Friday, March 30, 2012

Amy Wallace's Hiding in Plain Sight ~ Reviewed

Hiding in Plain Sight (Place of Refuge Series)
Amy Wallace
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0736947310


In a quiet town with a thriving Mennonite community, police officer Ashley Walters finds her threadbare faith and way of life challenged by the Plain people whose simple dress and welcoming manner open her eyes to a God she left behind. Peace eludes Ashley until she realizes the answers she seeks aren't found in starting over but in returning to the simple truth that it's God who overcomes the world, not her.


Hiding in Plain Sight revolves around a young police officer named Ashley Walters. She moves to the small town of Montezuma, Georgia, hoping to escape her parents and the memory of her brother, Eric, who was murdered 10 years prior. Ashley blames herself and becomes a cop to make up for the justice she hasn’t been able to give her brother. In the meantime she befriends some folks in the Mennonite community. She is unable to understand their peace and faith in God, which she lost when her brother died. In the meantime, she meets a handsome counselor named Patrick James, and is scared by the deepening feelings she begins to have for him. Throughout the story, she is fighting for control of her life, but finds that she can’t seem to do it on her own.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I enjoyed seeing Ashley’s hard outer shell begin to soften throughout the story as the different people God brought into her life caused her to look at things differently. One thing that kept me in “suspense” was not only Ashley’s growing attracting to Patrick, but the feelings that seemed to spark when she was around Jonathan, a quiet Mennonite man. I had difficulty deciding which man to root for! The outcome was agreeable, though.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tracie Peterson's Chasing the Sun ~ Reviewed

Chasing the Sun
By Tracie Peterson
Published by Bethany House
347 Pages

Description: Hannah is desperate for help... William is determined to regain his family's land...

When her father disappears in war-torn Mississippi, Hannah Dandridge finds herself responsible not only for her younger siblings but also for the Texas ranch her father recently acquired. A marriage of convenience could ease her predicament... but is it the true desire of her heart?

Wounded soldier William Barnett returns home only to find out that his family's ranch has been seized. Though angered at this turn of events, he's surprised to discover that it is a beautiful young woman with amazing fortitude who is struggling to keep the place running.

Despite these circumstances, Hannah and William form an uneasy truce... and an undeniable attraction builds between them. In a land where loyalties are divided in a country ravaged by war, is there any hope that the first blush of love can survive?


I’m thankful for the review copy of the first book in Tracie Peterson’s series. Hannah’s father is missing and she’s left with the responsibility of her two younger siblings and the task of keeping a ranch on the Texas plains going.

Mr. Lockhart, her father’s partner was the one to deliver the news! He offers to marry Hannah so her siblings and her will be taken care of.

Hannah doesn’t feel right about that, but she’s determined to trust God for direction and His provision! She turns Mr. Lockhart down. William Barnett, a wounded soldier returns home to discover his family ranch has been seized! He’s also surprised a beautiful young woman with amazing strength and determination is running the ranch in her father’s absentness. He sees she needs help and he needs a place to stay. Maybe they could work something out. He offers to help on the ranch for a place to sleep in the bunkhouse!

Hannah feels she can trust William and she’s thankful for the help. She’s desperate to keep the ranch running; she didn’t want to consider a marriage of convenience just to pay her bills. She wanted to marry for love. Mr. Lockhart was as old as her father. No love growing there. Both Hannah and William agreed to work together until ownership of the ranch could be settled. Neither one would throw the other to the street now matter how it all worked out.

The ranch was near Comanche tribes. That’s another reason William is willing to help out on the ranch. He was fond of Hannah and her siblings and felt the need to protect them from the Comanche tribes and confederate solders.

I admired Hannah and how she applied God’s word to her life. She expected others to do the
same as she did. Treat them the God would. Hannah reminded me of a missionary, Elizabeth Elliott, and how she interacted with the tribe that killed her husband and others when they came to show God’s love to them. Elizabeth went on to complete the work her husband and friends started. So she went in to live with the tribe and brought her small daughter with her. She learned their language and shared Jesus with them. The Tribes people and Elliott’s lives were never the same.

Hannah does the same thing when asked. She is summoned to go into a Comanche tribe to help with the sick. She goes out of her comfort zone (leaving her siblings behind in the care of friends) to show the love of Jesus to this tribe.

Juanita Hannah’s friends says to her, “…we all were so afraid. Why you go out there?”

Hannah said, “I felt God telling me to go. I was only trying to be obedient to God. The Bible says in Romans eight, “If God be for us, who can be against us? I believe that God surrounded me with angels of protection.

…I believe our business is to know Him better, and that the right thing can only be determined by studying His word.”

Hannah is feisty and loyal to her family lays into Mr. Lockhart who won’t stop pressuring her to marry him.

“Good, Hannah thought. Its better that he realizes here and now that I’m a woman of determination. I won’t be ordered about anymore. From now on, the children are my only concern.”

I loved Tracie’s humor too. Marty, Hannah’s little sister tells her, “He’s losin’ all his hair, Hannah. You can’t marry a man who doesn’t have any hair.”

Hannah smiles and says, “Marty, it doesn’t matter as much what a fella looks like, but rather what’s in their heart- if they love Jesus and if they are trustworthy.”

I loved the spiritual thread naturally woven in this story and I enjoyed the characters. It gets suspenseful at the end when Mr. Lockhart turns into a stalker and won’t take no for an answer from Hannah. He’s also good at stirring up trouble with the Comanche. I liked how Tracie showed all sides of the Comanche issues.

This was the first historical I’ve read by Tracie Peterson. Her love of history spills out into the pages and her characters keep the reader engaged and staying up late to see how it all turns out.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network CEO

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tamara Leigh's Dreamspell ~ Reviewed

Dreamspell [Kindle Edition]
Tamara Leigh
File Size: 535 KB
Publisher: Tamara Leigh; 1 edition (March 18, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English


A time to live. A time to die. A time to dream.

