Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One Season of Hope (Homecoming Historical Series #1) by Jim Stovall













Title: One Season of Hope (Homecoming Historical Series #1)
Author: Jim Stovall
Pages: 170
Year: 2015
Publisher: Sound Wisdom
Note: I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Bestselling author Jim Stovall's latest offering and first title of his Homecoming Historical Series, One Season of Hope, is a rare combination of tear-jerking emotion, powerful wisdom, and inspiring hope. Written in Stovall’s signature easy and economical style, the story is told through the perspective of Glen Fullerton, “a man for the last forty-two years in the Truman High universe, simply known as Coach.”

     Welcome to the Friday night lights of Harry S. Truman High School football stadium. Coach knows the roller-coaster ride of a high school football season better than anyone. But this season is different than any he has experienced in all his years of coaching. It is one of life and death suspense and gripping lessons in the value of humanity.

     Regular, reflective “conversations” with the late President Truman give guidance, mined from the coach’s love and study of history, to help him through the most challenging season of his long and storied career at Truman High – a season that he will forever remember as “One Season of Hope.”

My review:

     WOW! Jim Stovall delivers a winner!

     I am not a football fan to speak of. I normally wouldn't pick up a book about football. The name Jim Stovall is what caught my attention and caused me to pick this one up and give it a chance. I am so glad that I did!

     This book is not so much a football story as it is a lesson in character building. By that I don't mean the development of fictional characters. I mean the building up of individuals to be strong, mature people with incredible integrity who know how to treat others right. The main way that football plays a part in the story is that the book is written from the point-of-view of a high school football coach.

     I absolutely love the fact that throughout the story there are great details presented about President Harry S. Truman. Coach Glen Fullerton is not only the football coach but he is also the history teacher. With that love of history the way is opened for these details to be presented without them being forced. They just naturally flow right along with the story.

     The other main character in this book is Bradley Hope, one of the students that Coach Fullerton is both encouraged and challenged by throughout the story. As I read this book I found myself also being both encouraged and challenged to be that type of an influence on others myself.

     When I finished this book and sat down to write my review I started with “WOW!” Then I just sat and stared at the page for about 5 minutes with no idea where to go from there. This book was so well written and so simply presented that I was completely overwhelmed by it. I am certain that this is one book I WILL be re-reading, maybe even multiple times.

     I cannot recommend it highly enough. Even if you don't do much reading, you need to take the time to read this incredible masterpiece. Here on my blog, where I can throw conventional rating systems out, I'm giving it 10 stars!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Explosive Alliance (First Responders #2) by Susan Sleeman













Title: Explosive Alliance (First Responders #2/Love Inspired Suspense)
Author: Susan Sleeman
Pages: 220
Release Date: May 1, 2015 (Kindle); May 5, 2015 (Paperback)
Publisher: Harlequin Love Inspired
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Race Against Time

     The last thing Krista Curry expected to find in a soccer stadium was a time bomb. When she alerts explosives expert Cash Dixon, she becomes a local hero. But the attention could expose her real name – and the infamous past she fought to escape. Cash promises Krista protection from the bomber’s retaliation. Yet she hesitates to trust him as she sees his suspicion about her grow with every question she dodges. She can’t expect Cash to continue to safeguard her unless she tells him the truth. Now Cash must decide if she’s an innocent woman or guilty accomplice. But the clock is ticking down – and the real bomber is still on the loose…

My review:

     This is another heart pounding suspense novel by Susan Sleeman!

     I absolutely love the amount of detail that is given about both of the main characters, Krista Curry and Cash Dixon. I felt a connection to each of them as well as an understanding for their individual pasts and why they kept them secret. Even while I was completely captivated by these two people I also was drawn in by the development of the secondary characters surrounding them, Krista’s grandfather and Cash’s FRS team. I know that we will see these characters again in the future books in this series and I am looking forward to learning even more about these wonderful characters.

     The plot for this story is absolutely fantastic. From the moment that Krista finds the bomb at the soccer stadium the suspense builds. There are brief periods when there is no actual danger to allow everyone (characters and readers alike) to catch their breath and relax some.

     As the story progresses we come to find that Krista’s grandfather, Opa or Otto, is the strong Christian in this novel. His faith is unshaken by what is going on and at time he is able to speak words of wisdom to both Krista and Cash. He is encouraging them to trust God with what is going on as well as with their pasts. I love reading stories with this faith-based focus. Even with this present in the story it never feels preachy or like religion is being forced on anyone.

     I have to give this book a 5 star rating. Anything else would be negligent on my part. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When Love Calls (The Gregory Sisters #1) by Lorna Seilstad













Title: When Love Calls (The Gregory Sisters #1)
Author: Lorna Seilstad
Pages: 338
Year: 2013
Publisher: Revell

About the book:

     When romance calls, will she choose to answer?

     Hannah Gregory is good at many things, but that list does not include following rules. So when she must apply for a job as a switchboard operator to support her two sisters, she knows it won’t be easy. Hello Girls must conduct themselves according to strict – and often bewildering – rules, which include absolutely no consorting with gentlemen while in training.

     Hannah doubts it will be difficult to keep that rule – until a handsome young lawyer starts getting under her skin.

     With historic details that bring to life the exciting first decade of the twentieth century, Lorna Seilstad weaves a charming tale of companionship that blossoms into sweet romance.

My review:

     This is a heartwarming inspirational romance.

     Hannah Gregory and Lincoln Cole are wonderful characters who are trying to follow God's leading in the midst of falling in love. Both of these characters, as well as Hannah's two sisters, are incredibly deep and beautifully presented. I love the way that the relationships between the different characters develop as much as I love the way that each person grows throughout the story.

     When the book starts all we know about Hannah is that she is responsible for her two younger sisters in the wake of their parents' deaths. As the story progresses we find out what her dreams are, what changes she has had to make since she had to take charge, and what level her commitment to doing the very best she can is. Then she receives some very wise counsel from a couple of very mature and strong women that enter her life. Her growth because of this in her own life and in her relationship with God is fantastic.

     At the same time Lincoln is on his own path of growth and discovery which is equally uplifting and eye opening.

     I loved this entire novel and am really looking forward to reading the other books in this series. I highly recommend this sweet romance and am giving it 5 stars.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Miracle in a Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings #1) by Sarah Loudin Thomas













Title: Miracle in a Dry Season (Appalachian Blessings #1)
Author: Sarah Loudin Thomas
Pages: 300
Year: 2014
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:

     In a drought, it’s the darkest cloud that brings hope.

     It's 1954 and Perla Long’s arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

     Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor . . . until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

My review:

     This is a wonderful look at small town life in 1954.

     This is Sarah Loudin Thomas's debut novel. I found it to be a fantastic piece of writing. She did a marvelous job of creating a variety of characters that were easy to understand. Some of them just plain frustrated me, but then again to be honest I get frustrated with people at times in real life. The interaction between the characters was very realistic. The two main characters, Perla Long and Casewell Phillips were easy for me to connect with though. They had a number of very heavy obstacles to negotiate just to get through everyday life.

     The story explores some deep issues about judgment and forgiveness, so in that sense it is not a light read. But it is done in a small town setting and that helps to make it feel lighter.

     I especially enjoyed the way that the characters grew and developed in their own lives and in how they related to each other. I loved the paths that many of them took as they were learning about the importance of forgiveness to personal lives as well as to the well-being of an entire community.

     I absolutely loved this book. I am really looking forward to seeing what else this wonderful writer comes up with. I highly recommend this novel and am giving it 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dauntless (Valiant Hearts #1) by Dina L. Sleiman













Title: Dauntless (Valiant Hearts #1)
Author: Dina L. Sleiman
Pages: 368
Year: 2015
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:

     Born a Baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father’s failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village – a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

     Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he’s forced to reexamine everything he’s known.

My review:

     This is an incredibly well written young adult novel!

     I absolutely love the development of the characters in this story. The two main characters, Merry Ellison and Timothy Grey, are especially strong. Yet Merry is surrounded by a number of other fantastic people as her group of "Elders" within "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." I can’t forget to mention the sweetness of cute little Wren who stole my heart just as she did all of the others within the story.

     The progression of the story was done in a marvelous way and kept my attention throughout the book. I couldn't stop reading until I knew how the story ended. I found myself hoping and praying that it would resolve in such a way that all of the orphaned children, Merry, and Timothy were safe from danger and settled down for a nice "happily ever after" life.

     One of the "elders" of the group of orphans is Allen. He is a strong believer in God. Throughout the book there are times that he is encouraging others to trust God. There are even times when he challenges both Merry and Timothy to let go of things that they believe to be true so that they can learn to trust God more.

     I have never read anything by Dina Sleiman but I will be looking for more of her books. I have labeled this a young adult novel simply because all of the main characters are either in their early twenties or younger. I found it a highly entertaining book myself and I am in my mid-fifties. So don’t let the label “young adult novel” stop you from reading it. I am highly recommending this story and giving it 5 stars.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Awakening by Tracy Higley













Title: Awakening
Author: Tracy Higley
Pages: 362
Year: 2014
Publisher: Stonewater Press
Note: I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Kallie Andreas is a mystery, even to herself.

     Seven years ago Kallie woke up in a New York City museum, injured and traumatized. Alone and unclaimed.

     Despite her shattered memories, she’s worked her way into a position as assistant curator in that very museum, and now she wants nothing more than to pursue funding for her project – assembling pieces from the ancient Minoans.

     But then the blackouts start. Lost time, stranded in terrifying danger, frantic visions that can’t be real. A threatening phone call may be nothing more than paranoia and madness. Or perhaps not.

     It’s time to start seeing her psychiatrist more often.

     When a mysterious philanthropist invites Kallie to scour the black market with him for the most valuable of all Minoan treasures, the key to their lost language, Kallie can’t resist. Dimitri is wealthy, charming and good-looking, but she’s not interested – not in someone who’s clearly hiding secrets of his own.

     Together, the two embark on a global quest to find the Key, through some of the most exotic and beautiful locations in the world – unraveling clues, pursuing leads, and fighting their increasing attraction to each other.

     Meanwhile, Kallie's memories are bleeding through, and she’s teetering on the verge of a breakthrough, but what devastating truth has she been suppressing?

     When a strange woman who clearly knows Kallie's real identity tries to murder her, it’s clear that Kallie's past and present worlds are colliding, in a deadly crisis that will finally reveal the truth of her past.

     But will the truth leave room for love?

My review:

     This is a very intriguing story!

     The confusion that Kallie faces everyday is very clearly presented from very early in the story. Her current life situation is described wonderfully. I was quickly able to sympathize with her confusion and doubts. When Dimitri meets her we are introduced to this well developed and handsome man. The two are immediately attracted to each other but Kallie's unknown past and Dimitri's secrets are a barrier to a close relationship developing between them.

     I was very intrigued by the presence of a story within the story. Kallie seems to have a dream world in her mind. Fairly early in the book she starts writing a journal of the story taking place in this dream world. The first shift between the two stories caught me by surprise. After I realized what tale was being told I was able to shift back and forth between the two much easier. Then I recognized that the publisher had used a slightly different font for the dream world story. This was a very helpful clue to me from that point on.


     This is a well crafted and very entertaining novel. I am giving it 5 stars and highly recommending it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Flight of Faith (Virtues and Valor, Part 7) by Hallee Bridgeman













Title: Flight of Faith (Virtues and Valor, Part 7)
Author: Hallee Bridgeman
Pages: 110 (approximately)
Year:  2015
Publisher: Olivia Kimbrell Press
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novella through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     HELEN MULBERRY, the youngest child and only daughter of a wealthy Texas oil tycoon, has always had her every wish granted immediately. When the Germans march into France, no one denies her request to fly her plane to England and help free up a male pilot for combat. Her father’s influence opens doors, and 19 year old Helen joins the Virtues team.

     Now under the code-name FAITH, she flies between Britain and France, transporting passengers, supplies, or performing reconnaissance. The Nazis guard their skies with vigor, and Helen learns to fly in combat, land in a field with no lights, and evade the anti-aircraft fire. She masterfully takes on each mission, despite the perceptions and chauvinistic attitudes of many of the male pilots.

     Shot down over France during the mission to rescue the agent code named TEMPERANCE from the clutches of the Gestapo, Helen must make her way through enemy territory with no language skills and somehow come through with a means to get her team back to Britain. Can she save them, or will they all find that they have no way out?

     FLIGHT OF FAITH is the final episode in seven serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series by Hallee Bridgeman. Seven serialized novellas, each inspired by real people and actual events, reveal the incredible story of amazing heroines facing the ultimate test of bravery.

     Seven valorous women – different nationalities, ethnicities, and social backgrounds – come together as a team called the Virtues.

     In 1941 Great Britain has a special war department that assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.

     Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.

My review:

     The incredible conclusion of this serialized novel!

     In this final part of the Virtues and Valor series we finally get to find out about Helen Mulberry, code named Faith. She is the pilot for the team and we have already seen snippets of the work that she does in each of the previous parts of the story. I love the way that Hallee developed this character and introduced us to her family. It was wonderful to find out where she learned to love flying. When she first tells her family that she is going to England to help in the fight again Germany she tells them point blank, “I feel God calling me.” This establishes immediately where she is placing her faith. She never wavers from that which is so encouraging.

     I thoroughly enjoyed getting the final pieces of the puzzle put in place for the overall story. I am absolutely amazed that Hallee was able to build seven separate stories, and yet have all of them fit together into one larger picture. She has done an excellent job of crafting this amazing serialized novel to entertain us. It was wonderful to find out so much about the contribution of women to WWII in reading the “Inspired by Real Events” sections at the end of each part.

     I cannot recommend this entire series any higher than I am. I really feel that it is one of the very best stories I have ever read for entertainment. It has truly encouraged me to do more research into the contribution of women to WWII. I’m giving this final part of the story the same 5 star rating that I have given each of the previous six parts.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mission of Mercy (Virtues and Valor, Part 6) by Hallee Bridgeman













Title: Mission of Mercy (Virtues and Valor, Part 6)
Author: Hallee Bridgeman
Pages: 100 (approximately)
Year: 2015
Publisher: Olivia Kimbrell Press
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novella through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     Doctor, BETTY GRIMES, miraculously survives the Nazi bombing of her hospital but suffers the loss of her fiancĂ© in the raid. She goes to the countryside to grieve and recuperate and there meets the leader of the Virtues team who recruits the brilliant surgeon.

     After months of training, Betty, code-named MERCY, now works in Occupied France as a nurse, where she garners information from patients and passes it to the Allies. Secretly, she tends to injured Resistance operatives, treating gunshots and other wounds that would otherwise draw the attention of the Third Reich.

     When Betty is sent to the local prison to see a prisoner who has taken ill, her shock at finding TEMPERANCE nearly blows her cover. Now Temperance is sick and Mercy needs to get her well enough for the coming rescue operation to succeed.

     Can MERCY save TEMPERANCE in time for her rescue, or will her patient succumb to the disease brought on by the torture of the Gestapo?

     MISSION OF MERCY is part six of seven serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series.

     Seven valorous women – different nationalities, ethnicities, and social backgrounds – come together as a team called the Virtues.

     In 1941 Great Britain has a special war department that assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.

     Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.

My review:

     I loved this very exciting novella set during WWII!

     Doctor Betty Grimes is an incredible character that is very well developed for this story. She is grieving the death of her fiancĂ© and yet she has so much strength and courage that she is an extremely vital part of the resistance in Occupied France. She has so much faith in God that many times while taking care of the sick or injured she prays asking God to take care of the person. That really spoke to me having a doctor that recognizes that God is the one in control.

     In this part of the serialized novel we get more information to fill in the big picture just like we have been in each portion. It is really fascinating to me to see how all of the different pieces are coming together. I am so caught up in the overall story. I believe that Hallee has done a masterful job of weaving this intricate story and then feeding it to us a little bit at a time as we see the events from a different view point with each telling.

     I am so completely caught up in the overall story. I’m very glad that each portion is equally entertaining and exciting. It makes it very easy to give this one a rating of 5 stars just as I have done with the others. I highly recommend this novella too.

Grace's Ground War (Virtues and Valor, Part 5) by Hallee Bridgeman













Title: Grace’s Ground War (Virtues and Valor, Part 5)
Author: Hallee Bridgeman
Pages: 100 (approximately)
Year: 2015
Publisher: Olivia Kimbrell Press
Note: I received a free eBook copy of this novella through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     The exciting Virtues and Valor series continues!

RUTH AUBERTIN’s father a highly decorated veteran of the Great War, moves his family from British Palestine to the wild of Great Britain after the Hebron massacre in 1929. He has always known the Germans would return to France, and trained his children from the time they could walk, turning them into finely tuned weapons with multiple skills ranging in weapons training to hand-to-hand combat.

     When the Germans roll into France, Ruth and her brothers volunteer with the British Special Services and Ruth joins the Virtues team under the code name of GRACE. Never knowing the bond of sisterhood before, Ruth grows close to the six other women on the team and learns to rely on them and their varied skills as she goes undercover in Occupied France. Working directly for the notorious Praetorian, she and her team plan the largest prisoner escape in the war to date.

     The arrest of TEMPERANCE raises the stakes. Now they have to move their time table up, increasing the overall risk of the mission. Can Ruth and her team pull off the mission, or will too many variables crash together at the wrong time?

     GRACE’S GROUND WAR is part five of seven serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series.

     Seven valorous women – different nationalities, ethnicities, and social backgrounds – come together as a team called the Virtues.

     In 1941 Great Britain has a special war department that assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.

     Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.

My review:

     This is an exciting WWII novella!

     Ruth Aubertin and her brothers were trained as fighters from early childhood by their father. After WWII began they made their way to Britain to see how they could help the allies. With all the training that Ruth already had she was a natural to be trained as a ground resistance fighter. That begins this exciting, action-packed novella. The previous parts had very little actual action scenes in them. They primarily dealt with information gathering and passing. This particular novella deals with the fight itself.

     I love the background that is given explaining who Ruth is and why she had been trained to fight by her father. She is more into action than in feelings. She just wants to get the job done. We find out a number of additional pieces of information as to the whole network of the resistance in this region of France in this novella. I am thoroughly enjoying getting the whole picture filled in part by part. Hallee has done a marvelous job of developing this whole puzzle for us. It is highly entertaining.

     I loved this part of the serialized novel just as much as the four previous parts. I’m giving this part, 5 stars, and highly recommending it as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Buried Secrets (Men of Valor #1) by Irene Hannon













Title: Buried Secrets (Men of Valor #1)
Author: Irene Hannon
Pages: 384
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Revell
Note:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the book:

     They both wanted quieter, safer lives, but crime never sleeps… and killers keep killing.

     After years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant is ready for the kinder, gentler life of a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes department resources. Enter ex-Navy SEAL Mac McGregor, the detective sent by the county to assist on the case. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales – and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

     “The queen of inspirational romantic suspense” (Library Journal) is at the top of her game with this riveting new series.

My review:

     I loved this romantic mystery/suspense novel!

     The development of the two main characters is fantastic. We are gradually shown their backgrounds and what has sent both of them to their current jobs and life situations. I loved the fact that even though they are clearly attracted to each other they are disciplined enough to keep their focus on the job that they have to do.

     We are shown at the very beginning the answers to the mystery. The real storyline is in finding out how the law enforcement officers will find the answers to it. Will they figure it out in time and get justice for the victim? It was a fascinating story and I was drawn into it immediately.

     I’m giving this wonderful first novel in a new series by this great author, 5 stars. I highly recommend it. I’m really looking forward to the other books in this series.