Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sidney W. Frost's Where Love Once Lived ~ Reviewed

Where Love Once Lived   

Sidney W. Frost 

  • File Size: 286 KB
  • Print Length: 298 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1451511817
  • Publisher: CreateSpace; 1 edition (August 12, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services


Where Love Once Lived by Sidney W. Frost follows a man at a crossroads as he seeks to regain the love of his former college sweetheart.

Forced to leave Karen by circumstances beyond his control, Brian returns to his hometown after 30 years to find Karen doesn't want to deal with the memories of his painful and unexplained departure. She has worked hard to put her love for Brian behind her and rebuffs his advances. Brian can see that winning her over again isn't going to be as easy as he had hoped, but he's willing to do whatever it takes.

"The story of Brian and Karen shows that, with God's help, it's never too late to find happiness," says Frost. "My hope is that their story makes readers laugh, cry and learn a little more about God's love."

Frost was inspired by his faith to create Where Love Once Lived. The importance of a relationship with God is a major theme in the book. In the novel, Karen's faith in God grew stronger after Brian left, leading to fulfilling work as a lay minister. As she becomes reacquainted with Brian, Karen begins to share with him the strength that can come from faith. Brian, who had turned away from God, eventually comes to realize that the void in his life was not just the loss of Karen but also the loss of God. 
After hundreds of books and movie reviews behind me, I’ve developed some strong opinions. I write reviews for those wanting input on a book, movie or product choice rather than for those who merely want me to say a few good words. Yet I try to find the best in the book to point out. It’s a tricky balance sometimes. And my absolute loves may not appeal to the average reader. I tend to love books that make me laugh or honestly cry, books that are almost works of art with words being the artist’s medium. I generally avoid romance, Amish fiction and sci-fi because I find them too formulaic for the most part.  
Where Love Once Lived is a novel that is very likely “the” story on the author’s heart and I know how much time, sweat, tears and blood go into writing one of those stories. I have a few of those sitting on my computer hard drives. Mr. Frost is articulate and able to tell a winding tale that centers on two people torn apart by circumstances and their own immaturity. Karen and Brian were college sweethearts, but, after things got too hot and heavy, the relationship was broken as were their hearts.
Thirty years later Brian returns “home” after his divorce and finds that Karen has divorced as well. They each have secrets that they go through great emotional turmoil to protect. Struggling to forgive themselves and each other fills the pages of this novel, a very real issue that many readers will relate to.
Mr. Frost has created an extras cast of characters who go along for the emotional roller coaster ride with Brian and Karen. One character shares Mr. Frost’s love of opera, and another is the heavy but loveable librarian who helps Brian run the Bookmobile which was purchased in an attempt to win Karen’s heart. 
Struggles and trials plague the love-crossed couple. Karen has a crisis at work, and in the midst of that she takes in a former student who is pregnant with nowhere else to turn. Brian finds himself at the mercy of stock holders. A marriage between characters causes drama in his circle of friends. Brian discovers secrets about his parents and his marriage that force him to consider running far away to another place where he had once found happiness. Can this couple finally find true love and restoration? Will they find the emotional maturity and the spiritual hope they need to embrace another relationship regardless of their past failures? Only the reader will know.
Where Love Once Lived may appeal to readers who like the romance novel plots wherein the characters begin to grow closer to each other until an obstacle or multiple obstacles rip them apart…the idea that love is an endless series of ocean waves drawing the characters back to shore against the odds of them being cast adrift alone. Some inspirational readers may find something to like if they are not sensitive to sex outside of marriage and divorce. If so, the subject matter may be too much for them, however, the consequences of both are some of the struggles this couple faces. Those looking for a strong Gospel message may be disappointed, but others who like light religion and the message of God’s love, forgiveness and patience may find what they are looking for here. Literary fiction lovers will probably want to avoid it. This novel falls more toward the weight and formula of romance versus love story, so keep that in mind as well.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mindy Starns Clark & John Campbell Clark's Echoes of Titanic~Reviewed

By Mindy Starns Clark
& John Campbell Clark
Published by Harvest House Publishers
385 Pages

Back Cover: Kelsey Tate comes from sturdy stock. Her great-grandmother Adele endured the sinking of Titanic and made it safely to America, where she not only survived but thrived. Generations later, Kelsey works for the firm Adele founded nearly 100 years ago.

Now facing a hostile takeover, the firm’s origins are challenged when new facts emerge about Adele’s actions on the night Titanic sank. Kelsey tries to defend the company and the great-grandmother she has long admired, but the stakes are raised when Kelsey’s boss is murdered and her own life threatened. Forced to seek help from Cole Thornton, a man Kelsey once loved—and lost, thanks to her success-at-all-costs mentality—she pursues mysteries both past and present. Aided by Cole and strengthened by the faith she’d all but forgotten in her climb up the corporate ladder, Kelsey races the clock to defend her family legacy, her livelihood, and ultimately her life.


I’ve never read a book by Mindy Starns Clark before and was thankful to receive a review copy of such a haunting, compelling, dramatic suspense novel. I liked the style in which the novel was written using two story lines; one from the present and one from the past. It was amazing how the two intertwined.  This author’s husband John Campbell Clark is a lifelong Titanic buff so the setting for this story is fascinating and it addresses the fact that this is the 100th Anniversary year of the disaster.

It became so clear to me how a family’s heritage was very important from generation to generation. What I do today can and will affect my children, and their children’s children. The book opens up with Kelsey Tate giving a talk about her great-grandmother Adele at an event her families company hosted to commemorate the disaster. Adele was a Titanic survivor and founder of Brennan &Tate (over 100 years ago)

Gloria, Kelsey’s mentor is acting funny and leaves Kelsey to speak at this event alone. She tells Kelsey it’s her time to shine. She didn’t want to overshadow the young lady’s day. Everything they’d been doing lead up to this point. She knew Kelsey would make Adele proud.

Kelsey had always wanted to grow up to be like Adel, “who had found a way to have a successful career and a happy family and have a full life…Kelsey realized she had grown up to be just like Gloria, who was an empty workaholic who channeled all of her emotions and her energies onto her career, pursuing success at all costs. Kelsey had turned her back on God. She had nothing in life, nothing to live for.”

Then the author switches to the POV to Adel on the Titanic making plans to work at her father’s company when she arrived in American. Her role model was Margaret Brown who tells her, “If you want to invest, honey, look to the people and places the big boys are ignoring – women’s interests, for example, show me a woman with a good idea and a strong work ethic, I’ll show you somebody who can succeed like the dickens if she’s given a proper chance.”

“It is one thing to try to break down those barriers that stand in my way, Adele thought, and quite another, to help other women get started out as well, how fulfilling that would be.” Adele was a business minded woman in a time when that wasn’t fashionable.

In tracking down leads about her families past Kelsey questions her Grandpa Jonah. He reminds her, “The secret to a happy life is in the hanging on and in the letting go…., “Let go of your hurts, your grudges, and any possessions that aren’t a necessity. Hang on to your memories’, your loved ones, and most of all your faith. Do that, Little Bit, and your life will be more rewarding than you could ever imagine.”

“When did your heart check out of the equation entirely and turn you into this automation? This shell? (Kelsey’s mother asked her) ….I love you, honey, but I do not know you. What could possibly have happened in your life to bring you to this?”

Good question. Mom just didn’t understand business.  Kelsey was trying to survive on her sinking ship, the family business.  The scandal inside Brennan & Tate, rumors that were making the value of their stock plummet and recent disturbing discoveries about her families past made Kelsey think about her ex-boyfriend Cole, who left her and the company, after a deal went bad, “…looking back now, it struck Kelsey that it wasn’t just her under cutting of a deal that had ended their relationship. It had been her stubborn pride and her unwillingness even to consider that she’d been wrong to do what she did. Her refusal to apologize or even feel bad about it…Kelsey finally realized something. It was the after math of the event, far more than the event itself that had driven Cole away five years ago.”

Brennan & Tate was in the middle of a hostel take-over and the police wouldn’t say if her friend was murdered or committed suicide. Kelsey’s world was crashing in on her. Who could she turn to? Who could she trust? Kelsey was racing against time. Adele’s time on the Titanic was reaching the end of its existence. Time was running out for both ladies. Adele had secrets that Kelsey needed to know. Could she find the clues from the past in time to save the company?

Love this novel. I couldn’t put it down. I was so wrapped up with the characters and their pain and disappoint from both generations. I loved the style in which this author wrote this narrative just when I thought I had it all figured out then Kelsey would discover something new and it changed the way I thought the ending must be. It also changed the way I viewed the characters in the story. I was also on pins and needles for Adele as she was in the middle of a business deal herself that was turning out to be something unexpected. This book is filled with so much from the past and excitement in the future. I’ll definitely be reading more of these authors’ books. I highly recommend this book for reading and for a book club selection.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review: 

A fascinating story set in two worlds. Two women, cousins and best friends, cross to a new adventure in America on the state-of-the-art Titanic. As their adventure unfolds the story is tinged with the knowledge that one of the women does not survive the fateful voyage. Through snippets of each of the cousins’ points of view the reader sees their relationship and experiences a bit of the magic that was the Titanic. Interspersed is the modern, intriguing story of the great-granddaughter of the woman who survived that fated voyage. But now, there is a question, and the  life of Kelsey is turned upside down as she tries to answer the charges and save the company started by her great grandmother.

Very readable, this novel has mystery, history and relationships. I finished it while on vacation and gave It to my daughter-in-law who devoured it in days and liked it as much as I did. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, May 25, 2012

Laura Story's What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops ~ Reviewed

By Laura Story
Published by Worthy Media
239 Pages

Book Blurb: 30 Devotions by Laura Story. Whose Grammy-nominated song “Blessings” has inspired millions. Empowering messages about heartache, healing and grace.


I had the honor of meeting and hearing Laura Story speak at a Women of Faith event last year in Atlanta. She sang the song Blessings that has captivated listeners and stirred hearts all across this country.

I was fascinated at how this young woman shared the events that lead up to her writing this song, she was calm, transparent, and funny. In the intro to her book she says, “When my husband Martin was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, well-meaning strangers asked him if he had any unconfessed sin in his life, for surely God would not curse him for now reason. But the more my husband and I looked to God’s word, the more we came to realize that sometimes God actually blesses his children through the absence of the very things they pray for.

Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his flesh; instead, God chose to teach Paul about a power that is only made perfect in weakness. Job deeply mourned the loss of his possessions and his health, yet he learned to worship God in the midst of his nakedness.”

I loved Laura Story’s transparency, humor and worshipful spirit as she spoke at the conference in Atlanta. I felt the same way after reading this devotional.

Laura starts out each chapter with a scripture, she shares from her heart a page or two, then has four quotes from well known Christian Figures about the topic she is discussing and then five different scriptures with different bible translations typed out for you to read. There’s no need to flip your bible open unless you want to read more.

Then there is a page where she asks the reader a question for example in the first chapter the question is, “How can you be a blessing today?” Then she sums up the chapter in a sentence or two. The last page of the chapter is blank and lined for you to fill in Your Own Thoughts.

Laura starts this devotional with the words to her Grammy-nominated song, Blessings. She ends the devotional with a section called,”Bible Verses to Consider.” Scriptures are arranged to encourage you in different topics. For example there are scriptures to help you with fear, worry, prayer, worship etc.

Everyone has been hit with something in these changing times weather it’s been your health, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. How you view your circumstances, the attitude in which you face them and who you turn to in the middle of the storm, is crucial to how you come out on the other side. I highly recommend this devotional for anyone. It’s honest, encouraging and simple!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shelley Shepard Gray's Missing ~ Reviewed

Missing, Secrets of Crittenden County Series #1

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Avon Inspire
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 7.17 X 4.71 (inches)
ISBN: 0062089706


Perry Borntrager has been Missing for six months when his body is discovered in an abandoned well. The stunned Amish community of Crittendon, Kentucky, struggles to deal with the murder---and an intrusive homicide detective. Perry's former girlfriend, Lydia Plank, and best friend, Englisher Walter Anderson, are prime suspects. But are they really guilty?
The Missing is book one in the Secrets of Crittenden County series.  It revolves around the investigation of Perry Borntrager, an Amish man found dead after being missing for several months.  Two people in question are Perry’s former girlfriend, Lydia Plank Perry’s good friend, Walker Anderson.  Both Walker and Lydia had seen changes in Perry’s behavior and character prior to his death, but did not know what to do about it, so they chose to distance themselves from him.  But they are afraid that they each know too many details, and are afraid to come forward for fear they will be suspected in his murder.  Lydia and Walker begin spending time together and consequently, begin caring for each other as well. 
I’ve found that I’m a fan of Shelley Shepard Gray.  She does a great job of making her stories and characters come alive.  I had a hard time putting this one down, and was disappointed in the ending, only because of my impatience, as it leaves you hanging.  Her other books have a definite ending and could stand on their own without the sequels, but this one leaves you wondering what happens next.  I look forward to reading book two when it comes out!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sherri Wilson Johnson's To Dance Once More ~ Reviewed

By Sherri Wilson Johnson
Published by Oak Tara
ISBN: 978-1602902862

Back Cover:
All Lydia wants is to travel the world before she has to settle down with a husband. But she may not have that choice anymore.

April 1886

Debutante Lydia Jane Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. But while her sisters happily learn the traditional tasks of women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn't enough to hold her back.

Then one day Hamilton opens Lydia's eyes and her heart to love. But before they can receive permission to court, Lydia overhears a secret conversation about an unscrupulous business deal. Worse, it has everything to do with her and her future. Now she's faced with the biggest decision of her life--to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice...and, perhaps, countless rewards.


The civil war is over, and while many in America celebrate their new-found freedom, Lydia Jane Barrington feels oppressed, enslaved. Not to race, but instead, to her gender and societal expectations. How she longs to be free to explore the world and seek after her dreams. It isn’t that she hates men. In fact, there is one man she is quite fond of. It is just that she longs to be more than the lady of the manor, and she fears marriage may rob her of herself.
If only she had been born in a different century! Does no one understand her longings? Her sisters certainly don’t. They are perfectly content to spend their time attending balls and staying alert to potential suitors. In fact, they find her views rebellious and urge her to squash them.
Only one, it seems, understand her—the man who very well might steal her heart.
To Dance Once More has an elegant feel to it. The plantation setting, the balls, the rules of courting. The first few chapters were a little harder for me to get into, but by the time I got to chapter four, I was hooked. Lydia’s struggle between love and freedom was authentic and engaging. The setting swept me away, sweeping me back to a time of elegance and grace, and the blossoming of true love. 
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tracy Higley's Garden of Madness ~ Reviewed

By Tracy L. Higley
Published by: Thomas Nelson Publishers
ISBN# 978-1401686802
400 Pages

Back Cover: The untold story of King Nebuchadnezzar's daughter
For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.
Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an opulent yet oppressive life in the palace. But her husband has since died and she relishes her newfound independence. When a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own freedom is threatened.
As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family's secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband's brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.
In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, Tia must decide if she is willing to risk everything-her possessions, her gods, and her very life-for the Israelites' one God. Madness, sorcery, and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist's deadly potion as Tia chooses whether to risk all to save the kingdom-and her family.
Review: After reading this author’s last book Pompii, I anxiously awaited her new book, Garden of Madness and was thrilled to receive a review copy of it. Tracy takes a look at Nebuchadnezzar in the mad years and various take over plots woven into the story along with some unexplained murders.

I recommend reading the author notes BEFORE you start reading the book. It was good to know what was real and what wasn’t. It was interesting to read about the mystery of the hanging Garden where the king spent most of his time in her book. The reader also gets a glimpse into the author’s passion for history in the notes and what she hoped to accomplish in the novel.

Tracy says, “All of this is fascinating to those of us who enjoy history, and who love the tales found in the book of Daniel. But we love them for a reason. There is more at work here than scheming politicians and even more than dreams and visions and miracles. There is truth for our own lives, as we line up our own personal stories with the One True Story. We have been accustomed to seeing Babylon as evil, and certainly it was filled with darkness. But we must remember that for most of us, we are Tiamat – children of chaos who have been welcomed and grafted into God’s family, out of the darkness. Even before Jesus walked the earth, God was calling all nations to himself, using Israel as a blessing to those nations.”

Here’s one of the things the author hopes you catch…”The themes of pride and divine sovereignty are weighty within the book of Daniel, and I attempted to examine them within this novel, from the perspective of the Jewish Pesdaiah as well as the pagan Tiamat. While God allows free will and the consequences that follow, His sovereignty is total and ultimate, and as such it often takes us places we do not want to go and perhaps do not understand. We can spend our lives railing against His sovereignty, running from it. Denying it exists, or pride fully trying to control it, but in the end of the only path to true joy is to embrace it….”

This author captures the reader’s attention from the start. Crazy things happen as people plot, manipulate and try to force their way into a powerful position and seek control of the kingdom. Murder, betrayal, secrets and rumors. What’s real and who does Tiamet trust while her father is mentally unstable to communicate or receive her love and protection. This is a book that will cause you to seek out scripture to get more insight into this king’s life.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dani Pettrey's Submerged ~Reviewed

Dani Pettrey
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English 
  • ISBN-10: 0764209825


A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.

Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town...until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear.

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?


I immediately gravitated toward the unique setting of Yancey Alaska, and devoured the suspense-filled elements of Dani Pettrey’s debut novel, Submerged. Pettrey’s command of characters and ability to inspire readers to express repeated sharp audible gasps speaks to her advanced writing skills. With carefully constructed twists and turns, Pettrey navigates Bailey Craig and Cole McKenna through a well-plotted mystery. Because Pettrey succeeds in creating such relatable and layered characters, I was deeply engaged in Bailey’s plight, not to mention that more than once I viscerally feared for her safety. Submerged—a page-turner!

Reviewed by Wendy Paine Miller 

Bonus Review:

With her debut novel, Submerged, the talented Dani Pettrey has garnered my respect and admiration while securing herself a life long fan!  Wonderfully executed, with intriguing suspense, deeply layered characters, and a beautiful setting, this novel will draw you in from beginning to end.  Bailey is an appealing character whose youthful mistakes still haunt her when she returns to her hometown, as she struggles to hold on to the forgiveness God granted her. Cole McKenna and his vibrant siblings will ensure readers will be eagerly awaiting more Alaskan Courage books, as no doubt the sparks that fly between minor characters in Submerged will fan into flame in subsequent stories. Combining a handsome and upright dive instructor, a woman desperate to break free from her past, Russian history, intrigue and romance, Submerged is a brilliant beginning to what I anticipate will be a stellar career for this talented debut author. While with a style uniquely her own, Dani’s books will entice readers of Ronie Kendig, Robin Caroll and Lynette Eason and I can’t wait for more!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ann Tatlock's Travelers Rest ~ Reviewed

By Ann Tatlock
Published by Bethany House

Back Cover: New Contemporary Novel from an Award-Winning Author

Jane Morrow has a dilemma. She's engaged to Seth Ballantine, a member of the National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, and he's returned from Iraq severely wounded. Jane hasn't seen him for nearly a year, and with trepidation, she heads to the VA hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is being treated.

Seth isn't happy to see her. He'd asked her not to come. He wants to end the relationship. But Jane loves him, and despite his injury, she's determined to convince him that they can have a life together. Her faith has never been strong, yet she hopes God will answer her prayers and tell her what to do.

Beautifully written,
Travelers Rest takes readers on a journey through pain and tragedy to a place of hope and redemption.

Review: Life had so much promise for Jane Morrow who was engaged to a man she’d loved since second grade. They grew up together. Jane noticed Seth but all the while he didn’t know she existed. Then in high school things changed. He finally he noticed her in a big way! It only took fifteen years. The happiest day of her life was when Seth asked her to marry him. Then Seth signed up to be in the reserves and then is called to duty. They planned on getting married when he came back. But nothing prepared them for what would happen next.

Seth Ballantine was back from Iraq with a purple heart, changed and missing a few things. He tells Jane to stay away from him. He doesn’t want her to see what happened to him in battle. He wasn’t the man he used to be. She deserved more in life. She didn’t care how different he was. They’d make it work; come up with a new normal to their relationship. She wouldn’t stay away.

The realities of Seth’s medical condition and who he had become were staggering! She found it hard to catch glimpses of the old Seth she fell in love with and grew up with. Could she love this man she hardly recognized – personality wise and wishes he died in battle?

A friend says to Jane, “…when he beginning to take inventory of what he has left – rather than thinking about what he’s lost. That’s the beginning….He can’t do what he once wanted to do with his life, but he can do something, and that’s what matters.”

Would Seth ever change his thinking? Seth and Jane are weary. They pray, “Oh, God I’m tired please hear our prayers.”

“We take everything for granted, until we don’t have it anymore.” Jane hears from a friend.

Jane gets to know Truman, a retired doctor who makes it his mission to help the soldiers adjust to their new normal, try to make sense of a life they never expected to have. Is there life after their world was turned up-side down?  He listens, encourages them and cheers them up daily. They look forward to his visits.

Jane repeats a saying her nanny said and she’d lived by, “Well child, as mamma always said, life’s gearshift’s got no reverse, so you have to just keep moving forward!” Funny and so true!

Ann Tatlock gives the reader a glimpse into one couples reality as they try to make sense of their new normal! Could they love each other enough to make it work? Would Jane move onto another relationship like Seth and her friends wanted her to do? Or would she know without a shadow of a doubt she was meant to stay by Seth’s side no matter what? How would she find answers to these questions?

This author shows one soldier’s heart break and how his family reacts to him in his new physical state. Also how they all struggle to deal with the question “Where do we go from here?”

There are no easy answers as Ann Tatlock’s endearing characters struggle to hear from God,’ to do the right thing, and learn how to thrive in the after math of war! This author shows there can be hope, healing and forgiveness in the middle of horrific times!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dineen Miller's The Soul Saver ~ Reviewed

The Soul Saver 
Dineen Miller 
Paperback: 320 pages 
Publisher: Barbour Books (May 1, 2012) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1616265825 

Book Description: 
Meet Lexie Baltimore, who is in the supernatural battle of her life. In obedience to God’s calling, Lexie uses her art and dreams to help others. But will she have enough courage to help herself when she becomes torn between her atheist husband and a godly man? A widower and a father, Pastor Nate Winslow is drowning in darkness. Will he resist his treacherous assignment to win Lexie’s heart or give in to the attraction between them? As events unfold, Lexie becomes entangled in a twisted plot. Will she overcome the evil assailing her or yield to the dark side? 