Sleep disorders specialist Kennedy Plain has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. When her research subject dies after trying to convince her he has achieved dream-induced time travel and her study is shelved, she enlists herself as a subject to complete her research. But when she dreams herself into 14th-century England and falls into the hands of Fulke Wynland, a man history has condemned as a murderer, she must not only stay alive long enough to find a way to return to her own time, but prevent Fulke from murdering his young nephews. And yet, the more time she spends with the medieval warrior, the more difficult it is to believe he is capable of committing the heinous crime for which he has been reviled for 600 years.

Baron Fulke Wynland has been granted guardianship of his brother’s heirs despite suspicions that he seeks to steal their inheritance. When the king sends a mysterious woman to care for the boys, Fulke is surprised by the lady's hostility toward him--and more surprised to learn she is to be his wife. But when his nephews are abducted, the two must overcome their mutual dislike to discover the boys' fate. What Fulke never expects is to feel for this woman whose peculiar speech, behavior, and talk of dream travel could see her burned as a witch.

Review :

Adored for her contemporary chick lit flavored inspirational fiction, Tamara Leigh proves she is equally at home in the 14th century with her self published time travel romance, Dreamspell. Tamara commenced her writing career penning medieval romance novels for the general market and her talent for historical romance is on display in this substantial and engaging story. Fulke captures the imagination from the get go as he faces the hangman's noose for a heinous crime, a medieval warrior with a captive heart. Kennedy is an intriguing woman, facing death of another kind, daring to dream of a life beyond her consciousness. While cheating death in one world by traveling to another, Kennedy faces danger of an equally unrelenting nature as rumors she is a witch take flight. Dreamspell is a novel of deep passion while remaining a clean read but unlike Tamara's contemporary novels, you will not find an overtly spiritual message. Tamara's considerable gifts for character development, historical detail and palpable attraction with garner her devoted readers in this genre. Fulke and Kennedy engaged me completely as they battled fear, attraction, betrayal and heartache and their journey will appeal to fans of Lisa Bergren's River of Time series and Linda Windsor's medieval romances. Like Siri Mitchell, Tamara shows she can make the transition from romantic comedies to historical romance with ease and I am confidant Dreamspell will be the first of many successful historical novels from this gifted writer.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, March 26, 2012

Conroy, Putnam, DeVine and Sowell's Cherry Blossom Capers ~ Reviewed

Cherry Blossom Capers
By Gina Conroy, Cara C. Putman, Frances Devine and Lynette Sowell.
Published by Barbour Publishers
347 Pages

Back Cover:

Encounter mystery, mayhem, and murder near Washington, DC, alongside four professional females. White House assistant chef Tara Whitley works with an old flame, FBI agent Jack Courtland, to stop a plot to sabotage a state-dinner. Attorney Ciara Turner and her nemesis Daniel Evans have trials tracking down a judge’s murderer. Archeologist intern Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter are on the heels of a dangerous forger. Shop owner Susan Holland and renovator Vince Martini turn upside down her late uncle’s mansion while investigating a string of mysterious accidents. Will these sleuthing couples’ machinations move them into matrimony?


The names of the four stories in this collection are State Secrets by Lynette Sowell, Dying for Love by Cara C. Putman, Buried Deception by gina Conroy and Coffee, Tea and Danger by Francis Devine.

The novels are connected by the lives of four friends, that have a few things in common. They live in Cherry Blossom Estates townhomes in Washington, D.C., each as a very different occupation Ciara is an attorney, Tara is the Whitehouse chief of staff, Samantha is a widow, Susan owns a coffee shop. Each of these ladies is a Christian living out their faith the best they can on their jobs and everywhere else.

The books feature one of the four girls mentioned. The girls find themselves in a dangerous situation and fights romance as they try to solve this mystery. The authors did a good job at keeping the stories consistent and smooth as the reader read about the girls’ lives and how they progressed through the action and adventure.

This book is part of the romancing America series and fun to read. I’m thankful for the review copy. This book is a light hearted, fun cozy mysteries stories I enjoyed and had a good feeling when I read the last page. You will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network CEO

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nancy Herriman's The Irish Healer ~ Reviewed.

The Irish Healer
Nancy Herriman
Paperback: 307 pages
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (April 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936034786


During the deadly 1832 cholera epidemic in London, a heartsick Irish healer must find the strength to overcome her most fearsome obstacles.

Accused of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal while vowing to never sit at another sickbed. She no longer trusts in her abilities-or God's mercy. When a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, she feels compelled to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. James Edmunds, wearied by the deaths of too many patients, has his own doubts about God's grace. Can they face their darkest fears? Or is it too late to learn that trust and love just might heal their hearts?


After reading The Irish Healer, Nancy Herriman's debut novel, it came as no surprise that she has finaled in numerous awards for her non-published works and took home the 2006 RWA Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/Romantic Suspense. In The Irish Healer, Nancy's beautiful prose paints descriptive word pictures of London, her inhabitants and the intriguing Dr Edmunds and secretive Rachel. Infused with threads of mystery, a gently developed romance and struggles with self worth and calling, this story captivates and delights. In the vein of Siri Mitchell and Julie Klassen, spiritual themes are sensitively woven throughout as each of the characters come to terms with the tragedy of their past lives and open themselves to a future filled with hope and forgiveness. The Irish Healer holds plenty of promise of an enduring career for the talented Nancy Herriman.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review

The Irish Healer is about a young woman named Rachel Dunne, who is known as a healer in her native country of Ireland.  When a young child dies in her care, she is tried for murder.  Though she is found innocent, she ends up having to leave her home because the village is shunning her.  She vows to never practice medicine again, but ends up taking a job with James Edmunds, a young doctor who is depressed for many of the same reasons as Rachel is…the fact that he can’t save everyone.  She originally comes to assist him in organizing his practice before he sells it and moves to the country, but through circumstances beyond her control, she ends up being his assistant.  Of course, as you can imagine, they are also finding a growing attraction for each other.

I found this book a bit slow going at first, but after a while, it got more and more interesting.  I found it interesting that both characters were gifted in the area of medicine and caring for the others, but because of bad experiences, they thought that it was no longer what they were supposed to do.  But circumstances kept showing that what they wanted and what God wanted were two different things.  I enjoyed watching their walls and pride fall down as they realized that healing was truly in the Lord’s hands and not theirs and they weren’t to be blamed if they couldn’t save someone. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Bonus Review:

This is the first time I listened to an audio book and the first time I've heard of Nancy Herriman. Score on both accounts! Loved the audio and the author!

The Irish Healer brings you back to 1830's England, during the time of a Cholera outbreak. Dickenesque in style, author Nancy Herriman captured the feel of a crowded, dirty London, leastwise in the poorest section of St. Giles. 

At times I wished the heroine and hero weren't so snippy to each other, but as all good romances should, they ended up together. My favorite character, however, was the cook, Mrs. Mainprice (not sure on the spelling since I only heard it voiced and didn't read it myself). She's a no-nonsense, wise and compassionate woman who I liked to fancy as their fairy Godmother.

Overall, this is a fantastic read and I will definitely look for more of Nancy Herriman's upcoming releases.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Francis Chan's Ronnie Wilson's Gift ~ Reviewed

Ronnie Wilson’s Gift
By Francis Chan
Published by David C Cook
ISBN #: 978-0-7814-0477-8
19 pages

Book Blurb: A little boy’s attempts to give Jesus a gift teaches him the truth that what he does for others, he does for Jesus.

When Ronnie Wilson learns of Jesus’ sacrifice, he wants to give Jesus a gift in return. But how can he get it to heaven? With each attempt he performs a simple act of service for someone in need, and eventually learns that what is done for the least in God’s kingdom is done for Jesus himself.

In the delightfully illustrated book Ronnie Wilson’s Gift, bestselling author and prolific speaker Francis Chan continues the series of children’s parables he began with Halfway Herbert and The Big Red Tractor.


It was thankful to receive a review copy of Francis Chan’s newest children’s picture book. Jim Madsen beautifully illustrates the message this author has for the reader based on Matthew 25:40.

The story begins with Ronnie Wilson relaizing for the first time why Jesus came to Earth. He says to his teacher “Jesus gave me an awesome gift, so I want to give him a present too!”

The whole book Ronnie searches for the perfect gift! In the end, Ronnie understand the meaning of Matthew 25:40. “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I say this to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.’ “

Francis Chan has given parents a great tool to use in opening up dialogue with our kids about gifts and giving. It’s also beautifully illustrated. The message of this story will help, as Francis says, ‘Help us teach our kids the invaluable lesson of giving generously, God would give you the faith to live it but then our kids will see just how blessed we are when we give”

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network CEO

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Travis Thrasher's Temptation ~ Reviewed

Temptation: A Novel
Solitary Tales Book 3
By Travis Thrasher
April 2012
David C. Cook

Review by Michelle Griep

As a reluctant student at Harrington High’s summer school, Chris meets a fun-loving senior girl who offers a welcome diversion from Chris’s past. Soon Chris no longer searches for the truth about the town of Solitary. He no longer tries to pierce its shadows. He no longer questions his role in its mysteries. He makes a new choice: he runs. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s running the wrong way—and is very close to being beyond any choices at all.

Move over Stephen King. Travis Thrasher is da man! If creepalicious is your thing, then Temptation is the book to you. In my opinion, it’s the creepiest of the series thus far.

I confess there were times I wanted to slap hero Chris upside the head. In this installment, he makes some pretty stupid choices, even though he knows he’s making them. Dare I admit that I resorted to calling him an idiot during one scene? Yeah. It earned me a few strange looks as I read on the treadmill at the gym.

But that sure didn’t stop me from loving this book. As if the plot weren’t gnarly enough, a few new twists and turns are introduced—one I totally didn’t see coming—which is exactly what attracts me to a story in the first place.

As eerie as Temptation is, the tale ends with an incredibly hopeful tone. Though there’s definitely some big conflict coming down the pike, without giving anything away, for once I think Chris will be okay.

If you haven’t read books I and II in this series, grab them off the shelf first. Then go ahead and settle yourself into a comfy chair with a beverage of your choice at your side.

And make sure the lights are on.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Melody Carlson's The Jerk Magnet ~ Reviewed

By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell (Jan 1, 2012)
ISBN-13: 978-0800719623
Paperback: 218 pages

Book Blurb: When Chelsea Martin's future stepmother helps her transform from gawky and geeky into the hottest girl at her new school, Chelsea is pretty sure it's the best thing that ever happened to her. But her hot new look has a downside. She's attracting lots of guys who all have one thing in common: they're jerks. And stealing the attention of all the guys in school doesn't endear her to the girls either.

Chelsea finally finds a true friend in Janelle Parker, and a non-jerk, Nicholas, catches her eye. Janelle keeps telling her to be herself, but Nicholas is the only guy around who doesn't give her a second look. Can Chelsea and Janelle come up with a plan to get his attention? Or will Chelsea's new image ruin everything?

Teen favorite and bestselling author Melody Carlson helps girls uncover the real source of beauty in this true-to-life story of young love, friendship, and being yourself.


I love Melody Carlson’s writing no matter who her audience is, in this case it’s for the youth. Chelsea Martin has just found out her dad has a girlfriend and it’s serious. Surprise to her.

Chelsea was still dealing with her mother being dead, ok, it had been 5 years but she wasn't ready to move on to having a step-mother. Chelsea doesn’t have much time to process the news before her dad hits her with another boom, they are moving. She’s loosing her dad and the only home she’s ever known in the same year.

Chelsea meets Kate, her dad’s girlfriend and sees how well put together she is, she’s nice too. Kate offers to help Chelsea with her clothes, hair and make-up. Her Dad's new bride to be has some bonding time with Chelsea as they talk about beauty. It reminded me of when Julie Andrews talked to Mia about how she dressed, wore her hair and have good table manners. They were grooming her to be the princess and she had to have a certain look in the Princess Diaries movies.

Kate says back, “I think the exterior is hurting the interior – I see you becoming as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. Just think of it, you’ll be going to a new school this fall, and who knows how great your last two years of high school might be.”

Before they start Chelsea says, “I don’t see the point in all this you can dress me differently but I’m still the same on the inside!”

Kate then talks to Chelsea about her interior dialogue, “You need to change your interior dialogue Chelsea.” What you think about yourself shows on the outside.

Chelsea resisted in her head the things Kate had told her to think, “I am an attractive, intelligent girl. I have a lot to offer other people. People want to get to know me.”

But when Kate gets Chelsea all dolled up to perfection - male heads turn and she gets attention she never had before. Is this what she wants? All this attention may not be a good thing.

Had Kate gone too far with Chelsea’s new look? She thinks so when a friend says to her, “Look at yourself. Just like Dalton said, you look like a hot babe, and to a jerk like him, a hot babe is like dangling raw meat in front of a hungry bear. Or in other words, a jerk magnet.” (The guy will say and do anything to be with you – not in a good way)

Chelsea was baffled. Her friend went on, “In the same way you attract guys who are jerks, you repel the guys who aren’t- at lease the ones who are trying not to be jerks,”

Chelsea and Janelle try an experiment at the youth group retreat and get surprising results. Chelsea then starts to think about whom she is dressed up to be and who she really is and/or wants to be. Great stuff!

I enjoy Melody Carlson books. I was so thankful for the review copy of such a fun and honest book about the pressures girls have in high school. That's what my daughter and I loved most about the Diary of a Teenage Girl series by Melody, we could read them separately and talk about the content. We can talk about the book and characters and not have to bring up specifics about our lives. Melody's books open up a dialogue between your daughter and yourself that is safe.

She also puts things in the book you're glad your child heard from someone else because maybe, just maybe they might listen to it. In the teen years it's hard to listen to your parents when you are trying to figure out this whole big world and where you fit in.

I liked how the author dealt with the subject of beauty. Chelsea was hot and the guys were all over her but is that what she really wanted to be known for? Is this the attention she wanted to be known for her body and looks alone? There are so many feelings and situations to deal with in High School, I like the way Melody shows how Chelsea navigates through her transition from one school to another.

I enjoyed this book very much. I highly recommend it for any age group, but especially the middle schooler/early high school age. It's a keeper!!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kelly Irvin's To Love and To Cherish ~ Reviewed

To Love And To Cherish (The Bliss Creek Amish)
Kelly Irvin
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943714


In author Kelly Irvin’s first installment in the Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will find a charming, romantic story of how God works even in the darkest moments.

It’s been four years since Carl left. Four years since he left the safety of the small Amish community for the Englisch world. And in four years, Emma’s heart has only begun to heal.

Now, with the unexpected death of her parents, Emma is plunged back into a world of despair and confusion. It’s a confusion only compounded by Carl’s return. She’s supposed to be in love with why can’t she keep her mind off Thomas, the strong, quiet widower who always seems to be underfoot? Could the man she only knew as a friend be the one to help her to heal?

In a world that seems to be changing no matter how tightly she clings to the past, this one woman must see beyond her pain and open her heart to trust once again.


To Love and to Cherish revolved around a young woman named Emma. When her parents are killed in a tragic buggy accident, her brother and sister in law, and their family, move in with Emma and remaining siblings to keep the family together. In the meantime, Emma’s long ago love, who left the Amish community, returns, trying to win her heart. At the same time, Thomas, a widower and family friend, begins to pursue Emma. Between the loss of her parents and the struggle with her heart, Emma is not sure what to do.

This book really focused on forgiveness, and not letting bitterness take over your life. While Emma’s family was able to forgive, Emma found she was unable to do so, and in turn, began to have a bitter attitude towards the Lord. It was interesting to see her character evolve and soften towards the Lord as she began to let Him lead.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Roxanne Hughs Parkham, Hannah Parkman and Mark Lohman's Inspired Design ~ Reviewed

Inspired Design
By Roxanne Hughs Parkham and Hannah Parkham
Mark Lohman Photographer
Publisher Inspired Design Publications, Inc.
ISBN# 978-0984456307
150 Pages

Book Blurb: Drawing from the highly-published designs she's created for hundreds of clients, Packham will inspire you to create a home that touches the souls of those within. Amid Stunning photography, stories of treasured family traditions and poignant observations by 16 year old daughter Hannah, she shares ideas that will help you create beauty, warmth and passion in your home, and make it an inspired design

Written by Grand daughter of Allan Adler, noted American silversmith, and Great Granddaughter of Porter George Blanchard, also known as "silversmith to the stars", Packham's history and knowledge of silver and flair for table settings prove to be a winning combo.

Ideas for Sentimental Parties, and occasions’ for teenage girls, and mothers & others, Celebrating friends & friendship. Inspirational for incorporating family history, talents, and passions into the design of the family home.


Decorating! So many things come to mind when you say that word. Overwhelming is the word that hits me most when I hear it mention. I’m very thankful to have received a review copy of Inspired Design, a book that breaks down the process of decorating a house to make it a home, stress free and creatively.

Roxanne Packham is an acclaimed interior designer whose classic designs grace 100’s of California homes from San Francisco to San Diego. Roxanne and her daughter Hannah have blended their talents together to create a book that will inspire you to create “a feeling of warmth and love that touches the soul of those within, as well as all who walk through your doors….Beautiful heart-beautiful home.”

Roxanne shares her family traditions and how they have been in the design business for generations. Hannah shares her feelings about how setting a table for special events has meant so much to her and many guests they’ve entertained.

Mark Lohman does an amazing job of illustrating and taking pictures of houses and tables Roxanne has designed. The book is filled with ideas to create beauty, warmth and passion in your home. She also goes into detail about how to have your home fit your personality, radiate who you are and make it uniquely yours.

Both Hannah and Roxanne have said, “ Do not underestimate the power of your home, nor the ability to change lives…A welcoming smile, a cup of hot tea and a hour in a cozy nook spent listening to a friend can be life altering.” So, true.

I liked how they view life, “when you find what you love in life, it’s more enjoyable.” You can tell these ladies love design, family and creating.

This book is about design and so much more. Roxanne takes the time to explain the value of things we can’t buy that make people feel welcome and loved. This is so important. We are in an age where it seems everyone is plugged into a computer, ipad, Iphone or some other electronic devise playing in their virtual world not noticing the beautify around them. People have lost the art of face to face interaction or never new it in the first place.

Roxanne hits on something very simple and powerful when she says, “Touching all of the 5 senses sends the message that you have eagerly awaited your guest’s arrival and that they are truly welcome in your home.” She describes some basic things everyone can do and it doesn’t cost a lot of money. Her motto is “Keep it Simple.”

This helped me not feel overwhelmed with the topic of decorating when Hannah said, “Designing and decorating a home is not an overnight project. Textured layering is the process.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it so well, “The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it!”

While creating this book together this mother/daughter team started a ministry called Inspired 31. This ministry inspires teenage girls and their mom’s to find and follow God’s path for their life.

Not only is this book beautiful to look at its very inspirational for the mind and the soul. We live life on high speed and don’t often take the time to enjoy the little things. Roxanne and Hannah show you how to create a gorgeous home, keep it simple and how to cherish time with family and friends. I’m inspired to create a home that is beautiful and a home filled with warmth and beauty I can’t buy.

I highly recommend this book as an inspiring gift book and also to someone who wants ideas for decorating. ALL the proceeds of this book go to an organization near and dear to the authors’ hearts! The ministry is in Romania, and it’s called Heart of Hope Ministry. This group helps orphans and the area food pantries in Romania. This is a book you’ll be sharing with friends and family. I’m sure. I know I will!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ginny Yttrup's Lost and Found ~ Reviewed

Ginny L Yttrup
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books; Original edition (February 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433671719


It appears Jenna Bouvier is losing everything: beauty, family, and wealth. When her controlling and emotionally abusive mother-in-law accuses Jenna of an affair with her spiritual director and threatens to expose them, Jenna also risks losing her reputation as a woman of faith. Will she capitulate to her mother-in-law’s wishes again or fight for what she holds dear? As Jenna loses her life, will she find it?

Andee Bell has found exactly what she wanted: fame, fortune, and respect. There’s also a special man in her life—Jenna’s brother. Despite her success, a secret quells Andee’s contentment. As memories torment, will she find peace in a relationship with God, or will she sabotage herself while also taking down the only person she cares about? As Andee finds her life, will she lose it?

Moving between San Francisco and the Napa Valley, Jenna and Andee form an unlikely relationship that leads them to a crossroad. They can follow familiar inclinations, or risk it all and walk in faith.


I’ve not read Ginny Yttrup before. Her book, Words, ended up on a lot of favorite lists and I looked forward to what I would find in Lost and Found.

Lost and Found revolves around two wine families and a financial guru, Andee, connected to those families. Jenna's brother dates Andee, Jenna connected both families when she married the much older son of the Bouvier family. It had been an easy marriage as Jenna had adopted her future mother-in-law as a substitute mother figure after her own mother died. Unfortunately, the adopted mother figure was a rigid controller who set her eyes on Jenna to groom her into her position. Jenna’s father was too grief stricken to notice the damage being done to his young daughter. In Jenna’s youthful innocence she followed her future mother-in-law’s plan beautifully.

The story opens years later with Jenna fighting a chronic infection, struggling with her faith, facing infertility, and trying to please her domineering mother-in-law. The novel is a late-bloomer coming of age story as Jenna’s unhappiness forces her to face growth. But her weakness, and her mother-in-law fight her every step of the way.

Yttrup's strengths are many. Her writing is solid and full of senses. The book is a page turner, full of tension and unfurling plotlines that demand that the reader keep going, just one more chapter. Lost and Found Is written in several points of view, three first person and third person perspectives, which Yttrup juggled impressively. Each of the characters come alive and are a decent mix of brokenness and hopeful expectation. The subject matter is dealt with honestly and with respect for the process of letting go and letting God take control of lives and relationships. Emotional abuse and rigid control plays out in this novel. I found myself wanting to shake the abusive character who’s motivation was anything but love. Other elements play out as well, a buried horrific abuse in a character’s past is revealed, drinking and alcoholism become issues as does the emptiness of materialism and chasing after money.

I struggled and grew frustrated with some of the characters. But that said, they were definitely three dimensional. I also didn’t love the summary ending. After immersion into the characters’ lives during some heavy trials, the ending takes place after some dust has settled months after an explosion point. This isn’t a light read and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is sensitive to rawness and intense emotion and the reality that people are a mess. There is a heavier spirituality that may ruffle a few feathers for readers who love a simple salvation plan. And those who don’t want God in their fiction will want to avoid it, because He is a key character.

I will read Yttrup again.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lillian Duncan's Pursued ~ Reviewed

By Lillian Duncan
Published by White Rose Publishing
259 Pages

Book Blurb:

Big-city Lawyer. Country Farmer. In the normal course of events, their lives would never intersect... But some accidents aren't meant to be avoided. When attorney Reggie Meyers crashes into Dylan Monroe on the freeway, it makes a bad day even worse-or so she thinks until she discovers she's the prey in the deadly hunt of an unknown killer. Now, trusting this man she hardly knows is Reggie's best chance for survival. The problem? Reggie doesn't trust anyone. When Dylan catches a glimpse of Reggie's ransacked apartment, his protective instincts kick in. He wants to help her, but she's not inclined to believe a simple country farmer has what it takes. Reggie doesn't realize Dylan knows a lot about hunting-and being hunted. He's up for the task of trapping a killer, keeping Reggie safe, and winning her heart-if she'll let him.


Reggie Meyers, big-city lawyer runs into Dylan Monroe – literally – in the middle of her horrible no good very bad day! She has no idea how bad her day was about to get.

It’s late; Reggie is hungry, tired and is not quite herself. Dylan offers to give her a ride home. She looks at the copy on the scene who tells her he can’t give her a ride home because it’s out of his county, besides if anything happened to her he was an eye witness and had Dylan’s contact information. He also had no speeding tickets unlike her record!

She smiled and said that none of those tickets were her fault. The cop shakes his head and grins. Dylan says, “Reggie, Reggie, don’t you know a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met yet?”

“What century are you living in, Dylan? People don’t do things like this anymore.”

He winked, “They do where I come from.”

She agrees to go with Dylan but fights him when he insists on taking her luggage out of the car and up the stairs. He tells her this is what gentlemen do, again not in her world. Dylan has her bags and is at her door before she could really complain. He signals Reggie to stay back, and then pushes the door a little more. It was already open.

Dylan’s Marine training kicks in as he assesses the destroyed apartment. Reggie was glad she let him take her bags, who would do this to her? She begins to see this cowboy through different eyes. There was more to this guy than she ever imagined.

I’m thankful for the review copy of such a fun and suspenseful book. This was a fast paces story with heart and well timed humor. I liked the authors pacing and unexpected twists. I also enjoyed the relationship between Dylan and Reggie. I liked how Dylan accepted Reggie right where she was, protected her and when she started to ask questions about his faith he answered her without being preachy. This was the first book I’ve read by this author, it won’t be the last.

Reviewed: Nora St.Laurent

Friday, March 09, 2012

Camy Tang's Protection for Hire ~ Reviewed

By Camy Tang
Published by Zondervan
335 Pages

Back Cover:

Tessa Lancaster's skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo's Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn't commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa's abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son. But there's a problem or two ... or three ....

There's Elizabeth's abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There's Uncle Teruo, who doesn't understand why Tessa's new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there's Elizabeth's lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn't know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch. Factor in both Tessa's and Charles's families and you've got some wild dynamics---and an action-packed, romantic read as Tessa and Charles discover the reality of being made new in Christ.


I received a review copy of this book which reminded me of a Jackie Chan movie made overseas. Jackie Chan movies show traditions and code that is clear. The action is fast and the audience knows who the good and bad guys are. Jackie Chan is usually trying to do the right and honorable thing; even when it seems impossible for him to do so.

The author quickly plunges the reader into a murder cover-up plot that is messy and ends with a few questions and surprises for the reader to ponder. So much happens in the prologue before readers get a chance to know any of the characters. Chapter one sever years have passed since the prologue. Tessa (who reminds me of a female Jackie Chan) is released from prison and finds it very difficult to get a job that’s legitimate.

Tessa Lancaster’s ability and talent had landed her a job as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo’s Japanese mafia gang in San Francisco. She soon developed a reputation and the mention of her name had made others tremble with fear. Her life changed in prison. She hoped to remove the fear she evoked in people. Would people believe she’s really changed now that she was out on the street?

Then as luck would have it Tessa has an opportunity to become Elizabeth St. Amant’s body guard. Tessa meets with Elizabeth’s lawyer to learn what her client’s situation is and what to watch out for. She meets lawyer Charles Britton, who knows more about her and her prison record than Tessa realizes.

Just like in a Jackie Chan movie this book is filled with action, adventure and a little romance. If you like rooting for the underdog, learning about the Japanese culture and watching a former Japanese enforcer for the mafia learn to surrender her heart and life to Jesus and His will for her new life, you’ll love this story!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Margaret Daley's Saving Hope ~ Reviewed

Saving Hope: Men of the Texas Rangers Book 1
Margaret Daley
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press Fiction (March 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426714289

Book Description:

When a teenager goes missing from the Beacon of Hope School, Texas Ranger Wyatt Sheridan and school director Kate Winslow are forced into a dangerous struggle against a human trafficking organization. But the battle brings dire consequences as Wyatt's daughter is terrorized and Kate is kidnapped.

Now it's personal, and Wyatt finds both his faith and investigative skills challenged as he fights to discover the mastermind behind the ring before evil destroys everyone he loves.

Review: Saving Hope revolves around a young woman named Kate Winslow, who has started a school called Beacon of Hope for teenage girls that have been forced into prostitution and need help adjusting to a normal life. When one of her girls goes missing, and another one is found murdered, Texas Ranger, Wyatt Sheridan gets involved. In the midst of trying to find those in charge of the human trafficking, Kate and Wyatt develop feelings for each other, but before anything can come of that, they have to face down the evil men who are terrorizing their lives.

I thought this was a good book. It was filled with some suspense, and it was hard to put down, as I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. Child prostitution rings are more prevalent in this world than people realize, and I like that the author brought this topic to our attention. I do wish there would have been more of a focus on the Lord. God was talked about once and a while, as well as trust in Him, but nothing was ever said about the saving Grace we have in Jesus, and that was a bit disappointing. Other than that, I enjoyed it.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Bonus Review:

Margaret Daley pens a story of hope and makes the reader aware of the sex trafficking in America.  Kate Winslow comes from a wealthy family who has high hopes for her life. Running and directing Beacon of Hope School to reach girls on the street stuck in prostitution is not one of their dreams for her. But Kate can’t stand by and watch these innocent girls be kidnapped and forced into a life where they are abused and forced to perform sexual acts where someone gets rich off their bodies.

Wyatt Sheridan becomes aware of Beacon of Hope School when a teenager form the house is missing. Wyatt and Kate work together to discover who is behind this sex ring.

Wyatt has a young daughter who is mom is helping to raise offer the death of his wife. Katie will do anything to protect her girls and to cut their ties to the evil master minds.

I enjoyed this novel, which is the first book in the men of the Texas Ranger series. I was surprised at what lengths these human trafficking businesses will go through to kidnap innocent beautiful young girls and how quickly they set these girls up as a product to be used. It’s sickening. Thanks to Margaret Daley for the review copy of this book. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Michael Snyder's A Stand-Up Guy ~ Reviewed

Michael Snyder
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (August 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031032193X


In his third novel, author Michael Snyder delivers another honest, authentic, and intriguing plot carried along by quirky characters whose actions and reactions still manage to look and sound like the rest of us. It is often said that every good joke contains some basic truth. In A Stand-Up Guy, aspiring comedian Oliver Miles puts that axiom to the test when he revamps his comedy act by filling it with darkly personal truths about friends and family. But, as the edgy humor begins to attract more attention, the young comic's personal life gets more complicated. When he realizes he has managed to turn the two women he cares about most into props for his act, he wonders if his honesty on-stage is making him dishonest in life. Despite the sobering reality of his world off stage, the laughter and the success is intoxicating, even for a stand-up guy. A Stand-Up Guy is a real story about real people struggling with life's rights and wrongs. It will appeal to anyone who enjoys a uniquely-woven relational drama threaded with a little mystery and delivered with a lot of humor and insight.


Michael Snyder writes characters I’d like to hang out with. His anti-heroes, and I use the term to mean messed-up but good-hearted, tug at my maternal heart strings. Every one of his books has a male lead who is beaten down by life but who retains a charming spark of hope and sense of humor.

Oliver Miles fits this category. Oliver needs to be funny. And he needs to be recognized as such by the few people who will not give him that satisfaction. His father figure runs a comedy club so exclusive that Oliver had one shot as a teen and he blew it. Oliver’s mom disappeared into her self a long time ago. Not only will she not tell him he’s funny, she can’t remember who he is. Growing up is hard to do, especially when you don’t have a clue what that even means.

Oliver spends his nights as a security guard at a quirky character-filled hotel and his days trying to figure out life and sort out his dreams. It doesn’t help that the new night auditor disarms him with her charm and her mystery. And speaking of mystery, there are a few to untangle. The apparition that shows up now and again, and a few missing valuables from guest's rooms to be exact. Will Oliver find the thief before the night auditor loses her job? Will Oliver find himself before he loses the night auditor?

If you love quirky characters or stories this is a great one to add to your collection. Snyder's books are so rich with character and spot on pacing that I recommend them to any writers who struggle with writing likeable characters. I have yet to read one of his books without plenty of smiles and satisfied sighs.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Bonus Review: 

Oliver Miles feels it’s his destiny to be a stand-up Comedian. He works the night shift as a security guard so he can seek his big break. He realizes there are no over-night success stories, just guys that are persistent in becoming better at what they do to make people laugh.

Oliver is an underdog character you find yourself rooting for. He’s nice, innocent and reminded me of the security guard character Ben Stiller played in the movie Night at the Museum. The tongue and cheek humor in this novel is like that of the movie..

Things start getting a little out of hand when Oliver decides to put truth in his act. He decides to use his own life experiences as material to make people laugh instead of borrowing one liners’ from other peoples acts. He recites this prayer to himself.

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot make funny; Courage to use things I can (in my act); and wisdom to know the difference.”

He told the truth and people laughed! But how far should he go for a laugh and a chance at fame? Would what he shared be worth the price in the end?

I like the honesty of these characters and how most of them struggled with the direction God would have them go. The decision is up to us to walk this faith journey out one day at a time. All is not lost when Oliver is in the middle of his darkness. The author does show hope shining through some dark places in this story. Just like the Ben Stiller character in Meet the Falkner’s, Oliver learns his way around strange people and an even more colorful mother. Everyone has their life story to tell, will we take the time to listen and learn before we judge people on what we see on the outside?

This novel may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it because I have a husband who has tried his hand at stand-up comedy. It is unreal and crazy what guys go through to get their big break and make people to laugh.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, March 05, 2012

M.C.Pearson's F.A.I.R.I.E.S. ~ Reviewed

By M.C. Pearson
Published by First Wild Card Press

Back Cover:

Unwittingly chosen to join an army of fairies, who fight for the Light of the One, a teenaged girl learns about spiritual warfare as she attends a military academy with fantastical beings.


Have you seen the movie Tooth Fairy or The S.A.N.T.A. Clause? Read the book Hinds Feet in High Places? F.A.I.R.I.E.S. reminded me of parts of these movies and book. I’m thankful to have received a review copy of such an imaginative book. This author combines fantasy with reality like the two movies I mentioned and is an allegory like the book Hinds Feet in High Places. Mellie is the only human in the story. She is surrounded with mystical characters like Lord of the Rings has with fairies, elves, gnomes, gremlins, dragons, dwarfs just to name a few and she’s trying to make sense of this new world she has just entered, like Lucy in C.S. Lewis’s book Narnia.

M.C. Pearsons is not only the author of this youth fantasy but she is the illustrator as well. Her pictures are scattered throughout the book. They illustrate for the reader her imaginative characters

Mellie is a disgruntled human who wishes to escape the home life she has with her dreadful sisters. “Just once she wanted to do something that would make her sisters see that she wasn’t stupid, awkward, ugly, and a little baby.” She wanted to live in a family where she was loved and accepted. Maybe she could runaway and find a better place to live.

Suddenly Mellis finds herself deep into the forest unsure of where to go next, then she runs into the strangest sight, a walking stick that talks.

Is this a dream she wonders? Then suddenly the walking stick ushers her into the labyrinth of the F.A.I.R.I.E.S. She doesn’t know what to think. Everything was quite magical. Just like in the Santa Clause and Tooth Fairy movies she sees everyone working together as a team for a common goal, she’ll learn later.

The walking stick finally introduces himself to her, his name is Regnans. He says, Welcome to the F.A.I.R.I.E.S. it stands for
F – Fantastical
A – Aerial
I – International
R- Reasonably
I- Inconspicuous
E- Emancipation
S – Squads

They have accepted her into their organization. Regnans goes on to tell she has been “chosen” by the One. He tells her, “You made a choice to run away from a miserable life and asked to be set free?..... Right? You asked – we answered – you are accepted.”

Mellie is surprised and says, “But I don’t believe in fairies….”

“Follow-Me. I’ll enroll you for training. We are at war.” Move quickly.

She replies, “I’m not at war with anyone”

Regnan says, “You are at war. The darone wants to stamp out the light.”

This is where the story reminded me of the Tooth Fairy and how he goes into training. He
learns all he can and then makes the mission his own.

Mellie embarks on a magical adventure as “chosen” by the One to be trained as a soldier of the light to fight the shadow whose set on fighting humans.

She also is in search of the One who truly loves and accepts her for who she is and was created to be.

I enjoyed this journey into the F.A.I.R.I.E.S. training and beyond!! It was fun, entertaining and yet there was a depth to this story I enjoyed. I also like the surprising twists and turns Mellie takes in her search to find the One and her mission in life.

Are you looking for a story that will whisk you into a magical land and help you not think about the worries of this world; at the same time bring comfort and joy to your soul? Then search no more F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is the book for you and the young people in your life. It will spark great conversation for you and any book clubs that would like to read it.

Reviewed by:Nora St.Laurent

Friday, March 02, 2012

Brandilyn Collin's Gone to Ground ~ Reviewed

By Brandilyn Collins
Publisher: B&H Books (March 1, 2012)
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1433671638
ISBN-13: 978-1433671630

Back Cover:

Amaryllis, Mississippi is a scrappy little town of strong backbone and southern hospitality. A brick-paved Main Street, a park, and a legendary ghost in the local cemetery are all part of its heritage. Everybody knows everybody in Amaryllis, and gossip wafts on the breeze. Its people are friendly, its families tight. On the surface Amaryllis seems much like the flower for which it’s named—bright and fragrant. But the Amaryllis flower is poison.

In the past three years five unsolved murders have occurred within the town. All the victims were women, and all were killed in similar fashion in their own homes. And just two nights ago—a sixth murder.

Clearly a killer lives among the good citizens of Amaryllis. And now three terrified women are sure they know who he is—someone they love. None is aware of the others’ suspicions. And each must make the heartrending choice to bring the killer down. But each woman suspects a different man.


Gone to Ground certainly starts with an intriguing premise. A small, everyone-knows-your-name town is plagued by a serial killer. The tension is heightened when we are introduced to three women who believe they know the killer personally. One suspects her boss, another her husband, and the third, her misfit brother. All three are placed on precarious footing as they long for answers, while hoping for secrecy.

Character number one, Chery Mae, isn’t a busy-body nor one to poke through other people’s business. But being a housekeeper does make her privy to private, even scandalous information. If nothing else, the job has taught her people aren’t who they seem. After all her years of mucking through other people’s dirty laundry, Chery Mae’s learned to keep secrets where they belong—stored away in her head. But when she finds a piece of jewelry belonging to the victim among her boss’s things, her mind begins to spin. The mayor is anything but a saint, but a killer?

Then there’s Tully. She married the man of her dreams, only to find him less than dreamy. So less than, in fact, she thinks he may be the serial killer. Which wouldn’t be such a far stretch—him killing other women, because he beats her. He’s moody and suddenly acting like he’s got something to hide—more than the scandalous photos she saw.

Finally, there’s Deena, a sassy hairdresser who hates the police and vehemently protects her brother…who she thinks might be the killer. To most, her brother’s a downtrodden social outcast, but she’s seen a different side, and the rage that simmers.

Three women, three suspects, five murders, and climbing.

Although this novel wasn’t as suspenseful as I’d expect from Brandilyn Collins, I enjoyed the unique women she crafted and her flawless writing. I easily visualized the setting and the characters and had no problem following the story-line. There were times I found the novel repetitive when the same information was presented either through one of the three women or through one of the frequent news articles sprinkled between them, but the characters were appealing enough to compensate for this.

I found the inclusion of numerous articles unique; however, I think it would have been stronger if I’d been offered snippets from them instead of the entire articles themselves. It was an enjoyable read with a unique plot and a colorful cast.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery