Sunday, May 21, 2017

Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson

Threads of Suspicion (Evie Blackwell Cold Case #2)Threads of Suspicion by Dee Henderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I took a break from my regular go-to Christian Historical reads and picked up this gem! It's been awhile since I'd read anything by Dee Henderson but she has never disappointed!

Evie Blackwell is working on a task force who is trying to close up cold cases. She chooses to work on the case of Jenna, a missing college girl. Her partner, David, chooses to work on the cold case of Saul, a missing PI. I love how the author depicts a "day in the life" of a detective going through evidence, conducting interviews, etc and sharing a breakdown of how to break a case. Evie and David discover many similarities in their cases and, while they are working on their own respective cases, find ways to work together to help each other solve the cases they have presented to them.

Evie and David have a great mutual respect for each other and the work that they do. They are both in relationships that are very similar as well. David is dating Maggie, the lead for the hit band, Triple M, while Evie is dating a wealthy financier. Each relationship has commitment issues and having each other to bounce their ideas off of is helpful to both David and Evie.

I was not aware that this was book 2 in a series until I finished it, but I did suspect it some as I was reading. There were references to events in the past that had me a bit intrigued at times but I don't feel that the prior information was essential to understanding and enjoying this book. It could be (and was) enjoyed as a stand-alone book. That being said, there are several looming questions that I have that will no doubt be covered in the next book in this series!! I do enjoy a great cliffhanger!!

This was a very fast-paced, enjoyable read! I recommend it to those who enjoy a great mystery with a little bit of romance mixed in!

I did receive a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley. Many thanks to Dee Henderson and Bethany House Publishers for allowing me to review this book in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

A Love So True (Teaville Moral Society #2)A Love So True by Melissa Jagears
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's 1908 and the setting is in Southeast Kansas. David Kingsman just wants to make his father proud. It's all he's ever wanted in life...to have his father say, "Well done, son!" at the end of a business deal. The glass factory is in need of something major...in the forms of a shut down and sale to the highest bidder. David struggles with this as he is in Teaville to assess the business in his father's portfolio. Is shutting down really the best answer?

Evelyn Wisely is a young, single woman with a servant's heart. She braves the red-light district of Teaville to rescue any woman who expresses an interest in leaving a soiled past for a much cleaner one. Evelyn also has a huge heart for the children in the orphanage that her family manages. Evelyn has no regard for herself or her future...and marriage is definitely not an option.

David is quite smitten when he first lays eyes on Evelyn but is very intrigued by her work in the red-light district of town. Whatever is a lady of her station doing in such desolate and dark areas? David can't seem to get Evelyn out his mind despite the denials of his advances. Will he be able to wait this journey out to win her heart?

This is the second book in the Teaville series. I did not realize this, nor was I affected by that news. I would like to go back and read the first book now, knowing that this is a series. If I were to choose a favorite character in this book, hands down it would be David. I admire his persistence, his patience, and the way in which he turned his circumstances into something much more positive. Reflecting back, I didn't realize just how giving he was, as the book really focused on the amount of giving that Evelyn exuded. David is the strongest developed character in this book and I found myself falling under his charm a time or two.

There is a portion of the book where the characters become very open about their faith and how they are going to deal with the situation at hand. There are tender moments between couples at various stages of relationships in this book. However, I would feel comfortable with my teenager reading this book.

I did have a difficult time getting into this book but I feel it was more of a matter of somethings I was going through personally when I first started this book. It did not pick up for me as quickly as I would have liked but the ending did seem to come quickly. The longer I read this, the more I did enjoy the story. Many other reviewers have had a different experience (Loving it all the way through) so again, I feel it might have been where I was in life when I started reading this book.

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers and Melissa Jagears for providing a complimentary copy for me to review through Netgalley.com. What you have read here are my honest thoughts on this book.

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When God Says "Wait": Navigating life's detours without losing your faith, your friends, or your mind by Elizabeth Laing Thompson

When God Says When God Says "Wait": navigating life’s detours and delays without losing your faith, your friends, or your mind by Elizabeth Laing Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's not often that I read a non-fiction book, simply because I find that I enjoy a lot of fiction books. However, this one came across as one that I could really use and it was. This devotional book was written from a female perspective for females mainly. I can see where it would benefit male readers as well.

Utilizing popular Bible stories, Elizabeth Laing Thompson uses Miriam, Sarah, Hannah, Naomi, David, Jacob, Ruth, Mary, Gideon, Joseph, Martha, and Abraham to explain how sometimes in our lives, God does say, "Wait". Each of these Biblical people faced uncertain dilemmas in life and had to wait for the right time before receiving answers they were searching for.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book include:

"When battles change us, even wound us, we can use our scars for good: They are reminders of God's power in our weakness."

"...build a life where he is in that moment."

"The ability to comfort others who are going through a similar trial. The ability to sympathize--and strongly."

"Never forget this: Our suffering becomes our story. God's nos are a much a part of our testimony as His yeses."

There is also great advice given in this book. Something I often struggle with is remaining positive, especially when it feels like the world is crumbling down around you. The author suggests to write down three things that happened in a positive way or three ways you saw God at work. Do this daily before going to bed each night. Focus on these things and keep your mind from wandering to the negative, especially before bedtime, but also to help you wake up refreshed and more positive for the coming day.

I appreciate how the author used these situations we read of in the Bible to remind me that, first of all, I'm not alone. Waiting can be so hard, no matter what it is you may be waiting on. Secondly, this book helped me to refocus my thoughts on Biblical matters and I found a deeper connection with these people by re-reading their stories and struggles. Third, I found this book to be very encouraging. Not only will it have you spending more time in the Word, but also reflecting on different situations you and your loved ones may be facing. Be encouraged to know that whatever it is you are going through, you are not alone in the wait. It can seem like it at times but remaining faithful and true to the Lord will reap bountiful rewards in the end.

I do hope that you will find encouragement in this post! I would recommend this to anyone hurting from the wait of your answer. I encourage you to have your Bible handy and read these accounts from the Bible, then read the devotional and commentary on each situation and apply it to your life. Be prayerful while reading this as well....I found myself having an even more active prayer life during the reading of this book and even since then. Finally, reach out to someone to pray for you, encourage you, whatever you need...you're not in this alone!!

Thank you to Barbour Publishing and the author for a complimentary review copy made available to me on NetGalley.com. What you have read are my honest thoughts and opinions on this book.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Behind the Scenes (Apart from the Crowd, #1)Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a historical christian read with a lot of humor, run out and grab a copy of this book today!!

I may be mistaken but I'm pretty sure I've never read anything by Jen Turano prior to picking this one up to read. I am already anxiously awaiting the next story in this series as I love the style of writing Jen uses to convey her story. The humor in the book is very appropriate and a few times I even found myself snorting because the situation was so funny! Sometimes, they are even subtly funny, which to me makes it even more interesting.

Miss Permilia Griswold is a known wallflower in social circles. She bumbles through events and then faces the wrath of her step-mother and step-sister. They simply don't understand why Permilia insists on being frugal with her purchases, especially when it comes to social attire!! Imagine Miss Permilia's horror when Asher Rutherford comes here way at the largest social event of the year, held at the Vanderbilt mansion! Of course, she loses all sense of polite society graces and actually appears that she may have insulted the greatest fashion merchant in the area. Something really attracts Asher to Permilia and she to him and they find themselves dancing. Permilia manages to blunder through that as well and can only save Asher's reputation by composing an article utilizing her secret talents as Ms. Quill.

During a rather daring adventure during the Vanderbilt event, Permilia finds herself in a predicament, overhearing a plot that could change many events in coming days. How will she protect those she cares about?

There were so many elements in this book that made it extremely enjoyable. As previously mentioned, I loved the humor scattered throughout. Without trying to spoil too much, during a scene with the Huxley sisters, I couldn't help but think of a Miranda Lambert song ("Mama's Broken Heart"--even though the storyline of the song did not match their story) and it made a very serious situation a little humorous to me. I also loved the adventure scattered throughout this story. Permilia is full of sass and is surely a very independent woman of her time. The romance is subtle but the forces of attraction are very strong.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical christian fiction who enjoy humor and romance. I am looking forward to the next book in this series!!

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing and Jen Turano for providing a complimentary review copy of this book through NetGalley. The thoughts expressed in this review are my own.

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Andi Saddles Up by Susan K. Marlow

Andi Saddles Up (Circle C Stepping Stones #1)Andi Saddles Up by Susan K. Marlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's Andi's birthday and what she wants most is to have a new saddle for her horse, Taffy. She also wants to be able to ride her horse whenever and wherever she wants. She's opening her gifts and there isn't a new saddle anywhere among those gifts.

After awhile, Andi's brother calls from the barn and Andi sees a brand new saddle on her horse. Then her brother, Chad, takes her on a ride and shows her a spot she can call her own. Andi is so excited about this serene spot that Chad has shared with her and she spends hours there. During one particular day there, Andi hears someone riding up and sees a young girl about the same age as she. Andi hops down from the tree she's in to find out her new friend's name is Sadie. There's a problem though...Sadie is the daughter of the sheep herder across the way that is causing her family some issues with their land. Andi doesn't let that stop her from befriending the young girl.

