Saturday, February 28, 2015

Betting on Hope



Betting Hope Debra Clopton





Book info and review

About the book:

Betting on Hope (Thomas Nelson, February 2015)

A bet gone wrong. A small town's meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.

Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it's beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie's bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career---and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.

Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he'd like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru's fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do-for her own good.

In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart's desires.

My thoughts:  BETTING ON HOPE is a great read. I enjoyed getting to know Maggie and Tru. Maggie is insecure, klutzy, and second-guessing herself.  Not to mention, terrified of horses. Tru on the other hand is confident, wary of reporters, and a well-seasoned cowboy. I couldn’t help but fall in love with both of them.

There is a secondary character, Jenna, in the book, whose situation is heartbreaking. I cried. Maggie’s story is also sad, but she—and Jenna—struggle to rise above their history and make something of themselves—to do what it takes to succeed.

The book is fairly predictable. I knew what was coming long before it got there. But it was still a good read and I loved the chemistry between Tru and Maggie, I enjoyed watching them fall in love, and I didn’t want to put the book down. Ms. Clopton is one of my favorite cowboy authors and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, Counting on a Cowboy, coming August 2015.

Don’t miss BETTING ON HOPE.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1Lv6bBc  


About the author:

Debra Clopton
 is a multi-award winning novelist and has written more than 22 novels. Along with writing, Debra helps her husband teach the youth at their local Cowboy Church. Debra's goal is to shine a light toward God while she entertains readers with her words.

Find Debra online: websiteFacebookTwitter

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Thick as Thieves

Title: THICK AS THIEVES
Author: Susan K. Marlow
Publisher: Kregel Publications
February 2015
ISBN: 978-0825443671
Genre: Young adult / Historical / suspense
Review by Jenna

Fourteen-year-old Andrea Carter would rather ride her beloved palomino, Taffy, than do anything else. But life on the Circle C ranch in 1882 is busy. Between school and chores, Andi is left with little time to prepare for Taffy’s first foaling. Then when the event finally arrives, it nearly ends in disaster.

Returning to school keeps Andi hard-pressed to find time for foal training. And she now has a new problem on her hands--Macy Walker, who has been assigned as Andi’s seatmate. The new girl’s crude manners and cruel behavior bring storm clouds into Andi’s life, as does the news that cattle rustlers have moved into the valley.

When the cattle rustlers turn to stealing horses and strike the Carter ranch, Andi’s only hope for recovering her precious colts lies with Macy. Can Andi trust this wild girl? Does she have a choice?

THICK AS THIEVES is the first book in Ms. Marlow’s Circle C Milestones series. I have been a long time fan of Ms. Marlow’s books and I was so excited when I got this one in the mail to read.

I loved THICK AS THIEVES because it was filled with adventure and it had valuable lessons, such as it’s better to be a friend who sticks closer than a brother than a non-truthful one. There is also that you can’t always judge by appearances what a person is really like.

I highly recommend THICK AS THIEVES. It’s an awesome book. I can’t wait until I get Ms. Marlow’s next book in this series Heartbreak Trail.


172 pages. Available in paperback.  5 stars.





Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Spotlight: Daughter of Jerusalem

Title: DAUGHTER OF JERUSALEM
Author: Joan Wolf
Publisher: Worthy Press
April 2013
ISBN: 978-1936034673
Genre: Biblical Fiction


She was a widow, a businesswoman, an adulteress.
In her lifetime, she knew murder, prejudice, and faith. She transformed from a Jewish girl longing for family to one of the closest friends of Jesus of Nazareth -- the Son of God.

HER NAME WAS MARY MAGDALENE.

In this fictionalized story of one of the Bible's most compelling women, New York Times best-selling author Joan Wolf beautifully recreates the history, romance, and tradition of Mary's world. Daughter of Jerusalem follows Mary's life from her first love through her loveless marriage, to the moment she heard of a miracle worker in her own town -- and ultimately to the moment she saw Him risen from the dead.

