Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson



About the Book:

Small-town girl Katie Fisher is planning her wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn't managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't enter a contest in Texas Bride magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right?

But when her boyfriend breaks up with her and takes a job in another town--the very same day Katie wins her dream dress--her world is turned upside down. Should she claim her prize? And will the hunky former pro-basketball player who runs the swanky Dallas bridal shop--yeah, you read that right--catch on to her humiliation if she does?

Janice Thompson designs a romance sure to delight, with plenty of fish-out-of-water moments, a hilarious supporting cast, and more of the wedding biz world her readers adore.

My Thoughts:

Question:  What do you get when you take a bride, a broken heart, Texas, and Janice Thompson?

Answer:  A fun and entertaining story that stretches your smile a Texas mile wide!

Former favorite characters from Janice's previous books make cameo appearances in "Every Bride Needs a Groom", adding to the antics and the fun.  Katie Fisher is delightful, and her predicament is...interesting, to say the least!

How many young women go nuts planning a wedding, but find out it's the relationship that truly matters?  Yeah, Katie kind of got her dress before the proposal--and learns a valuable life lesson that is wrapped in good hearted humor and wit, trademarks of Janice's novels.

The family Katie grew up in will have you longing for those family reunions that bring out the wacky relatives...even when they bring a decades long family feud into the mix!  Add in a hunky basketball star (loved Brady) working in his mother's swanky bridal boutique and you've got a winning recipe for a great read!

My thanks to my friends at Revell Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  For me, any novel by Janice is a "must read", and "Every Bride Needs a Groom" does not disappoint!  I'm eager for the sequel, "Every Girl Gets Confused"!

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber



About the Book:

Debbie Macomber, author of the Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series, delivers an inspiring new stand-alone novel about the enduring bond between sisters, the power of forgiveness, and a second chance at love.

Growing up, Cassie Carter and her sisters, Karen and Nichole, were incredibly close—until one fateful event drove them apart. After high school, Cassie ran away from home to marry the wrong man, throwing away a college scholarship and breaking her parents’ hearts. To make matters worse, Cassie had always been their father’s favorite—a sentiment that weighed heavily on her sisters and made Cassie’s actions even harder to bear.

Now thirty-one, Cassie is back in Washington, living in Seattle with her daughter and hoping to leave her past behind. After ending a difficult marriage, Cassie is back on her own two feet, the pieces of her life slowly but surely coming together. Despite the strides Cassie’s made, she hasn’t been able to make peace with her sisters. Karen, the oldest, is a busy wife and mother, balancing her career with raising her two children. And Nichole, the youngest, is a stay-at-home mom whose husband indulges her every whim. Then one day, Cassie receives a letter from Karen, offering what Cassie thinks may be a chance to reconcile. And as Cassie opens herself up to new possibilities—making amends with her sisters, finding love once more—she realizes the power of compassion, and the promise of a fresh start.

A wonderful novel of perseverance and trust, and an exciting journey through life’s challenges and joys, Last One Home is Debbie Macomber at the height of her talents.

My Thoughts:

I discovered Debbie Macomber when I was in high school.  In those days, she wrote romance novels for Harlequin.  Of course, in those days Harlequin primarily published romantic fiction--these days, not so much.

Life moved along: I married, had children, and lost my fondness for mass market romance.  But I knew Debbie was gifted, and it was fun to watch her career bloom.  So, here I am, reviewing Debbie's latest book....

....and staring at the "New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author" at the top of the cover, wondering what in the world I can say that could even remotely help promote this book?

How about this?  "Last One Home" reminded me of the days of sweet romance, but with a richer, deeper sense of story.  This story reminded me why I loved Debbie Macomber and her gift of story.

The cover is gorgeous and fun; the pages hold passion for family, for starting over, and for no longer allowing the past to determine the future.  Three sisters, strained relationships, the illusion of perfection, and spousal abuse are all a part of the tapestry of "Last One Home".

The romance is sweet, the characters are engaging, and the story is powerful.  "Last One Home" is one of Debbie Macomber's best novels, and is worthy of the line on the cover I told you about.  Read with a tissue in one hand and something refreshing to drink in the other, because once you begin you won't stop for anything...

...until the final page and you see the "Last One Home".  My thanks to my friends at Ballantine Books for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended, and great summer reading!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Art of Losing Yourself
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Katie Ganshert


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together. But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Art of Losing Yourself, go HERE.

My Thoughts:

Coming soon!


Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Unselfish, compiled by Paul D. Parkinson



About the Book:

99 inspiring stories of people putting others before themselves.

Everyone is trying to get noticed. Selfies are taking over the internet. We live in a world where success and achievement seem to be determined by how many “likes” or “followers” one has on social media. Selfish behavior seems to be at an all-time high.

But there are people who do Unselfish things everyday. Acts of kindness that no one notices. Extraordinary sacrifices that don't always go viral. This book celebrates just a few of the unsung stories of regular people and celebrities alike going against the grain and helping their fellow man.
 
Unselfish will reignite your faith in humanity and may just inspire you to "love thy neighbor as thy selfie".

My Thoughts:

I was not sure what to expect with this particular book.  My curiosity was sparked, and I had to take a peek.  Basically, "Unselfish" is a gorgeous compilation of inspirational stories of sacrifice for our fellow man.

The book is oversized, kind of like a coffee table book.  Unlike a coffee table book, this one is meant to be read.  To be absorbed.  To inspire selflessness in a selfie saturated world.  Oh, the irony...when I did a search on Barnes and Noble, I found "Unselfish" next to a new book by Kim Kardashian!

I found most of the 99 stories inspiring, but to be honest, I did skip over a few.  "Unselfish" succeeds in promoting selflessness, and demonstrating how we can serve one another and the less fortunate.

My one issue with the book is this: good deeds done apart from God really don't amount to much.  In the stories I read, I can't recall Jesus being mentioned once.  Which is not to say that the people giving of themselves so sacrificially aren't followers of Jesus.

I just didn't see it.  But maybe that was the intent.  I'm not sure.  But I thought I'd mention it.

My thanks to my friends at BelieversTrust.com for my complimentary copy of "Unselfish" in exchange for an honest review.  Personally, I wanted a bit more, but I'd still recommend the book.

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Wood's Edge by Lori Benton

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Wood's Edge
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Lori Benton


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Benton spent her late teens and early twenties pursuing a career as a wildlife artist, attending the Maryland College of Art & Design before she began painting professionally. When not writing or researching, Lori can be found exploring the mountains of southern Oregon with her husband, Brian. Lori's first novel, Burning Sky was nominated as an ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award Finalist and also received double nominations for 2014 Christy Awards. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is her second novel.



ABOUT THE BOOK

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Wood's Edge, go HERE.


My Thoughts:

It's difficult to review a book that doesn't particularly appeal to me as a reader, especially one as well written as "The Wood's Edge."  I do enjoy an occasional historical novel, but I've never been a huge fan of the genre. 

Many of my fellow reviewers gave this one glowing reviews, so I decided to try reading Lori's newest release.

I didn't make it out of 1757.

However, I do know how to recognize quality fiction even if it doesn't appeal to me. Fans of historical novels will devour this one.  Lori is known for doing her historical homework, and the depth of detail and authenticity shine in "The Wood's Edge".

Even the dialogue reflects the period of the novel's setting (which, by the way, was a big reason I stalled where I did).  And "The Wood's Edge" isn't a short book by any means.  Lori's story weighs in at nearly 400 pages, which makes it a struggle to not try one more time to get lost in the tale!

Because, after all, I LOVE big books and I cannot lie...other readers might deny...when a book comes in at a high page count and novellas come along as well...I get swooned...and wanna read that book...

Oh my...kind of went off track there a bit!  My apologies!  Back to my review......

This may be one of my DNF titles, but I still highly recommend the book, and send my thanks  to my friends at Waterbrook Press for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  I  can honestly tell you this:  if this is your favorite genre, you're in for a real treat with "The Wood's Edge"!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Flash by Rachel Anne Ridge



About the Book:

The heartwarming tale of an irrepressible donkey who needed a home—and forever changed a family.

