25 Book Reviews

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Haunted by the Past!!!! Two women search for answers!

           "Waves of Mercy"
              By Lynn Austin

Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she's asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love. 

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

My Thoughts:

I am not typically a fan of books set in this time period,  however, having not read Lynn Austin's books before, I decided to give this novel a try. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Having heard good things only about her writing convinced me to read and review this book. This historical novel has depth and a great deal of information about the time period, as it follows Geesje's love story.  

The characters are extremely well described and totally believable in their place in society. You could feel the struggles and heartaches as these immigrants make impossible decisions that they had to live with. The use of flashbacks to decades much earlier was a unique approach and was well used. As you read, you become eager to learn the entire story of Geesje, as the reader meets her as an older woman. Hearing the past events of this individual adds such depth to the plot. There was a very real struggle in choosing to love God and remain faithful in difficult times. 

The plot was detailed and moved steadily throughout. The very real challenges of immigrants and their rough encounters during the immigration process , as well as starting life anew , was felt deeply as the story progressed.

The underlying feeling of hope and maintaining faith in God in the darkest moments,  is the message that shines through  the life of a woman who met with so many troubles. She trusted Him in the roughest storms of life. Geesje kept trusting in whatever life threw at her.  What a great example she is to us all! 

I highly recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction. It is a love story but one with great depth and meaning!

This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is now available at your local booksellers. The opinions expressed are honest and my own. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Heart Warming Love Story by Susan May Warren

"Wild Montana Skies"
By Susan May Warren


Search and rescue pilot Kacey Fairing is home on leave in Mercy Falls, Montana, twelve years after she joined the military to escape the mistakes of her past. With a job waiting for her as the new lead pilot of Peak Rescue in Glacier National Park, Kacey hopes to reconnect with the now-teenage daughter she sees only between deployments. What she doesn't realize is that someone else is also back in town.

Ben King has been building his country music career since the day Kacey shut him out of her life. Now all of that's on hold when his injured father calls him home to help run Peak Rescue until he's fully recovered. It doesn't take long, though, to discover his father's ulterior motives as Kacey Fairing walks into the house and back into his heart.

With Mercy Falls in a state of emergency due to flash floods, Kacey and Ben are forced to work together to save lives. But when floodwaters turn personal, can they put aside the past to save their future?

My Thoughts:
As I have read many of Susan May Warren's previous novels, I really wondered about this new series! How could it ever be as good as the others??? Can she possibly write a book that is as full of action, drama, mystery and romance as her other books were??? Well, I must say I certainly was NOT disappointed !! This new story encompasses all of the above, along with a very strong underlying theme of keeping one's faith in the darkest hours in life's journey. There is only one who can keep us safe and give us hope!!

The characters are realistically and well described, so that the reader is immediately drawn into their lives. I identified easily with Kacey as she worried about the future of her teenage daughter. As a parent, I empathised with her concerns and challenges. Ben is the hero of the story, but one that does not find it easy to enter small town life with a worried mom with career that endangers her life as she strives to save others. The past must be healed before the future can be bright. Complex relationships are a block in the path to forgiveness and chances to resolve old hurts. The characters have flaws, as we all do. 

The plot builds quickly and steadily towards the resolution of mysteries and romances. There are twists and surprising turns at the most unexpected moments. The reader is kept on the edge of her seat as the tension builds.  I must admit that the world passed me by as I sat, totally engrossed in this book!! I had a hard time putting it down in order to prepare meals!!  

I highly recommend this book ! It is a fantastic read, one that will keep you up long after your bedtime! Now, I am awaiting Book Two in this series. 

This Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group, Revell and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is now available at your local booksellers.

Another Great Book from the Author of "The Red Door Inn"!!!

    "Where Two Hearts Meet"
             By Liz Johnson


In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He's also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he's falling in love with the island's red shores and Caden's sweets. 

When Caden discovers Adam isn't who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he's writing could do more than ruin the inn's chances for survival--it might also break her heart.

Readers will discover hope for the hurting, joy for the broken, and romance for the lonely at the enchanting Red Door Inn.

My Thoughts:

This book, the second in Liz Johnson's "Prince Edward Island Dreams" series , is another contemporary romance which includes a wonderful mystery involving the characters at the Bed and Breakfast, "The Red Door Inn". After thoroughly enjoying the first in the series, I felt as though I was once again visiting good friends on the picturesque island. What a wonderful setting for a romance!! The island, described in such detail , has me eagerly planning a trip to this small island in Canada. The birthplace of the Anne of Green Gables series has always been appealing to me, but this novel actually has me drooling over the scenery, the b and b, and yes, even the food that is so well described in the story.. 