As this inspiring chronicle reminds us, Mary was the first to witness history's greatest moment. She was a woman who sought forgiveness for her sins, and a follower of God who yearned for a deeper faith. She was Jesus' beloved disciple. Read Mary Magdalene's story and find yourself in this remarkable woman's journey to discover the Kingdom of God.



320 pages. Available in paperback, ebook, and hardcover. 


About the Author


 

Joan Wolf is a USA TODAY bestselling American writer, whose acclaimed Regency romances have earned her national recognition as a master of the genre. Her many historical and contemporary romances, some of which have been chosen as Literary Guild selections, have been highly praised by reviewers and authors alike. 

Joan was born in 1951 and she grew up in the Bronx, New York. A former English teacher, she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Mercy College and Master in English and Comparative Literature at Hunter College. An avid rider and horse owner, Joan lives in Connecticut with her husband Joe and two grown children, Jay and Pam.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Love Boat Bachelor

Title: THE LOVE BOAT BACHELOR       
Author: Various
Publisher: Write Integrity
February 2015
ASIN:   B00TIPFWI8
Genre: Romance

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Learn more about Brent in A Dozen Apologies, available on Kindle.

My thoughts: A cute premise—a sworn bachelor on a love boat cruise. Except Brent doesn’t seem so sworn to bachelorhood. He is definitely floundering, attracted to almost every woman he meets. That was a bit of a concern to me, wondering if he’d settle down to be a one-woman-man. I did pick out my favorite bachelorette when she was introduced and was pleasantly surprised she was the favorite overall. And my second favorite was also the second favorite overall, so we’ll see more of her. I am curious which authors wrote which chapters. But I may never know. *I have been told the publisher added an update so we would know who wrote what.

Brent is a Christian and almost all the bachelorettes that he developed an interest in were Christians. There are some good spiritual truths included. My only real complaint with this collection is that Brent seems to flounder, flitting from woman to woman, strongly attracted to all. I would’ve liked to see him develop a clear attraction to one woman, not all … however many there were. I lost count. However, that would’ve ruined the guesswork that this book – probably based on TVs bachelor/bachelorette reality shows – wanted.

Who will Brent choose? Read THE LOVE BOAT BACHELOR and pick your favorite and see for yourself.

Not a bad read.

Available in ebook.  132 pages.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

River's Edge

RIVER'S EDGE: Cape Refuge Series Book 3 by Terri Blackstock

Where do YOU go for YOUR information?

Cape Refuge is experiencing another storm, and it isn’t caused by natural phenomena.  As the political race for mayor between Ben Jackson and Pastor Jonathan Cleary heats up, more lives stand to be impacted by the outcome of the election.  Police Chief Matthew Cade knows that if Jonathan doesn’t prevail, his job is on the line as well.

When Ben Jackson’s wife goes missing, the rumor mill begins.  And when a local psychic leads authorities to the river’s edge – directly to the location of Lisa Jackson’s body – it’s only adds fuel to the fire. 

Amidst swirling accusations, suspicious minds, and chaotic lives spinning out of control – there is still The Truth.

The Truth will set you free.  Free indeed.

Exploring a variety of real-life issues, and written with Terri Blackstock’s trademark for deep characters, realistic relationships, and suspense that holds you to the very last page, RIVER’S EDGE will impact your life long after you’ve put the book down.

5 Stars for Christian Suspense at its finest!


RIVER’S EDGE:  CAPE REFUGE SERIES BOOK 4
Terri Blackstock
ISBN  978-0-310-34279-3
Fiction / Christian / Suspense
Zondervan
360 pages
$ 10.99 (U.S.)
Review by Steve

Monday, February 23, 2015

Old Fashioned


Title: OLD FASHIONED     
Author: Rene Gutteridge
Screenplay writer: Ric Swartzwelder
Publisher: Tyndale Books
December 2014
ISBN:   978-1414379333
Genre: Novelization / Contemporary romance

Former frat boy Clay Walsh has given up his reckless lifestyle and settled down to run an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town. Determined to put his partying ways behind him, Clay has become notorious for his lofty and outdated theories on love and romance. But when Amber Hewson, a free-spirited woman with a gypsy soul, rents the apartment above his shop, Clay can’t help being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life.

