Monday, April 30, 2012

Devotional Mornings with Jesus ~ Reviewed

Daily Encouragement for your soul
By Judy Baer, Gwen Ford Faulkerbery, Tricia Goyer, Sharon Hinck, Keri Wyatt Kent, Camy Tang, and Erin Keeley Marshall

366 Devotionals

Book Blurb: “Be still and know that I am God.” is one of the most beautiful verses from the Bible, but it’s not easy to practice in this busy world. Mornings with Jesus will help you do just that—“be still” in Jesus’ beautiful and powerful presence. For those who are seeking a deeper experience in their relationship with Christ, Mornings with Jesus offers a fresh perspective of who Jesus is (the Healer, the Son of God, the Comforter, the Good Shepherd) and what that means for day-to-day life. With a warm and friendly voice, 365 short devotional writings on the character and teachings of Jesus encourage readers to greet each day by drawing near to Him and inviting His presence into their day. Spend time with Jesus at the beginning of each day and experience His nearness and peace in a new way throughout the year. Each day’s selection includes: • a Bible verse • an entry based on Jesus: His words, miracles, and parables; His wisdom, compassion, and comfort; His mystery, power, divinity, and humanity • a “faith step” that will inspire and challenge readers to apply the day’s message to their lives


I’ve really enjoyed this devotional book for a couple of reasons. First it’s a compilation of writers whose books I’ve read. I’ve enjoyed their Christian Fiction books very much.
Each devotional starts out with a scripture passage. A storm, funny event, or thought from the authors’ life that brings home the message of the scripture and how they saw it in their life or someone else’s life or situation they encountered.

At the end of the message there is a Faith Step – it’s a little something the reader can do to take a step closer in their journey with Jesus. It helps the reader make the journey personal and real.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know the heart of these authors and at the same time the devotion hits at the heart of scripture and has been what I needed to start my day focusing on Jesus and the word. I was pleasantly surprised at how much each author packed into a one page devotion. Wow! It’s encouraging, honest, thoughtful and real. I love it. I’m thankful for the review copy of this book. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Saturday, April 28, 2012

DiAnn Mills's Attrached to Fire ~ Reviewed

DiAnn Mills
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414348649
Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

What a read! Page turning, contemporary and nerve racking. Filled with good guys, bad guys, romance and plenty of suspense. I have to say that I'm a fan of DiAnn Mills once again. I enjoyed Breach of Trust and this makes me want to go back and read the rest of the series for the Call of Duty. However I liked Attracted to Fire even more than Breach of Trust. I guess her writing just keeps getting better. I highly recommend this read! 
Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kathi Macias's Special Delivery ~ Reviewed

By Kathi Macias
Published by New Hope Publishers
320 Pages

Book Blurb: In book two of the “Freedom” series, readers find Mara fighting against her attraction to Bible college student Jonathan Flannery even while wrestling with risking her own precarious safety to become involved in the rescue of another girl who is pregnant and desperately wants to escape her captors and save her own life, as well as her child’s.

Halfway around the world in a brothel in Thailand, a young girl is rescued with the promise of being reunited with her younger sister who was adopted by an interracial couple in the States, friends of Jonathan’s family. Meanwhile, Jefe—Mara’s uncle, who held her as a sex slave in his brothel in San Diego for years—seeks revenge for Mara’s testimony that put him behind bars for life.

Will his underworld connections be successful in kidnapping and killing the girl who believes she has finally won her freedom?

Review: Special Delivery is the second book in the Freedom series, where Kathi Macias does an amazing job of bringing awareness to the sex trafficking business in America. This author helps the reader feel for these young women who are often times kidnapped and forced into a life of prostitution, with no hope of escape on their own. I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that shows a light of hope in the darkness of this tragic situation.  This author helps the reader recognize possible victims and how these guys operate and manipulate young girls. By knowing their actions we can help bring guys described in this book to justice for their horrific crimes.

The main character, Mara, has been rescued from the clutches of evil, and the pit of hell! She thanks the Lord every day for her freedom. She has a new life through the grace of God and people willing to risk so much to bring her freedom..