The characters were so vividly and realistically described, that I immediately became entrenched in their lives, troubles, challenges and all. Caden and Adam became my best friends, as I travelled for a short while alongside them in life's journey. I appreciated the individual struggles that the characters faced. It reminded me of a very important thing- we NEVER have to carry our burdens alone. There is always someone to help us and guide our path.

The plot moves steadily with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged from beginning to end of the book. As the plot progressed, the relationships of the characters were developing  and growing in strength. Some of the struggles were shared by the two , others were individual battles being troublesome. 

I highly recommend this book to those who love contemporary romance as I do. Now, I am eagerly awaiting Book Three in the series!!

This book was supplied as a gift by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing. The thoughts expressed are honest and my own. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Fantastic Book that Includes suspense, mystery and romance! Be sure to enter the giveaway!!!

            "Finding Margo"
              By Jen Turano
Off the charts and on the run.
International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?
Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions . . . the kinds that make her a target for a killer.
Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or the just the beginning . . . ?
My Thoughts: 
Jen Turano is successful as not many other authors are, at including subtle humor in her novels within a contemporary romance filled with mystery and suspense. That sounds like a very difficult task, however Jen has done in with masterful skill. As I read this novel, at times, my heartbeat quickened, then in the next moment I would have a giggle attack!!  

The characters are realistically and so well described that the reader easily identifies with them, feeling their every fear, challenge and joy. Margo became my best friend as the story progressed. Her fears became mine! 

The plot moves quickly, with the perfect number of  twists and turns unexpectedly occurring that keep one glued to the page. I must admit that I finished reading this book in one day. I could not put it down!! Jen has entered the Amish community with her characters. If you think the Plain People live in isolation, without problems, think again!  I loved the way the faith and the beliefs shone through the tough times, showing us how important it is to keep our eyes on the Lord. The simple trust of these people was one that left me thinking! Would I have the same faith if I had experienced their trials??  The tension felt as you read,  propels the reader to the very satisfying ending, that has one sighing in relief that all ends well. 

This author is definitely one that I have to keep in my list of favorites. 

Definitely a five star book!!!
This book was a gift. The thoughts expressed are honest and my own. 
Click here to purchase your copy.
About the author:
USA Today best-selling author Jen Turano writes contemporary and historical romances with quirky characters and unusual storylines. Just outside Denver, Colorado, Jen and her husband live as empty-nesters, and they do so fabulously. Contact Jen at jenturano.com.

Guest Post from Jen Turano

The Making of “Finding Margo”
By Jen Turano
To say that my entrance into the publishing world was a tad difficult is certainly an understatement.  My very first attempt at writing was centered around a middle grade book, specifically written for my son who was in the third grade at the time.  After finishing that, and sending it out to all of five companies, none of whom represented middle grade, I then moved on to young adult with a little more interest sent my way, but no success story to report in the end.  Not one to embrace the idea of complete and utter failure, I then tried my hand at a contemporary romance, moved on to what I assumed was a delightful regency romance, but one that turned out to be not that delightful, at least according to numerous agents, and finally landed on gilded age stories, filled with quirky heroines.  That is when I finally received my very first publishing contract, which then saw me catapulted into the very weird world of publishing.  After completing the second gilded age story of my two-book contract, I found myself with some time on my hands as I waited to see if anyone would read my stories, which might then result in an offer of additional book contracts.  As I waited, I decided I might as well keep writing, so decided to try another contemporary story, although my agent at that time suggested I try to write an Amish book since she had numerous requests from publishers for those specific books.
Because my writing voice is not what anyone might consider normal, I really didn’t believe I’d be able to do justice to an authentic Amish story.  Because of that, I settled on the idea of writing a contemporary romantic suspense, being a huge fan of that genre.  I had a vague notion of exploring a theme centered around a dog walker who might stumble on a body while walking her pack of dogs, or perhaps have a storyline that centered around a makeup artist who witnessed a crime while setting out her makeup for a client, but those ideas went straight away when I pulled out the vacuum one fine day.
Vacuuming, as well as staining the deck, cleaning the shower, and power-washing the garage, are my go-to activities when I need to get the muse working right before I start a first draft. On that particular day, as I pushed the vacuum around the house, I suddenly had the most intriguing idea – an idea that started off with two delightful little words…What…and…If.
That was all it took for a premise to begin festering through my mind, a fester that grew into this – What if three Amish children were stolen straight out of their beds, never to be seen or heard from again until… Now here’s where it gets interesting.  I decided to have a woman by the name of Margo Hartman, an international superstar no less, stumble into this small Ohio town quite by accident, and…she happens to bear an uncommon resemblance to an Amish woman who lives in this town.  To add an addition sense of intrigue, someone immediately begins trying their very best to kill poor Margo.
By the time I was done vacuuming, the storyline for “Finding Margo” was firmly cemented in my mind, which translates into Jen had no choice other than to write the story.  However, before my agent at that time found a home for the manuscript, I signed another contract for more gilded age books, which meant I did not have the time to commit to what was certainly going to have to be a three-book series since, well, there were three Amish children who’d gone missing.
Fast forward around five years and I found myself a little ahead of schedule at exactly the right time.  There was a new publishing house in town, my current agent remembered me talking about this quirky book I’d written long ago, and as luck would have it, I found the flash drive that’s been home to “Finding Margo” for all these years.
Since my writing style has certainly changed since I first wrote Margo’s story, I ended up rewriting the entire book, and I must say that I’m still just as intrigued with the storyline as I was when it popped to mind while vacuuming what seems like ages ago.  I’m just tickled to death that Margo Hartman has finally found her way out of a flash drive and onto the pages of a book.  I’m hoping readers will enjoy her as much as I enjoyed writing her.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me today, and for supporting my books over the years.  I cannot properly express how important all my readers have become to me, and I’m incredibly thankful for every one of you.  You’ve brightened up my life and without you, well, I wouldn’t have anyone to share the stories that always seem to rumble around my mind.
God bless!
~ Jen ~
      Don't forget to enter the Giveaway!!
To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copies of her book! Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine entries on the giveaway!

Blog Stops

November 17: Book by Book
November 17: cherylbbookblog
November 18: A Reader’s Brain
November 18: I Hope You Dance
November 18: Blogging with Carol
November 19: ASC Book Reviews
November 19: Bibliophile Reviews
November 20: Lighthouse Academy
November 20: Karen Sue Hadley
November 20: Back Porch Reads
November 21: Genesis 5020
November 21: 100 Pages per Hour
November 22: Pause for Tales
November 22: Quiet Quilter
November 22: Bigreadersite
November 23: Just Commonly
November 23: A Greater Yes
November 23: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
November 24: Smiling Book Reviews
November 24: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 25: inklings and notions
November 26: Daysong Reflections
November 26: The Scribbler
November 26: Blossoms and Blessings
November 28: The Power of Words
November 28: Reader’s Cozy Corner
November 29: Faithfully Bookish
November 29: Christian Bookaholic

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Stakes are High!! Nancy Mehl Set My Heart Pounding With Her New Thriller/Suspense!!!

            "Fatal Frost"

           By Nancy Mehl


Mercy Brennan followed in her father's footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she's assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis's most powerful gang.

When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent--a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy's ex-boyfriend--to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety. 

Initially unaware of the danger she's in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy's frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn't until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office, that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy closing in to put their lives at imminent risk. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive--if help is even coming at all?

My Thoughts:

Nancy Mehl has ramped up the suspense and terror in this book , the first of her new series, "Defenders of Justice"!  This author has kept me engaged while reading all of her previous books, however, THIS book has to be the best so far!! To be able to create a such a novel, while maintaining a Christian view and underlying themes is a unique talent that few authors have! I was kept on the edge of my seat with my heart throbbing as I read long after my bedtime! Thank goodness for my Kindle, as I lay in bed with the house in darkness , reading and reading .......

The characters are so well and realistically described that I walked alongside them in their rocky paths of terror. Mercy appealed to me from the  first chapter and I easily identified with her. I felt her every worry, fear, as she brought me into her battle to stay alive! Mark was  had me loving him at times and wanting to shake him up at others.

The plot was full of suspense and fear. This book is a first class example of a mystery/thriller. The unexpected twists and turns that occurred at the most surprising times, had me "quaking in my boots"!  To say that this novel is a compelling tale just doesn't seem adequate. It was superior in its ability to keep a reader glued to the page. 

My only problem..... I was sorry when I read the last page of the book. I impatiently waiting  for Book 2 in the series !!

This is a five star book!! I highly recommend it to all readers!

This book was a gift. The opinions and thoughts expressed are honest and my own.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dwelling on What We Don't Have!! How does one young woman solve this problem?? Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

                     "Love in the Seams"
             By Jodie Wolfe
About the Book:
Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She has no hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own. Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work as the recent sole owner of the local dress shop.
As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive. His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?
My Thoughts:
I am always a bit apprehensive when given a book by an author new to me. Will I enjoy it? Or, will I find it hard to read??  Thankfully, I can honestly say that Jodie Wolfe is an author to watch. This second book in her "Twins and Needles " series is a great read. It is a sweet romance that at times, has you wishing that you could knock a couple of heads together, enabling them both to see what they are resisting!! 
 The characters are realistically and well described. As my husband is a twin, I easily identified with Mae. Her kindness and Christian values shone through as she struggled with decisions and challenges. Johannes is a fine man, a devoted father, who often is so wrapped up in his busy, daily life, taking care of his little daughter, that he forgets that he, himself, has needs and feelings. I often wanted to jump into the book and shake these two characters!! Did they not see what was right in front of them?!!  Mae and Johannes, as well as the child, LillyAnn were such lovable characters! The idea of including little prayers in the story was unique and meaningful.
The plot was interesting and well developed, with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader engrossed from beginning to end of the book. A perfect amount of humor was included that added to the story. I was often giggling as I read LillyAnn's statements, arguments and questions. The underlying them of keeping one's faith in all situations was present throughout the book.  God's plan is always the best, but unfortunately, we often don't take the time to listen or wait for it. 
Jodie has won me over!! I now have to go back and read Book One of the series! Eagerly awaiting her next creation!!
This book was received as a gift from CelebrateLit. The opinions expressed are honest and my own.
Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Author:
Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests and is a member of ACFW. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at www.jodiewolfe.com.

Guest Blog from Jodie Wolfe:
I’m so excited to be a part of a Celebrate Lit tour. Thank you for the opportunity to give a small peek into my world. J Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles series. Mae Stafford’s journey to believe and have hope that God will give her the desires of her heart echo the ups and downs of my writing adventure.

I wrote my first novel as a teen quite a number of years ago. Ahem. We won’t say how many years that have passed since then. J Let’s just say it’s quite a few. My next novel didn’t get written until my early twenties…and then soon after I had children. Fiction writing took a back seat as I raised my sons and home schooled them all the way through high school.

Over seven years ago I felt God nudging me back to writing. I still had a son at home, so the progress was a little slow at first. Since then I’ve written four novels, three novellas, and have pitched a half dozen other ideas at various conferences or through my amazing agent.

God dropped my agent, Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency, into my lap when I least expected it, but that’s a different story. I’ve had quite a number of rejections over the past few years as she’s tried to drum up interest for my books. We’ve had some nibbles and times when an editor or two was interested, but things didn’t progress any further than that.

I’ve entered contests and have experienced mixed results. I semi-finaled in American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest a few years ago, and this past summer I found out I’m a finalist in three different contests. But there also have been quite a few where the responses weren’t so great.

Earlier this year I decided to put out a novella independently and Hearts Tightly Knit was the result. It told the tale of Mae’s twin sister, Ellie, and their pact to always stay together and never marry. When Ellie ended up with her happily-ever-after, I knew that Mae needed one too. The only thing is Mae isn’t sure if her hopes for a family will ever come to fruition.

Highs and lows are part of a writer’s life. Well, actually for all of us. J Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the negatives, the ‘rejections’ and not be able to see past them. Believe me, at times I wallow there for a little bit, but my aim is to write books that share about the hope we have in Christ. How can I convey that if I don’t believe and experience it myself?

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) which says, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” One of the things I have hoped for many years was a writing contract. That finally happened in September when I signed for a novelette with Celebrate Lit that will be coming out in the spring. In the process of waiting, I’ve found God has refined and honed me in this journey of hope.

My prayer is that my books will touch your heart and give you a glimmer of the hope we have in Christ. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity into your world.

Make sure that you enter the giveaway!!

In honor of her tour, Jodie is giving away a wooden decorated basket, a 24 thread spools with needles and threader, a pack of 30 needles, a tape measure, a tomato pin cushion, embroidery scissors, a thimble, 15 piece sewing kit, and a $10 Amazon gift card0! Click the link below to enter; be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine bonus entries for this giveaway! https://promosimple.com/ps/a88d

                         Blog Stops:

November 10: Pause for Tales
November 12: Quiet Quilter
November 13: A Greater Yes
November 13: Blossoms and Blessings
November 15: Lane Hill House
November 15: Ashley’s Bookshelf
November 16: ASC Book Reviews
November 17: Christian Bookaholic
November 18: Daysong Reflections
November 19: bigreadersite
November 20: Splashes of Joy

Another Fantastic Read by One of My Favorite Authors, Vannetta Chapman!

An Amish Proposal for Christmas  By Vannetta Chapman Synopsis: Her deepest Christmas wish will bring more than she imagined…in this novel by...