New to the area, Amber finds herself surprisingly drawn to Clay and his noble ideas, but her own fears and deep wounds are difficult to overcome. Can they move beyond their differences and their pasts to attempt an “old-fashioned” courtship?

My thoughts:  This is a difficult review to write. I enjoyed one of Ms. Gutteridge’s earlier novelizations, but this one didn’t read quite so well to me. I applaud the message of the book, chastity, and waiting until marriage, but Clay seems more obstinate “My rules, my way” than chivalrous. I understand he has quite a past, but he responds in the extreme which rather turned me off from his character.

Amber is alive and vibrant, and a character I was drawn to. I liked her confidence, her zest for life despite the hardships she faces.

Over all, the book was okay. Not great. Not one I’d care to reread. But it does have a good message, and it would probably appeal to some ultra-conservatives.

 Available in ebook, audio, and paperback.  320 pages.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Only God Can Make a Kitten

Title: ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A KITTEN
Author: Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrator: Laura J. Bryan
Publisher: Zonderkidz
February 2015
ISBN:  978-0310731702
Genre: Children’s book

Only God Can Make A Kitten, written by award-winning author Rhonda Gowler Greene and illustrated by bestselling artist Laura J. Bryant, follows a conversation between a mother and child as the child repeatedly asks "Mama, who made . . . ?" In the end, children learn that God is responsible for everything in creation—including kittens!

Designed for children age 4 – 8, ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A KITTEN is an adorable story for young children to be read for bedtime or anytime stories. Written in poem form with colorful and engaging illustrations, this book is fun, educationally, and scriptural. A great gift for spring for your favorite preschooler.  

Recommended for Church libraries, day cares, nurseries, and Christian preschools.


Available in hard cover.  32 pages. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tiny Bear's Bible / Little Chick's Bible

Title: TINY BEARS BIBLE
Author: Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrator: Igor Oleynikov
Publisher: Zonderkidz
February 2015
ISBN:  978-0310747871
Genre: toddler Bible story book

A bear to hug, a Bible to love, and a promise to treasure: God loves you!

Tiny Bear’s Bible is a warm and fuzzy reminder of how God loves his children—in a format kids can cuddle. Together with their friend Tiny Bear, children discover eleven Bible stories in a book they can carry with them wherever they go. Bestselling author, Sally Lloyd-Jones presents some of the most familiar Bible stories to children, which provides parents and grandparents lots of teachable, cuddly moments as they explore God’s love together.

Designed for preschoolers age 2 – 5. TINY BEARS BIBLE is an adorable Bible for young children to carry to church or to read for bedtime Bible stories. Written in poem form with colorful and engaging illustrations, this Bible is fun, soft, cuddly, and scriptural. A great gift for Easter for your favorite preschooler.  Available in pink or blue, for a girl or boy. (Boy's doesn't have a ribbon)


Available in board book. 22 pages.

****

Title: Little Chick’s Biblee
Author: P. J. Lyons
Illustrator: Melanie Mitchell
Publisher: Zonderkidz
January 2015
ISBN:  978-0310747871
Genre: toddler Bible story book

The Little Chick’s Bible is a soft, cuddly Bible that children age 2-5 can call their own.  Throughout this plush-covered book little ones learn that they’re loved and cared for by God as they hear about God’s faithfulness in stories from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  With sweet, rhyming text and colorful illustrations, this soft and cuddly character storybook Bible is sure to become a classic with preschoolers.

Designed for preschoolers age 2 – 5. Little Chick’s BIBLE is an adorable Bible for young children to carry to church or to read for bedtime Bible stories. Written in poem form with colorful and engaging illustrations, this Bible is fun, soft, cuddly, and scriptural. A great gift for Easter for your favorite preschooler.  Available in chick or bunny.

