary party, she's lucky to grab a cheese stick for dinner. Paige can't even remember the last time she had a few minutes to relax or dig into God's Word. Then she meets laid-back Tyler, an attractive, Jesus-loving guy. Will he be able to help Paige get her priorities on track?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Torn, go HERE.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Pieces of the Heart" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pieces of the Heart
Abingdon Press (June 1, 2013)
by
Bonnie S. Calhoun

MY REVIEW:
     I received this book very later for the blog tour, but I had been anticipating it for quite awhile. It was worth the wait. I love WWII and am always excited to see a fresh perspective on it. Pieces of the Heart has a VERY fresh perspective. An African American girl and boy meet when they are young and just know they will get married someday - this is their story... filled with twists and turns and most dramatically filled with Bernard going off to WWII while Cordelia stays home to work in the factories. I was quite taken with the characters and the life breathed into them. There are a lot of supporting characters that surround them, including both sets of their parents with their own issues and Cordelia's friends. They add lots of dimension to what is going on in the lives of Bernard and Cordelia. 

     I was unaware of what a lot of African Americans soldiers went through in WWII as well as lots of the segregation still on the home front up north - even among light skinned and dark skinned African Americans. I was moved by the threads of forgiveness and prayer wrapped up in this story and I truly enjoyed this newest book in the Quilts of Love line from Abingdon Press.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year,” President of (CAN) Christian Authors Network, and Appointment Coordinator for both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference(GPCWC).

For the last six years she has taught workshops in Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, and creating Social Media promotions at both CCWC, and GPCWC, and in 2011 at the Montrose, Pa Christian Writers Conference. She also taught a Facebook workshop at the 2012 ACFW conference.

Bonnie and her husband live in a log cabin in upstate area of New York with a dog and cat who think she’s wait-staff.

Her sites are: https://www.facebook.com/bonniescalhounsnarkandsuspense
 https://www.facebook.com/bscalhoun

 ABOUT THE BOOK

Cordelia Grace watched Bernard Howard, the love of her young life, go off to fight for our country in WWII. And she has spent the last three years creating the Pine Cone quilt that will grace their marriage bed when he comes home. Each row of triangles signifies a layer in her life, sets of memories, hopes, dreams, and prayers for her future, enough spoken words to cover them forever. Her image of their “happy-ever-after” grows proportionally as the quilt expands.

But is the man that returns from the war, the same man that she remembered? Are the dark shades of color that she had to use for the outside edges of the beloved quilt prophetic of her life to come? Can love and faith overcome all?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pieces of the Heart, go HERE.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"An Open Heart" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Open Heart
David C. Cook (June 1, 2013)
by
Harry Kraus

MY REVIEW:
     Sadly, this is my first Harry Kraus novel. It won't be my last. "An Open Heart" is a interesting blend of mystery (no one knows what really happened the night the governor's wife died), medical (lots of procedures and surgeries that are uncannily interesting), mayhem (living and trying to function in the corruption in Kenya) and murder (no one is safe with political intrigue and witch doctors running things). There are so many facets to this book that it is mind boggling. It is big, deep, and very layered. Overall, I enjoyed it. There were parts of the relationships that didn't always ring true for me - especially between Jace and Heather. And the ending was way too swift for me. But all told I enjoyed this book enough that I will be reading more from Harry Kraus.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word from Harry:

I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Their Messages—From Beyond the Grave—Might Destroy Him ...

They hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. And the messages Dr. Jace Rawlings’ open-heart surgery patients bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.

It thrusts Jace into a firestorm of controversy and danger. A maeltsrom blown by the darker winds of political intrigue and spiritual warfare. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But what he will find in that place where he grew up will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career . . . his life.

If you would like to read the first chapter of An Open Heart, go HERE.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"That Certain Summer" Book Review





Karen and Val are family--yet they're anything but close. Karen has carried the burden of responsibility for her aging mother ever since her gorgeous sister left town years ago to pursue a career in theater. But Val had darker reasons for leaving town--as well as a secret to keep--and coming home has never been an option . . . until their mother suffers a stroke.