When people found out about Mara’s past would they treat her like the other girls her age? Could they put old things away and look at her through news eyes? She’s a woman saved by grace and cleaned by the blood of the lamb. She was still struggling to walk that out.

Kathi Macias shows the tentacles of evil go deep into society. Evil has eyes and ears that connect to underground organizations. Even if these girls get rescued from the horrible slave pit, evil is at work trying to get them back so they could have their revenge and continue to make money off their bodies. It’s about the money. It’s sick thing to think about but oh so real.

Mara is a waitress and spies a young girl with an older man at a table she’d soon be waiting on. Mara suspects something is amiss and discerns this man is not her father. It gives her the creeps as she watches the girls’ body language in reaction to the man next to her.

Mara prays as she goes to the table to take their order. As she is taking their order Mara looks at the terrified look in the young girls’ eyes, it breaks her heart. She knows how it feels to be a sex slave, her mind and heart start racing as she tries to get through their order. She knows this guy is bad news. How can she help this girl? She hasn’t been free long herself. It would be risky for her to get involved. The enemy might track her down and force her into the life she just left. She stops a minute and reflects. Didn’t people risk their lives for her sake? She had to do the same! She wanted to give this young girl a chance at freedom. No one deserved to life as a sex slave.

Kathi Macias pens a novel that pulls at your heart-strings and brings awareness to the horrific slavery happening in America. Once we become aware of what is going on we can find places to help. I pray society doesn’t go back to sleep and pretend this doesn’t exist. This author describes how hard it is to set these girls free and prosecute the evil doers. This is big business. It’s hard to find the camps and shut them down but it can be done. All things are possible through Christ that strengthens us.

Kathi Macias has a heart for the hurting. I’m thankful she is passionate about writing books that bring awareness to issues I should know about. She also helps me know about organizations I can get involved with to help whatever cause she is writing about at the time. I highly recommend this series on sex trafficking, you’ll never be the same after reading it.

Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Serena Miller's The Measure of Katie Calloway ~ Reviewed

Serena Miller 
Paperback: 316 pages 
Publisher: Revell; 1 edition (October 1, 2011) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 0800719980

The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home conflict still rages. To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a Northwoods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.

With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the warm cookstove to the rowdy shanty boys and the jagged edges of the saw, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting the reader back to the time when pine was king, men were made of iron, and rivers were choked with logs on the way to the sawmills. Readers will have a hard time leaving the Northwoods when they turn the last page.

The Measure of Katie Calloway is my first introduction to the writing of Serena Miller, but I definitely do not intend for it to be my last. I have a new one for the keeper shelf here in my opinion. At first while reading I was reminiscent of Deeanne Gist and her logger romance of A Bride in the Bargain, but this book is more than just a woman cooking and falling for a logger. There is love, romance and suspense, friendship, adventure and history. It is a good read that I enjoyed from the first page.

*Thanks to Revell Books for providing a copy for review.*

Reviewed by: Margaret Chind

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Robin Jones Gunn's Canary Island Song ~ Reviewed

By Robin Jones Gunn
Published by Howard Books
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8341-7

When Carolyn's grown daughter tells to "get a life," Carolyn returns to her mother's home in the Canary Islands for a much-needed change of scenery.

It's been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day her heart has been buried in murky grief. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands, to draw Carolyn's heart back to the surface. In the midst of a Flamenco dance lesson Carolyn finds her strength and sees the evidence of God's mercy throughout her life.

Will it be too late for Carolyn to reconnect with Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love? Or has he grown into something more than the wild beach boy who stole her kisses so many years ago and then left her alone on that balmy Canary night? Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands in 1492on his voyage to discover the New World. Is Carolyn ready to set sail from these same islands in order to discover hew new life? And does Carolyn have enough faith to face what the future holds?


If you need a summer getaway but can't afford a cruise, get Canary Island Song and let Robin Jones Gunn's story take you to the Canaries. It's a story of reconnecting with family and with a past love. But for Carolyn, it's more than that. She's reconnecting with herself and with life. Beautifully written as only Robin Jones Gunn can do, you'll feel the island breezes in your hair and smell the salt air as you read. Novel Journey and I give Canary Island Song a very high recommendation. It's a must read!

