Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

To Follow Her Heart
Duty and love are powerful forces. Only one has the power to make her life complete.

It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton's ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados. There were no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island.

Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy sails aboard a British warship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold--and to an overjoyed Patience--it's not quite the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for.

With a finely tuned sense for authentic historical characters and settings, Rebecca DeMarino plunges you into a world of tall ships, daring journeys, and yearning hearts.

My Review

To Follow Her Heart by Rebecca DeMarino is the third in her Southold Chronicles.  This was a historical novel taking place during the 1660’s when New York was still held by the Dutch and was called New Amsterdam.  Around this time the British wanted control of New Amsterdam and this book shows some of the history of the British take over which resulted in the gaining and the renaming to New York.  The history was fascinating and this book moved quicker than the previous. 

This story in particular dealt with the relationship of Patience Terry and Captain Jeremy Horton.  After the town thinking him dead after his entire crew and ship was lost at sea, his own desire to get back to the love of his life, you would think that he would want to settle down and marry her.  However, Patience lives up to her name and more and I must say that Jeremy was getting on my nerves.  He loved Patience but I believe he was unsure if he was the marrying type.  Poor Patience waited and waited trusting in his promises.  I was quite put out with him and was even hoping for a possible new love interest for her.  The lovely Patience knows her own heart and after waiting for Jeremy for years, will she continue or has he asked too much of her this time?  The title was fitting.

We are once again reunited with old friends and this book does take a sad turn that I was not expecting.  The covers of this series are absolutely gorgeous, they look like paintings.  I am curious at what next will come from the pen of author Rebeca DeMarino.

I received a copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions are my own.

Review: Fresh Brewed by Pamela Ford

Breanna Mitchell is on her way to a relaxing vacation at the ocean. Maybe she'll even have a beachside fling to help her get over a recent breakup.

But when a tropical storm makes her destination hotel uninhabitable, a chance encounter at continental breakfast delivers a fabulous option—with a catch. She and her friends can stay at a privately-owned, three-story oceanfront home—if she pretends to be the girlfriend of the owner's heartbreaker grandson, Ethan. Since he won't even be there, how hard could it be?

Everything is going swimmingly until Bree drinks too much wine and regales the family with romantic tales about her relationship with Ethan. His adorable brother Adam gets suspicious. His marriage-minded grandma gets engagement fever. The beautiful woman next door gets teary-eyed.

And then, Ethan unexpectedly arrives. Suddenly Bree is about to get everything she's ever wished for—but is it what she really wants?

Buy the book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

My Review

Fresh Brewed is the second in The Continental Breakfast Club and finds our three friends going on vacation to the ocean for some relaxing time.  This is also Bree’s idea fantasy of meeting “the one” at a vacation continental breakfast in a 5 star hotel resort.  However, things do not turn out the way any of the friends think or planned as a pesky hurricane by the name of Drake has sidelined them in Atlanta, Georgia.  Good news the next morning though, as Drake has gone out to sea with minimal damage to the coast.  The very busy layover continental breakfast brings them to a chance meeting with Kristin Caruso who is also headed to the Outer Banks for a family vacation.  Kristin also happens to have two single brothers. She and the three girls find they have much in common and hit it off.  As circumstances collide, Kristen comes up with a zany idea that will not only help her brother Ethan in a sticky family situation but will also benefit the three friends.  Bree agrees to be the pretend serious girlfriend of Ethan, who is not going to be at the family vacation so their grandmother, who has been quite put out with him, will be happy. 

Again relying on the lies that these four have concocted, Bree paints a picture of Ethan as a most romantic guy that has the whole family hearing wedding bells.  However, Bree did not realize that she would feel such a strong connection to Adam, the younger brother.  This story takes a ridiculous turn for the worse as Ethan surprises everyone and ends up showing up after all.

This was another laugh out loud adventure with a touch of bittersweet as Bree realizes she has actually fallen in love with the whole family and now her reputation is at stake.  This novel was reminiscent of the movie While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman, which was fun to watch, hilarious, and bittersweet too.  Again I liked the seeing the three best friends have each other’s backs and adding Kristin to the mix will make for interesting future reads.

Content Warning: Like the first, this book is an adult read and has a sprinkling of bad language throughout; otherwise I would consider this one a fairly clean read.

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

Author's Bio:

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot - and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer - and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

Review: Without Warning by Lynette Eason

About the book:

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity.
The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he's not convinced that a bodyguard--and a female one at that--is necessary. A new attack and his niece's urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who's behind the intimidation and threats--before a would-be killer strikes again.

My Review:

Without Warning is a nice addition to Lynette Eason’s Elite Guardians series.  This time we follow guardian/bodyguard Katie Singleton.  She happens to be driving home one night when she notices policemen at the restaurant of owner Daniel Matthews who is the uncle of one of her self-defense students, Riley.  A dead body has been found hanging in the basement of his restaurant and one of Daniel’s other places has gone up in flames all in the same night.  Coincidence?  Nobody seems to think it is.  Because of this, 17 year old Riley decides to hire Katie and her team to protect her uncle so she does not lose him as her parents have already died in a car accident.  However, Daniel is not your usual client as he is a former marine and has skills of his own. 

This was a fast paced ride and the villain was quite wacked out.  He/she did not seem to give the characters a moment of peace and they were constantly on their toes trying to stay one step ahead and trying not to get killed.  I liked the chemistry between Katie and Daniel and I enjoyed visiting the whole team again.  The stark white covers with the smoke around the characters I think are some of the best suspense covers I have seen.  I look forward to Maddie’s story next.

I was provided a copy for an honest review from Revell Publishing and the opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Review: No More Lies by Jill M. Tomlinson

No More Lies
No More Lies is an amazing book that I think all of God’s children should read.  Opening up with her personal story, author Jill Tomlinson lets us know she understands how lies we believe can take hold of us for a long time.  These lies are whispered to us at some point, maybe when we are young, and they are lies from the evil one about our heavenly Father.  We then get a distorted view of who He is and who we are to Him.  As Jill exposes each lie, she backs it up with the simple truths of scripture and it really changed my viewpoint on some things.  I was not even aware I believed them myself.  These lies are pretty common and most of us have probably believed them at some point in our lives or still hold to them as truth.  This is a book that really touched my heart and I will read again and again as a reminder.  I encourage everyone to pick this one up and get a clearer picture of how much God our Father really loves us.

I received a copy of this book for an honest review from The Book Club Network, Inc. and the opinions are my own.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: The Things We Knew by Catherine West

About the book:

The Things We Knew (Thomas Nelson, July 2016)

A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.

After her mother's death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother's death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can't remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother's best friend and Lynette's first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can't.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn't want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father's failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface---secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.

Purchase a copy:

My Review

The Things We Knew by Catherine West was a brilliant novel.  It was a well-done family drama with secrets aplenty but the love the family had for each other was coming right off the pages.  This is a family that has a lot of skeletons in their closet.  We have five adult siblings- all different and dealing not only with the past they have not laid to rest, but their very turbulent present and their uncertain futures.  Lynnie is the youngest and at 12 years of age her mother died, and it is a day that no one talks about and Lynnie can’t even remember.  She is also the one who is still living at home taking care of their father who is losing his memories as well, but looks like he has Alzheimer’s.  So Lynnie, calls in her siblings as she can no longer be the sole caretaker of her father, nor keep the house that has been in her mother’s family for generations from falling down around her and the finances are just not there.

The cast of characters is absolutely fascinating, and so much can be said about them.  We have David, the oldest brother, husband and a father to a set of twins, and with problems of his own.  Liz, Elizabeth, is the next and the sister who seems to have it all together, if not a bit bossy and cynical, she is a lawyer and hiding some major relationship baggage.  Ryan, the preacher and missionary who is somewhere in the wilds of Africa and nobody knows where.  Then there is Gray, closest to Lynnie, and he is a famous musician with the problems of fame, drugs, and more.  Wow!  All of them find their way home to help their baby sister and father, but also finding the mercy, grace, and forgiveness they all so desperately need.

Let’s not forget Nick, the next door neighbor, former best friend of Gray, and the man Lynnie is in love with.  His family ties to theirs are quite heartwarming and sticky at the same time.  He is also the hero, the one trying to save everyone if he can, even his own father who has been anything but.

There are other characters who are very well represented as well.  That is what I think that surprised me the most about this book.  The storyline drew me in of course, but just how all the characters, main and supporting each had his and hers own individual voices that moved the story along.  No one’s part was too small that didn’t make an impact on all these lives, either past or present.  I really hope more books are coming about this family.  I look forward to reading more about them.

I received a copy for an honest review through Litfuse Publicity and the TNZ Fiction Guild.  The opinions are my own.

About the author:

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Over Easy by Pamela Ford

About the book

Allie Parker's had enough. Just because she's a dog groomer, her overachieving family of doctors and lawyers treats her like a child. She's convinced that a successful husband is all she needs to change their attitudes. So when she and her friends come up with a brilliant new way to meet eligible men, Allie squeezes into her sister's stylish clothes and sneaks into continental breakfast at an upscale hotel to find herself the perfect guy.

Before Allie has taken her last bite of syrup-laden waffle, she's met the man of her dreams. But what she doesn't know is that he's a jewel thief who mistakenly thinks she's his contact—and so does everyone else who's after his stash of diamonds.

Suddenly Allie's world is crazily upended. And as she scrambles to prove her innocence and get back to her old life, she discovers happily ever after sneaks up when you least expect it.

Buy the book: Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

My Review
Over Easy by new to me author Pamela Ford was a hilariously laugh-out-loud adventure.   The premise of this story is about three best friends who are trying to make love matches.  For instance, they joined a gym to try to meet some guys; however that didn’t work out so well.   So Megan, the lawyer comes up with an old idea of sneaking into the continental breakfasts at hotels to meet the loves of their lives.  And so The Continental Breakfast Club has begun.

Over Easy is really Allie’s story and she is an owner of a dog grooming business much to the chagrin of her parents, who would like her to finish college and become a veterinarian.  Allie is also the baby of the family and is always treated as such not only by her parents, but also her siblings.  She not only wants to meet the man of her dreams, but also be able to take him as a date to her parents 45th wedding anniversary, in her own mind proving she is not such a screw up.  Let the shenanigans begin.

This is a comedy of errors, mishaps, and ridiculous lies.  There is mystery and danger as Allie gets more than she bargained for at the first breakfast and she ends up with some rather costly jewels.  I liked how all three friends stuck together through thick and thin, the dogs add a nice comical touch, and true love may come out of all this mess for Allie when she wises up and finally decides to tell the truth (however ridiculous and strange it may be).

I always enjoy a book that can make me laugh and this one had me roaring.  I would consider this a clean read except for the sprinkling of bad language throughout.  I believe there are about three instances of the (F) word and there is other crude language as well.  That language seemed especially rough for this mostly light hearted comedy.  You have been forewarned.

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

Author's Bio:

Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot - and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer - and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Goodreads

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray

About the book:

The Loyal Heart (Zondervan, July 2016)

Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn't expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task---Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.

Purchase a copy:

My Review

The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray is my first read of hers, but I soon plan to change that. This is a story that takes place after the Civil War as the whole nation tries to get back to a new normal way of life.  What I really liked about this one was the comradeship of some Confederate soldiers who were caught and imprisoned on Johnson’s Island, Ohio out in Lake Erie.  That little fact alone interested me so much and again I appreciate a book that I learn something new from.   These men make a pact to keep in contact with each other all their lives and to help each other out when needed.  One soldier, Phillip Markham has a wife that he loves very much and he exacts that same promise for her.  Jump ahead a few years and Miranda Markham, his widow, is now the town pariah.  With in-laws who can’t stand her, friends who have turned their backs on her, a whole town believing rumors of both her and her late husband, and added to that are the threats.  Miranda is seriously depressed and hopeless.

However, unbeknownst to her, Phillip is still looking out for her from his grave through the help of his comrades.  In particular, Robert Truax has come to see that everything is made right for Phillip’s widow.  Phillip was a man Robert admired greatly.   As Miranda learns to depend on Robert and dreads the day when he will eventually leave, she is unaware of the troubling secrets he carries about her husband.  Surrounded by her staff and Robert, Miranda now has new reasons to live. 

I was really intrigued by this first book in the series with its slow burning romance and the thread of mystery and suspense that was woven into it.  There was another budding romance that I hope in a future book we hear more about and I am very interested in the soldier by the name of Ethan Kelly and the secrets he carries.  I hope there are more!

I received a copy for an honest review through Litfuse Publicity and the TNZ Fiction Guild.  The opinions 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.

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks by Cindy Vincent

Series: Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper

Genre: Christian, Children's, Cat-themed Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Whodunit Press
Publication date: October 11, 2013
Number of pages: 178

Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next case hits a little too close to home. Because someone has been breaking into houses and stealing all the Christmas presents! And the first two robberies even took place in their very own neighborhood. Holy Catnip! Of course, the boys leap in on all fours to investigate right away. Then it isn't long before they realize they are dealing with some real criminal masterminds, since these burglars know exactly how to cover their tracks. Plus, the crooks have the whole town of St. Gertrude on edge and they're threatening to ruin Christmas for everyone.
But figuring out the identity of the Christmas Crooks isn't the only mystery around. After all, Buckley had just been adopted from the cat shelter this year, and this was the first he'd ever heard about Christmas. And he quickly finds out there is a lot to learn! From Christmas trees to Santa Claus, and jingle bells to the birth of baby Jesus, the real meaning of Christmas is a mystery to him. But he and Bogey can't really enjoy any of it until the Christmas Crooks are caught. That's because it becomes very clear, very quick — these Christmas Crooks have set their sights on the boys' house, too! And the burglars are headed straight for their door. Holy Mackerel!

The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks is an enjoyable, cute read.  While I am older than the intended audience, I still (remarkably) found this book interesting.  The characters were quirky (my favorite was Bogey), and while I do not particularly enjoy movies or books in which the main characters are animals the author actually made this story work.  The cats were cute, and I loved the whole cast from The Wise One (the eldest cat in the house) to the Princess (the newest addition to the family and a possible love interest for Buckley????).

I read the book aloud to my three younger brothers while staying at my grandmother’s house, and they all enjoyed it (especially my eleven year old brother).  My grandmother even listened and later commented that she thought the book was good (and she doesn’t even like books!).   I think this is a great read for younger readers (with the occasional older reader who likes a cute mystery) and I look forward to more books about the BBCDA (Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Agency)… you know, to read aloud to my brothers of course…

I received a copy through Singing Librarian Books Tours for an honest review and the opinions are my own.

Reviewed by Nicki  

1. Each of the Buckley and Bogey books features an adoption scene where a homeless cat is given a forever home.  In one episode it was a cat who needed to be rescued from a bad situation, and another time two “special needs” cats were adopted.  I always get a little emotional when I write this little sideline to my stories, yet my real goal here is to encourage people to adopt cats who need a home, especially shelter cats.

2. In the book, Buckley is shown a plastic Santa Clause ornament that is hanging on the lower branches of the tree and put there for the cats in the family.  In real life, an ornament just like it is hung on our main Christmas tree every year, along with a few other unbreakable ornaments.  We often find them on the floor or around the house.  But it doesn’t matter, since we simply put them back on the tree.  No problem.  We learned long ago, that, if we wanted to have a decorated Christmas tree and cats, it was a very good idea to leave ornaments “just for them” on the lower branches of the tree.

3. Early in the story, there’s s a scene where the Princess runs straight up the Christmas tree and knocks it over.  This actually happened in real life . . . in fact, it happened many, many times the first Christmas after we adopted the real Princess Alexandra (Lexie).  She would run as fast as she could and leap onto the tree with enough momentum that it would fall right over, and the branches would go flying.  I probably should have been upset, but honestly, it was so hilarious that I’d laugh till I had tears rolling down my cheeks.  Especially when I saw the wild-eyed, quizzical expression on her face each time.  Finally, my husband invented a “Lexie proof” Christmas tree stand, and the tree stayed upright from then on.

4. I always include three of my other cats in the Buckley and Bogey books, too — Miss Mokie, aka The Wise One;  Libby, aka Lil Bits;  and Lexie, aka Princess Alexandra.  I wrote them into the first three books in the series, and sadly, not long after I’d started the fourth book, Miss Mokie and Libby passed away within a month and a half of each other.  They were 21 and 20 years old, which is remarkably old for cats.  Funny, but somehow I had the idea that losing an older cat might be easier, considering they’d had a nice long life and weren’t in the best shape near the end anyway.  But oddly enough, I found it was even harder to lose a couple of feline friends who’d been part of my life for a couple of decades.  I went through a very rough grieving process.  And even though they are gone, they will forever be in my heart.  And I decided to write them into the fourth book and all subsequent books anyway.

5. My favorite scene in this book is the night when Buckley finds himself locked out of the house.  That’s when he cuddles up in the Nativity Scene on the front yard to stay warm, and looks up at the night sky, trying to find the brightest star out there.

6. I completed this book in August.  So the whole time I was writing and dreaming of snow and Christmas decorations, it was actually about a 100ยบ here in Houston, with 99% humidity.   Hmmm . . .

7. The Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers are set in a fictitious town called St. Gertrude.  Why St. Gertrude?  Because the real St. Gertrude of Nivelles, who lived in the seventh century, was known as the Patron Saint of Cats.

8. I sometimes write friends’ cats into my books as well.  For instance, Ranger, a Tonkinese kitty who is in two of the books, belongs to my friend who spends most of the year traveling in an RV with her husband, and takes Ranger with them.  She once sent me a picture of Ranger going nose-to-nose with an Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, so Ranger quickly became an adventurer in the books.  And Luke, the church cat in one book and mentioned in another, is the late cat of an online friend who plays piano at her church.  His real name was Ebony, and he is also forever immortalized in my books.

9. Most of my cats nap in my home office while I write.  It makes for such a cozy atmosphere.  And Buckley, who is the narrator of the series, frequently sits on my desk.  Considering he’s a huge Maine Coon Cat, this can make things a bit challenging, especially when he wants to lie on top of the keyboard . . .

10. I'm always a little surprised whenever I finish writing a book.  I look back and think, where did that come from?  I especially like the "feel good" ending in this book, which takes place right on Christmas Eve.  I not only wrote about the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, but I felt it the whole time I was typing away.  And since Christmas is my favorite time of the year, this book has a special place in my heart.  As the story talks about the joy of giving rather than receiving, I feel like this book is my Christmas present to my readers. 

Cindy Vincent, M.A. Ed., is the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers, a mystery series for kids and cat-lovers that features the adventures of two black cat detectives. And yes, as she is often asked, Cindy used her own black cats, Buckley and Bogey, as the inspiration for the series, since they seem to run surveillance on her house each and every night. Cindy is also the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls, along with the Daisy Diamond Detective novels, which are a spin-off from the games. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines. Cindy is a self-professed “Christmas-a-holic,” and usually starts planning and preparing in March for her ever-expanding, “extreme” Christmas lights display every year . . .



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

About the book:

When Death Draws Near (Thomas Nelson, August 2016)

Death has always been part of Gwen Marcey's job. But when faced with her own mortality, everything takes on a different hue.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs and homes when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky town, located deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, has been plagued by a serial rapist and a series of unexplained deaths. Before Gwen can develop a composite drawing, the latest witness vanishes, just like all the previous victims.

Turning her attention to sketching the face of an unidentified body, she discovers a link between his death and a Pentecostal serpent-handling church. Serpent-handling is illegal in Kentucky, and the churches have gone underground to avoid the authorities and continue to worship as they believe. Gwen is offered a handsome reward to infiltrate the renegade members, a reward she desperately needs as it seems her breast cancer has returned.

Joined by her digitally-obsessed, Generation Z daughter, Gwen goes undercover to a nineteenth century revival, planning to draw the faces of the snake handlers so they can be identified and arrested. Instead she uncovers a murderous plot and a festering evil.

Purchase a copy:

My Review:

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks is probably my favorite mystery/suspense read of all-time.  That is saying a lot as I have read and enjoyed some pretty amazing books.   There was just something about this book that really just sucked me in and kept me turning the pages.  Gwen Marcey is a heroine who has a lot on her plate.  Not only is she a forensic artist, but she is divorced, trying to raise a 15 year old daughter, battling cancer, and just really trying to keep her head above water personally and financially.  She travels to Kentucky to work on a case dealing with rape victims.  However, the sheriff is acting a bit peculiar about the whole situation and then before she can even interview the victim, the victim disappears.  More strange things happen and then Gwen is asked by a powerful politician to go undercover into a snake handling church to expose them and to help put a stop to their religious practices.

Everything begins to get dicier and Gwen is unsure of who to trust if anybody, as she discovers more secrets about this town and the church.  There is a lot that takes place but I did not get lost in any of it, the author moved this story at a pretty quick clip and I did not want to stop till I got to the end.  I read it in a day.  The author also raises some interesting moral questions about religious freedom in our country and what that really means.  This is the first book I have read by Carrie Stuart Parks and it is the third in the series and I immensely enjoyed it.  Definitely a must read author.

I received a copy for an honest review through Litfuse Publicity and the opinions are my own.

About the author:

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink

About the book:

Fetching Sweetness (Harvest House, July 2016)

Standing between Stephanie and her dream is one hundred pounds of lovable trouble.
It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Meet up with Agnes Wharton in a small town in California, retrieve the reclusive author's valuable new manuscript, and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent.

But Agnes's canine companion, Sweetness, decides to make a break for it before Stephanie can claim her prize. Until Agnes has Sweetness safely back at home in Eagle Cliff, Washington, Stephanie will never set eyes on the manuscript she needs to make her dreams come true.

When Stephanie tracks the runaway mutt to a campground, she meets Rhett Hastings---a man also on the run from a different life and a costly mistake. Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog . . . thus launching a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.

Once Sweetness gets added to the mix, it's a recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.

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My Review

Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink was an adorable read.  Just look at the face of that dog.  This book had me in tears, good tears, like the laugh out loud, deep down belly laugh, that put me in a hilarious fit that made my husband sit up and take notice of what I was reading.  This book is chock full of misadventures, lovable characters- both human kind and animal kind.   I enjoyed my trailer adventure with the whole mismatched clan and cried and cheered with them when truths were realized.

This is also a bittersweet book where each of the characters are carrying some pretty hefty loads and they are trying each in their own way to make things right again.  From living someone else’s dream to trying to fulfill another’s dream from the past, this was not just a lighthearted tale but one that held a mirror up to the reader as to what motivates us to do what we do.  Are we following our own dreams, listening to the calling of God, or trying to correct the mistakes of our past? 

I really liked how the heroine, Stephanie Pink thought, especially her need to have books with her to read or else she would get antsy and how said novels shaped her thought process.  Some pretty hilarious stuff there.  So if you like romance, adventure (or should I say misadventure), dogs that can teach us a lesson, or just need a good belly laugh, I recommend this book.

I was provided a copy through Litfuse Publicity for an honest review and the opinions are my own.

About the author:

Dana Mentink lives in California, where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and an award winner in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third and fourth grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with her husband, two daughters, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle, and a feisty parakeet.

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