Monday, February 10, 2014

You're Going To Be Okay by Holley Gerth





From the Back of the Book:

If your life isn't perfect . . .
If you've ever been disappointed . . .
If you feel stressed or tired . . .
This is for you.
You really are going to be okay. And it truly is possible to live with joy, resilience, and strength no matter what life brings. Yes, there will be hurt and hard times. But God wants to help you find ways to survive, grow stronger, and even thrive--no matter what happens.

With her trademark positive encouragement and probing questions for self-reflection, bestselling author Holley Gerth encourages you to spend less of your life stressing or regretting and more of your life truly living.

My Thoughts:

I love how Holley Gerth writes!  Her style is easy to follow and conversational, and her wisdom shines through her words.  Plus, the chapters are short and loaded with opportunities to stop and apply what you've just read.

I also love the person/persons who design Holley's books.  The cover communicates perfectly what you'll find inside the pages, and puts the reader at ease immediately.  Both beautiful and soothing, in my opinion!

I can't think of a person on the planet who doesn't struggle or deal with a life that often times feels like too much to cope.  Holley helps put life's events into perspective and from God's point of view.

I received my copy from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review, and I can honestly recommend "You're Going To Be Okay" with high marks for quality and honesty.  Oh, and this would be perfect for a small group to study over coffee...or brunch!

"You're Going To Be Okay" gets five out of five stars, and is available in bookstores now, published by Revell.

Happy Reading!

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Shadows of the Past by Patricia Bradley





From the Back Cover:

While she's stalking the truth . . . someone is stalking her.Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve--the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she works to uncover the truth, someone else will do almost anything to keep her from it.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife--a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. Now that his estranged brother is the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

Join the chase as Taylor and Nick search the murky shadows of the past for the keys to unlocking the present--and moving into a future they never imagined.

My Thoughts:

This one got off to a slow start for me, but after a few chapters I was hooked.  Patricia Bradley has crafted one crafty mystery...I did not see that ending coming!

Both Taylor and Nick are memorable characters.  I would enjoy seeing them again in future novels.  And, yes, this is a new series to fall in love with.

The writing is crisp, and dialogue is snappy, and with the exception of the slower start, I found "Shadows of the Past" to be a keeper.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this series!

"Shadows of the Past" gets four out of five stars. I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Buy your copy now from Revell publishing, or at your favorite bookstore!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris



About the Book:

She's dedicated her life to ending violence. But has she moved too deep into a treacherous world?
When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective and behavioral specialist Avery North discovers they share something in common—a magnolia tattoo on their shoulders.

Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. As they venture deep into a sinister criminal world, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their abilities—and their hearts.

Dangerous Passage exposes a fully realized and frightening world where every layer peeled back reveals more challenges ahead. You'll be hooked from the start.

My Thoughts:
 
...coming soon...


Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Welcome To Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong




About the Book:

She's learned you can't count on anyone--but she didn't count on landing in Last Chance.
The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life--especially since she's on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

My Thoughts:

Wow, Lainie is one tough young woman!  But she's had to be to get as far as Last Chance.  Now the question is can she let down her walls of protection in order to heal and learn to trust?

Ray owns the local bar, but he's a reluctant businessman dreaming his way out of the town that made him who he is today.  When his hopes for the future collide with Lainie's past, sparks fly and the drama gets intense...and I don't necessarily mean the romantic kind!

Fayette is a hoot, Elizabeth is a sweetheart and Steven is trouble on two legs.  Stay in Last Chance a while and you'll meet a whole cast of quirky characters...kind of reminds of me Mitford, just with more attitude!

I fell in love with Cathleen's little town, and her writing had me grinning and crying: sometimes in the same chapter.  I hope she keeps going with these characters, or at least writes more novels with this small town flavor.

I received a copy of "Welcome to Last Chance" from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Cathleen Armstrong in a new author to keep your eye on, and to put on your list of 'must reads'.  Four out of five stars from me.

Pick up a copy of "Welcome to Last Chance", available in stores now, put up your feet and enjoy a great reading experience!

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trapped by Irene Hannon





About the Book:

A runaway teen, a desperate sister, and an intrepid PI determined to discover the truth
When Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned private investigator James Devlin to help.

