Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

 About the book:


A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker

After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she's getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky...if only she wasn't too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone-even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she'll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.

For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called "The Recluse" confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he's misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God's gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there's always more to someone than meets the eye.

Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.


My Thoughts:

Her Secret is about an ordinary Amish girl living with her family going about her life until one day she meets a man that will not take no for an answer.  And so begins his manipulations and his fearful control over her well-being including that of her family as well. 

Hannah’s entire family up and moves from Ohio to Kentucky after Hannah’s stalker takes things a little too far with his photographs.  Trying to come out of her shell that fear has locked her into, she begins to timidly make new friends in her new hometown.  As she begins to open up and live again she is faced with problems at home with her brother and sister and their resentment towards her for the move.  Her parents are no help as they drop another bombshell on the family that only increases the distance between each of them till all five seem to be living separate lives. 

That is really what stood out to me in this novel.  That this seemingly close-knit family let secrets keep them apart.  And how once the secrets were no longer kept in hiding, understanding, love, and grace came pouring in.  Forgiveness played a strong role as well.

This was a little bit of a creepy read for me as Hannah was always looking over her shoulder and too many times let fear paralyze her.  I enjoyed watching her and her family come to terms not only with opening up to each other, but becoming part of their new community and learning the lesson that we sometimes need other people to help us carry our burdens.

I received a copy of the book for free through Litfuse.  I was not required to post a positive review and views and opinions expressed are my own.

About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.



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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: 21 Days of Grace compiled by Kathy Ide


Click here to purchase your copy.


About the Book


Purchase

Book: 21 Days of Grace
Author: Compiled by Kathy Ide
Genre: Devotional
Release Date: March 24, 2015

Love fiction? Looking for a devotional? Check out 21 DAYS OF GRACE, book one in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series (published by BroadStreet Publishing Group). Fictional stories followed by brief life applications written by best-selling Christian novelists and debut authors, including Angela Hunt, Cindy Woodsmall, and Deborah Raney. Great for individual or group study.



My Thoughts:


21 Days of Grace is another unique devotional that I have read this year.  It is different in that it expresses truth through fiction.  There are 21 stories written all by different authors so not only do you get a thought provoking read, but you also get a sample of each authors’ writing.  Most of the authors I had not read before but there were a handful that I had and it was pleasure to read them again. 

The book is set up with the story, then we are given a life application, and last but not least we are given the author’s information.  The stories are not long at all and I read most in less than 7-10 minutes. The book is very pretty with bright, vibrant colors and adorned with a butterfly.  There is also a butterfly motif that is sprinkled throughout the book that I think makes this book even more special.  What can I say; I like butterflies as they make me think of spring.

I think this is a nice little collection of stories and a unique enough devotional that would make a nice gift especially for readers.


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

About the Author

Kathy Ide is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. She’s a full-time freelance editor and writing mentor, working with Christian authors of all genres at all levels. She teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and is the director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She’s a co-owner of the Christian Editor Network LLC and founder of the four divisions that comprise the CEN: Christian Editor Connection, The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, PENCON, and The PEN Institute. To find out more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com

Guest Post from Kathy Ide


I’ve always loved Christian fiction, and I’ve seen the power of fiction to touch hearts and change lives, both firsthand and hearing about the experiences of others. But you know, in my quiet times with the Lord, reading a chapter from a novel just doesn’t seem quite appropriate. So a devotional with short fiction stories seemed like a great solution. And you can take these purse-sized devotionals wherever you go, to read when you have a few minutes of down time. It’s a great way to get “inspiration on the go.” And they make fantastic gifts for friends and loved ones.

Blog Stops

March 24: ASC Book Reviews
March 24: autism mom
March 28: A Greater Yes
March 29: Southern Chelle
March 30: Pause for Tales
March 30: The Scribbler
March 31: Carpe Diem
April 1: Splashesofjoy
April 3: Lane Hill House
April 5: God is Love

Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away:
1st – 4th place winners: A set of all four devotionals in the series.
5th & 6th place winners: An autographed copy of 21 Days of Grace with a novel written by one of the contributing authors!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b2cd

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Review and Guest Post: A Fine Year for Murder by Lauren Carr



About:

After months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.

When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.

Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~ Add on Goodreads


My Thoughts:


I have now read a few of author Lauren Carr’s books, but I was especially excited to see that she had written a second novel in her Thorny Rose Mystery series.  Why?  Because the first book in the series was my first introduction to author Ms. Carr and immediately I liked newlyweds Murphy and Jessica.  A Fine Year for Murder puts the focus back on my favorite newlywed couple and throws some pretty huge road blocks in the way of their happily ever after.  Jessica is experiencing nightmares and night terrors that are set off when she is exposed to certain triggers.  I like that Murphy, as a good husband, is learning to deal with these nighttime situations as part of the adjustment to being a newlywed. However, he begins to notice a pattern that raises some questions that something may be buried deep in Jessica’s subconscious and that they need to get to the bottom of it.

Now Jessica’s father is a great help in all of this and suggests that it has something do with when Jessica was 10 years old and staying with some distant relatives for the summer.  There was a murder incident that occurred that Jessica may have been witness to.  So taking some vacation time, Murphy and Jessica decide to go pay a visit to these obscure relatives and try to get to the bottom of what happened, with the help of Dallas, a relatively new family friend. 

Once again Ms. Carr has given us a mystery that is chock full of crazy and shady people that all seem to have some murkiness in their pasts.  And at times the mystery is complicated by the local police and even more developments that seem to have nothing to do with the current case.  I felt that the suspense was ratcheted up more by the problems that were occurring in Murphy and Jessica’s perfect marriage that I was really concerned how everything would play out.

Ms. Carr has always been a master in adding fun loving pets in her suspense’s, this time we got to meet Nigel, Murphy’s and Jessica’s virtual butler.  He was a fun added element to the story and I hope he continues to make an appearance in their future stories.

On a side note, this story contains some mature themes, some bad language, and intimacies (though not graphic) between a husband and wife.  The bad guys, well they were really bad and so they did some pretty evil things that I would definitely consider this an adult read.


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

About the Author:



Author's Bio:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Interview with Lauren Carr

1) Please tell us about your book.
After ten months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.
When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family living near a winery owned by distant relatives she was visiting and suppressed the memory.
Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan.

2) Please tell us about the Thorny Rose detectives. How are they different? How are they similar?
Jessica and Murphy are much younger, more daring, and without a doubt more impulsive than their fathers. Also, since they are millennials, they lean toward today’s high tech lifestyle—thus, the character of Nigel, their virtual butler.
The setting alone (Washington DC) makes for a different type of criminal element. Since Murphy is a military officer assigned to the Pentagon, then we get to add a political element. As a phantom, he’s often sent on secret assignments. Then, we have Jessica Faraday, a savvy and rich young woman who knows her way around high society, which will prove to be helpful to Murphy.
Behind the scenes, readers get to see the normal adjustments that every newlywed couple must deal with—like where does the peanut butter go (fridge or cupboard) and how many children do they want to have and when.
Yet, personally, I do not want the Thorny Rose Mysteries to be a wholly political suspense mystery series. Wanting to make that clear, I set our detectives in the wine country of southern Virginia for A Fine Year for Murder.

3) Why did you decide to cross the characters of your three series over from one series to the other?
It just sort of happened. After I had started writing the Mac Faraday mysteries, fans of my first two books, the Joshua Thornton Mysteries, asked me to bring Joshua back. So I decided to include him Shades of Murder, in which I introduced Joshua Thornton to Cameron Gates and they became the Lovers in Crime. Once I had introduced my protagonists to each other, I couldn’t stop.

4) What's your favorite part of writing mysteries?
The creation of the puzzle. I view a mystery as a story puzzle. The mystery writer puts together the murder mystery, complete with the characters, their separate agendas, evidence, and clues. Then, the writer takes it all apart and scatters it throughout a story that takes the reader on a thrilling adventure of mystery.

5) What got you interested in writing mysteries?
I fell in love with mysteries when my mother read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. She loves murder mysteries and devours them. As a matter of fact, the libraries in and around Chester, West Virginia, have mysteries brought in from other libraries for her because she’s read all they have in stock.
Out of four children, I’m the only one who inherited her love for mysteries books. Like her, I would inhale every mystery I could get my hands on, but I felt writing mysteries would be too difficult to tackle. However, eventually, the mysteries that I was reading ceased to be challenging enough. That was when I started writing my own mysteries with lots of twists and turns to challenge the reader.

6) Do you have any authors who influenced you?
Having grown up on the masters, I definitely look to Agatha Christie and Earl Stanley Gardner. I also like the twisting plotlines of Tess Gerritsen.
7) Mysteries have remained a consistently popular genre for the entire history of mass market popular literature. Why do you think that is?
Mysteries cover a broad genre, which encompasses a wide range of sub genres. What makes this genre so great is that it is flexible enough to change with the times. The genre is not confined by time period or technology. It has the capabilities of growing with our society, which makes it every changing.
For example, when science came to the forefront in crime solving, then mystery writers easily adapted. A whole new subgenre grew out of that to include forensics detectives.
Technology has also opened the door for new and different characters. For example, I’ve been quite surprised to have both readers and reviewers say that one of their favorite characters in A Fine Year for Murder is Nigel, the Jessica and Murphy’s virtual butler. He’s a computer!

8) Do you think reader expectations have changed throughout the decades?
Most definitely. Readers, especially die-hard mystery fans, are quite sophisticated, and are becoming more so with the Internet, which has put scientific information at readers fingertips.
As a result, mystery writers must keep up with science and technology in law enforcement and the courts, because our readers do. An author can’t write a mystery that completely ignores forensics anymore, unless they create a situation where it is not available, like a period piece where the story happens before forensics came to the forefront, or set in a remote location where it is unavailable.
9) What other mysteries do you have planned for these detectives in the future, either separate or together?
Look for Twofer Murder this summer.
Twofer Murder will be a treat for mystery lovers because it will be two mysteries in one novel. This book will contain all of the characters from the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries. The guys go fishing and get embroiled in a murder mystery. Meanwhile, the ladies go off to a murder mystery writers conference and end up wrapped up in their own mystery when an up and coming mystery writer ends up dead! Can’t beat that! Two mysteries for the price of one!






Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

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About:


When Lydia arrives in the Texas Hill Country in 1880 to find that her fiancé has married another, what kind of future awaits her?

My Thoughts:

A Stolen Heart was a historical tale that took me by surprise by the plot and the intricacies of the suspense.  Lydia sets out toward Texas to reunite with her fiancĂ©, Edgar, only to discover that he had not waited for her.  Not only that but discovers his very pregnant wife is having the sheriff, Travis, look into Edgar’s disappearance.  That is only the first of a slew of strange and foreboding crimes that is happening in this idyllic little town. 

Ms. Cabot really brought me into the setting of her story by describing the town and the residents of Cimarron Creek and giving us the history behind its founding.  She has even included a family tree at the beginning of the book to help us see who is related to whom and who is from the original founding families. 

This is a story of new beginnings but also touches on the prejudice that still existed several years after the Civil War ended and the affect the Reconstruction had on the South and its people.  Lydia being a northerner had many obstacles to face in addition to her broken heart.   The romance was a nice slow buildup of two people getting to know each other on a daily basis and working towards a common goal of finding the evil person/persons involved in making the town less safe for its residents. 

The thread of mystery and suspense was very well done.  I had not guessed the culprit/culprits at all.  As the story went along, it almost seemed everyone had a shady past and could be the villain(s).  That being said, my only quibble was that the story wrapped up to neatly at the end.  I felt something was missing, the crimes solved too easily especially in the wake of some very shocking plot twists.   There are still a few loose threads that I hope the author will address next in the series. 


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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Murder For the Time Being by Joanie Bruce


Click here to purchase your copy

About the Book
Purchase


Book: Murder for the Time Being
Author: Joanie Bruce
Genre: Christian Suspense/Romance
Release Date: November 29, 2016

“You’ll pay for this. I’ll get you both.”

Computer expert Lexi Wynn is frightened. Someone is after her, but she doesn’t know why. Is it because of her past or because she was thrust into a deadly bank robbery and might identify the ones responsible? Escaping a failed kidnapping attempt and not sure who to trust, she hopes her specialized skills with computers might flush out the name of the killer. When a tall, dark, and handsome stranger rams into her truck with the hearse he’s driving and puts his life in danger to save hers, can she ignore the attraction she feels for him to concentrate on the killers? Or is God the only one who can save her now?

Drew Sheffield is irritated when a cute lady stops abruptly in front of him and he plows into the back of her pickup. After their initial confrontation, flashbacks of honeysuckle and sassy green eyes linger in his thoughts. When Lexi is threatened, he steps in to help the feisty young woman, in spite of agonizing over a past relationship.

Can Lexi and Drew forget the tragedies of the past and embrace the feelings between them or will ghostly memories snub out the promise of a future together?

My Thoughts:

Murder for the Time Being was an interesting addition to the suspense genre.  It had fewer heart pounding thrills than some other books I have read, but made up for it with its complex plot and mystery.  I found myself surprised by some plot twists a few times.  Nothing is as it seems in this book.  Not the bad guy’s motives, not Lexi and her mysterious past, and certainly not Drew, the extremely handsome funeral director with a murky history.  In this book you are given lots of different point of views to help you unravel this peculiar medical mystery.

The characters were believable, and likeable, especially Drew who was my favorite.  The faith elements in this book were strong.  All around the story was very interesting, and lovers of Christian suspense books will certainly enjoy this one.

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

Reviewed by Nicki

About the Author


Joanie has a strong passion for reading, and her love for books with nail-biting suspense, inspires her to write contemporary suspense books. Thankful that God has given her the ability to write from her home in the country, she strives to use that opportunity to honor Him in all of her writing. Joanie and her husband, Ben, live in a country home near Madison, Georgia, right in the middle of a pasture full of beef cows. There they raised and homeschooled their three children. She enjoys cooking, taking long walks, painting oil portraits, and caring for their home in the country.


Guest Post from Joanie Bruce


Have you ever been devastated by a certain event in your life, and later it turned out to the best thing that ever happened to you? That’s what happened to Lexi Wyn in this book, “Murder for the Time Being.” Something unthinkable happened to her family, but in the end, it changes Lexi’s life forever and introduces her to the love of her life.

In this story, both Lexi and Drew have things in their past that discourage them from seeking a lasting relationship. However, God has a plan for them both, and through His Divine engineering, they are thrown together in circumstances that nurture a growing appreciation and affection for each other.

This book was fun to write because I anchored the story in my sweet little town of Madison, Georgia. I wasn’t raised in Madison, but I’ve called it home for much longer than any other place I’ve ever lived. While growing up in the big city of Memphis, Tennessee, I had definite plans for my future. All I ever wanted was to “marry a country boy and live in the country.” The Lord heard the desires of my heart and gave me what I wanted … a country boy, born and raised here in Morgan County on a dairy farm.

After we married, I adopted Madison as my home, and I love it so much that I wanted to feature some of the fun spots in Madison as the backdrops for the scenes in my books. I hope when you read through the pages of my book, you will get an idea of what a sweet little town Madison is and enjoy reading about Lexi and Drew and how they let God guide them in discovering that murder CAN be “for the Time Being.”

Blog Stops

March 15: autism mom
March 17: A Greater Yes
March 18: Radiant Light
March 20: Karen Sue Hadley
March 24: Pause for Tales
March 24: 2014 and Beyond!
March 26: Carpe Diem

Giveaway




To celebrate her tour, Joanie is giving away a Kindle Fire!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b291

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

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About the book:

"Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions." That's the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister's daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won't take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia's pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother--who stole the most important person in Livvie's world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he's just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there's already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect. That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn't the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society's opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

Fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen will enjoy the spirited exchanges between the bluestocking minister's daughter and the bruised war hero as they move past pride and presumption to a humbled appreciation of God's grace and the true strength of love.

My Thoughts:

The Elusive Miss Ellison was a delightful regency era story that surrounded my senses with all that fascinates me with the time period. This story moves a little bit slower so that we are truly immersed in Lavinia Ellison and the Earl of Hawkesbury, Nicholas’s life and town.  We have two very different people coming from two diverse world views seemingly separated all the more by money and class.  We are treated to a slow build up from a friendship turned romance that painfully at times seemed doomed from the beginning. 

I would consider this book like a miniseries.  We walk through so much with the characters, see how their lives are lived in regards to the challenges each face, and the changes that happen to both as they get to know one another and their feelings begin to blossom into something more. And frankly, Ms. Miller can write an excellent romantic story that seems to literally leap off the pages with all the pride, stubbornness, and tension these two had between each other.  There were times I was holding my breath and wincing as they bantered and sparred with the sting that their words could bring to one another.

There is so much packed into this story that you must simply experience it for yourself.

I am very pleased with this book and I consider it my favorite regency read this year.  And I have read some pretty good ones. 

My thanks go to Kregel Publications for providing me with a highly entertaining book for free.  I was not required to post a positive review and all the views and opinions expressed are my own.  I look forward to next two in this series.