Available in board book. 22 pages.


Friday, February 20, 2015

An Amish Christmas Quilt

Title: AN AMISH CHRISTMAS QUILT    
Authors: Charlotte Hubbard, Kelly Long, and Jennifer Beckstrand
Publisher: Kensington Books
November 2014
ISBN:   978-1617735547
Genre: Amish Christmas novellas

A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant by Charlotte Hubbard

Seth Brenneman didn’t expect his holiday would include rescuing pregnant young Mary Kauffman and her two children….or having unexpected feelings for the still-grieving widow.  But when they must play the leads in an impromptu live Nativity pageant to help his Amish community, will their roles reveal their hearts—and work a miracle for a lifetime?

My thoughts: This was a cute novella, kind of an Amish play on the birth of Jesus—even the baby has the name Emmanuel, which made me want to sing Christmas carols. I enjoyed reconnecting with some of Ms. Hubbard’s previous characters and the fledgling romance between Seth and Mary. 4 stars.

A Christmas on Ice Mountain by Kelly Long

Matthew Beider and Laurel Lapp’s secret wish to marry is a gift their feuding fathers definitely won’t accept. Can rediscovering the joys and friendships of Christmas past finally turn their families’ futures bright?

My thoughts:  Wow. Kelly Long was one of my favorite Amish authors, but this one took the sensuality too far. The story about John and Luke was great and I loved the history and the resolution there, but Matthew and Laurel’s romance went into a bit too much detail in some places. Not up to Ms. Long’s usual standards for sure, but still well written. 4 stars.

A Perfect Amish Christmas by Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna Helmuth knows that Dottie Schrock is the perfect girl for her grandson Gideon. Dottie is an excellent quilter and baker and she’s having a party. There’s just one complication—Gideon is not invited. Dottie has her reasons, but Anna trusts that the spirit of Christmas—and true love—will change her mind, and her future…

My thoughts: Jennifer Beckstrand is a new author to me. I read one of her books this past month, but they intrigue me enough so I probably will look for earlier ones. I enjoyed getting to know Gid and Dottie and revisiting Ana and Felti. This was the best story of the book. So cute. Dottie is a bit high maintenance, but she has her reasons for wanting everything perfect. I love Gid’s sense of humor. Great story. 5 stars

Over all this was a good Amish novella collection. I love that more publishers are doing them. I enjoyed each of the stories – even around Valentine’s Day, when I read them. The mention of special holiday treats made me think of the ones my own Amish grandparents and Mom made for Christmas every year.

If you haven’t read AN AMISH CHRISTMAS QUILT you’ll want to pick up a copy. Great read.

 Overall, 4.75 stars

Available in ebook and paperback.  288 pages.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Double Shot

Title: DOUBLE SHOT
Author: Erynn Mangum
Publisher: NavPress
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1615215492
Genre: young adult / chicklit

Can coffee and chocolate make everything better? 
It’s worth a shot.

Now that Maya Davis is engaged to her longtime friend and sweetheart, Jack, there should be no more worrying about the future, no more questioning God. Everything should be perfect, right? Actually, it’s just the opposite: Things are complicated. Where are they going to live? What kind of wedding do they want?

And when Jack is offered a once-in-a-lifetime job in Seattle, things begin to unravel even more. Can Maya trust that God is in control even when things seem to be a disastrous mess?

DOUBLE SHOT is the third book in the A Maya Davis Novel series and I’m sorry to see this couple go. Readers will want to read Cool Beans and Latte Daze first, but there is enough back story included so new readers won’t get lost.

Maya and Jack are about the cutest couple ever. Maya is stressed with planning a wedding, a premature nephew, a new coworker, a move, and so much more all happening at once. Just about everything that can rate high on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, all happening at once.

There are some inconsistencies in the series – and in the book – which would’ve been caught by a good critique partner. Or even a read-through by the author.

Jack is so sweet and considerate, and patient with Maya, who is a bit of a drama queen. I loved DOUBLE SHOT and the whole series.  Written in first person/present tense. My teenage daughters are reading this series now.