Dev knows time is of the essence with runaways--just forty-eight hours can mean the difference between recovery and ruin.

But the deeper he and Laura dig, the more Dev begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And in the icy winter weather, the trail is going cold . . .

In her latest thrilling read, queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon outdoes herself with a fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

My Thoughts:

I had a difficult time reading this book, because the subject matter is intense and Irene writes with such authenticity.  It was all too easy to picture the young women I know and love in a similar situation, and it gave me chills.

Once again, Irene Hannon has crafted a novel that will keep you up into the early morning hours, thinking that just one more chapter will satisfy your craving.  But when it comes to Irene's suspense, you can't read just one...

...you have to keep going until the story is done.  And she always leaves you with a satisfying conclusion.  It might not be the ending you want, but it is always the ending that makes sense.

This is absolutely her best and most chilling novel yet, and I'm giving it five out of five stars.  You'll want to keep your friends and family closer once you've been "Trapped"...or at least make sure they are very resourceful (you'll have to read the book to know why!).

I received a copy of "Trapped" from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Irene Hannon's suspense novels have a 'must read' spot on the top of my list, and I highly recommended you get "Trapped"...in bookstores now!


Happy Reading!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins and James MacDonald







About the Book:

From one of the bestselling novelists of all time comes a unique international thriller that transports you from present-day Texas to a dank Roman dungeon in A.D. 67, through the dusty roads of Israel, and back again.
 
A modern-day seminary professor is drawn into a deadly race to save his best friend's life and priceless parchments from antiquities thieves, discovering a connection across the centuries with another who faced death for the sake of the truth. I, Saul will keep you riveted as it offers new insight into the fiery young days of Christianity when Saul of Tarsus vowed to put an end to the new sect, whatever the cost.
 
A fast-paced story filled with political intrigue, mystery, and rich detail, I, Saul is the thrilling tale of loyal friendships tested by life or death quests, two millennia apart, as only a master storyteller can tell it.

My Thoughts:

This is another book I was able to read via NetGalley, but had to hold my review until closer to the release.  I'm not a fan of historical fiction, but James and Jerry are two writers I enjoy reading so I decided to take a peek.

This is a completely unique take on a Biblical fiction novel.  The story is told by a college professor named Augustine, affectionately known by colleagues and friends as Auggie.  He finds himself in over his head with a recent trip to the Holy Land coming back to spark intrigue and danger in his life.

A frantic international phone call from a dear friend has Auggie jetting to the Middle East to unravel a puzzle that leads to an unknown destination.  At the heart of the conflict is the life of the Apostle Paul.  You will meet the author of over two thirds of our New Testament in a way you'll never seen him before.

Scripture will come to vivid life for you as you read this engaging and suspenseful story.  Ancient writings will fill in the little known facts about the early life of Saul, and the final days of Paul.  For Biblical scholars, this book is a treasure trove of detail.

For the suspense junkie, it's a thrill ride of epic proportions.  I enjoyed every moment spent in Auggie's and Paul's worlds, and found this collaboration to be a resounding success.  "I, Saul" is published by Worthy Publishing and is available in bookstores now.

I'm giving "I, Saul" four and a half stars and highly recommending this book.  My thanks to my friends at Worthy Publishing and NetGalley.com for my advance copy.

Happy Reading!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph




About the Book:

Becky Johnson and her daughter Rachel Randolph come from a long line of laughter. The female side of her family tree is dotted with funny storytellers, prolific authors, hospitable home cooks, and champion chatters.

In We Love, We Laugh, We Cook, Becky—a butter and bacon loving mama—and Rachel—a vegan bean eating daughter—share stories of their crazy, wonderful, and sometimes challenging lives as Rachel becomes a mother herself.
 
Becky is messy; Rachel craves order. Becky forgets what month it is; Rachel is an organizational genius. (At least before baby arrives.) Sprinkled throughout are the lip-smacking, nourishing recipes they love to make and share.
 
From food for a family reunion of thirty, to lunch for a party of one in a high chair, to a hot meal for a sick friend, the authors demonstrate grace, acceptance, and love to others through the bonding gifts of humor, attentive listening, and cooking ... whether diners prefer beef or tofu in their stew.