 Rachel Anne Ridge was at the end of her rope. The economy had crashed, taking her formerly thriving business along with it. She had been a successful artist, doing work she loved, but now she felt like a failure. How would her family pay their bills? What would the future hold?

If only God would somehow let them know that everything was going to be all right . . . and then Flash the donkey showed up.

If there is ever a good time to discover a wounded, frightened, bedraggled donkey standing in your driveway, this wasn’t it. The local sheriff dismissed Flash as “worthless.” But Rachel didn’t believe that, and she couldn’t turn him away. She brought Flash into her struggling family during their darkest hour—and he turned out to be the very thing they needed most.

Flash is the true story of their adventures together in learning to love and trust; breaking down whatever fences stood in their way; and finding the strength, confidence, and faith to carry on. Prepare to fall in love with Flash: a quirky, unlikely hero with gigantic ears, a deafening bray, a personality as big as Texas, and a story you’ll never forget.

My Thoughts:

We have a saying around our house, and it's based on a story from the Old Testament in the Bible.  "If God can use a donkey, He can use anybody!"  We also live by the verse that promises us that God is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

Need proof?  Then pick up a copy of a new release from Tyndale Publishers and be prepared to have more than just a nodding acquaintance with the power of God through a four legged animal!

Flash is adorable (how they ever got him to pose for that cover I'll never know!), but he's trouble on four legs.  I mean, c'mon...he's a donkey!  Follow Flash from that fateful night when the Ridge family stumbled onto his path and read along as Rachel shares the profound life lessons God brought into her family life.

From "finding your passion", learned after Flash, ahem, had his way with a neighbor's filly, to cultivating a love for others as Rachel embarks on what should be a hallucinogenic nightmare of a remodel job that ends up turning into so much more (just so you know, the lady she worked for had parrots that watched Barney for days...yeah, weird!).

Rachel is candid, witty and heartwarming as she shares her story and her journey with Flash, the family donkey.  She almost made me want a homeless burro of my very own.  Okay, she didn't really, but she did write a book that is going on my 'keep and read again' shelf!

How did I discover "Flash"?  I myself read a review that stirred my interest, so I ordered a copy.  Yes, reviews do influence people to read books, so go and get your copy of "Flash" and share the love with a review or recommendation.

And if you ever stumble upon a stray donkey...God might be trying to talk to you...you never know!


Happy Reading!

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Friday, May 8, 2015

No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason





About the Book:

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and one-time crush on national news. Jackie Sellers just wishes it were under different circumstances. She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name.
 
But she's not the only one looking.
 
The FBI wants him captured.
 
The bad guys want him dead.
 
Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to save thousands of innocent lives.
 
Lynette Eason throws readers right into the action from page one, propelling them along a dangerous road and asking the provocative question of how far we'd be willing to go if we were up against a wall.

My Thoughts:

I'm going to be honest: this is probably my least favorite Lynette Eason novel.  However, I'd rate everything from "Too Close to Home" through "Nowhere to Turn" at five stars, so telling you it's my least favorite isn't saying much!

I think what threw me was the shotgun action from page one. Yes, it's thrilling, but it left me feeling like I'd started reading somewhere around the tenth or eleventh chapter.  Details I'm used to uncovering weren't shared until the second or third chapter, and some even further in that that.

So I felt a bit off my reading game at first, and kept picking up the book, reading a chapter, then putting it down.  Which is odd considering I'm usually done in less than a day.  This one took me around three days to finish.

And oh, what a finish it was!

I did NOT see the ending coming until it was happening, and took it all in word. by. word.  Shock and awe, my friends.  Shock, and awe.

So, my thanks to my friends at Revell Publishing for my complimentary copy of "No Place to Hide" in exchange for an honest review.  Honestly?  A slow start, but a big finish and Lynette safely remains on my "must read" list!

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade



About the Book:

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart.

A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

My Thoughts:

I truly believe Becky Wade could write a 500 page novel and I still would mourn the ending.  Her books are such a treat that I do my best to read slowly, but before I know it I'm at the final page.  And Becky's books always leave me wondering how the lives of her characters turn out...even though they are NOT REAL PEOPLE!

