Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review and Guest Post: The Returning by Rachelle Dekker


Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”—one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned—a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

My Review:

The Returning by Rachelle Dekker was the climax of a very unique dystopian world, adding spiritual depth often lacking in the genre- the kind of spiritual depth needed to make a realistic or at least hopeful world (a spiritual sense that definitely gets allegorical at times). The Returning is different even from its first two books, if not in essence, than in feel since it takes place twenty years after the last one, the protagonist being the daughter of the former two protagonists. Like her parents, she has to come to terms with the dark, dystopian world around her- and the Light calling to her- in her own time. But unlike her parents, she has something akin to a spiritual gift/superpower that makes her the last chance for freedom to a city of brain-dulled, very obedient drones that were once human.  But at what physical and emotional cost will this be to herself?

I had a love/hate relationship with this book. Love because of what happened to my favorite character and hate because of what didn’t (this is what happens when you begin scheming with someone else’ characters before they have completed their series...). While the previous two books liked to play with my emotions and run off with my visceral organs every now and then, by the climax this book seemed to be dragging me across the room, up the wall, and then over the ceiling. But despite the intensity, this one seemed to strike a lighter note than the first two, though there were definitely some rough spots for our characters. I can’t wait to find out what else Rachelle Dekker has up her sleeve.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review and the views expressed are my own.

Reviewed by Jes

About the Author:

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full-time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat, Blair.

Q & A with Rachelle Dekker:

You talk about the power of belief in the book. What is the purpose of faith, and what makes faith so powerful in people’s lives? 

Belief and faith are everything. We form our own realities. We make judgments based on the past and what we think the future will bring; then we shape our idea of what we are capable of around those beliefs. Imagine if we truly believed we were infinite sons and daughters of the creator. How different would the world look then? When we believe and have faith in who the Father calls us, then the world looks pretty different. 

Aaron is a somewhat mysterious character throughout the series. What is he supposed to represent and what kind of spiritual leader is he? 

I like to leave this one open, which I know isn’t really the answer you want. I want the reader to decide who he is to them. For me he’s a guiding light, an angel maybe, a representation of the spirit who communicates with us and leads us. He can be many things—mostly, though, he’s a great way to hear truth. 

The theme of identity is explored in all three Seer books. How does forgiveness relate to identity?

For me, forgiveness is more about the one who feels wronged than the one who committed the wrong. What if, for a moment, you believed that nothing could harm you? That you, as a believer, are seated at the Father’s table and standing with him? Can anything harm the Father? If you believe no, then can anything harm you—the true you, the true spirited self? So then, forgiveness becomes more about letting go of false belief and stepping into the true identity that the Father gave to you. I know it’s radical, but belief like that could change the world, don’t you think? 

Thank you Rachelle!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Review: A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz



In the Kentucky frontier of the 1770s, Temperance Tucker has learned to be fleet of foot, accurate with her bow, and silent about the past. But her family secrets complicate her growing attraction to a handsome Virginia land surveyor.

My Review:

A Moonbow Night by Laura Frantz is her latest historical saga.  Starting in 1777 in the wilds of Kentucky, we are witness to life in the wilderness as we meet Tempe Tucker and her family as they run the Moonbow Inn.  We are also treated to the adventures of Sion Morgan and his surveying team as they travel through the dangerous wilderness mapping and scouting.  Laura, to me has always seemed to have a poetic way with her writing.  This is definitely an adventure story as the characters are caught up in this very dangerous land of Kentucky, not to mention the angry Native American tribes who wish to protect their land and way of life, and the British forces that are trying to hem in the colonies that are busting at the seams to become a new nation with freedom.

I can always count on Laura for a good ending, however the twists and turns to get there is usually heartrending.  This tale is no less and in my opinion I think her most harrowing story yet.  I tend to like more focus on romance in my reading and though this book has a love story, the main obstacle between the two lovers is the dangerous life of just living and being in Kentucky.   And that is where I think this story shines the most.  Ms. Frantz has made Kentucky a character itself.  At times whimsical, as if I was expecting a wood nymph to pop out here and there in the almost fantastical descriptions of the country’s beauty.  However, this was a dangerous Kentucky, a land that was beautiful but demanded a healthy respect of fear as well.  There was a bit more violence in this book than in her others and that just gave witness of how dangerous the land and the tensions between different groups of people were when our nation was very new. 

I highly recommend this book for a taste of a time in our history when men and women were cutting their way across this great nation and to remember where our roots truly spring up from.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review and the views expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Too Blessed to be Stressed Inspiration for Every Day by Debora M. Coty

About the Book:

Thousands of women have had the pleasure of reading the wit- and near-wisdom-filled books from beloved inspirational humorist, Debora M. Coty. Her Too Blessed to be Stressed has become a perennial favorite, selling upwards of 46,000 copies since its 2011 release.

Now, ready to rescue you from the joy-sucking dully-funks, is an all-new 365-day devotional featuring just-right-sized, truth-filled readings (gift-wrapped in humor) for your heart.

​The Too Blessed to be Stressed daily devotional touches on everyday life topics like relationships, love, boundaries, hope, brokenness, and praise, while helping you to arrive at healing, refreshment, and revitalization of spirit, body, and faith..

My Review:

Too Blessed to be Stressed is a lovely little inspirational book with short passages meant to be read every day.  Starting with January 1st and going through December 31st, we have an inspirational devotional that I think reads like a continuing story.  The author has an engaging way with her writing that makes you feel like you are meeting a close friend for coffee and she is sharing from her heart about life, love, family, God, etc. in little snippet stories.  There is a Bible verse at the beginning of each entry and a short prayer at the end; however I would not consider this a Bible devotional, as it is written more of an inspirational piece. 

The book itself is a lovely hardback with a ribbon marker.  It is written mainly in purple and a soft green, both my favorite colors.   The title itself is catchy and I have often thought it throughout the days when I have been stressed.  This is a nice book to give as a gift to a sister, mother, daughter, best friend, or even for you. 

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review and all views expressed are my own.  I have and will continue to enjoy using this book.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review: For the Record by Regina Jennings


Rather Than Wait for a Hero, She Decided to Create One 

Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle's newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she's ever had comes riding into town. 

Deputy Joel Puckett didn't want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he's the law in this town--and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes. 

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies' pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he's definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero--and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.

My Review

For the Record by Regina Jennings I believe is her best yet.  I really liked these characters and the story they had to tell.  Betsy Huckabee is a 24year old gal who definitely does not fool herself into thinking she is marriageable.  In fact, she has scared off every suitor in her town as none really suit her.  I like that she knows what she wants and decides to take charge and make her dreams come true. 
Joel Puckett is a Texan who has had to leave his home in disgrace.  He is a bit gun shy around women, Betsy especially, and knowing his story, it is very understandable.  Betsy just downright terrifies him.   I also found it humorous how she was able to move quietly and be able to sneak around a lot of the time taking him by surprise. 

This story has some great lessons like what if the law fails you, is it all right to take matters into your own hands?  How much is your reputation worth and is it worth fighting for?  We have dear characters from previous books, quirky townspeople, and a romance that was practically simmering off the pages.  There was humor and some slapstick comedy mixed with some very serious subjects that moved the story along at a great pace.  I look forward to more from Ms. Jennings .

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review and the views expressed are my own.  This was a very good read.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Review: Buried Memories by Carol J. Post

Buried Memories by Carol Post really keeps you on your reader toes.  From the moment we meet with Nicki Jackson trouble has already begun for her.  Thankfully, her former high school best friend, Tyler Brant is helping out his brother next door and happens to be with Nicki when her very scary ordeal begins.  This story was tense and even had me wanting to look over my shoulder for Nicki’s stalker who was very determined to ruin her life in any way that they could.  And yes, we are witnesses to all of that hatred. 

This is the second book about combat PTSD I have read in a week and I am glad that authors are writing about our military heroes in such honest ways.  Tyler, after recovering from a deadly mission, is still trying to escape the nightmares that stalk him.  He is overjoyed though to be reconnected with Nicki, his very good friend but also his secret crush.   There are a lot of things I liked about this novel; one is how Nicki’s new friends, especially her church friends stood by her side no matter what.  I also liked that Nicki and Tyler already had a good foundation for their romance to stand on. 

Nicki certainly did not have an ideal childhood and I really felt for her in trying to find a place to fit in and call home.  Tyler is just the kind of hero anyone would want on their side when some sinister person is out to dismantle your life piece by piece.  The last three quarters of the book was a very thrilling and you just might want to find a place where you will absolutely not be disturbed while reading.

I received a free copy of this book from the author.  I was not required to give a positive review and all views expressed are my own.

Review: A Country Christmas by Josi S. Kilpack, Carla Kelly, and Jennifer Moore

A Country Christmas is the newest addition to the Timeless Regency Collection.  Again we have three authors’ tales of regency only this time at Christmas.

Josi Kilpack starts us off with her novella Saints and Sinners.  Eloise very much wants to be looked at as the woman she is by one man and one man only, her childhood friend Neville.  Neville has only thought of Eloise as his friend and like a younger sister till his traveling companion makes a devilish wager.  Neville, not wanting Eloise to get hurt, convinces himself he is only looking out for her best interests not anything else.  So ignoring his better sense and his very loving feelings toward her, he makes some very ridiculous bumbling attempts to make her happy.  This was probably my favorite of the three and had me laughing and sighing throughout.

Carla Kelly in her novella The Christmas Angle gives us quite a different sort of a hero in Able Six.  Coming from a very poor background, given away at his birth, Able has a remarkable talent that was very interesting.  He was a hero that I really wanted to succeed but knew he needed a remarkable love interest.  He found that in Merilee and I was really intrigued with these two.  This story ended well with a promise of more adventures with these two that I am looking forward to reading just because they were such a different set of characters.

The Perfect Christmas by Jennifer Moore shows us that sometimes we can find blessing in misfortune and sometimes that can show us what we really wanted all along.  This one was a sweet love story about a very cheery fellow who is in love with a woman who has lived a rather battered life.  We also are treated to three other characters that rounds out this Christmas story quite nicely.

I received a copy of this book for free.  I was not required to give a positive review and all views expressed are my own.

Review: The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club by Lexi Eddings

About the Book:

Award-winning designer Lacy Evans had everything she wanted; then her boyfriend ran off with her receptionist and her clients’ money. Now she’s back in her Oklahoma hometown, feeling miserable. Jacob Tyler comes back from Afghanistan short part of a leg and some peace of mind, but he’s counting his blessings, and Lacy could be one of them.

My Review:

The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club is quite a mouthful for a title and the story is absolutely delightful.  This is by new to me author Lexi Eddings and focuses on returning daughter Lacy Evans going home to the town she didn’t want to have to come crawling back to and especially not as a failure.  Having made a big mistake in the romance department with her ex-boyfriend and having to pay restitution to their business clients to avoid jail time, Lacy has come back home to hopefully stay under the radar.  Meanwhile, her high school sweetheart Daniel has moved on without her however, former high school heartthrob Jacob has returned from Afghanistan as a war hero (missing part of his leg) and he wants to get reacquainted.  She and Jacob strike up a friendship, Jacob hoping for more and Lacy trying to find her place in the world again. 

What I really liked about this book is the author put comments from the other townspeople of Coldwater right before every chapter.  By doing that we really get a sense for who these other characters are that surround Lacy and Jacob just from a sentence or two.  The author really takes on the sensitive issue of PTSD and along with Jacob we see how debilitating and scary it can be to try to handle it on your own.  There is a blossoming, swoon worthy romance that I was really rooting for along with a thread of unease that is just in the background.   The author includes some recipes in the back of the book that the people in the story enjoyed and they sound mouthwatering.  I hope to try some soon.

Overall, I really liked these characters, the town, and their plights and I very much look forward to continuing the series in April with the next release.  This is pretty much a clean story and Lexi Eddings is going on my authors to watch list.

I received a copy of this book for free from the author/publisher.  I was not required to give a positive review and all the views expressed are my own.