My Thoughts:

Honestly, reading friend...it has been pure torture to hold back my thoughts on this precious book.  I've loved Becky since I discovered her first book, "Worms In My Tea" (you've gotta find that and read it), so I was thrilled when I found out she was writing with her daughter, Rachel (although, I'll always think of her as Rachel Praise) Randolph.

Some books sooth your soul...some books engage your emotions...other books challenge your ideas...and still others tickle your funny bone.  "We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook" touches every aspect of you and leaves you changed for the better once it has ended.

Filled with humorous stories from both Becky and Rachel, you might want to have tissues handy to wipe away the tears of joy.  And be prepared to explain to family and complete strangers why you're laughing so hard while reading.

Keep the tissues handy, because you'll also encounter some deeply personal and emotional sharing.  Becky and Rachel write with authenticity and transparency, sharing deep wounds and challenging moments, as well as victorious moments in their lives.

And recipes...oh, the recipes!  You'll find healthy, not-so-healthy, and down right indulgent tasty treats to try.  Rachel is a committed vegan and she shares how she adopted her philosophy for feeding her family well.  Becky is a creative soul, and some of her recipes are just down right inventive.  But all sound delish!

I cannot recommend a book more highly.  "We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook" is a treasure, and an inspiration.  I've heard through the publishing grapevine that these two dynamic women might collaborate again...and that Rachel might author a book all her own.  If that's true, don't miss out!  Keep watching for more from both of these excellent authors.

I'm giving my advance copy of "We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook" the five out of five stars it deserves, plus my Golden Bookmark of Excellence and voting it "Best Non-Fiction Book of 2013"!  My thanks to Zondervan Publishing for my advance copy.  Now, I'm off to buy my finished copy!

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Raw Edges by Sandra D. Bricker



About the Book:

Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection.

When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?


My Thoughts:

I've been excited about this book for MONTHS (got my hands on an advance copy long time ago)!  "Raw Edges" is by far the strongest and most moving book in the "Quilts of Love" series, but it is so much more than just that.

It's also one of the most personal, most heartwarming and most enjoyable novel I've ever read by Sandra!  I wept on one page, then was smiling so big it hurt on the next.  The characters are rich and vivid and so very real that you'll want to wrap your arms about Sadie and hold her close and cheer Annabelle along in her work with the quilt.

And Grayson...oh, if only more fathers were like him!  True, a tragedy kind of pushes a man into a more nurturing role, but I believe men and women are BOTH wired to nurture, and when a man treasures his daughter and respects her feelings like Grayson did Sadie's...oh, what healthy families we'd have in America!

Seriously, get your hands on a copy of this book!  Not only will you have a multi-level enjoyable reading experience, you'll help fund research into better treatments and a cure for ovarian cancer. We have no better time: one of our own, DiAnn Hunt, is in her own battle against the disease, and even though her body is weakening, praise God she's already won her fight through Him.

This wonderful story is just so, so good.  I'm giving "Raw Edges" five out of five stars, and sending my thanks to Abingdon Press for my advance copy!






Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Living Room by Robert Whitlow





About the Book:

Amy Clarke’s dreams are coming true—and that’s the problem.
 
Legal secretary by day, romance novelist by night, Amy Clarke lives with a precious secret. For years, she has traveled to a holy place in her dreams—a sublime place she calls the Living
Room. When she awakes, her faith and energy are supernaturally restored. And when she dreams, she receives vibrant inspiration for her novels.
 
As she begins to write her third book, the nature of her dreams shifts. Gone are the literary signposts. Instead, her dreams are studded with scenes that foreshadow real life. Before long, the scenes begin to spill over into her waking hours too.

My Thoughts:

Doesn't this sound intriguing?  I've read every single novel penned by Robert Whitlow, and he ranks high on my Bookshelf right up there with Randy Singer.  Unfortunately, this time the story didn't live up to the expectation.

Imagine you have finally traveled to your dream amusement park.  The best roller coaster ride awaits you, and you tingle with anticipation of the potential suspense, danger and mystery of the ride.  The lines are long, but you find yourself entertained by conversation and the time seems to move along fairly well.

