Thursday, July 30, 2015

Double Cross (FBI: Houston #2) by DiAnn Mills

Title: Double Cross (FBI: Houston #2)
Author: DiAnn Mills
Pages: 374
Year: 2015
Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Format: Paperback (also available in eBook)
Note: I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     She put him in prison. Now he’s their only lead in a deadly new case.

     FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to a felon she arrested on her last undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Morton Wilmington – and what she sacrificed to put him away – he is now her best lead.

     Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family, including force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon.

     As the unlikely trio uncovers disturbing evidence suggesting the scam is more deadly than they imagined, Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.

My review:

     This is a very complex suspense novel.

     Both FBI Agent Laurel Evertson and Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton are crafted with a lot of past hurts that they have to face and then work through. They each have solid reasons for wanting to catch the bad guys who are stealing from the elderly.

     There are also a number of additional characters who play very important roles in the story. At times there were so many, and the relationships between some of them, were so interwoven that I felt that too much effort had been put into making it a confusing story. I felt that the interconnections had been contrived.

     The story and the scam against the elderly is solid. It just didn’t flow smoothly. At times the action seemed disjointed.

     This is the first book I have ever read by DiAnn Mills. I will be reading more by her. If you enjoy suspense already I do recommend this novel. I am giving it a rating of 4 stars.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Island Dreams (Wildflower B&B Romance #2) by Kimberly Rose Johnson

Title: Island Dreams (Wildflower B&B Romance #2)
Author: Kimberly Rose Johnson
Pages: 239
Release Date: August 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Mountain Brook INK
Format: eBook
Note: I had the privilege of being a final proofreader for this wonderful book and I am writing my honest opinion of the story.

About the book:

     Piper Hunt arrives on Wildflower Island to develop family property into an upscale resort knowing this may be her last chance to prove her worth to her father. With grandiose ideas, she soon finds herself at odds with adjoining property owner, Chase Grayson. As she begins to appreciate the simplicity of the island, she struggle to maintain balance between her father’s wishes, preserving the natural beauty of the island, and her attraction for Chase.

     Chase Grayson values the pace and quiet of Wildflower Island. That serenity is threatened when Piper Hunt discloses her plans to develop an upscale resort that not only butts up to his property, but will turn the island into a busy tourist destination. In fighting her plans, he also finds himself fighting his attraction to her. If he doesn’t stop her plans for the resort, his life will be altered forever. If he succeeds, it means he will never see her again. Can he live with either choice?

My review:

     This is a sweet contemporary romance.

     I love both of the main characters in this story, Piper Hunt and Chase Grayson. They are both incredibly well developed. They each have a lot of strengths in their jobs and work relationships. But they both have weaknesses in their personal lives and relationships. In other words they are completely realistic and human.

     They are both holding a number of past wounds within that are affecting them in decision making and the ability to trust others. They are very afraid of being wounded again and it hampers their relationships on a personal level.

     It is wonderful to see how they begin to open up and express themselves, becoming vulnerable in the process. Then they have to learn how to work through those wounds and find healing before their relationship can grow and develop.

     It was a lot of fun to read about what is going on in the lives of Zoe Griffin and Nick Jackson, the main characters from book 1 of this series. I thoroughly enjoy reading series set up like this because I can really start to feel like the characters are friends of mine since I feel like I’m part of their ongoing lives. I hope there are many more books in this series.

     I am giving this sweet story a 5 star rating and highly recommending it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Title: Hope Harbor
Author: Irene Hannon
Pages: 352
Release Date: July 7, 2015 (paperback)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Format: Paperback
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life – and love – altered her plans.

     When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives – including their own.

My review:

     An absolutely incredible “coming home” novel!

     Hope Harbor is a small town along the Oregon coast. It is filled with wonderful characters that are such a joy to connect with. This is the type of town where people help each other because they truly live as a community. I wish that I were able to live in this type of small town where everyone knows and cares about each other.

     There are so many fabulous people. Some of them seem to have such an uncanny sense about what will be happening that it was surprising when things fell into place. It made me think of this quote from Albert Einstein, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

     Some of the characters that really made me smile were: Charley, Floyd, and Gladys. You will have to read the book to find out which ones are human. I got a kick out of the two clergymen in the town also.

     There were a number of the main characters that were living with regrets or guilt from the past. I really enjoyed reading all the words of wisdom from others that helped direct them to God so that they could trust Him with the future. They each found that they were going to have to face the past and deal with before they could move forward. It was a marvelous exploration into how God wants us all to grow and mature throughout life.

     This book is very reminiscent of Debbie Macomber’s series Cedar Cove, which I absolutely love.

     I am hoping and praying that Irene Hannon will write more books set in this charming little town. I’d love to see a whole series of them. I highly recommend this book and am giving it a rating of 5 stars.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

Title: Not by Sight
Author: Kate Breslin
Pages: 375
Release Date: July 28, 2015 (eBook), August 4, 2015 (paperback)
Genre: Historical Romance (1917 – England)
Publisher: Bethany House
Format: Paperback
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     In the spring of 1917, all of Britain’s attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.

     A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country’s cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.

     But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.

My review:

     This is an incredible historical romance.

     I absolutely loved this book. It is filled with a lot of marvelous characters that are extremely well developed. I love both Grace Mabry and Jack Benningham. It was a joy to uncover each and every aspect of their personalities. It was equally enjoyable to see their growth throughout the story.

     The progression of the story was fascinating. I was captivated by it before the end of chapter one. It had a number of great twists that caught me off guard, including a couple of major surprises near the end of it.

     I really enjoyed learning about the Women’s Forage Corps in England during WWI. This is a time period that I really don’t know very much about. I like learning more history in the midst of reading my fiction books. I really appreciate all the time and effort that authors such as Kate Breslin put into writing their novels to make them historically accurate.

     I am really looking forward to reading more novels by this wonderful author. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I have to give it a 5 star rating.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Until the Harvest (Appalachian Blessings #2) by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Title: Until the Harvest (Appalachian Blessings #2)
Author: Sarah Loudin Thomas
Pages: 304
Year: 2015
Genre: Historical (1976)
Publisher: Bethany House
Format: Paperback (also available in eBook)
Note: I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Take this journey of broken souls restored and tentative hearts brought fully to life.

     When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

     Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother’s caretaker, Margaret, is always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn’t care about his troubles.

     Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all.

My review:

     This is a very simple small town story.

     I thoroughly enjoyed my return visit to Wise, West Virginia. Though this is book 2 in a series the story can be read and enjoyed even if you haven’t read the first book. Twenty years have passed but a number of the characters are still present, though obviously older. Any of the important details from the first book are explained at the appropriate time. If you have already read book one it only adds to the enjoyment of this one though.

     Margaret Hoffman carries a load of doubt as to her own worth from her childhood. This colors everything she does and her relationships with the people around her. It is wonderful to see how she grows over the course of the story.

     Henry Phillips’ whole world is turned topsy-turvy very early on in the story. Everything he thought was important is in a complete upheaval. He is sent on a journey to discover what he wants from life.

     Both of them are also trying to figure out who God is and does He care about them and what they do. They are surrounded with a number of very wise people to counsel them and help them find the direction that they need. Some of these sources of counsel are a heartwarming surprise.

     This book was a delight to read and the slow pace of life and the joy that many of the characters found in simple things was very refreshing. I am highly recommending this book. I have to give it a 5 star rating.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Made with Love (The Pinecraft Pie Shop #1) by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore

Title: Made with Love (The Pinecraft Pie Shop #1)
Author: Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 1, 2015
Genre: Amish Fiction
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Format: eBook (also available in paperback)
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Lovina Miller should be thrilled. Pinecraft, Florida, has everything a young Amish woman could ask for: sun, sand, volleyball games, and evening singings in the park. But Pinecraft lacks the one thing Lovina desperately wants – a pie shop of her own. She longs for a place to gather with the community and serve the treat she loves.

     A young carpenter named Noah Yoder strolls into her life and offers a way to make her dream come true. But before Noah and Lovina can build a shop – and a life – together, they must each face heartaches from the past. Is their new love stronger than their regrets?

     Find inspiration, romance, and authentic Amish recipes for everyone’s favorite food – pie!

My review:

     This is a very sweet Amish novel!

     I really enjoyed meeting Lovina Miller, Noah Yoder and all of the rest of the characters in this book. Both Lovina and Noah are incredibly well developed and they each have many layers to their personalities. Lovina seemed to be a very simple and easy to understand woman at the beginning. Later in the book though, we are shown some memories of comments that wounded her many years ago, that have still been affecting her. Noah, on the other hand, in introduced along with a glimpse into his past and the baggage that he carries from it, from very early on in the story. More details about it are slowly revealed throughout the story though.

     I am already looking forward to the other books that will be written in this series. There are so many secondary characters, including Lovina’s four sisters that I would like to see a story with them in the spotlight. They have so much potential for development.

     There were a number of subjects that were explored as Lovina, Noah, and others learned more about God. Some of them include: second chances, God’s love and acceptance, and trusting God. I feel that this book not only entertained me but it also challenged me to grow in my own relationship with God.

     Added on to the end of each chapter is a wonderful recipe for something that was eaten during that chapter. If I wasn’t concerned about all the calories I would be tempted to try a number of them.

     I am recommending this wonderful book and giving it a 5 star rating.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To Capture Her Heart (The Southold Chronicles #2) by Rebecca DeMarino / With a Giveaway!

Title: To Capture Her Heart (The Southold Chronicles #2)
Author: Rebecca DeMarino
Pages: 368
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Genre: Historical (1653-54)
Publisher: Revell
Format: Paperback (also available in eBook)
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     In an uncertain time, she faces a choice that will change her life forever.

     It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montaukett tribe, is celebrating her wedding feast when a rival tribe attacks, killing the groom and kidnapping her. Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is bound by her captors and left to die – until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

     Still tender from her loss, Heather Flower begins to heal in the home of the Hortons, English friends of her people. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her longtime friendship with Ben Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice – stay true to her friend or follow her heart.

     Exploring a unique slice of history, Rebecca DeMarino transports you to the wild land that would eventually become Long Island, New York.

My review:

     This is an incredible historical novel!

     I have thoroughly enjoyed returning to Southold on Long Island. It was great to catch up with Barnabas and Mary Horton and all of their friends and family. Thirteen years have passed since book #1 and I loved seeing the changes as the boys have grown to manhood and one is married, the other is looking for the woman that God wants him to marry. There have also been a number of new additions to the family over the years and we are introduced to these little ones.

     The descriptions of how things were done were so detailed that it was a joy to read and really think about the changes that time has made in household chores. This book had the added bonus of one of the main characters being a Native American of the Montaukett tribe. Rebecca DeMarino included some wonderful explanations about how the individual beads and then wampum were made which fascinated me.

     I have never studied this time period and what life was like beyond what I got in school. I’m sure that the tension between the English settlers and the Dutch settlers was researched and then accurately depicted. I knew that there were problems between the different tribes of Native Americans so that was no surprise to me. I was totally caught up in all of these conflicts that were a part of the story. The balance between the conflict and the romance was wonderful.

     I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am giving it a 5 star rating. I highly recommend it. I do suggest that if you have not already read book #1 “A Place in His Heart” that you read it first.


     The publisher is having a giveaway in connection with this Blog Tour.

     Here are the prizes being offered in the giveaway:

     Grand Prize: $75.00 Gift Card of choice (Amazon, Target, iTunes or Google play), Signed copy of To Capture Her Heart & A Place in His Heart.  

     Runner Up Prize: $25.00 Gift card to Barnes & Noble, Signed copies of To Capture Her Heart & A Place in His Heart

     Second Runner Up Prize: Signed copies of To Capture Her Heart & A Place in His Heart

     You can enter the giveaway here: (I have tested this link and it does take you to the giveaway page.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Prophet (Books of the Infinite #1) by R.J. Larson

Title: Prophet (Books of the Infinite #1)
Author: R.J. Larson
Pages: 352
Year: 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Bethany House
Format: eBook (available in paperback)

About the book:

     Close your eyes, Ela of Parne. Close your eyes and you will see.

     Ela Roeh of Parne doesn’t understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She’s undignified, bad tempered, and only seventeen – not to mention that no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as the elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite’s prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

     Istgard has turned their back on Me. See the evil they do.

     Yet after experiencing His presence, she can’t imagine living without Him. Determined to follow the Infinite’s voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite’s word to a nation torn apart by war. Here she meets Kien, a young Traceland ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela must surrender to her destiny . . . and determine how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

     Will you accept the branch and speak My will? Will you be My prophet?

My review:

     A mesmerizing fantasy novel!

     I love the main characters in this book. In that group I’m including Ela Roeh, her sister Tzana, and Kien Lantec. I also adored Pet/Scythe, even though he isn’t human. His antics brought me so much amusement. His devotion to his chosen master is incredible.

     When the Infinite first asked Ela to be His prophet she hesitated, which was entirely understandable. Then as the story progressed I found it very realistic that at many points she didn’t understand what she felt He was telling her to do. The fears and questions she expressed numerous times were so very human it made it even easier to connect with her and pull for everything to turn out well for her.

     There were a number of scenes throughout the book that seemed to be very close parallels to stories from the Old Testament in the Bible. I thoroughly enjoyed this connection to the stories I already know. It was fun to try and spot these parallels.

     I am really looking forward to reading the other books in this series. R.J. Larson has done an incredible job of creating the people and countries for this fantasy world. I believe that I will get just as much enjoyment from each subsequent journey here as I have from this first one.

     I highly recommend this book and give it a rating of 5 stars. I don't think that you can go wrong if you choose to spend a few hours of your leisure time reading this wonderful book.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus (Shadow of the Mountain #1) by Cliff Graham

Title: Shadow of the Mountain: Exodus (Shadow of the Mountain #1)
Author: Cliff Graham
Pages: 303
Year: 2015
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Publisher: Bethany House
Note: I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Two men were brave enough to tell the truth about what awaited the liberated Hebrews in the Promised Land. This is their story. From the slave pits of Egypt to the efforts of an eighty-five year-old Caleb as he battles the last of a race of fearsome giants, Shadow of the Mountain is a vivid portrait of two of God’s chosen champions, and a meditation on masculine mentorship and the challenges and blessings of growing older.

     Exodus, the first volume of Graham’s Old Testament saga, begins with Caleb as he prepares to attack the fortified city he has claimed for his inheritance. He refuses to spend his twilight years resting, and instead is driven to claim the victory the Lord promised him decades previously. Capturing Caleb’s early days as a mercenary for Pharaoh in Egypt watching the Hebrews suffer under the yoke of slavery, through a desperate fight with Anakite giants in the dark forests of the Israelite hill country, this is a story filled with the epic battles, gritty intensity, and supernatural events that made Graham’s LION OF WAR series a hit. Shadow of the Mountain is destined to ignite a love for the Scriptures in popular culture.

My review:

     This is a very interesting biblical novel.

     I started this book with the understanding that there isn’t much in the bible about Caleb. With that in mind I knew that the author was going to have to build a large part of the story from research done on the nation of Egypt during the time period and understanding the culture of the day.

     I did have some trouble with the amount of the story that was built with Caleb not being a part of the Hebrew nation. This departure from what I have always believed about Caleb did open up the way for more information about what life would have been like for the Egyptian military and within the court of Pharaoh.

     When Caleb reached the point of his story where Moses came on the scene I was absolutely fascinated. I have always read the biblical account of the plagues with a, “That must have been horrible” mindset, but I have never taken the time to really try and understand the full measure of terror that the Egyptians would have faced during them. Cliff Graham has done an incredible job of taking me to that point in his writing of it from Caleb’s viewpoint as depicted in this novel.

     Because of the difficulty that I had with the early part of the story I am only giving this book a 4 star rating. I am still recommending it though.