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)
Sandra D. Bricker


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!"


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:

      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.

     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.

     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
Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2013)
Nancy Mehl


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.


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.

   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!