Finally, you reach your ultimate destination...the seat of the highly anticipated coaster.  You eagerly climb aboard, are securely belted in and ready for the ride of your life....and the attendant then says, "That's it!  Time to leave the car!"

What??  What just happened??  All that build up, all that time invested...all that anticipation...and that's the END RESULT???

Yeah, that was how I felt as I finished "The Living Room".  I'd been anticipating another great story with the high octane ending I've come to know and love from Robert Whitlow...and it just...

...ended.  No real sense of satisfaction, no closure, no conclusion.  All sparkle and no spark.

Which left me so sad.  I've never finished a novel with such a lack of....finish. 

But, that's my experience.  You might enjoy "The Living Room" for the characters, for the imagination behind Amy's dreams.  And you could very well find the last few pages quite satisfying.

I just didn't.  So, I'm only giving "The Living Room" two and a half stars out of five, and only because the story did hold me for awhile...it just never really delivered.

Happy Reading!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Misery Loves Company by Rene Gutteridge




About the Book:

Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.

Filled with grief, Juliet 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 . . . then recognizes him as her favorite author, Patrick Reagan.
 
And that’s the last thing she remembers — until she wakes up in a strange room with a splitting headache. Jules realizes she’s been kidnapped . . . but what she discovers about her abductor will change everything she believed about her husband’s death, her career, and her faith.

My Thoughts:

The biggest reason I get excited about a new novel by Rene Gutteridge is this: she writes unafraid.  That's to say this is an author who takes risks in her stories, and it pretty much always pays off big time.

"Misery Loves Company" puts a twist on a new classic from the King of Creepy, Stephen King.  Remember the movie where the avid fan kidnaps and tortures the author (i.e., Misery)??  Well, to switch things up and make them interesting, this time it's the author who snatches the fan...

...or is it?

I've got to be honest here.  Jules is a blogger and a reviewer.  The hair on the back of my neck was at full attention for most of this book....because I blog and I review.  You will NEVER read these words on MY reviews after reading "Misery Loves Company":

Don’t tell me it’s terrifying. Terrify me.

Yeah.  The book is THAT good! 

And the suspense...oh, the suspense!

Don't be expecting many bread crumbs, either.  The reader basically learns what Jules learns, right along with her.  No advance warning of things to come.  No big spoiler revealing the ending that you'll see coming a mile away.

Every word choice is carefully made, every sentence carefully crafted...every clue a minute part of the bigger picture.  And you will not see the ending coming...unless you cheat and read the last few pages first.

You'll be tempted.  I was.  But refrain from spoiling the surprise, please.  Rene has penned another keeper, and this is one I know I'll be reading again, this time a bit more slowly to catch the nuances...because they are to be found by careful readers.

"Misery Loves Company", and you'll be in good company if you pick up a copy of Rene's newest novel.  I'm giving this one five stars, and I can't wait for her next book which, again, takes a risk that I just know will pay off with big enjoyment for this reader!

Happy Reading!

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Peril by Jordyn Redwood




About the Book:

Dr. Thomas Reeves is at the pinnacle of his career. The Department of Defense has awarded him a lucrative contract for his new research into superior autobiographical memory, which promises the ability to create combat troops able to quickly learn complex battle plans and enact them perfectly under the most demanding battlefield scenarios.

An elite unit has received neural grafts from fetal cadavers of genetically altered brain cells with enhanced NMDA receptors. The results are remarkable . . . until the recipients begin suffering hallucinations, nightmares, paralysis, . . . and death. Dr. Reeves searches for answers, but DOD insiders want him to stop the search.
 
The situation becomes public when pediatric ICU nurse Morgan Adams, Dr. Reeves’s daughter, is taken hostage by three research subjects in an attempt to force Dr. Reeves into disclosing why they are sick. If answers aren’t revealed within twenty-four hours, patients in the pediatric ICU will be killed.
 
This spine-tingling conclusion to the Bloodline Trilogy raises spiritual and ethical dilemmas torn directly out of today’s headlines. When does life begin? How far does commitment to family go? And can the sins of the father ever be forgiven?

