Thursday, October 3, 2013

Diana Sharples's Running Lean ~ Reviewed

Running Lean
By Diana L. Sharples
Pages 400
Release Date Aug, 2013
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310734975

In this YA debut from author Diana Sharples, love, self-esteem, and trust meld in a compelling story. Still reeling from the loss of his brother in Afghanistan, Calvin Greenlee pours himself into fixing his motorcycle and spending the rest of his time with his girlfriend, Stacy, who always has the right words to say. But when Stacy starts losing weight---a lot of weight---it's clear she has problems of her own. Calvin is determined to cure her---but could that only push Stacy further into danger?


Diana Sharple’s debut novel centers around Calvin and Stacey, two teenagers dealing with

tragedy and emotional turmoil. The passing of Calvin’s brother as a soldier in Afghanistan

leaves him with a hole in his life. A dark incident in Stacey’s past now leaves her with deep

emotional scars, along with serious self-image problems. So Stacey and Calvin mutually

fill the emptiness in their hearts with each other. However, Stacey’s self-image problems

morph into a life-threatening eating disorder. Calvin tries to be the knight in shining armor,

but she pushes his concerns away, in denial. Ms. Sharples does a fantastic job of portraying

both characters, writing from the two viewpoints. Readers feel sympathy for Stacey, though they

can’t help but yearn to shake Stacey out of her denial, longing for her to listen to her caring

boyfriend. Though somewhat monotonous in places, this book is a strongly written novel,

and enlightens the reader on the perils of eating disorders. It is a story of hope, but doesn’t

fail to portray how hard it can be for friends and family when someone they love suffers

through this disorder.

Reviewed by: Priya Mellott

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Margaret Daley's Severed Trust ~ Reviewed

Severed Trust (Men Of The Texas Rangers V4)
By Margaret Daley (Author)
Release Date Oct 15, 2013
Publisher Abingdon Press
Series Men Of The Texas Rangers
Series Number 4
ISBN 1426761864
The day Sadie Thompson finds her high school student, Lexie, asleep in class and can't wake her is the day she realizes how entrenched a prescription drug ring is in her school. As Sadie is pulled into doing something about the growing problem, she becomes involved with Ethan Stone?a Texas Ranger who suspects the drug ring reaches far beyond the high school. Helping Lexie recover from the overdose, Sadie feels she is making a difference?until the 16-year-old's best friend dies from the apparent mixing of various prescription drugs. Lexie doesn't think her friend took her own life, but her relationship with her Uncle Ethan is precarious and she doesn?t know if either he or Sadie will help her discover the truth.


Severed Trust is an intense read! It revolves around the mysterious death of a popular high school football player. Throughout the story, we learn about drugs and pill parties, the betrayal of friendships, and drugs being stolen from the elderly in a nursing home setting. Texas Ranger Ethan Stone has returned home to be near his sister and niece, only to find himself right in the middle of the investigation. It hits home when someone attempts to murder his niece, who has just but trying to help a friend caught in the middle of the whole mess.

This was a great read. I had a hard time putting it down. The story just kept building, and more things were thrown in the mix so you really didn’t know how it was going to turn out. When I finished the book, I was so surprised at the ending. I honestly had no idea where it was going. If you like something that’s going to keep you on the edge of your seat, this is a great book to read.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Krista McGee's Anomaly ~ Reviewed

By Krista McGee
July 2013
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 1401688721

Back Cover:
Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Thalli is different than others in The State. She feels things. She asks questions. And in the State, this is not tolerated. The Ten scientists who survived the nuclear war that destroyed the world above believe that emotion was at the core of what went wrong—and they have genetically removed it from the citizens they have since created. Thalli has kept her malformation secret from those who have monitored her for most of her life, but when she receives an ancient piece of music to record as her community’s assigned musician, she can no longer keep her emotions secreted away.

Seen as a threat to the harmony of her Pod, Thalli is taken to the Scientists for immediate annihilation. But before that can happen, Berk—her former Pod mate who is being groomed as a Scientist—steps in and persuades the Scientists to keep Thalli alive as a test subject.

The more time she spends in the Scientist’s Pod, the clearer it becomes that things are not as simple as she was programmed to believe. She hears stories of a Designer—stories that fill her mind with more questions: Who can she trust? What is this emotion called love? And what if she isn’t just an anomaly, but part of a greater design?

My Review:

We've all read them. You know. The ol' nuclear bomb destroys civilization as we know it except for a handful of survivors. This is one of those...and one worth reading.

Anomaly explores not only what it's like to be different, but to know you're different, way down to the marrow of your bones. We've all experienced this. Just think back to junior high. What's great about this book, though, is that it ends on a note of hope--and a cliffhanger. For yes, indeed, this is only the beginning of Thalli & Berk's adventure.

This story has elements of Logan's Run mixed with the teenage angst of The Outsiders. It's a quick read, yet a challenging one, forcing the reader to question their own self image. It's set in the future and somewhat technical, yet not science nerdy enough to turn off a non-techhie like me.

I loved the relationship between Thalli & Berk. It's a little slow to ripen, but overall believable. I look forward to seeing what develops between the two in the next book, Luminary.

Overall, Anomaly is a definite thumbs up.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lisa Bergren's Glittering Promises ~ Reviewed

Glittering Promises (Grand Tour) 
By Lisa T. Bergren
Studio: David C. Cook
Pages 496
Binding Softcover
Release Date Oct 1, 2013
ISBN 1434764281


Wealth cannot buy peace ... or direction. For Cora Kensington, the Grand Tour was to be the trip of a lifetime. She discovered the family she never knew she had, and may have even found the love she longs for in Will. And yet her life has just become infinitely more challenging ... Hounded by journalists chasing the beguiling story of the newest American heiress, Cora fights to remain true to her past, reconcile her present, and still embrace her future. But as Will struggles with her newfound wealth, she begins to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand all that threatens to pull them apart. Complicating matters is the stubborn pursuit of Pierre de Richelieu and the increased demands on her time and attention. Cora must stand up for what she believes--regardless of how that might challenge current family and cultural norms--in order to remain true to who she really is. And as she glimpses the end of the tour, Cora knows it's time to decide Who and what defines her ... and who and what does not.


Glittering Promises is the final book in the Grand Tour series. We continue to follow Cora Kensington in her journey with her newfound family through Italy. They have just escaped a man that was trying to hold the family for ransom, but learn that he is still on the loose. The family has to take every precaution to keep everyone safe, especially Cora, as she is now known as the wealthiest woman in America, and everyone wants to know about her. In the meantime, she and Will have gone public with their relationship, but Pierre, who pursued her heavily in previous books, has not given up, and continues to put seeds of doubt in her head about whom she really loves. As her doubts and wealth begin to pull her and Will apart, new dangers arise that threaten to change Cora’s life forever.

I was SO excited to get this book! I’ve loved following Cora’s story. It was wonderful to finally see how everything turned out, although I was sad to see her go. There were a lot of twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, especially towards the end of the book. But it had an ending I was happy with. I would definitely recommend all of the books in this series. You won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pamela Binnings Ewen's An Accidental Life ~ Reviewed

An Accidental Life: A Novel 
By Pam Binnings-Ewen 
Release Date Jul 1, 2013
Publisher Broadman And Holman
ISBN 0805464328
A New Orleans senior district attorney and his lawyer wife are caught up in a faith-testing courtroom battle involving the rights of infants born alive during abortions.


An Accidental Life was a riveting read. I love a good legal drama and this novel provided that, as well as some investigative police work. The book follows a case from first hint of wrong to the final gasp in court. Set during the early 80's, tension was tightened because of the lack of computer guided investigation and even cell phones. 

