Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan

A Sweet Misfortune is Maggie Brendan’s latest and deals with a very peculiar woman’s job in the old West.  Saloon girl dancing, in which we find the abonded heroine in the first few pages working as.  This was a pretty quick read for me, enter a rugged rancher cowboy who swoops in to save his best friend’s sister from the only job she was able to find and you have a battle of wills.  This was a great old western story of a couple of people who have been through a lot of hurt and trying to make a life in the rugged, often less civilized western part of our country.  I immensely enjoyed this lighthearted romance and wondered how long before these two love birds saw the truth of their feelings.  With the help of a grandmother and the housekeeper, a few close friends, and other love interests for these two, you have a sweet adventure and romance story to the altar.  I received a copy from Revell Publishing for an honest review and the opinions are my own.

Review: The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith

The Prophetess is Deborah’s story and the second in the series, Daughters of the Promised Land by Jill Eileen Smith.  I read and enjoyed the The Crimson Cord, which was Rahab’s story, and I think this one topped that one.  Deborah of the Bible has always been a mysterious person to me and I was very interested in how Ms. Smith’s imagination would take on her character.  I personally always wondered how Deborah, a woman in Israel, became a well-respected prophetess in a culture where it was more of a man’s world.  Not only are we told Deborah’s story through her point of view, but also Barak’s, the captain, and Jael’s, the woman who ultimately kills the very evil Sisera the terrorist leader in their time.  With great attention to detail of the times and culture we are treated to “what-if’s” surrounding the very real Bible story.  We also are showed the brutality which held Israel in fear and in bondage for twenty years to the Canaanite King Jabin and to his commander Sisera.  The very real struggle was not unlike the struggles today with acts of terror and the current slave trade.  When the Israelites finally repented of their worship of other gods, the one true God fought for them and ultimately rescued them.  I also enjoyed the romance storylines that blossomed and became stronger, and the ending was very beautiful, heartwarming, and bittersweet.   I received a copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Always Watching was a great start to Lynette Eason’s newest series entitled Elite Guardians about a group of women bodyguards for hire.  From the first pages we are introduced to a very sick and delusional stalker of psychiatrist Wade Savage and popular radio show host.  This story starts off at a fast pace and does not really let up through the whole telling.  I was really glued to this intense struggle of not knowing who was his stalker and his newest bodyguard, Olivia Edwards, grappled with the task of finding out before anyone else was hurt or killed.  With twists a plenty and many suspicious characters, I was not sure who the culprit was or how they would ever catch this psychotic, brazen person.   As they work together sparks begin to fly between Olivia and Wade, but before a romance can take place both must deal with their pasts mistakes and hurts.  Not only a great action packed novel filled with suspense and a touch of romance, but the cover is striking as well.  I look forward to the next in the series.  I received a copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review and Author Interview: Cancelled Vows by Lauren Carr

Cancelled Vows by Lauren Carr is the second book of hers I have read.  This is the first time I have met Mac Faraday and read one of his mysteries.  One thing I really like about Ms. Carr’s writing is that even though she is writing a murder mystery and some really bad stuff has happened and is happening, she is able to throw in some lighthearted moments and ease the tension a bit.  I also highly enjoy her prominent placement of animal characters in her books.  And Gnarly, Faraday’s dog who is forced to go to New York with him due to an unforeseen, unfortunate situation, really steals the show for me.  What a stinker and a hero he is. 

The only reason Mac Faraday and his half- brother, David O’Callaghan have to make this impromptu trip to New York City is for David to divorce his wife, who neither David or the wife, even knew they were married, so that David can finally marry his high school sweetheart Chelsea.  As easy as that sounds, both Mac and David are unaware of the danger that they are walking into and how high up the chain of command it goes.  With twists and turns a plenty in every imaginable way, I at times didn’t know who to root for especially in the romance department.  Not knowing who to trust and wondering how our heroes were going to get back home alive and in one piece makes for one exciting adrenaline rush of a read.  I look forward to more of Ms. Carr’s work.

I received a copy for an honest review from iRead Book Tours and the opinions are my own.

Content:  Some sexual innuendo, some language, and violence, nothing gratuitous in nature.   

Book Description for Cancelled Vows:

Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can tie the knot—divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David’s marriage to an old girlfriend—and he’s got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!

​Buy the book here:  Amazon

Author's Bio:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries and the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real live Gnarly!) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~   Facebook

And now an interview with author Lauren Carr about her writing. Enjoy!

  1. Lauren, you refer to yourself as a middle-aged church lady. Yet, you write murder mysteries. What made you chose this genre to write?
I wouldn’t necessarily say I chose the murder mystery genre as much as it chose me. I love murder mysteries. My mother used to read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. I grew up reading Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew. By the time I was ten, I was reading Agatha Christie.
The murder mystery genre is divided into several different sub-genres. Most readers consider my books to be police procedural. As a mystery writer, I concentrate on the puzzle of solving the murder, not the blood and gore of the crime.

2.                  How long have you been writing?
My whole life. I consider writers born to write. A born writer, even if he or she is not writing books and selling them, a writer is writing inside their head. I remember rewriting the Bobbsey Twins books I would read to change the missing seashell to a kidnapping story. If a friend is late for lunch, I’ll be asking myself, “What if …” by the time my friend will get there, I’ll have a whole story inside my head of how her husband murdered her.

3.                  Where do you get your inspiration for murder mysteries, besides friends being late for lunch?
Anything can inspire me. I am constantly asking myself “what if …” People are always telling me stories. Recently, a friend told me about someone she knew whose son had been arrested—not for murder, but for another crime that sprouted out of his use of social media. After hearing his story, I twisted the facts around and threw in a dead body. It was intriguing enough that I kept revisiting this idea. Now, I have a whole plot for a mystery that I plan to write next year. I have three other books to write ahead of that one.

4.                  Next year? Will you remember that plot? It sounds like you plan storylines in advance. How do you keep them straight? Do you write them down?
Actually, I don’t write them down. I’ll write up a loose—very loose—outline for a book and rarely will I refer to it. I don’t write down my story ideas because I have found that if it is a really good idea, it will stick with me. If not, then I will forget about it. Stephen King once said that he doesn’t keep a log of story ideas because it ends up being a journal of bad ideas. He’s right.

5.                  Do you ever get writer’s block? Doesn’t sound like it.
Actually, I have had writer’s block. Between drafts of It’s Murder, My Son, the first Mac Faraday Mystery, I spent a year staring at my laptop. I was completely frozen.
At that time, I had left my publisher because they did not have a paperback division. It is very hard to sell a $26 hardback when you’re an unknown. Ebooks were still being discovered back in 2010. Getting rejection after rejection, my search for a publisher specializing in mass paperbacks was going nowhere.
After a full year of staring at my laptop, I threw up my hands and walked away. I actually announced to my family that I was giving up writing for good. I spent the next month doing volunteer work, going to lunch, and working out at the gym.
Suddenly, I was back at the laptop rewriting It’s Murder, My Son. Of course, my family reminded me that I had said I was giving up writing for good, to which I responded that I was going to return to writing, but this time, I was going to self-publish. If my books sold—fine. If not, that was okay because I was going to write what I wanted to write and for no one else.
Ironically, a month later I received an offer from a traditional publisher. I turned them down. It’s Murder, My Son has been one of my most popular books, making it to #1 in mysteries on Amazon.
Since that time, I have never had any trouble writing—except for that time Gnarly drooled all over my laptop and it shorted out.
What was the secret to getting over writers block?
American poet William Stafford offers this advice to poets who suffer from Writer's Block: "There is no such thing as writer's block for writers whose standards are low enough."
This sounds terrible at first. "What? I'm supposed to write junk? I need to write the great American Novel! I'm better than that!" No, Stafford is not encouraging writers to produce garbage. He is suggesting, however, that it's easy to take yourself too seriously.
When I walked away, when I stopped trying to impress literary agents and publishers and decided to write what I want for myself, my writers block went away and I am now the happiest writer in the world.

6.                  Do you have any advice for budding writers?
Write what you love—not what’s hot at the moment. If you love what you’re writing and you’re having fun writing it, then that love will spill in between the lines, your readers will pick it up, and they will love what you have written as much as you have had writing it.
Then, everyone wins!

7.                  What project are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on Killer in the Band, the Lovers in Crime mystery coming out at the end of April, readers will get to know more about Joshua Thornton Jr (J.J.), Murphy’s identical twin brother. J.J. has graduated at the top of his class from law school and is returning home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to the Thornton’s shock and dismay, J.J. decides to move in with Suellen Russell, a lovely widow twice his age. The move brings long buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. When a brutal killer strikes, the father and son must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the crosshairs of a murderer.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Return to the Dinosaur Planet by Cousin Summers

Return to the Dinosaur Planet by Cousin Summers is a story of mystery, intrigue, and quest fulfillment.  You have missing scientists, little sisters, and a grinning monkey.  Peter Baker and Casey Tucker are two boys who meet each other in a museum and become fast friends.  Peter is a kid archeologist and Casey wants to be an explorer.  Both have a common goal, to become famous.  So they take on the quest to find a missing scientist’s lab and his secret projects as their way to go down in history.  Filled with Albert Einstein’s quotes at the beginning of each chapter and especially dealing with his polarity theory, this was an adventurous ride through a museum and its exhibits.  Bring on book two.  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Reviewed by Bubba

Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: Surrender Your Junior God Badge by Jackie Kendall

Surrender Your Junior God Badge by Jackie Kendall was a very engaging read. I have read her before, and I have always found her honesty refreshing, and this book was no different. This book is for every woman, controlling or ‘not’ (because I’m sure we’ve all struggled with control at one point or another), old, young, single and married women alike (our future families will thank us later, I’m sure- and our present households will no doubt benefit as well). So if you feel tired, read this book. If you feel TIRED, read this book. And if you are a daughter of Eve, read this book. Just read it.  I received a copy for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Reviewed by Jes

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Review: The Confessions of X by Suzanne M. Wolfe

Wow, I am just trying to gather my thoughts on the book The Confessions of X by author Suzanne M. Wolfe.  First off, this book was written in such a beautiful lyrical prose, as if I were the one tasting the dust of Africa, smelling the spices at the market, and seeing Rome for the first time with the characters.  This story is about Augustine of Hippo’s concubine whom we don’t really know much about.  Drawing from her imagination and what we know of in history, the author has written a story about one woman’s journey through life:  the society in which she lived and made the rules that forbade her marriage to the man that she loved and who loved her as well, her and her father’s relationship through her growing up years, her aunt and other extended relatives, to Augustine the man she loved, being a mother to her son, to all the women she became friends with and helped deliver children, life and death of those she loved, to the fall of Rome, and what was thought as the end of the world. 

This is a very different sort of story than you usually find in the Christian market.  This tale is not a happily ever after, but does give a human face to this unknown woman who had many of the same concerns and worries that we do today.  This would make an excellent book club choice with not only a story with meat but also included are thought provoking discussion questions.  The author’s notes are great in explaining where she got her ideas and the how’s and whys of the culture in those ancient times.   I look forward to more well told tales by Ms. Wolfe as I won’t soon forget this one.  I received a copy for an honest review from the Fiction Guild and the opinions are my own.

Review: Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey

Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey starts off her brand new series, Chesapeake Valor with a bang.  I am a first time reader of Ms. Pettrey and wow does she do some great suspense and romantic tension.  This story did not slow down from the first page.  There are a few characters to keep track of as there is an overarching story for the series that has me just about as intrigued as the main mystery.  The author however has a way with making her characters come alive so that I was not confused at any time.  There are four best friends who have quite a history together and three of them are in various forms of law enforcement.  One has disappeared and hasn’t been heard from.  The remaining three are pulled together and put into a team to solve a murder of a young woman whose skeletal remains were found in Gettysburg.  Enter the leading ladies and not only do you have a story where the good guys have to continually look over their shoulders, you also have a bit of romance in the air.  I think old and new fans alike will very much enjoy Ms. Pettrey’s newest romantic suspense.  I eagerly wait for more in this series.  I was provided a copy for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions are my own.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: Back in the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne

Back in the Saddle was a family story as much as it was a romance.  We have a father who is coming to realize that he has just about alienated all three of his boys by his uncompromising ways.  This first story is more of the prodigal son, Colt’s, story.  After leaving the ranch for the prestige of New York City and the stock market, Colt has taken a hit on the stock market and his funds are tied up.  Leaving him nothing to do but go back home where he can actually have a meal and a place to live.  However, things have begun to change at the ranch with his father’s health in decline but his spirit in the right place and ready to make amends.  Part of his father’s change of heart is due to his housekeeper, of two years, Angelina’s influence.  As Colt and Angelina become unlikely acquaintances, Colt begins to fall in love with her.  As Colt tries to find his place in the world, back at home on the ranch or back in the lifestyle of New York City, he finds out that Angelina has a few secrets of her own.

I really liked this family drama and learning about this family’s history and dynamics, not only with each other but the town as well.  I look forward to reading more of this series especially where the other two brothers, Nick and Trent are concerned.  I am always a sucker for a great cowboy story.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

About the Author

Ruth Logan Herne has more than half a million books in print, including fifteen Love Inspired contemporary novels. Back in the Saddle is the first book in her new western romance series. Ruth is a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

More Info

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Review: Surrender to Love by Maryann Diorio

Surrender to Love is a novella about a widow who has been living in her past for 5 years after the tragic death of her husband.  With her mother’s insistence she goes to Puerto Rico to help a family friend’s daughter, and that daughter’s father happens to be a widower.  This is a story about finding love for the second time and embracing it.  However, it is a very bumpy road along the way as sometimes it is hard to let go of the past and take a step in a different direction towards a new future.  This was a lovely romance and it was beautifully written.  I received a copy from The Book Club Network, Inc. for an honest review and the opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: A Midwinter Ball by Heidi Ashworth, Annette Lyon, and Michele Paige Holmes

This is the second collection in the Timeless Regency Collection and these stories are just pure fun and so enjoyable.  There are three novellas included, but they each tell a full, wonderful story of a time set during regency England.  The first one, Much Ado About Dancing by Heidi Ashworth, was the first book I have read by her and this story was my favorite of the set.  This is a about a young earl, Mr. Northrup who has sets his sights on Analisa and has warned all gentlemen away from her.  Through their long distance relationship over the years both have grown and matured.  However, Analisa who has pretty much been a wallflower at every dance can hardly forgive Mr. Northrup for his threats against the other gentlemen and basically leaving her to sit out and be alone at the dances that she retaliates by having refused to have read his letters.  Now he has returned from his travels and both have definitely changed.  Their merry chase was such a delight to read.

The other two stories were also delightful to read and it was the first time I read new to me author Annette Lyon and of course I always enjoy Michele Paige Holmes stories.  Her story rounded out the three.  So if you are short on time, but are craving a clean regency romance story, then look no further than these.   Of course I would have liked to have stayed in their time and worlds a little longer, but for novellas these are some of the best I have read.

I received an e-copy of this book from I Am a Reader Not a Writer for an honest review and the opinions are my own. 

Review: Jesus Helps Me by Callie Grant

Jesus Helps Me is another delightful addition to the Graham Blanchard line of books.  Using John 12:44-47 as the basis of the text along with pictures and facts of birds makes this book one of my favorites in the Knowing God Series.  This book takes each part of the verses and explains them in such a way children can understand with scientific bird facts.  It amazes me how you can teach the gospel in such simple terms.  Again, I highly recommend these beautiful children’s board books.  I have enjoyed sharing them with my son and plan to keep them for any grandchildren I am blessed to have.  I received a copy of the book for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Review: Hannah's Choice by Jan Drexler

Hannah’s Choice by Jan Drexler was a very complex read.  Taking place during 1842, this story deals with some tough issues.  This is a romance that is centered on Hannah and the choice not only between the two men who both wish to marry her, but also the choice she has to deal with concerning her family.  I really felt for this family and all that they suffered and endured.  How do they stay strong when death and depression seems to surround them?  I understood the parent’s plight in wanting to protect their children as humanly as possible.  I also learned a little about the Amish culture and the reasons for why they live the way they do and that they were even set apart back in the 1800’s.  There is a strong family bond in this story and a strong connection to their home and land.  Filled with family drama and the ups and downs of young love, I was not sure what any of Hannah’s choices would be through a lot of the story and I was not prepared for some of the sadness in this story.  However, this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.  I received a copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions are my own.

My Thoughts and More on Mabel and the Little Green Men by Susan Kimmel Wright

  About the Book Book: Mabel and the Little Green Men Author:  Susan Kimmel Wright Genre: Cozy Mystery Release date: October 5, 2023 The la...