Available in ebook and paperback. 288 pages. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

Title: EVERY BITTER THING IS SWEET
Author: Sara Hagerty
Publisher: Zondervan
October 2014
ISBN: 978-0310339946
Genre: Nonfiction / Women’s issues / Christian life

In the age of fingertip access to answers and a limitless supply of ambitions, where do we find the God who was birthed in dirt and straw? Sara Hagerty found him when life stopped working for her. She found him when she was a young adult mired in spiritual busyness and when she was a new bride with doubts about whether her fledgling marriage would survive. She found him alone in the night as she cradled her longing for babies who did not come. She found him as she kissed the faces of children on another continent who had lived years without a mommy’s touch.

In Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, Hagerty masterfully draws from the narrative of her life to craft a mosaic of a God who leans into broken stories. Here readers see a God who is present in every changing circumstance. Most significantly, they see a God who is present in every unchanging circumstance as well.

Whatever lost expectations readers are facing—in family, career, singleness, or marriage—Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet will bring them closer to a God who longs for them to know him more. What does it look like to know God’s nearness when life breaks? What does it mean to receive his life when earthly life remains barren? How can God turn the bitterness of unmet desire into new flavors of joy?

With exquisite storytelling and reflection, Hagerty brings readers back to hope, back to healing, back to a place that God is holding for them alone—a place where the unseen is more real than what the eye can perceive. A place where every bitter thing is sweet.

EVERY BITTER THING IS SWEET is a sweet, across the kitchen table approach of showing women how to find God—a God who is present for them and not absent. A God who cares. A God who is working behind the scenes to answer prayers in His time and in His way.

A beautiful picture in words is painted for women who face broken dreams, shattered lives, unhappy stories. A book that is intended to give hope to the heartbroken. One that could help heal a broken heart. I didn’t find it particularly helpful or encouraging for my situations, but she’s in a different place than me. However, she does share references for scriptures that readers could look up that might minister to them in the place where they are. Recommended for church libraries, counselors, small groups, women’s groups, women’s leaders, pastors.


Available in ebook, audio download, cd, and hardcover. 208 pages. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Latte Daze

Title: LATTE DAZE
Author: Erynn Mangum
Publisher: NavPress
July 2010
ISBN: 978-1600067129
Genre: Teen / Chicklit


When Maya Davis’ ex-boyfriend proposes to her roommate, Jen, their apartment becomes Wedding Central. As if that weren’t awful enough, Jen’s obnoxious mom moves in to help with the planning!

Maya's relationships really start to get crazy when her genius brother and sister-in-law announce their pregnancy, and then to top it off there’s Jack—could it be love? Who wouldn’t need a coffee break!

This fun, lighthearted fiction novel for teens uses strong characters, humor, and quiet faith to promote trust in God.

LATTE DAZE is the second book in Ms. Mangum’s A Maya Davis Novel series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and it ended with a happy-sigh moment, so all is well. I enjoyed seeing Maya and Jen plan Jen’s wedding and as Maya adjusted to Jack not being at Cool Beans (also the title of the first book in this series) and adjusting to a new coworker.  I also enjoyed Kate as she struggled through on-going morning sickness that lasted all day long. I remember those days well.

If you like chicklit, you’ll want to read LATTE DAZE. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, Double Shot.

This is written in first person/present tense. 

Available in ebook and paperback. 304 pages. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cool Beans

Title: COOL BEANS
Author: Erynn Magnum
Publisher: NavPress
April 2010
ISBN:  978-1600067112
Genre: Young adult / contemporary / chick lit

Everything seems to be going perfectly for Maya Davis: She has a great job at a coffee shop, gets along with her parents, and is happily single. That is until her best friend starts dating Maya’s high school sweetheart.

This funny, heartwarming fiction story by best-selling author Erynn Mangum uses the power of story to challenge teens to discover the relevance of faith in their relationships and their lives.