The storyline is a dual focus and centers around two accidental lives. Rebecca and Peter are a career driven couple content to live child free. Peter begins looking into a case that involves a live birth abortion. As Ewen skillfully lays out the horrific facts (based on truth) of live birth abortions, Rebecca discovers she is accidentally pregnant. 

The subject matter made this a difficult novel to read. But the story was compelling. Be warned it's not for the weak in the knees. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ann Gabhart's Small Town Girl ~ Reviewed

Small Town Girl
By Ann H. Gabhart
Pages 400
Release Date Jul 1, 2013
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 0800721845
In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates in anticipation, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh. As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking. And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can’t draw her interest.
Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything. Kate’s friends are rushing to get married before the boys go off to war. The newspapers talk of women making airplanes and bombs. Everyone in town begins rolling bandages, planting victory gardens, collecting scrap metal. Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways, and when he enlists she can hardly breathe worrying about him getting killed. Could she truly be in love with him? And if she is, will she ever see him again?
I was captivated by Ann Gabhart’s storytelling in her latest novel set in a tiny community with America was on the brink of World War II. Ann’s combines beautiful prose and strong yet subtle characterisation with a gentle and flowing style that is entrancing. Realistic to the era, this is a tender love story between a young woman adored by her community, and the charming and seemingly carefree outsider, who has no intention of putting down roots. Kate and Jay are fabulous characters, each with their own strengths and insecurities, whose journey from attraction to affection and then to love is moving, intriguing, and simply lovely! Readers of Ann’s previous story, Angel Sister, will be delighted to visit again with Kate, Lorena, and the Merritt family and friends. I highly recommend the delightful Small Town Girl.
Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jan Watson's Tattlers Branch ~ Reviewed

Tattlers Branch
By Jan Watson (Author)
Release Date Sep 15, 2013
Publisher Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN 1414339151


Lilly Corbett Still has grown to love her life as the small-town doctor of Skip Rock, a tiny coal community in the Kentucky mountains. Though her husband, Tern, is away for a few months at a mining job, Lilly keeps busy with her patients and her younger sister visiting for the summer.Her hands full, Lilly turns to her good friend and neighbor, Armina, to help keep things in order. But when a mysterious chain of events leaves Armina bedridden and an orphaned baby on her doorstep, Lilly must trust in God and her resilient country neighbors to help her uncover the truth.While working late one night, Lilly cares for a patient whose odd behavior sets her on edge, but she?s unaware of what a mess she?s found herself in until a break-in at her office puts her on high alert. Struggling between what is right and what is safe, Lilly discovers the strength of her neighbors, her God, and herself.


Tatler’s Branch follows a young doctor, Lilly Corbett Still. She is the doctor for the small town of Skip Rock, a small coal mining community in Kentucky. Her husband, Tern, is a doctor as well, but travels frequently to different mining towns. She is keeping herself busy with her patients and friends, as well as her sister, who is visiting her for the summer. Everything seems to be running smoothly until her good friend, Armina, is discovered ill and unable to move in her home, with no memory of what happened. To make matters more complicated, she is found with a baby that is not hers. As the story unfolds, we learn more about the turn of events that led to her memory loss and the baby.

This was a nice story. I believe it is the second book in a series, so I wish I had read the first one to get some of the back story, but I didn’t have a difficult time following this one. It was an enjoyable storyline and as always, I loved the time period. I would very much like to read the first book in the series to see how Lilly got to where she was in this book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lisa Bergren's Tributary ~ Reviewed

Tributary - e-Novella
Lisa Bergren


TRIBUTARY, a novella (1/2 the length of a normal novel), picks up a year after BOURNE…

Lia struggles to overcome the fear that constant battle has heaped upon her; Gabi and Marcello face an unexpected crisis; and Lord Greco just may be ready to leave the grief and loss of his past behind him, so that he might grab hold of the future…