Reunited in their hometown, Karen and Val must grapple with their past mistakes, their relationship with each other, and their issues with a mother who is far from ideal. When a physical therapist raising his daughter alone and a handsome but hurting musician enter the picture, the summer takes on a whole new dimension. As their lives intersect and entwine, can each learn how to forgive, how to let go, and how to move on? And strengthened by the healing power of faith, might they also find the courage to love?

With her trademark compelling characters and heartwarming hope, fan favorite Irene Hannon offers her readers an inspiring true-to-life tale of complex family relationships, transgressions revealed and forgiven, and the complicated process of finding love.

MY REVIEW:
      I am a fan of Irene Hannon's mystery/suspense books. They are some of my favorites in that genre. When I saw that she was writing a women's fiction with no suspense I was worried. Worried because I was afraid that it couldn't possibly be as compelling as her other books. But I wanted to check it out anyway. Thank goodness that this book was one of my biggest surprises of the year. It was a big surprise because it was every bit as compelling as one of her mystery/suspense books, but not for the same reasons. The characters in this book are some of the most real I have read lately. Good, bad and ugly. The relationships are almost eerily true to life, sister to sister, daughter to mother, daughter to dad, new love... the conversations are engaging and the situations are real. There is forgiveness, finding new purpose in life, finding new love, following God's plan... this book is so much more than I could ever have predicted. As much as I love Irene Hannon's mystery/suspense... I am looking forward to her next women's fiction book and I'd love for her to bring these dear friends back again.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"The Judgement Stone" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Judgment Stone
Thomas Nelson (May 14, 2013)
by
Robert Liparulo

MY REVIEW:
        Robert Liparulo has created a world that is really interesting here... overall the world is as we know it, except that there is a contingent of people that were present at the Golden Calf in the Old Testament when Moses came down from the mountain. They were punished with immortality and are now trying to do whatever it takes for God to forgive them so they can die. This is book #2 and you could read it alone, but I would certainly recommend reading it after book #1. Most of the characters in this book were present in book #1 except for a whole gang of bad guys that actually like being immortal and have no intention of asking God forgiveness for anything. They set out to wreck havoc on the world when the Judgement Stone is discovered. The stone reveals to anyone that holds it, what is going on in the spiritual world around you. To some this is good. To the bad guys... this is a ticket to find those close to God and destroy them. Jagger is out to take care of the bad guys while his wife and son are just trying to stay alive, and keep from getting kidnapped, and keep the priests alive... um, yep... it gets really good. I love Robert's writing style. He creates something amazing every time he writes. And he has done it again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Former journalist Robert Liparulo is the best-selling author of the thrillers Comes a Horseman, Germ, Deadfall, Deadlock, and The 13th Tribe, as well as The Dreamhouse Kings, an action-adventure series for young adults. He contributed a short story to James Patterson’s Thriller, and an essay about Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy to Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner. He is currently working on the sequel to The 13th Tribe, as well writing an original screenplay with director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive).

When not writing, Liparulo loves to read, watch (and analyze) movies, scuba dive, swim, hike, and travel. He lives in Monument, Colorado, with his wife Jodi and four children: Melanie, Matthew, Anthony, and Isabella.

ABOUT THE BOOK

What if praying became a curse instead of a blessing?

Former Army Ranger Jagger Baird thought he had his hands full with the Tribe—the band of immortal vigilantes fighting to regain God’s grace by killing those opposed to Him. But that was before he encountered the ruthless group of immortals called the Clan. The Clan is after a prize that would give them unimaginable power—a piece of the Ten Commandments known as the Judgment Stone.

Those who touch the Stone can see into the spiritual world: angelic warriors, treacherous demons, and the blue threads of light that signal the presence of believers in communion with God.

By following the blue beam radiating from those closest to God, the Clan plans to locate His most passionate followers and destroy them.

Jagger quickly realizes his high-tech gadgetry and training are no match for these merciless immortals. But how can he defeat an enemy who hunts believers through their prayers . . . and won’t stop until they’ve annihilated all those close to Him?