Reviewed by:Ane Mulligan, editor

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eve Marie Mont's A Breath of Eyre ~ Reviewed

By Eve Marie Mont
April 2012
Kensington Publishing Corp.

Review by Michelle Griep

Emma Townsend has always believed in stories—the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it’s because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school. And her only romantic prospect is Gray Newman, a friend who just adds to Emma’s confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre…

A BREATH OF EYRE is a spin off of my all-time favorite Bronte book. Teenager Emma Townsend ends up back in the era—and even the very setting—of Jane Eyre. Actually, she becomes Jane. It’s left as a mystery as to how and if Emma was really there in that fictional land, which adds a certain amount of charm to the story.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s necessary that a reader be familiar with the Bronte classic. Author Eve Marie Mont does a great job of filling in the details. Another feat she accomplishes with finesse is mixing contemporary teenage angst into the nineteenth century, and trust me…heroine Emma Townsend has a lot of troubles.

Emma attends a school via scholarship that’s for the elite. As a result, she doesn’t fit in. Her mom died when she was young and she’s got a stepmother that’s relatively clueless. Her dad is as torn up over her mother’s death as she is and is emotionally crippled, which does nothing to help Emma. Yeah. Angst galore.

A Breath of Eyre is an interesting read. It’s not your run-of-the-mill storyline and the author leaves the ending wide open for a sequel (which there will be).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

David Gregory's Night with a Perfect Stranger ~ Reviewed

By David Gregory
Published by Worthy Publishing
132 Pages

Back Cover:  

Six years ago, businessman Nick Cominsky encountered Jesus the old-fashioned way-in a face-to-face meeting. And the Christian life seemed a breeze . . . for a while. But now, having done everything he knows to grow spiritually, he wonders where his closeness with Jesus has gone. Burned out and hopeless, Nicks wails his complaints to God during a late-night interstate trip. Then suddenly he runs out of gas-and finds Jesus along the roadside with a gas can. Jesus hops in the truck and offers answers Nick never heard in church . . . and a nighttime of adventures ensues beyond anything Nick could have imagined.


I was thrilled to learn David Gregory had a new book out and I received a review copy of it in the mail. This authors’ books are small (132 pages) but pack a powerful punch in so many areas. His books can be read in a day and re-read as you share parts of them with friends and family for months to come.

In his first book Dinner with a Perfect Stranger a man receives an invitation to dine with Jesus. Nick thinks this is a practical joke so he goes to claim his free dinner. During the course of the meal he discovers that the guy across from him is actually Jesus. This book was fun, funny, and a great witnessing tool. Nick wants answers to Christianity and life. Jesus calmly answers Nick’s questions. The encounter transforms his life! He can’t stop talking about his meeting Jesus to anyone that will listen.

The next book in the series was called A Day with a Perfect Stranger, Nick’s wife Mattie goes on a business trip. She’s thankful to be out of the house and away from her husband’s talk about Jesus. She couldn’t take one more day of listening to Nick talk about his dinner with Jesus, it had been three weeks non-stop.  Enough already.  Mattie is thankful to be on a plane and away from any talk of Jesus.

As the flight goes on she talks with the person sitting next to her. This man is different and things start to sound familiar. Soon, Mattie realizes that she’s sitting next to Jesus. So much for running away from the Jesus talk – she runs right into Jesus himself. Mattie confronts Him about the rules laid down to follow in the Christian life, She wants to know exactly what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus?

Now starts David Gregory’s new book Night with a Perfect Stranger.  This book opens up by bringing the reader up to speed just like I did about the first two encounters. Six years have passed and life isn’t as easy or filled with Joy like it used to be. Life had made so much sense after encountering Jesus. Nick says to himself, “I slowly lost it, whatever “it” was. My closeness to God, my excitement about Jesus, the sense of purpose and meaning He brought. I’m not sure when it started fading. I hadn’t lost my faith. Far from it. But the life that faith was supposed to produce – where was it? I thought meeting Jesus would energize me for a life time. But for the past 4 years I’d been slowly coasting downhill.”

David Gregory hits another home run with his new book. It’s just as fun, funny,  insightful,  and unique. What I’ve loved about all of these authors’ books is the way he shares concepts about the Christian life in a simple way.  For instance, he explains through Jesus to Nick about God being love. I got a kick out of this.

Jesus asks Nick about the ocean, He asks “did you go swimming?”


“How much wet did it have?”

“The whole thing was wet – it was the ocean.”

“Exactly.” Jesus looked at me, “Nick, we are like the ocean. The ocean doesn’t have wet – it is wet. You jump in, you get wet. God doesn’t have love – we are love! Our love isn’t a possession. We can’t give it away as a reward to those good enough to earn it. Love is simply who we are. We love you because of who we are….nothing you do can change that.. God is love.”

Wow, I love how he explained that concept. Simple and profound. This is just one of the many jewels inside the treasure box of David Gregory’s new book. The concept of Gods love for me hit me deep; do I really grasp this for my own life? I read this book in several hours. You’ll be re-reading all the parts you marked in your book to friends and family for days. You’ll never for get these books, two of them have been made into movies that stay faithful to the books. I highly recommend Night with a Perfect Stranger and all the other books this author’s written.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kate Lloyd's Leaving Lancaster ~ Reviewed

Kate Lloyd
Number of Pages: 336

David C. Cook
ISBN: 0781405084


Holly Fisher feels betrayed when she discovers a long-kept secret---her mother was raised in an Amish community. Now her grandmother is begging them to leave Seattle and return to Pennsylvania. Holly is furious that she was never told about her relatives. Will mother and daughter find healing among the Plain People of Lancaster County?

Leaving Lancaster is about a woman named Esther Fisher, and her daughter, Holly.  Esther left the Amish community as a teenager with her intended.  They moved to California and married, but Samuel was then drafted and ended up giving his life for his country in Vietnam.  Esther has been plagued with guilt ever since, as she is the one that convinced him to leave.  Thus, Holly has grown up without a father or a family.  Finally, Esther shares a letter from her Amish mother, whom Holly believe was dead.  Esther’s mother isn’t doing well and begs her to come home.  This revelation stuns Holly, who becomes very angry and bitter towards her mother, while Esther deems herself unworthy of being forgiven.  They travel back to Pennsylvania to be reunited with their family, and both realize they have stronger ties there than they could have imagined.

I enjoyed this story.  There was a lot of focus on forgiveness, which I enjoyed.  Many of the characters in the book had reason, by our standards, to be upset with other people, as well as hold grudges, but as circumstances developed, they also learned the value of forgiveness.  It also shows how much city folks can come to appreciate the simplicity of simple living. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rachel Hauck's The Wedding Dress ~ Reviewed

By Rachel Hauck
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN 978-1-59554-963-1

Four brides. One dress.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift—and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can't she find the perfect dress—or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte purchases a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new, shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old-girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress ad been "redeemed"?

Charlotte's search for the gown's history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte's heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the beauty of finding true love.


I love how Rachel Hauck weaves romance into a story much larger than just boy-meets-girl-then-loses-girl-then...well you get it. The Wedding Dress is filled with compelling characters that will capture your heart and hold it hostage until the end. This was one of those rare books I couldn't put down. Novel Rocket and I give it a very high recommendation. It's a "must read."

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, Sr. editor

Friday, April 13, 2012

Crystal Paine's The Money Saving Mom's Budget ~ Reviewed

By Crystal Paine
Published by Gallery Books Jan 10, 2012
Sold by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
226 Pages

Book Description: 

FROM ONE OF NIELSEN’S TOP 50 POWER MOMS COMES ADVICE YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK—LITERALLY ! Crystal Paine, who has helped busy women everywhere take control of their finances, presents her most effective strategies designed for families of all sizes and income levels.
With hundreds of inspiring “why didn’t I think of that?” TIPS, plus WORKSHEETS, Paine breaks down your goals into easy, manageable steps so you can:
• Achieve a complete financial makeover
• Set up a realistic budget
• Never pay retail
• Slash your grocery bill
• Organize your time & your home
And so much more……

ABOUT AUTHOR: Crystal Paine is a wife and homeschooling mom to three young children who has been writing on topics related to frugality for the last five years—and living a frugal, simple, and debt-free life since she was born. Her blog,, is one of the top personal finance blogs on the web averaging over four million page views per month. Crystal has contributed to articles in Woman's Day magazine and All You magazine, as well as being mentioned on National Public Radio and, in USA Weekend, and Real Simple magazine and numerous other local newspapers and radio and television stations.