The series we can’t get enough of is back! With Luca on the cover and plenty of action, adventure and romance between the pages, Lisa T Bergren sucks you back into her 14th Century world in a flash. After three books and a novella in Gabi’s first person voice, little sister Lia gets to share from her perspective in Tributary which is an intriguing change. Her developing attraction to the devoted and witty Luca is fun to watch and I love the scene that explains why a 14th Century Italian knight is sporting a 21st century hair cut on the cover! A determined new character fires Lord Rodolfo Greco’s imagination, causing him to rethink his melancholy ways. While I’m left a little bereft that Rodolfo didn’t get a full length novel for his ongoing story, Lisa’s skillful and emotive prose makes the most of the shortened format. My advice with this series? Purchase them all immediately ~Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent, Bourne and Tributary ~ read them in order and relish every minute of what will be a unique and all consuming reading experience that will leave you both breathless, enchanted and dreaming of more!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Friday, September 6, 2013

Amber Stokes's Bleeding Heart ~ Reviewed

By Amber Stokes
July 2013
Seasons of a Story Publishing 

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay's livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others - and hers isn't the only heart that's broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Looking for an Old West action-packed story? Have I found a book for you! Bleeding Heart is a rootin-tootin-shootin’ debut novel by Amber Stokes. There’s plenty of romance, the requisite gunfight and hanging, a marshal, saloons and yes, even a train ride.

The story takes place shortly after the Civil War. Heroine Sally Clay is desperate to leave behind her life in a brothel to chase after the man she loves. The thing is…the fella doesn’t really love her. It’s one mishap and adventure after another, keeping the reader in suspense of who Sally will end up with. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, wham! Yet another plot twist. I won’t give you a spoiler, but doggone if there was one surprise I totally did not see coming.

Sally is painfully aware of her sordid past, creating a very realistic guilt that makes her a believable character. She’s also impetuous, making bad decisions without even thinking about the consequences. Everywhere Sally looks for safety and love, she doesn’t find it.

The villain is someone you love to hate, although I’m not quite sure what his motivation is to have Sally for his own, other than perhaps he hates not getting his way. Basically, he’s a creepy stalker.

Love the sidekick Myghal. Full of good advice, solid, dependable. You’ll root for him, cry for him, and close the book with an immense amount of compassion for this character.

I thought I could trust the cook, Zachary Taylor, but then I wasn’t certain…turns out, well, you don’t really want me to tell you, do you?

Overall, this is a good summer read. There’s a big jump between part I and II, one I didn’t expect. I would’ve liked to see the action played out, though that would’ve made this a much longer book. Bleeding Heart has a whole lot of broken hearts all over the place, except for the reader’s—a solid debut novel for Amber Stokes.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Susan May Warren's Take a Chance on Me ~ Reviewed

Take A Chance On Me (Christiansen Family Novel)
By Susan May Warren

Release Date   Apr 1, 2013 
Publisher   Tyndale House Publishers 
ISBN  1414378416  


Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near. 
New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case. 
Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.
Susan May Warren pens a delightful story of heartache and healing in her latest Deep Haven novel, which introduces the Christiansen family and a new series of contemporary romance tales.  Love blossoms between two couples, with all four characters authentically struggling to move past hurts in their lives. Conflict, regret, and the need for forgiveness etch each page as Darek, Ivy, Jensen, and Claire negotiate an emotional minefield as they try to discover the courage to love again. As Deep Haven is threatened by wildfire, danger and sacrifice refine each heart in this tender and compelling story.
Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

Take A Chance On Me follows Darek Christiansen, the oldest son of the Christiansen family and heir to their historic Evergreen Lake resort, and Ivy Madison, the new assistant county attorney who is looking forward to the closeness of small town life. Darek is a widower and a single father, who is still bitter over the accidental death of a wife that he didn’t love. He holds his best friend, Jensen, responsible, as he was the one that was involved in the accident. When he meets Ivy, he thinks he might be able to start over again, not realizing that Ivy was involved in the original case that kept Jensen out of prison. Ivy has no idea either, until different events start unfolding.

I really enjoyed this story. I liked seeing how all of the characters grew and began trusting the Lord. Darek really came a long way from the beginning to the end. And Ivy started off not believing in God at all, but slowly came to the knowledge that He exists and cares for her. As the story kept unfolding it was hard to put the book down!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lori Copeland's Sisters of Mercy Flats ~ Reviewed

Sisters Of Mercy Flats
By Lori Copeland
Release Date   Jun 1, 2013 
Publisher   Harvest House Publishers 
ISBN  0736930221  


From noted author Lori Copeland (more than 3 million books in print) comes a romantic new story of God's faithfulness when hope seems lost.

The three wily and beautiful McDougal sisters can swindle a man faster than it takes to lasso a calf. But their luck is running out, and they're about to be hauled off to jail. When the wagon carrying them falls under attack, each sister is picked up by a different man. Unfortunately for Abigail, she's grabbed by a twit of a shoe salesman, Mr. Hershall Digman. She steals his horse and rides off to the nearest town, not giving him another thought...until she discovers those secret papers in his saddlebags. Could Mr. Digman be a Confederate spy?

As if to prove it, the man who comes storming after her is no shoe salesman, but a handsome captain who wants his papers any cost. And Abigail wants a ride back home. Together they embark on his mission, determined not to trust each other...or the God who won't seem to let them go.


Sisters of Mercy Flats by following the McDougal sisters, three girls who were raised in a convent and are now living lives of crime. Their lives are suddenly turned around when they get caught stealing while posing as nuns. On their way to jail, their wagon is attacked by Indians. However, they are rescued by three very different men and taken to safety in separate directions. This story focuses on Abigail, who is rescued by Mr. Hershall Digman. He claims to be a shoe salesman, and in her eyes, he’s a mousey man who couldn’t take care of himself, let alone her. When he finally realizes she is not a nun, things start to turn. Abigail sneaks away with his horse and belongings one evening, and in doing so, finds out that he is not really a shoe salesman, but I spy for the Confederate Army. As the story continues and Hershall, better known as Barrett Drake, finds Abigail, we follow them as they try to get an important message to the Confederate Army that could change the course of the war.

I really enjoyed this story. It was interesting seeing the transformation in Barrett’s character, from a klutzy shoe salesman to a strapping soldier in the army. And I liked seeing how Abigail changed. As the story went, she began to see the error in how she was living and began making changes. It’s always nice to see that happen in a story!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Carla Laureano's Five Days in Skye ~ Reviewed

Digital original - eBook
By: Carla Laureano
David C. Cook / 2013 / ePub
ISBN: 9781434707017

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she’ll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she’s sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she’d rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father’s dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.
Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.
What a delicious discovery! Carla Laureano’s Five Days in Skye swept me away to the Scottish Isles and into the wounded hearts of the impeccably cool Andrea Sullivan and the charismatic charmer Jamie MacDonald. This is a romance to savour from beginning to end. The funny and feisty first interaction between this pair sucks you in and as the story and characters develop you will have no desire to leave as they wrestle with doubts, prejudice, preconceptions, and sparkling attraction. What I loved most was the substance to this story – this is no marshmallow romance – but a love story that is intriguing and real. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t miss out on some very swoon worthy moments but you get the added bonus of a romantic journey that stimulates the mind as well as the heart. Carla has earned my respect by creating a female lead who makes her own decisions based on her interaction with the hero and not on everyone else’s say so. In a world replete with romantic clich├ęs, Carla’s writing is so very refreshing! Five Days in Skye is an excellent debut novel and I’m waiting with baited breath for Carla’s next story. Reminiscent of Beth Vogt, Denise Hunter, and Becky Wade’s storytelling, Carla’s story is a triumph you don’t want to miss.
Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Maureen Lang's All in Good Time ~ Reviewed

Maureen Lang
Release Date   Mar 22, 2013 
Publisher   Tyndale House Publishers 
Series  Gilded Legacy   
ISBN  1414364474 


Dessa Caldwell has a dream: to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver's roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank.Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he's the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he's built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him . . . until the day Dessa Caldwell ventures into his bank requesting a loan.Though he's certain her proposal is a bad investment, Henry is drawn to Dessa's passion. But that same passion drives her to make rash decisions about Pierson House . . . and about whom she can trust. One man might hold the key to the future of her mission--but he also threatens to bring Henry's darkest secrets to light. As the walls around their hearts begin to crumble, Henry and Dessa must choose between their plans and God's, between safety and love.


All In Good Time is about a young woman named Dessa Caldwell and takes place in Denver in the late 1800’s. Dessa has a heart for the young women who are involved in prostitution and feel there is no way out. Through her determination, she is given a loan from Hawkins National Bank to open the Pierson House, a refuge for these women. The owner of the bank Henry Hawkins did not okay the loan. He thinks it is a bad investment and doesn’t expect her to make a go of it. Henry has closed himself off from society, mainly due to not being able to forgive himself for past sins. As the story progresses, he finds his heart warming towards this young woman, and she finds the feeling is mutual. However, they begin to run into obstacles that could shut down the Pierson House for good. As they struggle against the evil in their city, they also have to come to terms with their past sins and realize they have forgiveness through their Heavenly Father.

This book was wonderful! I had a hard time putting it down. I could relate with Dessa as she struggled with past mistakes. None of us are perfect so I think all women can relate. It was great to see her grow throughout the story. I felt the same about Henry. He had spent so many years trying to be good to cover up his past mistakes, that he had a hard time forgiving himself and realizing that he had forgiveness through Jesus Christ. This was a very encouraging book and I highly recommend it!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rene Gutteridge's Misery Loves Company ~ Reviewed

By Rene Gutteridge
Published by Tyndall
368 Pages

Back Cover: 

Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.
Filled with grief, Jules Belleno rarely leaves the house since her husband’s death while on duty as a police officer. Other than the reviews Jules writes on her blog, she has little contact with the outside world.

But one day when she ventures out to the local grocery store, Jules bumps into a fellow customer . . . and recognizes him as her favorite author, Patrick Reagan. Jules gushes and thoroughly embarrasses herself before Regan graciously talks with her.

And that’s the last thing she remembers—until she wakes up in a strange room with a splitting headache. She’s been kidnapped. And what she discovers will change everything she believed about her husband’s death . . . her career . . . and her faith.

Review: I was thrilled to receive a review copy of a Rene Gutteridge book that blew me away! OhMyGosh! This story is well crafter, multilayered and fascinating!

This novel gives readers a peek into a writer’s world. It’s a glimpse into how some do their musing thru a famous author named Patrick Reagan. I loved Rene’s wit, her rich plot and characters I instantly cared for!

In order to cope with the death of her Police Officer husband, Jules Belleno turns to blogging. She writes her feelings and thoughts down daily. She gives her weekly views on books too! Rene Gutteridge has some interesting things to say about blogging, book reviews and the publishing business in this novel. All this is strategically intermingled in a serious police drama as they try to solve a murder mystery. This author had me at the edge of my seat as I quickly flipped the pages to find out who done it.

Jules’s father is retired Lt. Colonel who reads his daughters blog and reviews. It’s the only way he can connect with her and get an insight into why she does the things she does. He sees she’s talented and pushes her to get paid for the work she does. Jules blows it off. That’s not why she writes! Will her father ever get her?

When the Lt. Colonel knocks on the door no one answers! Her car is in the garage. That’s odd she’s always home. Jules father visits her the same time and day every week. He calls a police friend to come over and check the place out. He knew something wasn’t right - his daughter was missing.

Chris Downey stops by. The Lt. lets him in. He checks out Jules blog, her facebook page and email.  Jule’s father had warned her about writing personal things on social media sites. But it was her passion to write. Lt. said, “Sometimes I don’t know my daughter unless I read all that blog junk. I try, but there’s always this wall between us…I think all this technology is ruining everything about our society. But don’t get me started.”

Chris replies, “I was able to get on her facebook page and her blog. If someone was following her posts, they could pretty easily figure out the pattern. And she is definitely a pattern girl.”

This author brings up very serious concerns about blogging, social media and writing reviews that got my attention. Rene takes readers on a surprising journey with much to think about along the way. Loved it!

Jules says to someone she meets, “You read my blog?”

Stranger says, “Isn’t that the point? That people read it? Don’t you hope they get to know you?...If you’d known I’d been reading it, would you have perhaps chosen your words more carefully?” This will make you think about your next media post!

I loved when Jules, who is a book person, says, “While we’re reading words, they’re making magic happen and that magic lands right in your heart, were it’s there forever.” I’ve felt that way about many of Rene’s books. It’s one of the reasons I read Christian Fiction.

I whole heartedly agree with Rene when her character said this about books. These characters and the message of this novel landed in my heart, mind and soul. This novel is an important read for those who blog, write reviews and use social media. I highly recommend this as a great summer read. and a book club pick. There is so much to talk about. It’s a must read! Just saying!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

Bonus Review:

Rene Gutteridge's tale of a blogger finding herself in a twisted nightmare had me turning pages at warp speed and holding my breath wondering what was coming next.

Intense, fascinating and full of twists, this novel is definitely a recent favorite. The ending left me wanting more and cheering on characters.

Gutteridge is a talented writer and handles all aspects of storytelling well.

A satisfying and tense read.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, August 19, 2013

Karen Witemeyer's Short-Straw Bride ~ Reviewed

Short-Straw Bride [Paperback]
By Karen Witemeyer
Pages   363 
Release Date   2012 
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0764209655  

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.
Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.
Four brothers. Four straws. One bride.
Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?
Witty. Mellifluous. Joyous. These are the words that spring to mind when I pick up a Karen Witemeyer novel, and I find myself grinning before I’ve even cracked open the cover. Short~Straw Bride is another delightful historical romance from Karen, written with smooth prose, packed with unconventional yet appealing characters, and overflowing with fun and faith. Amid the humour and entertaining mishaps, Karen weaves spiritual truth and moving moments that also speak to the heart. Meredith, Travis and the rest of the Archer boys will take a place in your heart in short order and putting the book down with become nigh on impossible! Be sure to add all Karen’s books to your must read list – you won’t be disappointed with any. I’m now waiting impatiently for Crockett’s story, set to arrive in 2013.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bonnie Calhoun's Pieces of the Heart ~ Reviewed

Pieces of the Heart (Quilts of Love)
Bonnie S. Calhoun
Pages   240 
Release Date   Aug 1, 2013 
Publisher   Abingdon Press  
ISBN  1426752725  


CordeliaGrace 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, setsof memories, hopes, dreams, andprayers 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 ofcolor 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?


Bonnie Calhoun’s Pieces of the Heart provided quite a history lesson about World War II, I also was treated to all a quilt I’ve never heard of and the story behind it.

Cordelia's Pine Cone Quilt was started by her beloved granny for Cordelia’s upcoming 18th birthday. This quilt was a picture of the life of the owner. The history/background sewn into the quilt via well loved articles of special clothing that make the quilt a visual memory quilt. While piecing the quilt together the maker prayed for the owner. Cordelia's granny referred to the quilt as Cordelia's prayer covering, not only for her, but her future family as well.

Cordelia grew in faith as her story unfolded in testing and trial at every bend in the road. While Cordelia is finding her faith and character, her beau, Bernard is being tried at war, and brings home some serious after-effects.

This is a nice book option for readers who like to delve into meaty topics with their history. War, emotional , spiritual and physical brokenness and abuse, depression, segregation and immaturity are a few of the major hitters. Calhoun lightens up the heaviness by spanning the book over years so some of the sorrowful events don’t impact the reader too intensely.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Marcus Sakey's Brilliance ~ Reviewed

Marcus Sakey
SBN-13: 9781611099690 
Publisher: Brilliance Audio 
Publication date: 7/16/2013 
Edition description: Unabridged 
Pages: 439


In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in—and betray his own kind.

From Marcus Sakey, “a modern master of suspense” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), comes an adventure that’s at once breakneck thriller and shrewd social commentary; a gripping tale of a world fundamentally different and yet horrifyingly similar to our own, where being born gifted can be a terrible curse.


Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance takes place in a parallel universe where, in the year 1980, a small percentage of the human population began to develop superior abilities. Each member of this group of “brilliants,” also know as “abnorms” or the more offensive “twists,” has the ability to see patterns that the rest of the world is oblivious to – whether that affinity manifests with numbers or music or art or even human behavior is unique to each individual.

The story follows Nick Cooper, an agent for the DAR – Department of Analysis and Response – which monitors abnorm behavior and protects the world from the ones who use their abilities in harmful ways. Cooper, who is himself a brilliant, uses his gifts to decode human behavior and track down terrorists.

The story opens with Cooper tracking down an abnorm computer programmer who is developing a virus that will cripple the country’s military. As Cooper corners her on the roof of a building, the terrorist insists that war is inevitable; that “All you can do is pick a side.”

The rest of the novel tracks Coopers struggle with this idea. He has always believed that coexistence is possible and that his roll is fundamental in that process. However, as his beliefs are challenged and the truths that he has held at his core are torn away, Cooper is left with a choice: which side is he on?

While this novel wasn’t exactly unpredictable or revolutionary, it was definitely a good read. There are action-packed moments and scenes of intense contemplation. The character is really someone you can root for: a man who desperately wants to do good and is seeking the truth about what that entails. Cooper is also a father, and his love for his children is his biggest driving force. It propels the story and makes the character even more human.

Readers should be warned, though, that this novel isn’t totally family-friendly. There is some language, especially towards the beginning, and a scene where two characters bond over a night of debauchery (including copious amounts of alcohol and a shared joint). There is also a sex scene, but the for the most part Sakey handled it tastefully.

Over all, this was a nice light read. Not to intense, it would be a great novel to pick up during periods of limited spare time. It was enjoyable enough that I wanted to keep reading, but not so tempting that I couldn’t put it down when I had other things I needed to do.

Reviewed by: Shea Nolan

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lori Benton's Burning Sky ~ Reviewed

Burning Sky
Lori Benton
Binding  Softcover 
Release Date   Aug 6, 2013 
Publisher   WaterBrook Press 
ISBN  0307731472  

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.
When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.
Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage–the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

Evocative. Haunting. Breathtaking. Burning Sky is all that and much more.
Lori Benton’s debut novel is a treasure that unfurls page by page, revealing the searing depths of a young woman’s pain as she wrestles grief, scorn, fear, and a burning desire to belong. Lori’s prose is beautifully measured, her dialogue meaningful, and she demonstrates an innate talent for communicating the nuances of human emotion straight into the reader’s heart. Willa is an intriguing and deftly layered character yet it is Neil MacGregor and Tames-His-Horse, two very different men in talent, ability, and drive, that fascinate me. Both are deeply courageous, heroic men, who wear honour as naturally as their clothing, yet are refreshingly authentic, battling vulnerabilities and opposing dreams. The love story Lori weaves into this poignant and historically accurate novel breaks your heart yet restores it by book’s end. Lori immerses her readers in the era, a time where fear was never far away, and scars, both physical and emotional, marked each member of the community. Through minor characters Lori gives expression to prejudice, revenge, greed, and hate that the Revolutionary War left in its wake, along with characters whose steadfast faith grew compassion and forgiveness. If you enjoy your historical novels rich and raw in emotion and gripping in a way that won’t let go, don’t miss this one. As impressive a debut novel as Julie Cantrell’s Into the FreeBurning Sky is simply captivating in every way and Lori, one of the finest historical fiction writers I’ve had the pleasure to read. Her second book can’t come quickly enough for me.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet