Thursday, September 22, 2016

Twilight At Blueberry Barrens, Sunset Cove #3

Kate Mason has always found solace in her family’s blueberry barrens. But are they giving her a false sense of security?


Kate has devoted herself to keeping her family’s blueberry barrens thriving. But when blossom blight devastates her blueberry fields, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to replace that income. Fixing up the small cottage on her property as a rental seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When Drake Carver drives by with his two nieces in tow, looking not only for a place to rent for the summer but also for a nanny for the girls, it’s almost too good to be true.


Drake is a judge whose brother and sister-in-law died in an accident shortly after he received a threat that his family would suffer if he didn’t drop a high profile case. Is there a connection? This remote area of Maine seems like the perfect place for him to keep his nieces safe until he determines if they’re in danger.


Drake and Kate constantly lock horns; having never been a parent before, he gives his nieces free reign. Kate won’t stand for their disrespect and keeps challenging Drake to set a higher standard. Even though Kate has given up on having children because of the chemo she had to take, she finds herself oddly drawn to this improvised family. But Drake begins to fear that he’s putting Kate in danger as well.


Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a stalker whose sights are set on her, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn.


With danger swirling from multiple directions, it may be a question of who gets to her first.

My review:

  I was slow discovering Colleen Coble. When I started reading her novels, she had several out already that I had never read. I have come to see her as a master storyteller in the Christian suspense/mystery genre' I love so much to read.

 This book just came by UPS this week, and it was one I couldn't leave sit very long without reading. Two evenings ago, I had some time to read, so I started reading it. Thankfully, I had enough time to read the entire book, for that is what I did....though I barely finished it before bedtime.

 One thing I enjoy about a series such as this, is the central characters from the other books make appearances in the books that follow their original appearance. This being the third and final book in the series, there were several appearances by characters from the other two books.

 "Twilight" brought some new characters into the mix, and a new mystery. Stalkers, murders, thieves,threats,  romance, and more combine together to make another great read from this very gifted author. As with the rest of the series, this book was set in Downeast Maine near the ocean. Coble wrote in such a way that I could almost experience the blueberry barrens, and the other scenery described in the book.

  The suspense factor was top notch in this novel. I figured out who the stalker was long before his identity was revealed - which I was proud of myself for doing - but I didn't figure out the second bad guy in the book.

  There is nothing I would change about this book that would make it better. This is a novel that is a great example of what Christian suspense should be. I highly recommend the series.

I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.


Twilight at Blueberry Barrens and the rest of  the Sunset Cove Series is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.

Live On Forver by the Afters, a CD review, and a giveaway

The Afters - Live on Forever Bio:

It’s easy to assume stories of trial and triumph are just for the Bible or the history books. But miracles still happen, even when adversity hits hardest. Just ask Josh Havens, guitarist and lead vocalist of The Afters. He relates how the band’s latest effort, Live on Forever, began during a season of tragedy.

Just as the band regrouped to record, Havens witnessed the wife of a close friend contract cancer. Drummer Jordan Mohilowski (who produced the new album) had a brief health scare, and a close companion in his church—part of the worship team—was hit and killed by an impaired driver. She was a young woman, Havens says, who had unlimited potential.

But Live on Forever–the band’s fifth with the Fair Trade label-still took shape as a celebration of faithfulness, protection and promise—one that shimmers with strong rhythms, undeniable energy and compelling pop hooks. The album finds Havens in strong, soaring voice as he invites listeners to find shelter and strength in God. “If any theme has emerged, it would be ‘inspiration and motivation,’” Havens says.

Havens himself felt a deep need to hold on after another loss struck: The band’s longtime sound-man, Anthony Martinez, saw his newborn daughter die in infancy.

Ask Havens to pick out a song that sums up the spirit of the album, and he chooses “Battles.” “It was the last song we wrote and the fastest we wrote,” he says. “We don’t typically write songs fast; we’ll change lyrics and melodies and craft our songs carefully. But ‘Battles’ poured out, the music and lyrics, in one day. It’s about standing up against fear and knowing God is always with us,” Havens explains. “It’s one of the takeaways we hope people get: ‘Don’t give up to fear.

Havens shares how, half a world away from his home in Phoenix, he caught a small glimpse of heaven’s reassurance. The place: downtown Amsterdam. The occasion: a dinner between shows with band members and spouses—including soundman Martinez and his wife. For their baby daughter, the Martinez couple had chosen an unusual moniker with an unusual spelling: Pieper. Against all odds, it also happened to be exactly how the intimate restaurant they dined at spelled its name. Still, no one was prepared for what happened at the end of the meal. “We were talking about baby Pieper, and as we got up to leave, we noticed that the only thing on the walls—the only thing—was a framed document, an award for hospitality. And the date on the award—the only date in the place—was Pieper’s birthday. Her mother just started bawling.” Havens sums up the reassurance all took home that night: “We thought, ‘This is where God’s angels fly: right in the middle of the loss.’ God gives us little glimpses to show us he’s here.”

“We worked on this record for almost two years and over those two years, it was a real season of loss,” Havens recalls. “But in the end, Live on Forever is about moving us to trust God, to stand up against fear. It’s an ‘ante up’ record, an anthem for people’s lives: ‘God you are with me in all this. I’m not alone.’”

Song listing:

Shadows
Battles
Sunrise
Time of My Life
Wake Up My Heart
Live On Forever
Eyes of a Believer
Survivors
Legends
When You're With Me

My review:

  I have to say up front this CD isn't my style of music. I have heard a couple of songs by The Afters that I liked, but most of this CD is a little more than I am used to... I should have checked out the group more before I reviewed it....

 That said, I still like the CD. It has solid vocals and music that isn't drowning out the singing. The songs are solid and well done, and there is a wide variety of music on here..... the songs don't all sound alike as is sometimes the case.

 The CD may not quite be my listening tastes, but I can recommend it to those who do like their CCM music a little on the rocky side.


I was given a copy of this CD by FlyBy Promotions in exchange for my honest review.

Giveaway:


Courtesy of FLyBy Promotions, I have one of these CDs to give away. Just comment on this blog post to enter, and I will pick a winner 10 days from today on October 2.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Raven by Mike Nappa

As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience's pockets while they watch. It's harmless fun--until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn't seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his "personal assistants," The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, "Nevermore." 

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues--and their complicated feelings for each other--to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge. 

Mike Nappa snags readers from the first page of this fast-paced thriller--and he never lets go until the end.


My review:

   This is book #2 in the Coffey & Hill Series. I don't know how many books there will be in the series, but each one is going to have the title of one of Edgar Allen Poe's works, and that work will play into the story in some way. I am not an Edgar Allen Poe fan, but I really enjoyed the first novel in the series, Annabel Lee, and liked this one even more.

  The first book was very violent and the review offer even had a warning about that. This book was just as exciting and suspenseful, but wasn't nearly as violent.

 The Raven has elements of suspense, drama, mafia, dirty political dealings, revenge, and more. Nappa brought back the two characters from his first novel, Trudi Coffee and Samuel Hill - divorced from each other, but running a detective agency together. The chemistry between the two of them make a great addition to the story.

 And then there is The Raven..... a young guy of 23 who has gotten himself into very hot water, but you can't help but like the guy even though he is a petty thief who only has himself to blame.

  The plot is very well done, and complicated enough that I was both impressed and not sure what was going on at times.

 I like how Nappa did the book. It starts out with a very climatic moment, then goes back 4 weeks prior and builds up to that moment. Each chapter has the location, day, time, and how much time there is until the big event. It also has the name of the person that chapter is going to focus on, which is a great idea since The Raven's parts are always in first person, but everyone else is in third person.

 This is a book that I read in one weekend and had a hard time putting down. It had a great ending that wasn't at all what I had expected from the beginning of the book, and through all of the suspense and intrigue was the message of salvation, that it is never too late to find your way to God, and that no one is beyond redemption.

  Well done, Mr. Nappa. You should be very proud of this one.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


Mike Nappa is an entertainment journalist at FamilyFans.com, as well as a bestselling and award-winning author with more than one million books sold worldwide. When he was a kid, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe scared him silly. Today he owns everything Poe ever wrote. A former fiction acquisitions editor, Mike earned his MA in English literature and now writes full time.



The Raven is available from Revell Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal by Tyndale Publishing

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal invites you to bring creative journaling and the calming act of coloring into your quiet time with God. This beautifully designed interactive prayer book from Tyndale's Living Expressions collection helps guide your thoughts as you pray about concerns such as health, overcoming stress, personal relationships, and more. Gratitude gives you a way to celebrate and give thanks to God for the many blessings he provides. Filled with over 100 designs to color, plenty of space for journaling and sketching, and 40 needs-based prayers, Gratitude helps you express your devotion to God with your whole heart!



My review:
 
  **Note: this book is geared much more for women instead of men... in fact, it may be geared specifically for women. Maybe the flowers should have clued me in......

  Regardless of that fact, a guy needs to have gratitude, and journaling is somethings guys can and should do.... so I shall review it anyway.

 Even as a guy, I can recognize that this is a very neat book. It is full of ideas to journal about, Scripture verses, and things to color. It is a very attractive hardcover book that doesn't seem very thick, but yet it has a lot in it.

 The obvious theme of the book is gratitude, and there is a lot in the book of things to be grateful for, ideas of things to journal one's gratefulness, and verses about being grateful - some of which can be colored.

  This book is ideal for women who enjoy coloring and jorunaling, as it combines the two  in one book.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

365 Pocket Morning Prayers by David R. Veerman

Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you.



My review:

  As is the case with any daily devotional or prayer book, I have not read this entire book, but have used it daily for the last couple of weeks.

 And as one would gather by the title, this is a small book that will fit in pockets.... depending on the size of the pocket. The book itself is made of imitation leather and has a removable cardboard half jacket.

  Each page has a prayer for the day on a specific subject or need, along with a verse or two of Scripture to go along with it. The exceptions are the days I assume are meant for the week-end where two  prayers appear on the same page.

  There is an index of the prayers by subject at the back of the book, and I personally feel it would be better to go by the index instead of reading through the book day by day in order of the prayers. There were a couple of mornings when the prayer didn't apply to anything I was going through or dealing with at that time, whereas looking in the index would make it easier to find prayers I do need.

 The prayers themselves are well written and said what I would want to say. I like the book and plan on keeping it nearby for each day, I found it a good addition to my own prayers I pray to start the day.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



365 Pocket Morning Prayers is available from Tyndale Publishing. Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling

Bestselling author Lauraine Snelling shares a heartfelt story of a couple who put their plans for a peaceful retirement on hold to assume guardianship of their young grandchildren.

Mona and Ken Sorenson are approaching the best years of their lives. Mona's greatest concern is that Ken will learn of the surprise party she's planning for his retirement from his job as Dean of Students at Stone University. They've already been making plans to travel, spend limitless hours in the garden, and Ken is looking forward to working on his woodworking and fishing with his grandchildren. It's what they deserve after years of careful planning. 

But things begin to unravel when Ken learns that office politics are about to destroy his department. Can he really just leave, abandoning the work he spent a lifetime achieving? Mona is eager to build her event planning business with Ken's help, but rather than supporting her, he expresses concern that the stress of the work will send her back into the depression she struggles with. Then, just days before Ken's last official day of work, their son, a Special Forces officer in the Army, learns he's being immediately deployed on a six-month mission in Pakistan. Since his wife left him, the only people he trusts to care for his two young children are his parents. In an instant, everything Ken and Mona spent their lives planning changes, and they will need to find strength, both physical and mental, to become parents once more. This is not the second half they wanted, and when their son fails to contact them as planned, they struggle to trust that it is God's plan, not theirs, that matters most.

My review:

  Lauraine Snelling has been writing books for a long time, but I think this is the first book of hers I have read. My youngest sister is a big fan of her books, but I am pretty sure this is a first for me.

  I thought this sounded like a good book to read, and I was not wrong. The story is entertaining, amusing, encouraging, and heart rending. To have a retired couple suddenly taking over raising two children who miss their dad makes for a great story, and Snelling did it justice. There is something about a story with kids in that pulls at my heart, and especially if there is any kind of hardship or trouble involved...... so this book had me from the get-go. I loved all of the characters, and their escapades and adventures.

 Snelling writes most, or all, about people from Norway, and this book was no different. It was interesting to catch a little of that culture while reading the book.

  The theme of trusting God is the main theme of this book, and it is driven home several times as Ken and Mona struggle with raising two small children while facing the reality their son may never come back.

 This was a very enjoyable read to me from the start to the great, but somewhat predictable finish (I was OK with that). And though this is fiction and not a "how-to" book, it would be a great read for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren short or long term.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:


Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of over seventy books, with sales of more than 2 million copies.

She also writes for a wide range of magazines, and helps others reach their writing dreams by teaching at writers’ conferences across the country.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a watchdog Basset named Winston.

They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.


The Second Half is available from Faith Words, a division of Hachette Book Group.

Thanks to Faith Words for the review copy.

God Bless Us Everyone by Eva Marie Everson

A timeless classic can change the future.

Charlene Dixon---called Charlie by family and friends---is devastated at the recent loss of her job. For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the head-mistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up dreams and returns to Grandma Esther, who raised Charlie as her own.

When Charlie arrives---broken and confused---Esther immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school's Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. When Charlie disapproves of having to work with Dustin Kennedy, the seventh-grade English teacher, Grandma Esther encourages her to take a deeper look at why the book by Charles Dickens had been written in the first place and what the book could teach Charlie about the needs of the children in their own community.

My review:
  The beginning of September is a little early to be reading a Christmas book, but I have a hard time passing Christmas books up when they are offered for review, so I requested it.

 This is a new author to me, but one whose writing I thoroughly enjoyed. This is the kind of Christmas novel that brings to mind all of the good memories of Christmas, and makes you wish for simpler times.

 The story is woven around the Christmas Carol story by Charles Dickens, and through conversations between the main characters, I learned more about Dickens than I knew.

 I liked the characters in the story, and everything about the story. The theme of forgiveness and changed lives are present all through the book, along with second chances. Even though the book is not a long one, I intended to read it over the period of a few days - to be honest, the idea of reading a Christmas novel in 80 degree weather wasn't too appealing - but once I started it, I got caught up in the story and read the whole book. It is one I highly recommend. And yes, it is mostly romance, but I can handle that in a Christmas book. :)

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


About the author:


Eva Marie Everson is an award-winning speaker and author of The Road to Testament, Things Left Unspoken, This Fine Life, Chasing Sunsets, Waiting for Sunrise, Slow Moon Rising, and The Potluck Club series (with Linda Evans Shepherd). She is the president of Word Weavers International, Inc., a member of AWSA, ACFW, RWA, the director of Florida Christian Writer's Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. She and her husband make their home in Casselberry, Florida.


Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the review copy.