COOL BEANS is the first book in Ms. Mangum’s A Maya Davis Novel series. This is out of print (in print) unless you buy it used but it is still available on kindle.  I greatly enjoy Ms. Mangum’s books, chicklit for teenagers – but they appeal to this mom too. I also have two girls who love her books and can’t wait to read them.

I enjoyed Maya’s sense of humor and her sarcasm and the way she struggled to relate her life with God. The only thing I didn’t really like is that she went on and on about how she needs to tell her best friend she is dating an old boyfriend and she just doesn’t. . . and what was with the old boyfriend (dating something like five years) not recognizing her?

I have to say I loved Jack. Absolutely loved Jack. I can’t wait to read Latte Daze. If you like chicklit or first person/present tense books, you will love COOL BEANS. Highly recommended.

304 pages. Available in ebook and paperback (from second-hand sellers).  5 stars.



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Patriots, Redcoats, & Spies

Title: PATRIOTS, REDCOATS AND SPIES
Authors: Robert J. Skead and Robert A. Skead
Publisher: Zonderkidz
February 2015
ISBN: 978-0310748410
Genre: Historical/tweener
Review by Jenna

When Revolutionary War Patriot Lamberton Clark is shot by British soldiers while on a mission for the Continental Army, he has only two hopes of getting the secret message he’s carrying to General George Washington: his 14-year-old twin boys John and Ambrose. Upon discovering that their father is a spy in the Culper Spy Ring, the boys accept their mission without a clue about what they may be up against. They set off from Connecticut to New Jersey to find General Washington, but the road to the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army is full of obstacles; including the man who shot their father who is hot on their trail.

PATRIOTS, REDCOATS AND SPIES is a father and son writing team. This book, PATRIOTS, REDCOATS AND SPIES, is loosely based on a true story about their ancestor, Lamberton Clark.

I loved this book. It was awesome. It had a lot of suspense and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t want to put this book down.

Lamberton Clark is a great dad and pretty courageous. The twin boys were silly and acted like normal brothers, even with little fights. I was worried they’d get caught and they would be in trouble. I had to keep reading to find out what happens.

Recommended for anyone who likes historical adventure stories. For tweens, ages 8 – 12 years. 


Available in ebook and hardcover. 192 pages. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Breaker's Reef

BREAKER'S REEF by Terri Blackstock (Book 4 of the Cape Refuge Series)

And God wins.

I do not, in the least, mean for the three previous words to be flippant, sarcastic, or misconstrued in any way.  God wins!  Terri Blackstock weaves this theme throughout her Cape Refuge Series, and greatly desires that if you don’t get anything else from her works of fiction, you will come away with this message:  God wins!

When a teenage girl’s body is discovered in a boat between Tybee Island and Cape Refuge, all evidence points to a famous mystery writer who has taken up residence in the small town, Marcus Gibson.  Sheila Caruso, a newly-employed secretary for the best-selling author, discovers that a scene in one of his books perfectly mirrors the crime scene, and the author’s eccentricities lend support to the theory.

When a second dead teenager is discovered – again, paralleling a scene from one of Gibson’s novels – Police Chief Cade is pretty much convinced he has his man.  Then Sheila’s daughter, Sadie, goes missing.  In a race against time, there are many questions to be answered.  And many lessons to be learned.

Facing the challenges of stereotypes, prejudice, injustice, and the ever-present darkness of the human heart, Terri Blackstock just wants every one of her readers to know . . . God wins.

In the latest chapter of the series, BREAKER’S REEF, Terri Blackstock brings new challenges to familiar faces.  While references are made to situations in the previous books, BREAKER’S REEF is easily read on its own.  Readers new to the Cape Refuge series will be able to meet the residents of Cape Refuge, and develop a relationship with them that will instill in them a desire to “go back to the beginning.” 

5 Stars for a message for page-turning suspense!

BREAKERS’S REEF
Terri Blackstock
ISBN  978-0-310-34278-6
Fiction / Christian / Suspense
Zondervan
329 pages
$ 10.99 (U.S.)

review by Steve

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hunted

Title: HUNTED
Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: River Heights
October 2014
ASIN: B00N549UNG
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Who knew a stray dog could lead to so much trouble?

Newlywed animal rights activist Sierra Nakamura Davis is coming face to face with her worst nightmare: breaking the news she eloped to her ultra-opinionated tiger mom.

Her perfectionist parents have planned a vow renewal ceremony at Sierra’s lush childhood home, but a neighborhood dog ruins the rehearsal dinner when he shows up toting what appears to be a fresh human bone.

Between the dog, a nosey neighbor, and an old flame turning up at all the wrong times, Sierra hunts for answers. Surprises abound at every turn as Sierra embarks on a journey of discovery that leads to more than just who did the crime. 

I read this series out of order since I started with Pranced first, intead of Pounced. I remember Sierra from Ms. Barritt’s Squeaky Clean series, and getting to know her there. I do think Chad and Sierra need to communicate more. Both Pranced and HUNTED have the same underlying theme—they didn’t bother to tell anyone about their wedding. It does add tension though.

HUNTED was good and it held my attention all the way through. I didn't figure out who did it until the end.

Other books in The Sierra Files:
Pounced (Book 1) 
HUNTED (Book 2)
Pranced (Book 3)


Available in ebook and paperback. 176 pages. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Spotlight: Too Far to Say Far Enough

“Please, God! Show me what we’re doing here!”
     Go another mile was the answer…

Allison Chamberlain has done everything God required of her—but as He continues to nudge her in the third and final book of The Reluctant Prophet series, she is ready to say, “Enough!”

With two Sacrament Houses open, the Sisters’ second hand clothing boutique making its debut, and the orphaned Desmond legally adopted, will reluctant prophet Allison Chamberlain finally say, “Enough!” when God continues to Nudge her—this time to Go another mile?

In this gripping conclusion to The Reluctant Prophet trilogy, Allison Chamberlain confronts the darkness of society—both in the drug-infested neighborhood of West King Street, and within the menacing business empire of Chamberlain Enterprises. Allison must decide, Is the price of anger and hatred worth the cost of loving?

With most of her relationships in jeopardy, Allison finds surprising allies who convince her she—just like Harley riders who reach what seems to be the end of the road—has come too far to say far enough. But not before the lives of those most precious to her are threatened—and not before she discovers the true identity of the prophet within.

  • File Size: 5656 KB
  • Print Length: 514 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2012)
  • ASIN: B00969GEQU
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434764904

Link to buy:  http://www.amazon.com/Too-Far-Say-Enough-Reluctant/dp/1434764907/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1421777664&sr=1-1

About the Author

Nancy Rue is the author of more than one hundred books for adults and teens, including the Christy Award-winning The Reluctant Prophet, Unexpected Dismounts and Healing Waters (with Steve Arterburn), which was the 2009 Women of Faith Novel of the Year. She travels extensively—at times on the back of a Harley—speaking to and teaching groups of women of all ages. Nancy lives on a lake in Tennessee with her Harley-ridin’ husband, Jim, and their two yellow Labs (without whom writing would be difficult).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Choose You Today



I Choose You Challenge



Book info and review
About the book:

I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last (Abingdon Press, January 2015)

Married for nearly 38 years, author Deborah DeArmond and her husband have made the spoken declaration, "I choose you today" a regular part of their communication. It's when we least feel like saying it that we need to remind ourselves that love is a choice, not a feeling. I Choose You Today features 31 scriptural principles that support marriage and help couples develop healthy biblically based behavior.

Built on an introductory anecdotal story, each chapter has an inspirational takeaway of not only what to do, but how to begin applying the principles immediately. Thought provoking questions create talking points for couples to explore their own choices and experiences in each area serve to generate open dialogue of discovery. I Choose You Today is not a book of "shoulds," but one of clearly identified choices that each individual can make to grow their marriage and align it with the word of God. Every saying ends with a conventional wisdom quote.