Soul Saver has a fascinating premise. Often Lexie wakes from a vision that contains sensory clues and a portion of a face. She heads to her studio where she sculpts until God’s urging leaves her. With the face of the stranger she is supposed to minister to or help looking up at her from her bench, she prays and then goes about her day, waiting for the urge to seek the face. 

One of Lexie’s personal burdens is that she cannot share any of this gift or this ministry with her atheist husband. The fact that he’s atheist breaks her heart on a daily basis and becomes a huge piece of the storyline as the puzzle of God’s plan unfolds. 

Miller is a good wordsmith with the necessary skills to tell a good story and keep the reader interested page after page. Her characters are dimensional and sympathetic and she twangs senses as she moves through their lives. 

There are challenging situations that crop up that pure inspirational readers might have issue with and so I’d caution that the subject matter could be offensive to some. Anyone who likes to see the behind the scenes working of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life should find much to like in this novel. Readers who love to see the powers of good and evil play out should find Soul Saver intriguing. Those who prefer that their fiction be purely escapist or without teaching/Christianese need to know that God is a main character throughout this book. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Andy Stanley's When Work and Family Collide ~ Reviewed

By Andy Stanley
Published by Multnomah
143 Pages

Back Cover: Is Your Occupation Also Your Preoccupation?

Let’s face it.  With all the demands of the workplace and all the details of a family it’s only a matter of time before one bumps into the other.  And many of us end up cheating our families when the commitments of both collide.  In this practical book, Andy Stanley will help you...

• establish priorities and boundaries to protect what you value most.
• learn the difference between saying your family is your priority and actually making them your priority.
• discover tested strategies for easing tensions at home and at work.

Watch as this powerful book transforms your life from time-crunching craziness to life-changing success.

Includes a four-week discussion guide Previously released as Choosing to Cheat

Review: I've listened to Andy Stanley preach at his church in North Point, Ga. He is fun, gets the message across and keeps it simple. This book is the same.  It’s refreshing to read a book that is practical and easy to understand. He gets relationships and our demands at work in our ever changing world.

Here’s what he says, “Your family might be your priority, but that’s not my point. They want to “feel” like you’re their priority. It’s not enough for them to “be” your priority. They must “feel” like it….

I’ll never forget discussing this point with a busy corporate VP, “The problem is you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule. And they can’t see your heart.”

Ouch, so true sometimes. If we make this our habit to achieve goals at work we won’t have a family to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  He says we cheat our families and challenges readers to trust God with our fiancés and make our families a priority before we are in a crisis or our families are crushed beyond repair.

The author states, “We’re rarely blindsided by problems on the home front. The real issue is whether we’re willing to pull out of the fast lane long enough to find out what’s going on.

Slowing down to read the vital signs isn’t easy. But it’s a whole lot easier than getting out of the race completely in order to handle a major crisis.”

This author gives practical advice and examples to illustrate what he’s talking about. Relationships aren’t easy. Letting go and letting God have is way in our lives and finances isn’t easy either. But the death of a relationship (a marriage) and the separation of your family is hard too!

This is a great book for newly weds, and marriages that are nearly dead and everything in-between. I highly recommend it!

Nora St.Laurent

Monday, May 14, 2012

Julie Cantrell's Int the Free ~ Reviewed

Into the Free: A Novel [Paperback]  

Julie Cantrell  

Paperback: 368 pages

  • Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078140424X


Just a girl. The only one strong enough to break the cycle.

In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a "nothing mama," she struggles to find a place where she really belongs.

For answers, Millie turns to the Gypsies who caravan through town each spring. The travelers lead Millie to a key that unlocks generations of shocking family secrets. When tragedy strikes, the mysterious contents of the box give Millie the tools she needs to break her family's longstanding cycle of madness and abuse.

Through it all, Millie experiences the thrill of first love while fighting to trust the God she believes has abandoned her. With the power of forgiveness, can Millie finally make her way into the free?
Saturated in Southern ambiance and written in the vein of other Southern literary bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, Julie Cantrell has created in Into the Free—now a New York Times Best Seller—a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.

Saturated in Southern ambiance and written in the vein of other Southern literary bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, Julie Cantrell has created in Into the Free—now a New York Times Best Seller—a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.

Saturated in Southern ambiance and written in the vein of other Southern literary bestsellers like The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, Julie Cantrell has created in Into the Free—now a New York Times Best Seller—a story that will sweep you away long after the novel ends.  Review:

Into the Free is about a young girl named Millie Reynolds, growing up in Mississippi during the Depression.  She has had an unhappy childhood, dealing with an abusive father, and a mother who retreats into her world most of the time, leaving Millie to take care of the both of them.  The spring of her 16th year, the band of gypsies she’s been following for the past few years shows up, along with the young man, River, with whom she has fallen in love.  They spend lots of time together, and she plans to run off them, but before she can, her father shows up and nearly beats her mother to death.  She feels obligated to stay with her mother and River leaves.  However, one of the old Gypsy ladies lead Millie to a box buried long ago that reveals many of the family secrets Millie has been searching for.  Millie then struggles to discover all of these secrets, along with figuring out where she belongs.                  
I had trouble getting into this book.  It got easier about a third of the way through, but I was disappointed in that at the end of the book, Millie doesn’t seem to have a clear understanding about the Lord and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for her sins.  She is able to get out of despair and break the family pattern, but the writer didn’t make anything clear in regards to a presentation of the gospel.  She talks about Millie’s feeling the presence of God, but for me, the gospel wasn’t clear at all.  It was an okay book.  It just depends on what you’re looking for in a story, I suppose.

Reviewed by: Sarah  Meyers

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Susan May Warren's Baroness ~ Reviewed

By Susan May Warren
Published by: Summerside Press
ISBN# 978-1609362188
380 Pages

Back Cover: 

Coming of age in the turbulent Roaring Twenties, two daughters of fortune can have anything they possibly want—except freedom. Expected to marry well and take the reins of the family empire, Lilly and Rosie have their entire lives planned out for them. But Lilly longs to flee the confines of New York City for the untamed wilds of Montana. Her cousin Rosie dreams of the bright lights of the newly emerging silver screen. But following their dreams—to avant-garde France, to dazzling Broadway, to the skies of the fearless wing walkers—will demand all their courage.

When forced to decide, will Lilly and Rosie truly be able to abandon lives of ease and luxury for the love and adventure that beckons? At what cost will each daughter of fortune find her true love and a happy ending?


I loved book one, Heiress and was thrilled to receive a review copy of Baroness Book two in the Daughter of fortune series. The first book dealt with two sisters and one stealing the birth right from the other. Susan May Warren said that it was loosely based in the story of Jacob and Esau in the bible.

Baroness deals with the children of sisters Esme and Jinx, daughters of a prominent newspaper publisher and takes the reader for an inside look at the “Roaring Twenties” with the flappers, jazz, airplanes, post-WWI, bold makeup, short dresses, gangsters and baseball. Susan does a great job of capturing this era and letting the reader experience it.

Cousins, Lilly and Rosie take in the streets of Paris in different ways. Rosie hungers for the glitz, glamor, and romance of the city. Lilly doesn’t care for all that. She wants adventure of a different kind, similar to what she found in Montana.

These cousins each rebel their social status. Their family fortune assures them of every material thing they could ever want, yet each desires to strike out on their own, be independent! They had to prove they could make a name for themselves.

Lily turns to planes, flying and the circus to find her independence. Rose rushes into the arms of one lover after the other, finally embracing the world of baseball and all it has to offer her.

The novel follows these daughters of fortune and the decisions they make to walk in the opposite direction their parents wanted them to. Both cousins were desperate to get away from their families and their pre-arranged lives. They make poor whimsical choices after the other, which leads to anguish and heartache.

These girls weren’t struggling with their faith nor were any other characters in this book.  None of the characters I noticed came across as Christians although there was a brief mention of a tent revival. I missed the uplifting and most times encouraging that aspect of a Christian Fiction novel; these girls were just out to do as they pleased with no care for family, faith or friends. They soon discovered that happiness could not be found this way or indulging in money.

This book could be read as a stand alone as it really doesn’t refer to events from books one, the author fills in what you need to know about this sisters from book one. But DO NOT miss experiencing Heiress, it was great! If you are looking for something gripping, a little different and historical then Baroness is the book for you!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Jim Hamlett's Moe ~ Reviewed


Jim Hamlett

Perfect Paperback: 329 pages 

Publisher: Graceful Word

Language: English 

ISBN-10: 0982898509

Book Description:

Two are better than one...for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 ESV

Fresh from seminary, Moses Mackenzie leaves his beloved Scotland and travels to the rural upstate of South Carolina. He searches not only for work that will give meaning to his life, but for an answer to the question that has plagued him since childhood: How does the mutation of a single gene square with being ...fearfully and wonderfully made... ?

In South Carolina, Moe meets Kirk Vaughn, pastor of the Blue Ridge Fellowship, a man desperate for a miracle. When Kirk realizes the last candidate for associate pastor is a man named Moses, he believes God may be sending a prophet with the miracle the whole church is expecting. Full of anticipation, Kirk arrives at the airport to pick up their guest, but instead of the prophet-like figure he expects, he finds a dwarf in kilt a miniature Moses-in-a-skirt.

Through circumstances that neither man envisions, Moe and Kirk are thrown into a working relationship that tests their understanding of themselves, of each other, and of what it means to be a true friend. Each man travels to the end of his own way before realizing the answer to his need lies on a path he least expects.

Moe is a story of friendship of how desperately we need at least one true friend to help us up when the inevitable trials of life put us down.


Moe is one of the more unique books I’ve read of late. Jim Hamlett has taken a modern day story about the struggles of ministry and finding God in the midst of people’s expectations and good intentions and added some surprising elements to create a charming and thought provoking tale. A young preacher from Scotland crosses “the pond” to candidate in America for an assistant pastor position. He lands to discover a polished pastor, a strong elder board and a very ill pastor’s wife. Told through revolving points of view the reader gets a glimpse into Moe’s thoughts, Pastor Kirk’s and a few other key players as the story unfolds. Ultimately this story is about the things of God, His paths, and His plans, even when they don’t make sense.

I tend to avoid self-published books. Why? I never know what I’m going to get. Is the novel going to be a rambling tribute to the author’s dream of tweed with leather patched elbows, or is the book going to be rough as a cob with points of view all over the map in a single paragraph? Will the story be trite or clichéd or will it be a well written story that just isn’t easily pigeonholed into a hot selling genre? When I agree to read a book, I take that commitment seriously so my reading time is spread pretty thin. Once I open a book I usually know within a page or two if I can review it with any amount of positivity. When I find a book I can fall into and get lost, sigh, it's such a pleasure.

That said. Moe falls into the category of a very unique storyline and one written by an author without a massive selling platform. But, Hamlett’s not fitting the mold doesn’t mean the book isn’t a good read. On the contrary, Hamlett has all the skills and abilities of a good writer and storyteller. The pacing is just right. His characters are well developed and rich and even though he has several characters he juggles I didn’t get lost in the sea of people. The writing is spare but sense triggering. And the story is compelling on several levels. Overall I’m impressed and glad Mr. Hamlett took the necessary steps to polish his manuscript because it’s well worth the time investment.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Miranda Parker's A Good Excuse to be Bad ~ Reviewed

By Miranda Parker
Published by Kensington Publishers Corp
323 Pages

Back Cover:

REVIEW: I enjoyed the review copy of this novel for a number of reasons. First, Angel, the main character is feisty, a tough, smart single mom. She was a bounty hunter with a few tricks up her sleeves. I liked her honesty and spunk. Angel was trying to do the best for her and her daughter. A bail recovery agent was hard work but she also didn’t have to punch a clock from 9-5p.m.

Second reason I liked this book is Angel’s honesty about the church and her life. She knows it’s best to be there, but she sits on the back pew ready to run out the door as soon as the sermon was over. She liked Jesus and all but it was the Christians she had issues with. Especially the ones at her sister’s mega church where her brother-in-law was the pastor. Her twin sister referred to her husband as, “the Bishop…any woman who refers to her husband as a job title had issues!” Angel tried to tell her sister something wasn’t quite right with that church but she didn’t listen. Her sister distanced herself from her and the entire family, which is never good.

Angel had been a reporter and did a story on her sisters Mega Church and how they used their money. That’s when troubles started between her sister and her husband, the Bishop.

Angel was fun to read about, and I enjoyed her search for God, love and her search for a way to support her child that wasn’t so dangerous.

She sat on the back pew for another reason, the Pastor. She liked what Justus had to say but, “His words, his tone of judgment in them was why she sat on the back pew in the first place… I wanted to wrestle my own demons in my own time, especially what happened to Bella’s daddy.” Another reason she didn’t want to talk with Justus personally was the way she felt about him. She wanted to stay clear away from feelings like that for a man. She wasn’t pastor’s wife material.  Her feelings would pass, they had to. No way was she going to love someone with her whole heart and have them die on her again.

Miranda Parker pens a fun, suspenseful story with a smart strong single mom doing her best to provide for her daughter Bella. This author takes the reader on a mysterious ride as she keeps them guessing as to who killed a prominent religious leader in their community.

I enjoyed the suspense and the cat and mouse game Justus and Angel played with each other. Justus wants to help Angel in her investigation into the murder of a pastor! That’s where the fun begins!

This book leaves the reader hanging and waiting for Book two. Where you’ll know who sent the note Angel reads at the end of the book and how it just might lead her to Bella’s daddy, Gabe’s murderer. Readers won’t have to wait too ling. The Sequel is called, Someone Bad, Something Blue out July 2012, from Daphne Books.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Monday, May 07, 2012

Maggie Brendan's Deeply Devoted ~ Reviewed

By Maggie Branden
Published by Revell

Back Cover: 

When Catharine Olsen leaves Holland for America as a mail-order bride, she brings along some extra baggage: two sisters, her mother's set of Blue Willow china, and a tragic past. When she arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, she promptly marries Peter Andersen and dreams of starting life over in this rugged land. Peter is kind and patient with Catharine and accommodating to her sisters. His mother, however, is not. When she begins a campaign to sabotage Peter's marriage, Catharine is distraught, worried that her secret past will be discovered. Will her life end up as nothing but broken pieces? Or will these trials make her stronger?

Readers will love negotiating the clash of cultures and class as a highborn European and a Western wheat farmer learn to love one another and trust God with both the past and the future.


 Deeply Devoted is the first in a new series written by Maggie Branden which takes place in 1887, Cheyenne Territory, Wyoming! I’m thankful for the review copy of such a fun, and encouraging book. The author pens a sweet, heart-felt story that reminds me of the Love Comes Softly series written by Jeanette Oke.

Maggie Branden pens a novel that gives the reader a peek at life back in 1887 and how hard it was to live in the Cheyenne Territory. I enjoyed all the quirky and fun characters in this book even the practical and responsible sister Catharine Olsen who was born and raised in Holland. She takes on the job of becoming a mail-order bride and moves her and her sisters to America.

Maggie said in her research, “Mail-order brides were a huge part of settling the West. My heroine was from Holland. Many Dutch Brides settled in Minnesota, but I took the liberty of having them travel to Wyoming to marry a wheat farmer.”

That’s when the fun begins. This author had me laugh out-loud when I read about these women of privilege learning to live on a wheat farm. Peter takes Catharine his bride and her sisters to the store to get suitable clothes to work in. The girls talk about their new clothes choices, these ladies were raised in a home of privilege they had servants and didn’t do any physical labor. So when this author describes a scene where the ladies go to a country store to look at clothes you have to laugh out-loud.

“Oh, look, there’s overalls like our stable boy wore back home,” Anna grinned. “I might like them.”

Catharine held up the overalls in disbelief. “I’m not really sure why we would need these.”

“Peter did say that we would be doing outdoor work, and working in a dress would be difficult in the wheat fields,”

…you know, I can see how it would be easier to do gardening in these than in a skirt with a lot of petticoats, can’t you? Anna said.

“Well, you could be right. But those shoes are hideous. I can’t see myself in them.” Greta groaned.

I enjoyed Catharine and the relationship she had with her sisters. They are playful and each has a different reaction to this new home and foreign land in America.

Catharine and her sisters might have gotten more than they bargained for but they are willing to give it their 100 percent. Peter, Catharine’s new husband thinks the same thing. Why hadn’t Catharine mentioned she was bringing her sisters in there letters? It was going to take some getting used to but he also was willing to do whatever it took to make the marriage work.

Peter’s mother however was filled with suspicion and felt betrayed by her son. How could he marry a women he’d never even met when she had the perfect woman already picked out for him right in their home town? They went to the same church even, grew up in the same school. This Catharine has bewitched her only son and she was going to do whatever it took to prove it. Why would a woman leave Holland with her sisters and move to America? She had no family here. She must be fleeing trouble. Peter’s mom would find out what kind of trouble if it was the last thing she did.

I enjoyed this novel, these characters getting to know the Wild West and Catharine’s love of china. Not just any China but the Blue Willow kind. It reminded her of home.  The author’s passion for history, family, Blue dishes and faith are fun to read about throughout this story. The faith message is not preachy but honest and believable. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and the setting. I look forward to the other books in this series. I highly recommend this book for a great escape; you’ll be encouraged, energized and learned about American history along the way!! It doesn’t get any better than that.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Friday, May 04, 2012

Comer, Daughety, O'Dell and Putnam's Rainbow's End ~ Reviewed

By Valerie Comer, Annalise Daughety, Nicole O’Dell, Cara Putman
Published by Barbour Books
352 pages
ISBN: 978-1616266868

Back Cover Blurb:
It's an interesting group of strangers who show up for the first annual Rainbow's End geocache hunt, and the spectacular scenery along the bluffs of the Lake of the Ozarks is just one reason. . . .

Lyssa, hoping she can get over her fears and point folks to the treasure found in Jesus, is startled to find her former college professor among the group. Will he upset her mission?
City girl Madison is annoyed that her sister signed her up and then bailed—but now she’s been paired with a complete stranger! Worse, he’s one of those outdoorsy types.
Reagan has always played it safe, doing everything by the book. And then she meets her brother’s frat brother, a guy who’s got his life mapped out, too.
After winning her life-long battle to get fit, Hadley can’t wait to meet people who didn’t know her “before.”  But Brad is that species of guy she has no experience with: a player.

God only knows if this adventure in the woods will lead to heartache . . . or love.


Four ladies, four guys, and one two-month geocaching event centered in the beautiful Ozarks.
Rainbow’s End, a Romancing America collection published by Barbour Books, was a quick and fun read. As a Missourian, I enjoyed reading about the beautiful Osage Beach area and could easily envision the various excursions each of the characters went on. The unifying plot of a geocaching outreach event was deliciously unique and engaging. The clever poetic clues presented in the first novella, written by debut novelist, Valerie Comer, produced numerous chuckles while, in novella three, Hadley Parker’s interpretation of one geocaching clue made my pulse race. Thank goodness there was a handsome hero nearby!

I enjoyed getting to know each character presented, from the shy, eco-friendly Lyssa Quinn to the newly-emerging Hadley Parker. The story-lines, although unique, wove together seamlessly, and each author’s unique voice added depth and flavor to the compilation.

Rainbow’s End is a perfect collection to read on a peaceful summer afternoon. 

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Katie Ganshert's Wildflowers from Winter ~ Reviewed

By Katie Ganshert
Published by Water Brook, May 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-73038-1

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her trailer-park teen years. An unexpected call from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa.

Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. The unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his own dreams But even as he disagrees with Bethany's vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn't seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love, and a peace that she's not even sure exists?

Beautifully drawn characters will win your heart from page one of this poignant story, lingering in your mind when you've finished. It's a tale of loss and sorrow and of dreams redeemed. Novel Rocket and I give it a very high recommendation.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, Sr. Editor

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Sandi Rog's Walks Alone ~ Reviewed

By Sandi Rog
Published by Whitefire
ISBN# 978-0983455653

Book Blurb: A Cheyenne warrior bent on vengeance. A pioneer woman bent on fulfilling a dream.
Until their paths collide.

After fleeing her abusive uncle, Anna is determined to reach the city of her dreams. But White Eagle and his fierce warriors take her prisoner. Anna attempts a harrowing escape, but her savage captor is determined to have her at all costs and forces her to be his wife. Has God forgotten her, or does He have plans of His own?

A man with a boot in one world and a moccasin in the other, White Eagle is disillusioned with his faith after a minister leads a massacre on his peaceful tribe. Where is his God? He s definitely not with the white men who are slaughtering his people. But White Eagle also can t give in to the idolatry practiced by his fellow tribesmen. Only the Truth can set him free. And it s found in beautiful Anna s carpetbag.

Review: Walks Alone is an unforgettable and amazing story! It reminded me of the epic movie Dances with Wolves. I was never the same after watching that movie. I was shaken to the depths of my soul. It made me re-think what I had been taught. It made me laugh, cry, cheer and rejoice along with the characters. Reading Walks Alone made me feel the same as Dances with Wolves did.

I instantly connected with the main character Anna, through all her trials and tribulations. Her life took some unexpected turns! She finds herself learning about the Cheyenne massacre at Sandi Creek, directly from the survivors!

Anna thinks as the survivor shares, “Reminders of that terrible day were everywhere…How could these people not want to kill her when her own people had been so cruel?...It amazed her that this couple would take her in. They accepted her and treated her as one of their own. Why would they accept a perfect stranger? Especially someone whose culture brought grief to their people. It touched Anna in a way she couldn’t explain. It frightened her.”

Anna is a naïve young lady in search of a dream. A dream her Dad had about the west and Denver City. Anna told a friend, “I just want to go home. I feel as though I’ve been trying to get home ever since I touched American soil, and it’s constantly out of reach. Contentment – Home – is waiting for her in Denver City.”

This author has some surprising twists and turns in Anna’s journey to Denver City. Some I never saw coming! Loved that.

This author has masterfully written an astonishing story of faith, hope, love and forgiveness as two cultures are intertwined and learn from the other. As the cultures collide and sparks fly it takes a miracle to have them learn from one another. Learn to listen. Learn to take the time to understand ways that are not their ways as they both seek peace; a love of the land and each other.

It’s a novel you will tell your friends they must read because it will open their eyes and touch them deeply. I highly recommend this book as a book club pick; it will start rich conversations and so much more!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent