Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ashton Park by Murray Pura

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Ashton Park
Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)
by
Murray Pura


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.



ABOUT THE BOOK

For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park. Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park. The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William's and Lady Elizabeth's three sons are all in uniform--and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.

As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ashton Park, go HERE.

My review:

   This is a fairly new author to me, and I like what I have read so far. Its not often a male author writes a book that has much romance in it, and I think he did a great job. The book has a lot of drama and war in it. I am not familiar with the TV show Downtown Abbey, but the book is being compared to that show for those familar with the show.

   The book wasn't a fast read for me, but it did hold my attention and I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to more in the series.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Tenth Plague by Adam Blumer, and a giveaway


Water turns to blood. Flies and gnats attack the innocent. Marc and Gillian Thayer’s vacation resort becomes a grisly murder scene, with a killer using the ten plagues of Egypt as his playbook for revenge.

When their friend turns up dead, Marc and Gillian put their vacation on hold, enlist the help of a retired homicide detective, and take a closer look at the bizarre plagues as they escalate in intensity. Meanwhile, a stranger is after the Thayers’ newly adopted baby. Will they uncover the truth behind the bitter agenda before the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn son?


My review:

    A few years ago, I was shopping with my best friend around the time of my birthday. We were in a Christian bookstore and he told me to pick out a few books and he'd buy them for my birthday. One of those books was Fatal Illusions by Adam Blumer. It was one of the best suspense novels I had ever read, hands down. I have gotten to know the author fairly well through his blog, facebook, etc, and he had asked me to review his new book, and I was happy to do so.

    The Tenth Plague has the same main characters as in Fatal Illusions, which I liked,  but it is not necessary to read them in order.

    Some authors improve with each book, and that is the case here. Fatal Illusions was a really good read, but this book is even better. You can tell when an author has put a lot of thought and research into a book, and it shows in this book. There is a terrific plot that is complicated, yet not so much as to be over the reader's head. There is an evil man who is unleashing the ten plagues from the Old Testament on a Christian retreat center. I had an idea what the book was about before I started reading it, and wondered how Adam was going to do that. Its one thing to come up with a plot like this, but another to portray it in a reasonable way that though fictional, is also possible. He did a fine job of doing so.

   The evening I sat down to the read the book, I fully intended to find a stopping place and go to bed. That didn't happen. I was up til 1 am that night finishing the book. This was a truly remarkable book. I love suspense, and it kept me on the edge of my seat and was a thrilling ride. And that thrilling ride was free from bad language and even graphic violence. Adam proves it is possible to write clean suspense that is just as gripping as the best out there on the market, and keep it Christ centered and bad language free. His blog is titled Meaningful Suspense, and that is a great description of his writing. Its great to come across authors like this who are writing to glorify God. And though this is a suspense novel, there is a strong Christian message in the book.

   This is only Adam's second book, but it is one to be proud of. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel. It has it all: A great plot, a wonderful cast of characters, and a strong, but not preachy, Christian message.

About the author: 


Adam Blumer is the author of Fatal Illusions and The Tenth Plague. A print journalism major in college, he works as a freelance writer and editor after serving in editorial roles for more than twenty years. He lives in Michigan's Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.

Check out Adam's blog, Meaningful Suspense.

Thanks to Adam for the review copy of The Tenth Plague.

The Tenth Plague is available from Kirkdale Press.

Giveaway:

    Courtesy of Kirkdale Press, I have one copy of The Tenth Plague to give away. This is an ebook giveaway, not a physical copy of the book. If you do not have an e-reader, you can read it on your computer.

   To enter: Since the publisher is providing the giveaway, go to their site, and look through the available books - there are 2 pages of them, and comment with which book, other than The Tenth Plague, you would be interested in reading most.

   Extra entry: Any of the following, do a separate comment saying which ne you did:
   Follow Adam on Twitter
   "Like" Adam on Facebook
   Go to his blog and read one of his posts about clean language in fiction (you may have to click on archives for the last couple of months)

    Using Random.org, I will pick one winner  2 weeks from today, February 9.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Grace Given by Beth Shriver

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Grace Given
Realms (January 8, 2013)
by
Beth Shriver


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Childhood memories of her grandfather's ranch came alive as Beth wrote her first Amish story. Her parents grew up in the country, so she appreciates pastoral life and respects those who make a living off the land. She visits a nearby Amish community just south of Fort-Worth for an occasional church service or brunch with the bishop and his wife. And on the way home she stops at the community store to get some plum jam!

Beth received a degree in social work and psychology from the University of Nebraska. She worked as a caseworker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. Beth and her husband, two children, along with two cats and a beagle live in Texas after moving from their first home in Colorado. She freelances for the local papers in her area and writes columns, devotionals for magazines, and novels in a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Beth is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency.



ABOUT THE BOOK

“Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” —Amish Proverb

Elsie Kline can’t forgive her sister for leaving the community. Gideon Lapp helps Elsie through her bitterness by studying the Martyr’s Mirror book that is centuries old, describing their ancestors’ sacrifice for their faith. But he feels there is something more. When the community moved to Texas, they were not welcomed by some of the locals. They have told Katie and Elsie that harm will come to their community if don’t go back up north where they came from. Gideon stays by Elsie’s side as she learns to give grace and to humble herself to accept grace as well. “Beth has a heart for helping others, whether through her nonfiction and fiction writing or in other capacities. It has been my pleasure to read and respond to her work during the past few years of knowing her.” —Leanna Ellis, Author of Facelift and Forsaken and winner of the National Readers Choice Award.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Grace Given, go HERE.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Reason by William Sirls


When Facing the Impossible, Can You Only Believe?

Storm clouds gather over a small Michigan town. As thunder shakes the sky, the lights inside St. Thomas church flicker . . . and then go out.

All is black until a thick bolt of lightning slices the sky, striking the church’s large wooden cross—leaving it ablaze and splintered in two.

When the storm ends—the search for answers begins.

James Lindy, the church’s blind minister, wonders how his small congregation can repair the cross and keep their faith in the midst of adversity. And he hears the words “only believe.”

Macey Lewis, the town’s brilliant young oncologist, is drawn to Alex, a young boy who’s recently been diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia. She puts her hope in modern medicine—yet is challenged to “only believe.”

And Alex’s single mom, who has given everything she can to her boy—is pleading with God to know the reason this is happening . . . to save her son. But she only hears silence and wonders how she can possibly “only believe.”

The Reason is a milestone debut novel, opening with a blast and never letting up as it introduces us to everyday characters who are wrestling with the questions: where is God when bad things happen? And does God ignore the prayers of the faithful? The answer each character receives will astound readers while offering an unforgettable call to hope, to change, to . . . only believe.

My review:

   When this book was first offered for review, there was another I had been watching for, so I passed on it, though it sounded really good. I was happy to see it available again, or still available, a while back, so I requested it. Due to the busyness of the holidays, it sat unread for a while, but I finally picked it up and read it. This is a terrific book. It is fiction, and one might scoff at the things that happen in the book. They are miraculous, and don't seem to happen, but yet they are things that happened with regularity when Jesus walked the earth.

   The author came up with a great plot and cast of characters, and wove them together to create a masterpiece of a story. Though this is a fiction novel, and the people and events are fictional, it left me with a sense of wonder and amazement, and this thought:  If we truly had faith and believed what we asked of God, just imagine what could happen. Unfortunately, we have pigeon holed God, and relegated miracles to the time of Jesus.

   This is a great story, and well written. It is also a message to Christians, a message we need to take to heart. God is capable of doing so much more than we ask and expect of Him. He is just waiting for us to have the faith and belief for Him to do it.

   I enjoyed this book a lot. It was definitely worth reading, and I would recommend it to anyone. A great read.

About the author:
Born on April 3, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan, to a construction worker and a homemaker, William Sirls grew up the youngest of six children. Active in both sports and imagination, he aspired primarily to become either a professional golfer or attorney. Realizing he didn’t have the talent or the grades for those careers, he shifted gears and went in another direction.


Over the course of his life, he has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows— some born of chance, some born of choice. Years before the publication of his first novel, he worked 60 hour weeks as a senior vice president at one of the nation’s largest investment firms, somehow finding time to read three to four books per week and to rough out ideas for different stories of his own.

In early 2004, while visiting his oldest daughter at a Detroit hospital, he came across a young cancer patient that was being pulled in a little red wagon by his parents. At the time, Sirls had no idea that he was looking at three characters that would appear more than eight years later in The Reason.
He was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. While in prison, Sirls learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for.

Life lessons involving faith, grace, patience, and forgiveness are evident in The Reason.
He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan.
“Prison is one of those things I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but at the same time there are few things I would trade that experience for … From a spiritual standpoint, it gave me the opportunity to slow down and realize what is important. As my faith grew, I became anxious to share the things I learned, so I figured what better way to do that than to rewrite my manuscript in a way that was a lot less magical and a lot more spiritual.”

The Reason is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.


The Tainted Coin by Mel Star

It is the autumn of 1367. Master Hugh is enjoying the peaceful life of Bampton when a badly beaten man is found under the porch of St. Andrew's Chapel. The dying man is a chapman-—a traveling merchant. Before he is buried in the chapel grounds, an ancient, corroded coin is found in the man's mouth. 

 Master Hugh's quest for the chapman's assailants, and his search for the origin of the coin, begins to make progress--but there are men of wealth and power in league with his old nemesis, Sir Simon Trillowe, who wish to end his search . . . permanently. 

 But Master Hugh, and his assistant, the groom Arthur, are determined to uncover the thieves and murderers, and the source of the chapman's coin. They do, but not before they become involved with a kidnapped maiden, a tyrannical abbot, and a suffering monk—who needs Master Hugh's surgical skills and in return provides clues that assist Hugh in solving the mystery of the tainted coin.

My review:

   This is the fifth book in the series, Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon. I have enjoyed each book in the series, and it seems each book is better than the previous. This one is definitely the best so far. There seemed to be even more action and suspense than in the previous books.

   I read a lot of suspense books, as it is my favorite genre', and they all use the modern ways of solving crimes and modern crime scene investigative methods. This book, and the others in the series, are set in the 1300's, and comparing it with books set in modern day has made me admire Starr for his writing. In my opinion, it must be challenging to write suspense set in a time period that he writes in, and have his main character solve crimes and also doctor people with what they had available at that time.

  This book had Hugh travel a little more than the others, and also had him in some dangerous spots, but he still managed to come through it all on top. This was a great story, and I hated to see t the end of it come. I did read it in one sitting, and enjoyed every minute of it. I was glad to see there is at least one more book coming in this series.


About the author:

:Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated from Spring Arbor High School in 1960, and Greenville College (Illinois) in 1964. He received an MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970. He taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School.


Mel married Susan Brock in 1965, and they have two daughters; Amy (Kevin) Kwilinski, of Naperville, IL, and Jennifer (Jeremy) Reivitt, of Portage, MI. Mel and Susan have seven grandchildren. 

The Tainted Coin is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for the review copy.









The Delusion by Laura Gallier

Do unseen forces of good and evil actually exist? It’s a question that haunts Owen Edmonds. Literally.

By March of Owen’s senior year, eleven students at Lincoln Forest High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and fanatical onlookers, Owen remains levelheaded—that is until he encounters his own near death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

Everyone he sees appears shackled and enslaved.

While frantically seeking to cure his crazed hallucinations, Owen’s delusions become even more sinister when he witnesses what appears to be an unseen army of hideous, towering beings. These Creepers, as he calls them, are preying upon people, including his classmates and girlfriend, tormenting and inciting humanity to self-destruct.
Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: He’s not merely imagining forces of evil at work. Everyone else is blind to the evil that is.

He must warn others and rescue those he loves, but this proves to be no simple mission. He’s hard pressed to get anyone to believe him.

Experience life through Owen Edmonds’ eyes and decide for yourself: has he lost his mind or have we?


My review: 

    When I was contacted about reviewing this book, I read the description of it and watched the book trailer, and thought it sounded really good. After reading it, I can say it did not disappoint. The book is written for teens, but as I can attest, adults will enjoy it also.

      Frank Peretti has become a standard to compare Christian fiction that has supernatural themes to, and this book would fall into books similar to his earlier books, though different in ways. The main character starts to see people wrapped in chains, with labels on the chains of what binds them. He also sees angelic beings and evil beings he calls "creepers." I have never been a fan of the first person point of view, but this is the type of book that it works very well for, and possibly better than the third point of view would have worked. In this case, most of everything that happens is through the main character, Owen's, eyes, so the first person point of view works great.

   The book is very well written, has a great plot, and a very likable main character. I really enjoyed it and found it a hard book to put down, so I didn't. I settled in my chair and read it through in one evening, and it is a normal sized paperback, 337 pages. As I said, it is juvenile fiction, but any adult that enjoys reading this type of book will enjoy it. It is not a "dumbed down" book. The main characters just happen to be teenagers.

   The book does have a few language issues, which always bothers me in a Christian novel, but especially in one geared for teens. There were a few cases of God's name taken in vain, and also of hell being used as an expletive.

   The book is still worth reading, and is a great start into the fiction genre' for this author.

Check out the site for the book here.



About the author:


As a teenager and young adult, Laura appeared to be an outgoing young lady with a bright future. In reality, she was ashamed, confused and broken as a result of her sexually active lifestyle. It wasn’t until she experienced an unplanned pregnancy, followed by a rushed marriage and subsequent divorce, that she came to the realization that God’s biblical plan for sex and marriage is for our protection. She repented for her past and determined that, by God’s grace, she would live a sexually pure life.

Laura eventually met Patrick, and they honored Christ throughout their dating relationship and became husband and wife in January of 2001. They began serving together in student ministry, and Laura soon discovered that she possesses a unique ability to connect with teenagers and communicate in a way that resonates with young people. In time, the Lord placed an intense passion in her to clearly explain what the Bible has to say about sex and relationships. Realizing that purity training is most effective when parents take the lead through meaningful at-home discipleship connections, Laura authored a parent-teen purity study in 2009. Two years later, she developed a resource for parents and elementary-age children that lays a foundation for a life of purity.Laura continues to write books that bring a biblical perspective to issues surrounding sexuality, romance and relationships and frequently speaks to a variety of audiences including parents, singles, young adults and teens.

Patrick and Laura have an adventurous home life that consists of four children: a teen young man who loves to play football, a teen girl who “gags” at the thought of watching football, an elementary-age girl who thinks she’s a teenager, and an energetic little boy, whom Patrick lightheartedly says “brings balance to the force.” The Galliers live in Cypress, Texas, and attend Champion Forest Baptist Church.

Check out her website.


Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Book trailer:



have we?

Mystery of the Heart by Jillian Kent

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Mystery of the Heart
Realms (January 8, 2013)
by
Jillian Kent


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jillian Kent is a busy writer and the alter ego of Jill Nutter, a full-time counselor.

Jill spent the first semester of her senior year of college at Oxford studying British Literature, where she fell in love with England. During this season, she came to appreciate the written word, the rich imagery of romantic poetry like The Highwayman, and historical novels of many types, including Jane Austen and all things Regency.

Jill received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Bethany College in West Virginia, and her Masters Degree in Social Work from WVU, and she brings her fascination with different cultures and societies into her writing.

Jill has always been a romantic at heart, so readers will find a good dose of romance woven through each of her novels. Jill, her husband Randy, and children Katie and Meghan are animal lovers. They currently own two dogs, Boo-Boo and Bandit and a menagerie of cats, Lucky, Yuma, Snow, and Holden. Critters of all assortments make their appearance in her stories.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Lord Eden is intrigued when he discovers Lady Mercy Grayson’s secret, but how can he hope to gain her heart when he is forced to betray her?

Lady Mercy Grayson longs be a physician like her big brother, Devlin, Lord Ravensmoore. However, society would never tolerate a female physician, let alone one who is a noblewoman. So Mercy takes matters into her own hands, disguising herself as a man to get through medical school. But then a male colleague discovers her secret, which is only the beginning of Mercy’s problems that could destroy her dreams forever.

The Prince Regent is awaiting the return of Vincent St. Lyons, Lord Eden, whom he sent on a secret voyage to locate and bring back a relic that some believe possesses the power to heal. St. Lyons discovers Mercy washed up on England’s shore upon his return and agrees to give her safe passage to London aboard a ship of men practicing African Vodun. Both must face treacherous circumstances, difficult decisions, and a growing attraction to one another that could forever change the course of their lives.

As the final installment in the series, the theme of this book is God’s plans for our lives. “Whatever the hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might” (Eccles. 9:10).

If you would like to read the first chapter of Mystery of the Heart, go HERE.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Path of Freedom
Abingdon Press (January 2013)
by
Jennifer Hudson Taylor


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, won the 2011 Holt Medallion award for Best First Book. Jennifer's work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publicist. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Communications. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.



ABOUT THE BOOK

2nd in the Quilts of Love series

When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother’s quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery.

As they embark on their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Path of Freedom, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hurt by Travis Thrasher

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hurt
David C. Cook; New edition (January 1, 2013)
by
Travis Thrasher


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After college, he targeted working in the publishing industry and was fortunate to find a job early after graduation. He worked as Author Relations Manager for Tyndale House Publishers, the publisher of his first two novels.

The thirteen years he spent working in author relations taught him the business of publishing as well as the psyche of writers.

Early on, he made a deliberate choice of not wanting to be boxed in by a brand or a genre. Instead, Travis has chosen time and time again to write the stories that mean something to him at that moment. He views his first ten years of being published as training and practice. Those novels in many ways were written for himself.

The four years of writing full time have taught him the discipline and determination necessary to make it as a novelist. They’ve also served to close the chapter on what is hopefully just one era in his writing journey.

The stories continue to fill his head like they did when he was in third grade. The only difference is that Travis now knows what to do with those stories. His goal continues to be to tell stories that move him as well as his readers. He wants to continue to experiment and take risks, but more than anything he wants to provide readers a satisfying experience.

The dream remains the same. To try and write something magnificent. To make up wild worlds full of wonderfully rich characters. To make sense of the world through the stories he tells. And to try and inspire hope with the words he writes.

ABOUT THE BOOK



His Rebellion Will Soon Turn to Hope

When Chris Buckley first encountered the mysteries of creepy Solitary, North Carolina, he had little idea how far he would fall into the town’s shadows. After losing the love of his life, Chris tried to do things his way. He hunted answers. Then he gave up trying to find them.

But now Chris comes back to Solitary knowing there’s a purpose for his being there. As he watches his place in a twisted and evil bloodline become clear, Chris waits for the last battle—and wonders who will be left when he finally makes his stand.

My review:

   This is book 4 and the final book in a series. I received the other three books in the mail before Christmas - I think I won them - so I was able to read all of the books and catch up on the story for when I had to read and review this book.

   This series is weird, but in a good way. There is a lot of creepy stuff that goes on in them, and the reader is left wondering about a lot of things. However, this final book brings everything together and makes sense of it all. They are all suspenseful and a lot happens in them, but especially in Hurt. The main character, Chris, has to decide if he is going to give in and let evil win, or if he is going to fight, no mattter what the cost to himself.

   I enjoyed the whole series, but especially this last book. It was a great read, and left me wishing there was one more book.

   One thing bothered me about the whole series: The series is intended for teens, and there is a lot of partying going on in the book, the kind of parties where teens are drinking, doing drugs, etc. The author may not have intended it that way, but it came across as the norm. I wish he had somehow written it so that the teenage reader wouldn't feel it was normal, but bad, and not something to be involved in. The main character also was pretty focused on sex, and even after becoming a Christian, it wasn't made clear why its bad before marriage.
















If you would like to read the first chapter of Hurt, go HERE

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vanished by Irene Hannon


A tenacious reporter. A skeptical PI. And a secret that will shatter lives.
Reporter Moira Harrison is lost. In the dark. In a thunderstorm. When a lone figure suddenly appears in the beam of her headlights, Moira slams on her brakes-but it’s too late. She feels the solid thump against the side of her car before crashing into a tree on the far side of the road.
A man opens her door, tells her he saw everything, and promises to call 911. Then the world fades to black. When she comes to, she is alone. No man. No 911. No injured person. But she can’t forget the look of terror she saw on that face in the instant before her headlights swung away. And she can’t get anyone to believe her story-except maybe a handsome ex–homicide detective turned private eye, who reluctantly agrees to take on the case.
As clues begin to surface, it becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want this mystery solved-and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret.
My review:
     Sometimes you'll read a book and think "man, that was an awesome plot!" Such was the case with this book for me. I'm a big fan of Irene Hannon's books, and have read - and I think reviewed -  every one she has written since joining Revell's writing team. I've enjoyed all of her books, but this one seemed even better than her usual. The plot had something to do with it: a woman hit by a vehicle, then disappearing, along with a good Samaritan that stopped to help, with no trace of either being left behind. But even that aside, the book was a great read. I like the characters in this new series, and the idea of writing it around a private detective agency, something different from Irene's other books.
    There was a lot of suspense and mystery in the story, which I love, and I had to keep reading until the end of the book, and as with any Irene Hannon book, it came to a satisfying conclusion and left me wanting more. I am looking forward to reading more books in the Private Justice Series, and highly recommend this one.

About the author:
Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine.Booklist also included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Missouri.

For more information about her and her books, Irene invites you to visit her website at www.irenehannon.com.
Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna from Revell for the review copy.









Questions of Life by Nicky Gumbel

What is the point of life? What happens when we die? Is forgiveness possible? More than 16 million people around the world have now attended Alpha, the Christian introductory course pioneered by Nicky Gumbel. In this international bestseller based on the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel addresses some of the big issues that challenge us all. Packed with humour, anecdotes, wisdom and profound teaching from the Bible, Gumbel introduces the person of Jesus Christ and invites the reader into a world of discovery that has fascinated human beings for two thousand years.


My review: They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and that is true. This one doesn't look like much if you judge it by the cover, though I do like green. The book has 15 chapters, each of them a different question such as: Who Is Jesus, Why and how do I pray?, How can I resist evil, and more. The author addresses each question thoroughly, Biblically, and often with humor. There are even amusing cartoons scattered throughout the book.

   This is one of those books that isn't a long book, coming in at 203 pages, but there is a lot of helpful insight and advice packed into the book. I found the whole book interesting and helpful, and no matter where you are on your spiritual walk, there is something it doesn't hurt to brush up on some of these things.

About the author:


Nicky Gumbel has written a number of best selling books. Questions of Life - the Alpha course in book form - has sold more than a million copies worldwide. The booklet Why Jesus? and its sister publication Why Christmas? have sold more than four million copies.

Nicky is also Vice President of Tearfund, a UK Christian relief and development agency working with a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty and transform lives.
Nicky Gumbel is married to Pippa. They live in central London and have three children, Henry, Jonathan and Rebecca.

Thanks to B&B Media for the review copy.



The Way of Grace by Cathy Bryant

In pursuit of justice, in need of grace . . . A justice-seeking perfectionist pursues her dream of a perfect life in her hometown of Miller's Creek, Texas. Sidetracked by her desire to be a prosecuting attorney, Grace Soldano launches into uncharted waters, making herself over to please her boss and mentor. Then a disheveled free spirit turns her perfectly ordered world upside down, challenging the concept of personal goodness. A fall from perfection leaves her teetering between vengeance and grace, caught in a deadly crossfire that leaves her dreams in a heap of ashes. Can she learn to joyfully accept the life God has given her--far from perfect--but one completely immersed in His grace?


My review:

    I rarely read books that are just romance. Other genres with romance are OK, but I just don't read books that are romance much. The author of this book emailed me a while back and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing her upcoming book, #3 in her Miller's Creek Series, The Way of Grace. She said it had some suspenseful elements to it, so I decided to go for it. Right after that, the first two books in her series were free for the Kindle on Amazon, so I grabbed them and read them in preparation for the third book. There was no suspense in them, but I loved them. Excellent books.

   This is a review of the third book, however, so on to it. Cathy outdid herself on this one. First off, there is some suspense in it, but not so much to scare away the faint of heart. She brought back the characters from the other two books, which I always like an author to do, and introduced a new one, and brought a character from book two, Matt, to the forefront.

   One thing I dislike in a romance book, is it usually is totally from the woman's point of view. This one was pretty equal on the guy and the girl. I found myself identifying with both of the main characters, and found myself liking them even more than the characters from the previous two books.

    A mark of great Christian fiction, is to not just tell a story, but to get across some truth or encouragement, and this book did just that in a great way. Grace is in the title of the book, and is a major theme of the book. Woven throughout the book amid dialogue and interactions, the message of grace came through loud and clear, and in a non-preachy way. A couple of other messages of the book: the importance of trusting God, that one can get too hung up on perfectionism and worrying about how others view us, instead of how God views us, and that we shouldn't judge people by outward appearance. The person we may tend to disregard because of their not so perfect appearance or dress, might be the one with the better Christian experience and insight. I came away from the book wishing I was a lot more like Matt in the book, and a lot less like myself.

   And don't worry, even with these great truths and lessons the plot is great and the book is an excellent read, one that you won't be able to put down.

   The first two books will again be free for Kindle on January 25-26, and I will try to remember to post a reminder.

   Warning about these books: There is a lot of eating of Mexican food in the book and they may cause craving for Mexican cuisine. ;-)

About the author: 

Cathy’s desire is to write heart-stirring stories about God’s life-changing grace. Her first novel, Texas Roads, was a 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis finalist. Her second novel, A Path Less Traveled, was published in 2010. The Way of Grace, the third book in the Miller’s Creek novels was released in 2012. A native Texan, Cathy currently resides in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas with her husband of thirty years, and near the world’s cutest grandson

Check out Cathy's website at CathyBryant.com

Thanks to Cathy for the review copy.






10 Secrets to Life's Biggest Challenges by Peter Lord and Kent Crockett


Certain kinds of things just happen--and they happen to everyone. Trouble at work, conflicts in relationships, money problems, criticism, temptation--these are just a few of the situations we all find ourselves in. The big question, then, is this: Are you prepared for them? When the storms hit, are you and your loved ones ready to survive--and even thrive?
In addition to identifying ten inevitable challenges you will face, bestselling author and respected pastor Peter Lord also reveals the secrets to overcoming them. Learn how to prepare and live victoriously no matter what your circumstances are.

My review:
    This is a very helpful book. The authors take 10 of the biggest challenges we face in our lives and using Scripture, show how to get through and make the best of the challenges. 
They are:
1) Making decisions
2) Overcoming temptations
3)  Developing relationships
4) Resolving conflicts 
5) Healing your hurts
6) Adjusting your attitudes
7) Managing money
8) Trusting through trials
9) Submitting to authorities
10) Preparing for death
      At first glance, one might think there are bigger challenges in life than these, but these are challenges we all face at one point or another, and depending on our relationship with God, temperament, etc, some of us will find some of them more challenging than others. This isn't a long book, coming at close to 200 pages, but in those pages the authors do a great job of addressing these issues, why we might struggle with them, and how to overcome the challenge they present. The book is interesting, concise, and easy to read and understand. I would highly recommend it to anyone who might be struggling in any of these areas.
About the authors:
Peter Lord is a nationally known speaker and pastor as well as the author of several books, including The 2959 Plan, which has sold more than 500,000 copies and been translated into four languages. He pastored the Park Avenue Baptist Church in Florida for 30 years. He and his wife, Johnnie, have five children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren and live in Titusville, Florida.


Kent Crockett graduated from Texas A&M University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is pastor at Journey Church in Prattville, Alabama, and is the author of The 911 Handbook, Making Today Count for Eternity, and I Once Was Blind but Now I Squint. Kent and his wife Cindy have two children. His website is www.kentcrockett.com.

10 Secrets to Life's Biggest Challenges is available from Chosen Books, a division of Bethany House and Baker Book House Publishing,.
Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

ReaL Life Miracles by James Garlow and Keith Wall

Is God Still Doing Miracles Today? Absolutely!

These real-life, credible stories of miraculous experiences, gathered by the authors of Miracles Are for Real, reveal that God is still very active in the world. Each gripping story is sure to encourage and inspire, offering hope and a sense of wonder.

• When Steve rolled his car, he should have been killed. Why didn't he die that day?
• Caleb and Penny moved to a poor part of town to serve their community. But when one group of neighbors makes and sells drugs, will God's angels protect them?
• Bob's MS was getting progressively worse. Could God heal such a debilitating disease?


Whether you've experienced God's miracles or aren't sure if you believe in them, explore fascinating true stories like these and many more. You'll be in awe of God's power as you get a glimpse of how he personally cares for each of his children--including you.

My review:

    This is a really neat book. It has thirty-one chapters. The first thirty each contain one story each of something miraculous that happened to someone. The last chapter contains shorter stories of several other people. The book was an interesting, fascinating, and encouraging read. It is one thing to read about the miracles in the Bible, but its another to read about miracles that are happening today and in recent years. The authors did a terrific job of putting these stories together and relating them. I'd recommend this book to anyone, but especially if you need encouraged and reminded that God is still working miracles in our lifetime.

About the authors: 


James L. Garlow is the coauthor of Cracking DaVinci's Code, with a half million copies in print. He is the senior pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego and a speaker at pastors' and leaders' conferences. Jim has master's degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary and a PhD in historical theology from Drew University. He speaks nationwide and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX, and NBC. His daily radio commentary, The Garlow Perspective, can be heard on nearly 850 radio outlets. Jim and his wife are the parents of four children and live in San Diego, California.






Keith Wall, a twenty-year publishing veteran, has served as an editor for Focus on the Family, Multnomah, and David C. Cook. He currently writes full time in collaboration with several bestselling authors. He and his wife and two children live in Colorado Springs, CO.




Real Life Miracles is available from Bethany House Publishers, part of the Baker Book House Publishing group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Doctor To The Rescue
Love Inspired (December 18, 2012)
by
Cheryl Wyatt


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born Valentine’s Day on a Navy base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. Cheryl loves interacting with her readers and can be found almost daily on Facebook.

Word from the Author:
I do regular giveaways including a Kindle for every 250 people who join (aka "Like) my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/CherylWyattAuthor and I'd LOVE for word to spread about that. We have a lot of fun there as I ask for frequent reader input on current books, with helpers being mentioned in the acknowledgements and fun stuff like that.


ABOUT THE BOOK



Combat doctor Ian Shupe returns home from overseas with his most important mission: to raise his little girl. But Ian's a single dad, and working at Eagle Point's trauma center means having to find child care. When bighearted, struggling lodge owner Bri Landis offers babysitting in exchange for construction work, Ian accepts. He vows to keep his emotional distance from Bri, yet can't deny that his daughter is blossoming under her tender care. But is he ready to believe that his heart's deepest prayer may finally be answered? If you would like to read the first chapter of Doctor To The Rescue, go HERE.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher, and a giveaway

It’s the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.

Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she’s going to have to trust someone if she’s to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband’s half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?


The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.


My review:

    This book reads more like a romantic western than just a romance, and I liked it even more than the first book in the series, maybe because of that fact in part. Betrayal is the story of another of the parent-less siblings this series is about. This book takes up the story of Hugh, and in addition to the more western-like theme of  the book, and in addition to the romance, it also has themes of forgiveness and redemption. As with the first book, the title fits the story, as the main characters are dealing with betrayal and having to forgive those who betrayed and hurt them. This was an excellent story and is definitely worth the time I took to read and review it. I highly recommend it, and the book that precedes it, Belonging. And yes, they should be read in order.

Learn more about the book here.

About the author: 

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of over sixty-five books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin currently resides in Idaho. For more information, visit www.robinleehatcher.com.

Betrayal is available from Zondervan.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review and giveaway copies.

Giveaway: I will be giving an opportunity to win a copy of this book and the book that precedes it in a separate blog post. Comments on this review will NOT count toward an entry.








Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher, and a giveaway


In the high desert town of Frenchman’s Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has set out to create a future for herself that is better than her painful past. Alone in the world with only her faith to sustain her, she must prove herself as this tiny community’s new school teacher. She cannot, must not, fail. But, there are those who never wanted her there to begin with.

Five years after the death of his wife, local merchant Colin Murphy cares about just one thing: raising his daughter, Charity. Colin wants to give her the educational advantages he never had. The new schoolmarm’s inexperience doesn’t sit well with him, and if this teacher up and marries like the last one did, Charity’s heart will be broken once again.

A woman who hasn’t known love. A man who lost the love he had.

In the midst of the wide, sage-covered plains, each is about to discover that life’s bitterest circumstances truly can work together for good.

My review:

   I rarely read a romance novel that is just romance. Romantic suspense or a Christmas story with romance, yes, but rarely just romance. However, I have read books by Robin Lee Hatcher before and when I got the email offering the chance to review and give away two of her books, I decided to go for it, and am glad Idid.

   This is the first in a trilogy about three different siblings who were separated as children and are now adults trying to find each other. And this is not just a romance. The title is fitting, as it is a story about belonging and not just finding love, but finding one's place in life. I enjoyed the book and didn't find it to be a gushy over the top romance, but a book that is worth reading, for even a guy.

For more about the book, click here.

About the author: 

Robin Lee Hatcher is the bestselling author of over sixty-five books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin currently resides in Idaho. For more information, visit www.robinleehatcher.com.


Belonging is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review and giveaway copy.

Giveway:  There will be a separate blog post where you can enter to win a copy of this book, and the second book in the series. Comments on this review will NOT count as an entry.



The New Recruit by Jill Williamson

The Mission League--Mission 1: Moscow Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club. These guys mean business. Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

My review:
   I review quite a bit of juvenile fiction, but I don't buy a lot of it for myself. However, this book sounded really good when I ran across it, so I purchased it. For me. I liked it. A lot. It has a really neat plot and has some great characters. Some are likable, and some aren't. The main character, Spencer, isn't what you'd call a good kid, but I assume there will be some changes to his attitudes and actions over the course of the series.

   I grew up reading the Hardy Boys books, and this book is somewhat along the lines of a Hardy Boys book, but more exciting and a better read. I could see kids really enjoying this series, and in fact passed the book onto my teenage niece to read. This book is mature enough that teens won't feel it is a dumbed down version of an adult suspense novel. This promises to be the start of a great series that teenagers will love.

About the author:

Jill was raised in rural Alaska. Alone with her thoughts and the moose, daydreaming was a favorite pastime. As was reading.

She always loved reading. She started out with Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Little House on the Prairie, the Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia. She loves just about every genre out there, but her all time favorites were fantasy and suspense.

Jill met Brad in college and they married after graduation. Her dreams of becoming a fashion designer dragged the couple to New York City for one year. After that, Brad's dreams of directing movies dragged them to Los Angeles. They both worked really hard for people who weren't very nice.

A few years of torture passed.

Brad started volunteering with teens at their Burbank church. They had their first son, Luke, moved to a house, Jill got out of the fashion industry (woo hoo!), and Brad became an ordained minister and full time youth pastor (double woo hoo!). God is good. All the time.

Jill started writing a book. It seemed like a good idea at the time. She didn't have a clue what she was getting into. All she knew for certain was that it was really fun. With two babies at home, it was a neat way to pass the time.

Writing was something Jill never really did before then. Daydreaming and plotting, however, were familiar old friends. So now Jill writes...everywhere. At home, in the car, at church (only notes, I promises!), in line at the grocery store, at the park, while walking, in the shower... (TMI?) and she loves it. She finds creating characters and taking them on a journey an amazing experience. She never knew what it could be like until she met Spencer, Nauja, Martyr, and Achan. Writing was a whole lot of fun. Plus, she couldn't get in trouble for forgetting to add a rosette onto a K-mart costsheet and costing the company a loss of $5,000. (True story...) And she can't get yelled at when the line of evening gowns she shipped via Fed Ex doesn't reach the showroom in New York in time for Market to open. (Was it really her fault the plane got snowed in?)

No. Jill has no bitter memories of the fashion industry at all. (Can we say The Devil Wears Prada, anyone?)

But yes. Writing is something she loves. Writing is something she could do forever, if God allows it. (Please, God? Pretty please?)

May He do with Jill what He wishes.