In this high-action thriller, best-selling author Robert Liparulo examines the raging battle between good and evil on earth . . . and beyond.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judgment Stone, go HERE.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"When A Secret Kills" Book Review



When a Secret Kills, Deadly Reunions Series #3


"When A Secret Kills"
by
Lynette Eason

Investigative reporter Jillian Carter knows it's time to put the past to rest. She's tired of looking over her shoulder, letting a killer go free. She's no longer the scared kid who changed her name and disappeared. Now, no matter what the cost, Jillian must do what she is trained to do--ferret out the truth and expose it. Senator Frank Hoffman committed murder ten years ago--and Jillian watched it happen.

Didn't she?

Not even the enigmatic and attractive Colton Brady, her ex-boyfriend and nephew of the killer, will be able to make her leave this alone. Get ready for the spine-tingling, nail-biting conclusion to an explosive series.
My Review:
      I have come to enjoy Lynette Eason's style of romantic suspense so much that I eagerly anticipate each new book she has. She just can't write fast enough to satisfy how fast I can read!  In book #3 of the Deadly Reunion series we get to revisit the characters we have grown to love in the first two books, but we get inside the head of Jillian Carter as she emerges from the shadows where she has been hiding for the last 10 years because she witnessed a murder and someone doesn't want her to tell what she knows. She can't stay silent and on the run any longer so she goes back home and is in immediate danger. Colton Brady is there to help protect her, he used to love her but she left and he soon realizes he never stopped loving her. It could get complicated but his first goal is to keep her alive. 
       The tension in this book is high - suspense and romantic! It is the perfect blend of the two. I was totally drawn into this storyline and it culminates with the reveal of what is behind some of the plot in the other two books. Love it! Love it! Love it! What will Lynette Eason come up with next?!? All I know is that I plan on finding out.

***Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Love At Any Cost" Book Review




"Love At Any Cost"
by
Julie Lessman


Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?

With delectable descriptions and a romantic sensibility, bestselling author Julie Lessman brings the Gilded Age to life in this sumptuous new series. Readers will faithfully follow Lessman to the West Coast for more romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in Love at Any Cost.

MY REVIEW:
     When the saga of the O'Conner family was over (Julie Lessman's first two series focused on the O'Conner's of Boston and they are fabulous!) I was really sad. I hated to see them go and I really didn't think she would be able to craft another family that I would care so deeply about. As much as I love Julie's books, I have to admit it was with some trepidation that I opened Love At Any Cost to get started. Yet, in true Julie Lessman style, I was swept away in the first chapter and quickly became engrossed in the antics of Cassidy McClare and her San Francisco cousins. I was thrilled with the storylines that were interwoven throughout the book with Cassidy and her bad run of luck with men and her Aunt and her past catching up with her and how they found a bond in that. The men trying to prove themselves, but are they really so honest as they want the women to believe? And the women maybe not being totally honest and forthright themselves... will love, true love win out? Or will Cassidy settle for safe? 
      Here is a new breed of family for me to love and follow thanks to Julie Lessman. There is only one bad thing about Julie being so brilliant with her new series... I now have to wait for the next book to come out. Sigh. I have a really funny feeling that it will be totally worth every moment of waiting though, the first book certainly was!

Thank you to Revell Publishing for a copy of Love At Any Cost in exchange for an honest review.***

Available April 15, 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, March 22, 2013

"Love In A Broken Vessel" Book Review

LOVE IN A BROKEN VESSEL
BY
MESU ANDREWS




Hosea has been charged by God with a difficult task--marry a prostitute in order to show God's people the nature and depth of his love for Israel. When Hosea goes to Israel to proclaim God's message, the prostitute God tells him to marry turns out to be his childhood friend Gomer. He finds her broken and abused, unwilling to trust Hosea or his God. But when marrying Hosea becomes her only choice, Gomer does what she's good at--she survives. Can Hosea's love for God and God's love for Israel heal Gomer's broken spirit?

With her potent combination of in-depth research and masterful storytelling, Mesu Andrews brings to life a complex and fascinating biblical story of the power of love and forgiveness in the face of utter betrayal.

MY REVIEW:
     I can't help it, I sighed when this book was over because I really didn't want it to end. Mesu Andrews has a gift when it comes to Biblical fiction, she takes these stories (Job, Song of Solomon and now Hosea & Gomer) and just breathes life into them. Intricate details that bring the past into vivid picture and characters that break out of the boxes that we have put them in. I was entranced with the story of the prostitute that just can't leave her past behind and the husband that will obey Yaweh until his heart is broken over and over. The secondary characters are fantastic and I enjoyed this book from the first page to the last. This is one author that can't write fast enough to please me!

***  Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

"Wings of Glass" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wings of Glass
Tyndale House Publishers (March 1, 2013)
by
Gina Holmes

MY REVIEW:
     I always preface a review on a book like this by saying that contemporary women's fiction is not usually my first choice in "fun" reading. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy them but sometimes it is just that they tend to be heavy and not always what I am looking for. I have heard a lot about Gina Holmes though so I had to give this one a try. I was very impressed by the writing style and story development as well as the heroine. I was quickly drawn in and wrapped up in Penny's world, as painful as it might be. The insight into why a woman could be drawn into an abusive relationship and then why in the world she would choose to stay was quite invaluable. I feel as though I might understand the mindset that these woman have just a little better. I have been blessed in my relationships, both in growing up and in my marriage, but I know that is more rare than I would like to think. It is easy for me to sit here and say that I would leave if I was struck, and why aren't these women smart enough to figure that out. Gina has a book here that is very eye opening in showing me a different side. I was rooting for Penny and hoping for a good outcome, but life has shown us that a good outcome is not always real life. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Gina Holmes began her career in 1998, penning articles and short stories. In 2005 she founded the influential literary blog, Novel Journey now called Novel Rocket and she is also the founder of Inspire The Fire.

Her debut, Crossing Oceans, was a Christy and Gold Medallion finalist and winner of the Carol Award, INSPY, and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice, as well as being a CBA, ECPA, Amazon and PW Religion bestseller. Her sophomore novel, Dry as Rain, was also named a Christy finalist. Her upcoming novel, Wings of Glass releases this month. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her family in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their past and discover their God-given purpose.



ABOUT THE BOOK

From the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heart-rending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of womanhood, Penny is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign-town, Penny’s happily ever after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn’t the last, yet the bruises that can’t be seen are the most painful of all.

When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to grow her own.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wings of Glass, go HERE.

"Catherine's Pursuit" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Catherine's Pursuit
Realms (February 5, 2013)
by
Lena Nelson Dooley

MY REVIEW:
     Sometimes there is a series where I anxiously await the final book. This is one of those series. I loved the concept from the first book - man on a wagon train to Oregon loses his wife when she gives birth to triplets. He is overwhelmed at the thought of losing her and having 3 infant girls on the trail and he gives 2 of the girls to different families to raise while he keeps the oldest. It is a hard decision to say the least. Book 1 follows one of the girls as she discovers she is adopted. Book 2 follows the second daughter as she discovers. Now, finally in Book 3 we discover what happened to the daughter that stayed with her father. I loved the first two and was really excited for the conclusion of this interesting storyline. 

      Catherine has been raised and spoiled by her father and on her 18th birthday she discovers the truth... she has 2 sisters that she never knew existed. She is determined to find them even though her father had promised not to. She sneaks away to start her pursuit of her sisters. Her father sends his right hand man, Collin, after her as protection and it turns out to be a good thing. For both of them. 

       A book about grace and redemption - forgiveness is the root of it all. I love that about the book. I thought it was a little simplified in the writing style which I don't recall being true in the first two books. But the only real disappointment was the fact that it wraps up very quickly at the end and without spoiling it I was really hoping for a more fulfilling ending. But I am still happy with the series and it will be taking a place on my keeper shelf. How can it be a bad thing when my only real complaint is that I wanted more!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers http://www.acfw.com/ and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

ABOUT THE BOOK



When Angus McKenna was forced to give two of his daughters to families in the wagon train, he promised he'd never try to contact them. Catherine made no such pledge. But when she sets out to find her sisters, she doesn't go alone. Angus sends Collin with her. Will they discover the two women---and love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Catherine's Pursuit, go HERE.