Thursday, April 02, 2015

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey - a book review



This book was a bit of a change for me. I usually read and review Historical or Amish Christian romances.  This book is a contemporary Christian mystery.  It keeps you in suspense right up to the very end. 

It is set in Alaska and revolves around the famed Iditarod race.  Pettrey’s descriptions of the terraine, landscape, race and the equipment and techniques really make you feel as if you are right there.  The relationships between the characters is very real and believable. 


The publisher describes the book like this:


Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena
Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen. “


This is one of the best Christian mysteries I have ever read.  The faith of the characters was presented in a very natural and believable way, not preachy at all. There are all the elements that make a good mystery….Lies, betrayal, deception, questions, excitement, danger, and murder.  There’s also plenty of romance. It kept me guessing right up to the end. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House and Baker
Publishing Group
through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Heart's Disguise by Colleen Coble - a book review



I’m not sure what to call this book.  It’s too short for me to consider it a novella and too long for a short story.  It’s actually book one of a series of six called Journey of the Heart.  I liked this book, but as I said, it’s short.  It’s set in the Civil War era, and as always, Coble tells a great story.  It’s obvious that this book is meant to be read in sequence with the other books in the series, The ending is not the typical happy ending those of us who read Christian romance are used to. It would be more satisfying to read all the books in the series in succession.  The story line is left open at the end of this book.   

Here is the synopsis from the publisher’s website:

“In the aftermath of the Civil War, a young woman searches for her lost love at the edge of the West.
The Civil War has destroyed Sarah Montgomery’s marriage before it’s even begun.
After Sarah receives word that her fiancĂ©, Rand Campbell, has been killed fighting for the Union, her brothers and ailing father persuade her to pledge herself to Ben Croftner—despite her strong misgivings. But when Sarah finds out that Rand is in fact alive—and that Ben Croftner knew it—she indignantly breaks off the engagement and goes in search of Rand.
But Ben Croftner does not take rejection lightly—and a single woman with a sick father makes an easy target. When Sarah is abducted by her treacherous fiancĂ©, Rand finally comes to her aid . . . only to reveal that he has been posted at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and intends to take her there as his wife. But could Sarah leave her dying father’s side for the love of her life? And what plans are forming in the jealous heart of Ben Croftner?”
This book is about love, loss, deceit and starting over.  I look forward to reading the other books in this series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook and Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter in Western New York

I heard a local news broadcaster say that we haven't had a winter as cold as this since the late 1880's. That must be why I can't remember anytime this cold. (Although one of my son-in-laws likes to joke that I'm old enough to have known Moses.  HaHa dear SIL, I sometimes feel old but NOT THAT OLD !!)

When we visit our daughter , who lives down south,  some of the locals will sometimes remark that it's usually not so chilly (this usually means it's in the 50's).  We in turn respond with "We're from WNY, we're used to alot colder than this!"  This winter has made that statement more appropriate that ever before.  I will admit, it's pretty 'out there', as long as I can stay 'in here'.  The snow sparkles and shines and the wind has blown little snow drifts across the yard.  When I actually venture out, it is sooooo cold that the snow crunches.

I'm really ready for this cold snap to be done!  We're supposed to have a warm-up this weekend (30's), but only for a day or two, then we're back to the deep freeze.  Now, I know, there are many places in the world that are as cold or colder, but I don't live there.  I live here.  I'm done with this cold.  I'm done with frozen pipes.  I'm done with watching Netflix, snuggled under two blankets.  Well, maybe I'm not done with that, that's kind of nice. I know this isn't going to last forever and eventually, spring will come.  It really will!

Here are some pics I snapped last weekend and this morning.




 This is what our themometer showed for our front porch this morning
 This is what the weather channel showed.
BRRRRRRRRR...................

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Thing of Beauty by Lisa Samson - a book review



I need to preface this review by restating my views on book reviews.  I review books based on my likes and dislikes, my personality, my emotions and my faith.  You may read the same book and end up with an entirely different opinion of it. That being said, I’ll get on with my review.

The publisher, Zondervan, had this classified as Christian fiction.  In my opinion, it’s not.  I was deeply disappointed when within the first three pages, I was already offended by the language.  It was not what I expected to read in what I thought was a Christian book.  I managed to read about one third of the book before I realized I just couldn’t finish it.  Still, I skimmed the remainder of it, hoping that it would redeem itself and make reading it worth my while.  It didn’t. 

I think the author’s underlying theme is a good idea but I wish she had not been so secular in her presentation.  The main character is a former oscar winning actress who, after suffering sexual abuse, withdraws from society. She surrounds herself physically with a lot of junk, a representation of her life.  Her relationships are weird and uncomfortable.  She supports herself by being a paid escort.  It’s never really clear what that entails. We’re left guessing.

There is very little romance.  I’m still not sure about the outcome of her relationships. The only resolution in the story is her relationship with her mother, who she feels turned her back on her.  She in turn, turns her back on her mother.  I wish the character had been able to forgive her which would have been more in keeping with Christian values.

The writing style of this book was also not my cup of tea.  It seemed random and disjointed.  It didn’t flow.  I found myself having to re-read many portions to make sure I understood what it was about.

I don’t like writing a review like this, but when I signed up to do this, I promised I would be honest.  I’ve heard it said that while you can put the word Christian in front of anything, it doesn’t make it so.  That’s what I feel about this book.  The only mention of God in this book is when His name is used as a curse word.  My apologies to the author, but, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook and Thomas Nelson and Zondervan  through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen - a book review


This book is one of the best I’ve read in a while.  Julie Klassen weaves a tale of mystery and intrigue full of twists and turns and surprises. It’s a tale of secret rooms, hidden treasures, mysterious letters and hooded figures darting around in the dark.  The romantic aspect of the story is almost secondary to the mystery, but it’s always there, an unobtrusive foundation.  Her characters are interesting, believable, quirky, and flawed.  It’s very refreshing to read a story where the characters are imperfect, like the rest of us.

I also appreciated how the author presents sound Biblical principles via the curate’s sermons.  She balances the mystery, romance and faith aspects of the story like pieces of a puzzle that all fit together very nicely.

It’s very obvious that Klassen researched the time period thoroughly.  Her descriptions of the fashion and architecture of that day draws the reader back in time.


This is how the publisher describes it:


“Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
 Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...
 The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.
 Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.
As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?”

This book will keep you guessing to the end!



I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, December 07, 2014

An Amish Second Christmas - four novellas - a book review



This is a collection of four novellas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller,  Ruth Reid,  and Tricia Goyer all centered around the Amish tradition of the Second Christmas.  Christmas Day is reserved for remembering Jesus’s birth and the Amish try to keep it low keyed and faith centered.  The next day is what they call Second Christmas.  This is the day they ‘let loose” and celebrate.



Each novella is a stand alone story, long enough to be interesting and short enough to be a quick and easy read.  You’ll find smatterings of mystery, forgiveness, love, surprises, unexpected romance and most of all,  the thought that God always knows what is best even when it’s not what we expect.

At the end of the collection there is a section of recipes that are mentioned in each of the stories and at the end of each story there are questions for discussion groups.

This is what the publisher says:

"Celebrate Second Christmas, a treasured, lighthearted time of community, with four Amish romances. 
“When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine  begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.
“Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast.
“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.
“The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait."


This is a perfect book to read during this busy holiday season.  You can read one novella then come back later and read another one without feeling like you’ve been interupted.

You can purchase this book here or on Amazon by using the search box on the right side of this page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Surprised by Love by Julie Lessman - a book review and blog tour



Julie Lessman is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  Her writing is imaginative, insightful and thorough.   This is the third book in her Heart of San Francisco series and focuses on the lives of the McClare family.  This story is basically a story about two women, Megan and her mother, Cait.  Each woman is wooed by two men and has to make a choice between them.  Lessman does a very good job of involving the reader in all the emotions that these women feel.  She develops the characters so completely that we feel we know them.  At the half way point in the book she has presented each man in a way that we are left to wonder who each women will choose.  At this point, each man, while imperfect, is likeable and a reasonable match for them.  I’m not going to tell you which man each woman chooses.  You’ll need to read it to find out.  The publisher says this:


She can turn the head of the man who spurned her--but can she turn his heart?

When Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris, no one would accuse her of being poised and pretty. But on the other side of the Atlantic, this wallflower blossomed into a beauty with big dreams. When she returns to California and accepts an internship at the district attorney's office, she's thrilled that her life is taking shape. But the exciting opportunity quickly loses its glow when she discovers she'll be working alongside Devin Caldwell, who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.

Bram Hughes is the best friend to whom Megan has always turned for support and advice. But when she seeks his counsel about working with Devin Caldwell, Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man? “


The story is set in the early 1900’s and it’s obvious by the descriptive passages, that the author researched the time period. She even goes into detail about how an early automobile is started.  I will definitely be reading the first two of the series.

I encourage you to go HERE and read an excerpt then look around Lessman's blog and learn more about her other books.

You can buy this book by going to the Amazon search box on the right of this page or by going directly to the publishers website.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and Baker Publishing Group through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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