My Thoughts:

My reviews have been rather absent lately.  I've had computer issues and, quite frankly, I've found myself a bit bored with reading.  It's been difficult to find something that grips me in its pages and won't let go, even when the final page is turned.

That's why I'm so very, very thankful to have friends in high places...and I devoured my advance copy of Jordyn Redwood's final book in her "Bloodline Trilogy".  Wow, does Jordyn know how to end a series!

I called her last book a "white knuckler"...one where you grip the pages so tightly, your heart pounding and your hands aching from the tension within the pages.  Well, get your reading fingers limbered up, reading buddies..."Peril" drops September 1st, and it truly lives up to its title.

Crisp dialogue, stellar characters and a plot that takes hairpin turns and turns society's morality on its head is what you'll find in the pages of "Peril".  I had chills working alongside Morgan in the PICU (Pediatric ICU), watching her care for critically ill children.  I cried when I read about the tragedy that seemingly sucked the life out of Morgan and her marriage.

I worried about the soldiers taking part in the ground breaking medical study, and I was stunned at the rich detail of the pivotal scene for Dr. Thomas Reeves.  It took my breath away, and I had to pause and pray for a moment.

Seriously.

What a way to get back into the swing of reviewing!  I am so eager to see what Jordyn creates next.  She's a keeper, folks, but don't turn your back on her.  Her 'bad guys' sneak up on you and will send chills down your spine...you want as much of a head's up as Jordyn will allow.

"Peril" is stupendous, epic suspense, and I'm in love with this author and her God-given talent to tell a story.  As I said, it releases September 1, 2013...and you won't want to miss it.  Don't miss out on the first two books, either: "Proof" and "Poison".

Five out of five, and "Best Debut Suspense Trilogy of 2013".

Happy Reading!

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Monday, August 12, 2013

A Bride For All Seasons by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Robn Lee Hatcher and Mary Connealy





About the Book:

It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue . . .

This charming bouquet of novellas introduces you to four Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue prospects in the year 1870, all eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they’ll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.

“And then Came Spring” by Margaret Brownley

Mary-Jo has traveled halfway across the country to meet her match, arriving just in time for his funeral. Returning home seems like her only option until her would-be brother-in-law proposes a more daring idea.

“An Ever After Summer” by Debra Clopton
 
Ellie had no idea she’s not what Matthew ordered. And what’s wrong with being a “Bible thumper” anyway? She’s determined to show him she’s tougher than she looks—and just the girl he needs.
 
“Autumn’s Angel” by Robin Lee Hatcher
 
Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn’t come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. The trouble is, there’s no money to send them back . . .
 
“Winter Wedding Bells” by Mary Connealy
 
David’s convinced he’s not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he’s gone—nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?


My Thoughts:

I'm not a big historical fan, and I'm not crazy about romantic fiction either.  But I do love stories by Margaret Brownley, so when I saw she wrote for this collaboration I had to have a copy.  This was fun, light reading that didn't disappoint.

Naturally, my favorite story was "And Then Came Spring", but all of the novellas were entertaining.  Each story tied together with the mail order bride catalogue and a comedy of errors, but you could easily recognize the unique flavor of each author as you went from story to story.

Had I placed an ad in that magazine, I would have strung that proprietor up by his toes!  Still, the stories demonstrate a Biblical truth, that God works all things for good on behalf of those who love Him.

And the stories wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without the well intentioned 'editing' of each letter!

If you are searching for some light-hearted reading that is pure of heart and stuffed full of romance, look no more, reading buddies.  This is the collection for you.  I'm giving "A Bride for All Seasons" four out of five stars, and hoping these fabulous authors do this again sometime soon.

Happy Reading!

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Pretty Is as Pretty Does by Debby Mayne



About the Book:

Priscilla Slater goes to her ten-year high school reunion with equal parts dread and eager anticipation. Even though she’s a successful owner of a chain of hair salons and no longer has the mousy brown hair, crooked teeth, and discount-store wardrobe, she still feels like the ugly duckling. But when she arrives at the reunion, Priscilla soon realizes that her old classmates aren’t exactly as she remembers them. With humor and a just a touch of sassiness, Priscilla finds herself facing her own truth—and she may be surprised at what she discovers.