Andi loves being able to ride her horse to her special spot and to meet up with her new friend there. One day, Andi learns that Sadie can ride bareback and do tricks on her horse. Andi has always wanted to learn to do that!! Sadie begins to show Andi how to do these tricks when something terrible happens. How will the families deal with this tragedy? Can peace ever be restored?

I recommend this book to young readers. There are many valuable lessons presented in this book that apply to today's kids, even though this happened back in the 1800's. It will also give a brief glimpse into what life was like 'back then'. I love how Andi and her family are not afraid to express their beliefs as well. We need more books like this one for our youth of today!!

Many thanks to Susan K. Marlow and Kregel Publishing for the complimentary copy of this book to review. All thoughts and recommendations are my own in this writing.

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Andi Under the Big Top by Susan K. Marlow

Andi Under the Big Top (Circle C Stepping Stones #2)Andi Under the Big Top by Susan K. Marlow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Andi is super excited as she sees all the posters going up around town about the upcoming circus. She's never been to the circus before, at least not that she remembers, until her older siblings remind her of the clowns. Suddenly, going to the circus doesn't have quite the thrill it once did, but Andi is still super excited to go!

Andi is in awe as she sees trick riders with their horses. One horse even looks like Taffy! Andi does wonder why the horses are not a matching pair but that thought quickly goes away when Miss Minnie Mae looks Andi's direction and waves. She's the coolest trick horse rider around!

Henry is a wee lad who is working in the circus. He befriends Andi and her siblings and Andi learns that he has a family. Andi also learns that his family is his aunt and uncle. Henry didn't want to work on their farm so he ran away and joined the circus. Henry quickly learned that circus life wasn't all that great and that some people were really mean. Henry misses his family dearly and wants to go back but cannot afford the train ticket home. He also isn't sure his aunt and uncle would want him back.

Good thing Andi has a brother who's an attorney!! Andi shares Henry's story with her brother and wheels start moving. Will Henry ever be able to go back home? What will Andi think of the circus?

I love that this book was written for youngsters from a historical perspective. There just aren't enough books out there covering these time periods for today's youth. I also love how this book does have a slight, but not overbearing, religious tone to it. It's obvious that Andi and her family are believers. I would highly recommend this book to young readers as it will give them a great story with historical perspective.

Many thanks to Kregel Publishing and Susan K. Marlowfor providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. These thoughts and recommendation are entirely my own.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

To the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden

To the Farthest ShoresTo the Farthest Shores by Elizabeth Camden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Camden is a writer who is fairly new to me (I've read one other book that she's penned) but she never disappoints! I love how she weaves elements of intrigue, romance, and delight into an elegant story. This story was a fast read for me as I had a very hard time putting it down.

I feel in love with Jenny right off the bat. Jenny is a civilian nurse who is working in a military hospital. She works the dreaded night shift, because that's what they do to civilian nurses. Jenny loves her job and loves her patients. She is very dedicated and committed to her calling. Six years ago, Jenny met and fell in love with Ryan Gallagher.

I had a hard time liking Ryan at all through this story. I'm sure deep down he's a really great guy but I really don't like what he did to Jenny. I guess maybe I took this story a little personal because of an experience I once had with a military person. I do struggle with whether or not what he did was considered being unfaithful, however. In today's terms, I don't think it would have been at all. My heart breaks for what Jenny endured, and what she continued to endure. I am happy for the way things turned out in the end and feel that Jenny could finally begin her healing process.

My favorite part of this story was learning more about the pearl industry. During the time of this story, the pearl industry was really just beginning in terms of technology. Reading about the process of a forming pearl and ways that biotechnology were being used even back then were truly fascinating to me.

I would recommend this book to lovers of christian-fiction and those who enjoy historical stories!

My thanks and appreciation to the publisher and the author for providing a complimentary copy for me to review in exchange for my remarks. I was not compensated financially in any way for my review and these thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

The Noble Servant (A Medieval Fairy Tale, #3)The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Noble Servant is a fairy re-telling of the Goose Girl story. I don't believe I've ever read this story (gasp!) before and as I was reading this book, I didn't have anything to compare it to as other reviewers have.

I absolutely love a good fairy tale and this one is no exception. This is the story of Lady Magdalen (I just love that name!!) and Duke Steffan. They are both in the wrong place at the wrong time and things get really messy really fast! Lady Magdalen has her sites set on marrying Duke Steffan and when a letter arrives to her home requesting she come marry him, she jumps at the chance! I mean, who wouldn't want to marry a Duke! On her quest to reach her future husband's home, Magdalen is hijacked by her ladies maid and the maid's father and is demanded to change places with Agnes. Fearing for her life, Lady Magdalen complies and ends up becoming the Goose Girl at the castle. Can she stop the wedding of her ladies maid to the Duke? Whatever will she do?

This is the third book in a series of medieval fairy tales. I have not read the other 2 books so I'm not sure if these characters appear in other novels by Melanie Dickerson or not. However, I did not feel like I was missing any pieces by reading a book "out of order". I love Ms. Dickerson's writing style and how she weaves a great story! There is romance, suspense, and even a few comical moments throughout.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it!

I did receive a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert

Maybe It's You (Crisis Team #3)Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Candace Calvert has done it again!! Writing a witty, romantic, and sometimes deep, tangled mess of a relationship book is her specialty! Sprinkle in some nursing action from her lead heroine and you have the perfect book!

I had taken a bit of a reading break (almost a year!!) and came back to pick this one up. Sloane is a mysterious woman who's an amazing nurse. She cares above and beyond for her patients and her co-workers to the point that Micah is incredibly intrigued by her. Sloane has sworn off ever having a relationship again and has thrown herself completely in her work, wanting a strong sense of privacy. Micah sets out to do anything but give Sloane privacy. He sees her as the next face of the hospital and will do what he can to make sure she receives that honor.

These characters are so real that they could be your next door neighbors. I felt a lot like Sloane in many ways and understood her need for privacy (but for much different reasons). I understood why she did what she did for Zoey. I'd do the same. Micah reminded me of so many people I have worked with over the years. They come across as snooty and only out for themselves but after cracking the shell and getting to really know them, you see them as someone with a tender and caring heart. I love how these characters bare their souls to each other and get through the dark times together.

If you've never read a Candace Calvert book, please do yourself a favor and pick up any of her stories. You'll be happy you did!!

Many thanks to Tyndale House Publishers and Candace Calvert for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sisters of the Veil by Bryan M. Powell

Sisters of the VeilSisters of the Veil by Bryan M. Powell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

INTENSE!!!!! Those are the first words that come to my mind about this book! From the very beginning sentence to the period closing this story up, I was on the edge of my seat. Bryan M. Powell is new to me and came recommended by my friend, Jessie. I met Mr. Powell at an event and spent some time talking to him about the various books he has penned. I opted to start with the Jared Russell Series because it seems so relevant to today's times! I'm so glad I chose this one to start with and I'm looking forward to the next book (I bought the entire series after meeting Mr. Powell!).

Jared Russell is a former Marine who is commissioned to work on building the new mosque that is going up in town. Being a Christian man, Jared isn't sure about this task but uses his knowledge of the Word and of the beliefs of the Muslim people to help guide him in his daily tasks. He has a great crew of workers, who are eager to finish the task on time, but who also demand to take their religious prayer activities throughout the day as well. Jared is blessed with two secretaries, Shirin and Fatemah, who are his eyes and ears in the office.

Little did Jared know, a radical Muslim cleric is on the way to ensure the final completion of the Mosque. Boy did things change then!! Jared's job becomes even more challenging and he becomes the source of multiple death threats. Will Jared be able to maintain his Christianity and show these Muslim people the love of the Lord?

I know I gave you a very brief synopsis of this story but I truly could not share more without giving too much away! This story will take you on a ride through the eyes of Jared and the struggles he goes though in terms of his beliefs and working with people who don't believe as he does.

A few things of note for my readers....

I do disagree with the approach used in this book for conversion. I have yet to see the Sinner's Prayer in the Bible. I do believe that one must Hear the Word (Romans 10:17), Believe on the Word (Matthew 16:16, John 8:24, Acts 16:30-31), Repent of those sins (Luke 24:47, 2 Cor. 7:10, Acts 2:37-38), Confess their sins publicly (Matt. 16:16, Matt. 10:32-33; Romans 10:8-10; Acts 8:35-38), and be Baptized (immersed) (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Col. 2:12; Acts 22:16) for the forgiveness of sins. Then and only then do I believe, as the Bible points out, that one is saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

I learned several new things about the Muslim religion that I had never heard of before. I also did not realize that it was so prevalent in the state of Michigan that there were lawsuits to make Sharia Law the law of the land there. Reading this book and the author's notes to follow has me curious as to how many other states have seen these lawsuits.

I have a few Muslim friends but I've never felt comfortable enough to ask them some of the questions I have had in the past. I feel like I could have a more open dialogue with those friends now (If you're reading this, let's meet up for lunch and chat!). This book is written from the perspective of the strict, tyrannical, radical Muslims. It should be understood that not all people will react or act as those in this book did (and not everyone in the book was a radical!)

I appreciate the opportunity to read this book and I am eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series. I would encourage you to also check out other titles Mr. Powell! If you are ever in the Hiram, GA area, Mr. Powell owns a book store. It's worth your time to stop in and say "Hi!" if you're ever in the area.


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