"A Love Like Ours" is my all time favorite in the "Porter Family Series".  Little brother has been through an awful lot protecting our nation.  Becky handles the issue of PTSD with compassion and wisdom.  And Lyndie is simply wonderful throughout the entire story.

The beauty of "A Love Like Ours" is the way Becky packs so much knowledge into a work of fiction, enabling wives and other loved ones of those who suffer to have both an engaging story as well as a reference for what the one they love is dealing with.

Truly great fiction does more than just entertain: it educates and influences us for the better.  And I do love a good cowboy story....and Becky Wade has been crowned the queen of the ranch in my book!

Watching Jake's walls come down brick by brick was an emotional ride, but oh, what a pay off in the end!  Every one of the Porter brothers are fun and heroic with flaws that leave them approachable and humble.  But they've met their matches in the feisty and tender hearted women each chooses to love.

You have both tears and laughter to look forward to when you pick up a copy of "A Love Like Ours", now available from Bethany House Publishers (my thanks to them for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review!)

Don't miss out on the first two books in the series: "Undeniably Yours" and "Meant to Be Mine".  All three would make an epically cool Mother's Day gift!


Happy Reading!

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell



About the Book:

One woman’s fight to provide hope for the hopeless…Seven ex-cons who changed her heart forever…

For Brenda Spahn, entrepreneur and businesswoman, wealth was a lifestyle—until a brush with the law threatened to send her to prison. In those dark moments, Brenda made a promise to God. 

Spared incarceration, a renewed Brenda glimpsed into the lives of women serving time in one of the worst places in America—the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.

What she saw prompted a God-inspired vision.

With a heart to help and a will that couldn’t be crushed, Brenda fought the system and overcame tremendous obstacles to take ex-cons into her own home and help them navigate the alien world of life on the outside.

This is the story of Brenda’s journey from rags to riches to redemption. It’s the story of the first unlikely year of her “Whole Way House” and of the extraordinary lives of the first seven women who came to call her “Miss Brenda.” It’s a story that testifies to the power of faith and how God changes hearts every day.

My Thoughts:

I'll admit it.  I was drawn to this book at first because of the amazing cover.  But then I was captured by the back cover copy.  When it comes to non-fiction, "Miss Brenda and the Loveladies" was right in my wheelhouse.

The IRS came barging in to Brenda's successful tax preparation business, waving around search warrants and tearing through files with no care for order or propriety.  Brenda's knees started knocking in fear of being sent to prison for something she didn't do.  And then God showed up in a mighty way, like He tends to do.

Instead of sending Brenda to prison, God escorted her there to get a personal view from the jail cell of a female inmate.  This sparked a ministry in her heart that would not be silenced, and her "Whole Way House" vision was born.

I loved her conversational style as Brenda told her story.  She includes the background with the investigation into her family business, bits and pieces about her family and her relationship with her husband Jeff.

But the stories that gripped me were stories about the "Whole Way House", and the stories that made me tear up and even cry were the real life stories from the women Brenda ministered to...and who ultimately ministered to her as well.

Why is it important for books like "Miss Brenda and the Loveladies"to get attention and to be read?  Because, I don't know about you, but as a Christian in the United States, I can get pretty hum-drum about my faith.  I can grow comfy-cozy and wonder if this is it until Eternity.

Then I get my hands on a full fledged miracle of a true story and it challenges me, stretches me, and changes the way I view life.  I have a greater appreciation for the plight of the incarcerated, and Miss Brenda Spahn has helped me remember these women are people, and they need the love of a Savior.

My thanks to my friends at Waterbrook/Multnomah for my complimentary copy through the "Blogging For Books" program in exchange for an honest review.  I highly recommend "Miss Brenda and the Loveladies", with a note of caution for some carefully *** language.

Oh, and if you're wondering why it's the Loveladies?  Well, you'll just have to read the book!

Happy Reading!

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Justified by Varina Denman



About the Book:

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.

My Thoughts:

Varina Denman won my heart with her debut novel, "Jaded".  She has sealed the deal with her sequel, a book more powerful and more captivating than the first.  "Justified" is a book you must not miss this year.

Fawn Blaylock was a member of the "let's scorn Fawn and her mom" group.  Now life has turned upside down for her and she's on the receiving end of the judgment, shunning and scorn.  Can anyone get close to Fawn without dealing with the fallout of associating with her?

True, it was Fawn's choices that put her in such a precarious position, but don't we all make mistakes, bad calls in judgment, and...sin?  Then who are we to sit on our moral high horses when we find broken people in our midst?

Sometimes I fear the church either takes "judge not unless you're willing to be judged" too far...but she also goes on the "pass judgment bandwagon" so many times she should have a lifetime pass to ride.  (hopefully you got the wit in that last statement...if not, just move along, nothing to see here...).

Thankfully, God forgives us all and He enables us to have the faith to ask Him for His forgiveness.  My heart ached for Fawn in "Justified"...and believe me, that took some powerful writing, because I couldn't stand her in "Jaded"!

Oh, what a difference a sequel can make! 

For such a tiny, one horse town, Trapp, Texas packs a lot of mystery and small town secrets.  Surprises and Varina's specialty, and she has a few in store for readers in "Justified".  My thanks to my friends at David C. Cook Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, make Varina Denman and her "Mended Hearts" series a must-read on your list.  And prayer your daughters might one day find real life men like Dodd and JohnScott!

"Justified" releases June 2015, which gives you plenty of  time to read "Jaded", available now at booksellers everywhere!


Happy Reading!

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Playing Saint by Zachary Bartels



About the Book:

Yesterday, Parker Saint’s only concern was his swiftly rising star power.

Today, he’s just trying to stay alive.

Parker Saint is living the dream. A cushy job at a thriving megachurch has him on the verge of becoming a bestselling author and broadcast celebrity—until life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law. To avoid a public scandal, he agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim.

Parker tries to play the expert, but he is clearly in over his head. Drawn ever deeper into a web of intrigue involving a demanding detective, a trio of secretive Vatican operatives, and a centuries-old conspiracy to conceal a mysterious relic, he realizes for the first time that the battle between good and evil is all too real—and that the killer is coming back . . . this time for him.

My Thoughts:

This is most definitely one of those one in a lifetime plots you don't see coming.  Zachary Bartels has joined the ranks of Steven James, Randy Singer and Creston Mapes for explosive-don't-know-where-he's-going next storytelling!

Parker Saint is a fairly likable character.  What makes him stand out from the crowd?  You pretty much see his flaws from the first page, and he doesn't try to hide them.  Instead he makes plans to capitalize on his flaws and foibles.

Getting caught can cost you, though, and it ends up costing Parker in a big way.  Does it cost him in a deadly way?  Only one way to find out...and that's buy the book!

Great character development, great pacing and an exciting story make "Playing Saint" one of my favorites reads of 2015 (it released last year and finally made its way to the top of the stack!).  I'm especially glad this one was so good, because Zachary Bartels has a new book releasing soon!

My thanks to my friends at Thomas Nelson Publishing for my complimentary copy of "Playing Saint" in exchange for an honest review.  Highly Recommended


Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jaded: A Novel by Varina Denman




About the Book:

As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation. Thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed—unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside-down.

Jaded is the rare novel that is both love story between a woman and man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness and restoration, it will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.

My Thoughts:

I almost missed out on reading this book.  First, I couldn't tell by the cover if it was a modern contemporary or a historical, and anyone who's been reading my reviews for any length of time knows I'm not a fan of historical fiction.

One more reason I almost didn't pick this book up:  I'm all too familiar with being wounded by the church.  In fact, I'm in the middle of a very hurtful situation right now.  But then I started seeing reviews, and I had to see for myself.

"Jaded" is one of the most spectacular novels I've read this year (and I've read over 50 thus far).  Varina taps into the heart and soul of both a woman and a man and draws out every drop of powerful emotion, lavishing the story in tenderness, fear, love and all the emotions we long to have following resolution of conflict,

Ruthie is me.  She is you.  She is every woman who's every been judge and found wanting unfairly.  And Dodd...excuse me for saying it this way, but he is Jesus in skin and bone.  Oh, he's flawed.  Oh, he's not perfect.  But for Ruthie and that little church that can't forgive...

Yeah, he's Jesus with skin and bone.  This story will capture you with its emotion and truth and longing for hope and peace.  It will speak to the broken and damaged areas of your soul.  And it just might work a miracle of healing in your tender heart.

My thanks to my friends at David C. Cook Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  I cannot recommend "Jaded" highly enough.  Don't miss one of the best novels of the year.


Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chance of Loving You by Terri Blackstock, Candace Calvert, and Susan May Warren



About the Book:

An anthology by three bestselling romance authors

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients—the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer—Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.
One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?

My Thoughts:

Fair warning: I'm going to be a tiny bit mean in this review...so you've been warned.

Nothing thrills me more than a collection of stories from a few of my all-time favorite authors!  I've been excited about "Chance of Loving You" for weeks, and I couldn't wait to crack the cover and dive in.

Since I'm such an avid reader, my one and only complaint was evident from page one.  I was bummed when I realized only one of the three stories was new.  I'd read the novellas from Terri and Susan many moons ago.

Okay, mean part over!

However, the story from Candace titled "The Recipe", would have totally been worth the price of the book.  For you, my dear readers, every story is top-quality, and if all three tales are new to you...I am jealous with a Godly reader jealousy!

The beauty of great storytelling is simply this: the story transcends time and place.  All of these novellas will stand and be enjoyable for pretty much ever.  Whether the catalyst of a love story is a lottery ticket, a piece of fruit, or a fishing hook...be careful...

...you just might find an author to love.  My thanks to my friends at Tyndale Publishing for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Highly recommended!

Happy Reading!

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Pure Love, Pure Life by Elsa Kok Colopy


About the Book:

When you think of purity, what comes to mind? Perfect behavior? Impossible standards? Everything focused on waiting for that special guy? If so, you’re not alone.

The good news is purity isn’t just a list of don’ts—don’t think that way, don’t look that way, don’t act that way. It’s a God-designed plan for a happy life. Honest, humorous, and real, Pure Love, Pure Life provides practical tools to help you navigate the temptations and frustrations you face every day, stories from girls who have been there, and tips on what to do if your pure life takes a detour.

Discover a new vision of purity, how you can live it in today’s broken reality, and why it’s worth the effort.

My Thoughts:

Right now, all three of my daughters are grown, and two of them are married.  But I still feel like I belong in the target demographic for this book.  Purity is a life, not just a one time choice.  We live in a world that claims fifty shades of gray; we need to desire God's pure white no matter what age we happen to be.

Elsa grabbed my heart with her open and honest introduction to the book.  I've read several books on the topic of purity, but the ones that tend to capture my attention are the ones that read as genuine from the opening page.

Else doesn't try to hide her choices from the girls and young women she's trying to reach.  She knows that it's better to write from a place of authenticity than perfection.  Especially when perfection is pretty much impossible.  I've told my girls there's a reason God spent so much of the Bible encouraging us to run from sexual sin.

Once sexual sin has a hold on you it never lets go without a knock down, drag out fight.  But Elsa is quick to point out that a fresh start is always available through Jesus.  That is SO important for you to hear, I'm going to repeat myself:

A fresh start is ALWAYS available through Jesus.

Elsa breaks down what Biblical purity is and what it's not, and encourages girls (and guys as well!) to make Jesus the Person in charge of any relationship.  Elsa talks about not letting fairy tales and movies define romance for us, and about having a plan before the first guy calls for a date.

She also is candid about second chances, and I really want girls to get this message: with God, you can always get a do-over if you are honest and place your life in His hands.  But trust Him before you make a move or a decision and spare yourself lots of heartache and scars.

The only I thing I wasn't crazy about was the cover.  No offense, but it needs a bit more attention.  Girls need to read this book, so let's make "Pure Love, Pure Life" stand out.  My thanks to my friends at Zondervan for my complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

"Pure Love, Pure Life" is highly recommended, and let me add one more thing....read this together, moms and daughters.  If your mom isn't around anymore, find an aunt, an older sister, someone older in your church...even your pastor's wife!  Hey, I'm a pastor's wife, and some people think I'm still cool!

Happy Reading!

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Samantha Sanderson: Off the Record by Robin Caroll




About the Book:

Sam Sanderson is an independent, resourceful, high-tech cheerleader. She dreams of becoming an award-winning journalist like her mother, so she’s always looking for articles to publish in her middle-school paper (where she secretly hopes to become chief editor). With a police officer for a father, Sam is in no short supply of writing material.

In the third book of the Samantha Sanderson series, when the school’s grades were tampered with, Sam must enlist Makayla’s help in hacking the system to discover the virus that was used and who committed the crime. But when the lead suspect is her newfound friend, Felicia, Sam must choose whether to stick by her friends at all costs or report the story as she sees it.

The Samantha Sanderson series is about an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams. Each book touches on a crime straight from headlines, from bomb threats to bullying, while following Samantha and her friends as they navigate middle-school and questions of faith.

My Thoughts:

I might be in my fifth decade of life, but I'm such a huge fan of this series!  Robin Caroll has created a fun and engaging young heroine and isn't afraid to take her outside of her comfort zone.

"Off the Record" is the third novel in this series, and it is by far the best book in the series.  Grades have been tampered with at Sam's school, and she is hot on the case.  Can she find the true culprit or with a new friend have to take the fall?

Readers will learn about reporting and ethics, about friendship and bullies, and about a bunch of other things that young teens deal with on a regular basis.  Sam's parents are patient and caring, but not afraid to bust Sam if she goes too far...which she often does!

Makayla is the kind of best friend I'd want for my child to have, and as for the secret crush?  Yeah, third book and it's still pretty much a secret! 

My thanks to my friends at Zondervan Publishing for an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The Samantha Sanderson books are some of the best in youth fiction in today's marketplace.  Highly Recommended!!

Happy Reading!

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hand in Hand by Randy Alcorn



About the Book:

If God is sovereign, how can I be free to choose?But if God is not sovereign, how can he be God?
Is it possible to reconcile God’s sovereignty with human choice? This is one of the most perplexing theological questions. It’s also one of the most personal.

In hand in Hand, Randy Alcorn says that the traditional approach to this debate has often diminished our trust in God and his purposes. Instead of making a one-sided argument from select verses, Alcorn examines the question in light of all Scripture. By exploring what the whole Bible says about divine sovereignty and human choice, hand in Hand helps us…

· Carefully and honestly examine the different views on this issue
· Gain a deeper understanding of God
· Appreciate God’s design in providing us the freedom of meaningful choice
· See the value in better understanding what we cannot fully understand
· Learn how to communicate about the issue in clear and compassionate ways
· More fully experience the unity Christ intends for his Church

A careful guide through Scripture, hand in Hand shows us why God’s sovereignty and meaningful human choice work together in a beautiful way.

Includes small-group discussion questions.

My Thoughts:

My husband and I have read pretty much every book Randy Alcorn has written.  Randy always includes ample Scripture when he writes, and if God's Word doesn't back up his point, he changes his point to fit God's Word.

"Hand in Hand" is a carefully written book about the Calvinist school of interpretation and the Armenian school of interpretation.  My husband has been pastoring a Southern Baptist church for nearly eleven years, and we've had this discussion with many believers.  Until I read Randy's book I never clearly understood what the discussion was truly about.

Randy can write about this debate/issue with reliable authority.  For the first ten years of his walk with Jesus he was in the Armenian camp.  But after much study of Scripture, he now believes more like a Calvinist.

He clearly explains both systems of belief, using easy to read side by side comparison charts, a brief explanation of the history of the systems of belief, and some things he found odd on both sides of the proverbial fence.

His writing is easy to read, but this book is also a bit heavy.  The topic isn't necessarily difficult, but the understanding required takes you deep into the theology and Scripture.  Ultimately Randy does a masterful job making a two sided argument go hand in hand.

After reading "Hand in Hand", I truly believe you can be a member of both camps...a Calvinian.  Or an Armevin.  Whichever way you say it, this is one of Randy Alcorn's most important books to date.  My thanks to my friends at Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing for a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

My opinion?  This book is so good my husband bought himself a copy so he can "mark it up"!  Highly recommended.

Happy Reading!

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