My Thoughts:

This wasn't what I was expecting.  Small town drama at a high school reunion is captured by Debby Mayne's new "Class Reunions" series, and I remember why I haven't attending any of my reunions!

Priscilla was voted most likely to succeed, and she has.  But her success hasn't given her the confidence required to face down her past.  Old friends don't seem as close, and old enemies have a sharper bite to their words.

But now Priscilla sees the drama of high school through more mature eyes, and the sheen and shine has worn thin.  Instead of getting caught up in the small town ways, she's able to show her friends and frenemies a different way to relate.

You'll find unusual romantic connections, some drama and some old fashioned antics in this book.  Perfect for light, summer reading, and an interesting start to a new series from Abingdon Press.

I received a copy from Abingdon by taking part in a virtual book tour in exchange for an honest review.  I enjoyed my time at Priscilla's reunion and plan on attending her fifteenth with her as well!  Recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter




About the Book:

Madison’s heart has been closed for years. But one summer can change everything.

In the years since her twin brother’s tragic drowning, Madison has struggled with her ability to trust God—or anyone else, for that matter.  It was her brother’s dream to win the annual River Sail Regatta in their small harbor town of Chapel Springs, Indiana. And Madison’s determined to honor his legacy by making his dream her own. Maybe then she can finally find closure.

But learning to sail means learning to swim. And her instructor is Beckett O’Reilly, a man who already has two strikes against him in Madison's eyes.Being on the water terrifies Madison. But Beckett’s calming presence and unwavering confidence eases her fear. And as much as she’d like to deny it,  the chemistry between them is electrifying.

As her feelings for him grow, a fledging faith begins to take root in her soul, as well. With Beckett, Madison feels alive for the first time in years –carefree and confident she can win the regatta, maybe even find love.

But Beckett harbors a secret that will test the limits of their love and the depth of Madison's faith. Will their love survive summer's challenge? And will achieving her brother's dream give Madison the peace she desperately seeks?

My Thoughts:

I don't know if I'm just burned out from so much reading, or if romantic fiction just isn't my genre anymore, but this latest novel from Denise Hunter just never really grabbed me as a reader.

The characters are well written, but neither Beckett nor Madison had the ability to leap off the written page and dwell in the imagination.  I enjoyed meeting Madison' family, but no one stood out from the crowd of background characters.

A lot is made of Madison's fear of water and her desire to sail the regatta in the memory of her twin.  As I read I felt distanced from the story, like I was just reading as opposed to seeing the events in my imagination.

I'm hoping as the series goes along it will gain traction.  I've enjoyed most of Denise's novels, and was looking forward to a new series. This book just didn't meet my expectations.

"Barefoot Summer" was provided for me from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for taking part in a virtual book tour with LitFuse Publicity.  Mildly recommended.
Happy Reading!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

You Might Be Wondering.....



...why I'm reviewing so many books published by Tyndale Publishing.

No, I didn't get hired as a reviewer (although that would so rock if it did happen!).

I'm taking part in the Tyndale Summer Reading Program.

Remember when we were kids and we'd read so many books from the library, keep track and win prizes?

That's what Tyndale is offering!  For every five books you read, selected from the reading list provided on the website, you can earn a free book.

To learn more, click here.  Join in the fun, and earn some free books!

Happy Reading!

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The Judge by Randy Singer




About the Book:

Previously published as The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney. When a brilliant billionaire is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, he realizes that all his considerable wealth cannot prepare him to meet his Maker. But he has an idea that might: he will stage the ultimate reality show. With his true agenda hidden, he auditions followers from all the world’s major religions, inviting them to the trial of their lives on a remote island, where they must defend their beliefs against spiritual challenges.

Oliver Finney, a feisty old judge with his own secrets, is chosen to defend Christianity. As the program takes a strange twist, he quickly realizes he is trapped in a game of deadly agendas that may cost him his life. With Internet access monitored, Finney sends coded messages to his law clerk, Nikki Moreno. Aided by a teen crypto-geek, Nikki soon discovers the key to understanding Finney’s clues in an apologetics book Finney wrote and must race against time to decipher the mysteries contained in the ancient words of Christ before her boss dies defending them.

My Thoughts:

Before you get as excited as I did, let me remind you:  this is NOT a new novel by Randy Singer.  Instead, it's a previously published book about a fictional judge named Oliver Finney.  I admit, I prefer the new cover and title, but the book is the same as before.

This is the first novel by Randy that I never finished.  I don't know if it was the premise, the characters, or simply the fact that it just never 'clicked' with me.  I liked Nikki: she is a feisty and loyal assistant and added a lot to the story.

At the time of the original publication Tyndale released a companion book called "The Cross Examination of Jesus".  Now, that one I did finish, and I enjoyed it.  The book reminded me of Josh McDowell's "More Than a Carpenter" and Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ."

Considering how many novels Randy has written and how many I've loved from beginning to end, this one was a mild disappointment.  I wish I could put my finger on what was lacking, but I truly believe I was overwhelmed with both books at the same time.

So, give "The Judge" a try, and let me know what you think.  You just might convince me to give it a fresh reading.  I purchased a copy (not realizing it was a reissue:-) and you can purchase the book from bookstores everywhere.

"The Judge" is published by Tyndale Publishing and is mildly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Briarpatch Gospel by Shayne Wheeler



About the Book:

Hasn’t Jesus called us into the thorns and thistles with Him to love what we find there? What if we had the courage to follow him into the briarpatch and discover life as we were always meant to live it?

In The Briarpatch Gospel, dynamic young pastor Shayne Wheeler presents a radical message of grace, one that won’t allow you to remain comfortable merely sitting in a church pew. He shares his own heartbreaking personal journey through the briarpatch, and his church’s remarkable experience of creating a community in which people walk through life’s issues—even the darkest, most painful problems and questions—together. Unafraid. Like Jesus did.

Think about it: What is your (or your church’s) briarpatch—the area where you’re afraid to go, or feel unequipped to address? Is it sharing what you really think on controversial issues? Becoming friends with someone who’s different from you?

Confronting and overcoming your own pain, doubts, or fears? Bold and challenging, The Briarpatch Gospel provides a new vernacular for Christians to have open, honest conversations about what loving each other in Christ’s name might look like in the briarpatches of their own communities.

My Thoughts:

This isn't a comfortable book.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure I agree with all that Shayne Wheeler writes in "The Briarpatch Gospel".  One thing I am certain of: we all need to follow his call out of our comfortable Christianity and into the briarpatches of the world.

Shayne is a gifted storyteller (I'd love to hear him preach!), and he shares many stories from his life and from the lives of others to illustrate just how messy bringing Jesus to the world can be.  He makes the case that God didn't send His Son to die for the perfect, great smelling, gainfully employed popular people.

Jesus came and died for EVERYONE.

It's that everyone that hangs us up, when the person is homeless, addicted, of a different lifestyle (i.e., homosexual), of a low economic class, etc.  So, church, what are we so afraid of?  That they will rub off on us, or that we won't rub off on them?

Did you catch that last phrase?  Sometimes I think we fail to be Jesus to a hurting world because, deep down, we're afraid He 'won't work for everyone'.  Which is a lie.  From the pits of hell.

Jesus is enough.  We just need to take Him into the places where He is desperately needed.  And maybe it isn't about socioeconomics or racial differences.  Maybe we're just waiting to see what happens when someone else is brave enough to do what God called us all to do.

Enter "The Briarpatch Gospel", a book where you can see what happens when Jesus leads us into those areas of life where we're uncomfortable.  And sometimes those briarpatches are within our own skin.  Wrestle with your doubts, your fears, your insecurities.

Last time someone wrestled with God he received a blessing.  Of course, he never walked right again, but isn't it worth it to have a limp and be blessed of God?  I'm still processing the book, but I'm grateful for the words I've read and they challenge put in my path.

I'm tired of safe and sane Christianity.  I want to have the kind of faith that turns the world upside down for Jesus.  And yes, it is a little scary.  But it is never boring.  So take a chance and pick up a copy of "The Briarpatch Gospel".

I received my copy via NetGalley from Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Even though I'm not quite sure I completely agree with all that I read, the book is still highly recommended.  At the very least it will get us all thinking and talking again and, in the process, changing some lives with the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Happy Reading!

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