My thoughts:   As someone who has been married almost 30 years (to the same man), I can vouch for this book. While it wasn't around when I married, it is based on common sense principles that are necessary for marriages to survive.  Some of the thirty-one suggestions are 1. Put God first in your life.  2. Pursue your spouse. 3. Love your spouse--it's a decision.  4. Honor your spouse. 5. Loyalty. 6. Trusting. 7. Forgiving.... There are many more. And they are all wise. Good advice.

Ms. DeArmond gives short stories to start each short chapter, discussions of not only what not to do, but also suggestions on how to apply them. There are discussion questions too, so this could be used with a husband/wife team, a marriage counselor or pastor counseling an engaged couple, or as a small group.  Recommended whether you are married, engaged, or hope to be. Perfect for church libraries and pastoral resources.


Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/HLFvU  


About the author:

Deb DeArmond
 is an author, a speaker, and relationship coach-helping her clients improve their interactions at work and at home. Her first book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice: Transforming Mother-in-Law and Daughter-in-Law Relationships, was released in November 2013 by Kregel Publications.

Find Deb online: websiteFacebookTwitter

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Landing page:



The Valentine's Challenge: February 1 - 28
Tell your spouse "I Choose You" every day of the month.
Sign up online at www.ichooseyouchallenge.com and receive a free downloadable February calendar to mark off the days of the challenge. 

Deb will also be emailing participants 1-2 times throughout the month with giveaway opportunities and "keep going" encouragement.

The "I Choose You" Challenge: March 1 - December 31, 2015
Sign up online at www.ichooseyouchallenge.com to receive 10 weekly emails, each teaching one of the choices from Deb's book along with practical applications. This challenge is broken up into three different sessions, covering all 31 choices from the book. There will be giveaways and opportunities to win throughout the year. Participants can decide when to join---it's not required to do all three sessions.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Remember the Lilies


Remember Lilies Liz Tolsma


Book info and review
About the book:

Remember the Lilies (Thomas Nelson, February 2015)

Can Irene and Rand stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom?

Interred by the Japanese, missionary Irene Reynolds comes across a mysterious note while working at the censor's office. She memorizes the parts she must black out and delivers it to wealthy nightclub owner Rand Sterling. Before she knows what's happening, she's drawn into a web of secrets and danger.

Rand Sterling wants nothing more than to reopen his nightclubs once the war ends. But slimy Frank Covey wants his hand in the till---and has news that could threaten Rand's reputation if it became public. More importantly, beautiful and intriguing Irene Reynolds cannot discover this information if he expects to persuade her to become his wife.

When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, they must learn the true meaning of forgiveness---if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.

My thoughts:  Wow.  REMEMBER THE LILIES is a hard book to read. I am so glad God didn't call me to write military fiction of this sort. I would give myself nightmares trying to write it.  As it was, Ms. Tolsma ripped my heart out and left it bleeding with this book. Poor Rand. While I initially didn't think much of him (a rich playboy) my heart broke over and over for him before I was halfway through the book.  I wanted to see him survive and find happiness. 

And Irene. At first glance she doesn't have it that bad. She may be in a Japanese camp, but she has a home, she has a job, she has freedom to come and go and do what she needs to do--for the most part.  But things aren't always as they appear.  Her situation definitely worsens. 

Ms. Tolsma is an expert at "upping the ante" or raising the stakes for her characters. Readers will not soon forget the horrors of WWII with any of her books. And while REMEMBER THE LILIES may be the third in a series, it stands totally and completely alone.  Fans will want to read Snow on the Tulips and Daisies are Forever. They are all set in different parts of the world, all experiencing different hardships and nightmarish conditions as a result of WWII.  

This is not feel good fiction. This is realism -- as some one one said "Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it."  


Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1EDGVJJ  


About the author:New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author of Daisies are ForeverSnow on the Tulips, and the contributing author of A Log Cabin Christmas. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.

Find Liz online: websiteFacebook, Twitter

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