REVIEW: The review copy of this book I received was an audio book. I loved that I could listen to this book read by Crystal on my way to and from work every day. I also liked the fact that this is Crystal and her husbands’ personal journey, of a young couple setting goals, working together to accomplish their goals; one of which was to pay off their house and be mortgage free.

I liked how she makes the approach to money planning simple and practical. She is an inspiration. It’s not overwhelming. She states if right now you can only save $10.00 per month toward your goal and de-clutter your home great. Stick with that until you can do more. Her point is start where you can.

Crystal includes helpful worksheets you can download and print out as part of the audio book. She breaks down the seven principles for financial success; which are
  1. Set Big Goals (Dream) and break them down into bite-sized pieces!
  2. Streamline your life and cut the clutter
  3. Set up a realistic, workable budget
  4. Take the cash-only challenge
  5. Use coupons
  6. Never Pay retail
  7. CHOOSE CONTENTMENT – (IMPORTANT ASPECT – I like how she puts this)
CRYSTAL SAYS Make a Gratitude List, Stop comparing yourself to others; Become a giver; choose to bloom where you’re planted

She also includes
5 Questions to ask yourself about Clutter.
3  Ways to turn clutter to Cash
5 ways being organized saves you money
10 tips for having a successful garage sale
10 ways to earn an extra $100 per month
And other helpful resources.

I highly recommend this audio book. I enjoyed hearing the author read her book and how she breaks down the steps to financial freedom into manageable achievable steps. I finished the book inspired!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ann Gabhart's Words Spoken True ~ Reviewed

Words Spoken True: A Novel  

Ann Gabhart

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Revell; Original edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800720458



Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story--and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?


I've always enjoyed Ann Gabhart's books but Words Spoken True tops them all.  With a unique and determined heroine, danger aplenty and sparks galore, Ann has written a delightful romance with the intriguing backdrop of the golden era of newspaper journalism.  Historically fascinating, Ann explores the heyday of newspapers and their significant influence on the political climate of the day, the intrigue and often cut throat nature of editors is brought to the fore.  Adriane and Blake offer lots of romantic tension as their competitive natures collide with their palpable attraction.  While the villain is easily recognizable, the story unfolds well and the pacing keeps interest from page to page.  Ann has ramped up the ante in this book and I look forward to reading more of her stories in this style.  Those who enjoy Deeanne Gist and Karen Witemeyer will find plenty to love in Words Spoken True.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vicki Hinze's Not This Time ~ Reviewed

By Vicki Hinze
Published by Multnomah
328 Pages

Back Cover: 

Small town scandal. International terrorist attack. Who among them is the traitor?
Sara and Beth have built a multi-million dollar business together, but their once solid friendship is now strained. Beth is leery of Sara's husband, and when he is kidnapped, authorities consider Beth their prime suspect.

Then, their small town of Seagrove Village is rocked by an act of terrorism, and Beth doesn't know who to trust. Someone she knows is linked to the attack, but who? Is there a connection to Crossroads Crisis Center? In the midst of the confusion and fear, Beth finds herself attracted to a man from her past. She knows she shouldn't fall in love with him, but she can't resist or even explain their bond. As her world unravels around her, she wonders, is it possible to be beyond redemption?


Vicki Hinze brings this Crossroads Crisis Center series to a powerful, compelling, suspenseful conclusion! I was thankful to have received a review copy of such a page turning novel.

This excerpt from the author’s notes gives you a glimpse into Vicki’s heart. It’s also the pulse of the story, “At some point in our lives, many, if not most of us, have been betrayed. We’ve also experienced torn loyalties. Situations were we must act, and no matter what we do, someone is hurt. And many if not most of us have been falsely accused of saying and doing things we did not do.

These are the challenges raised in Not This Time that had to be addressed as well as the physical challenges of danger and deception. When we try to live seeing the good in others, it’s often difficult for us to accept that there are those who just embrace the bad because they chose to embrace it. But those people do exist and in our denial of it is danger; not just physical, but emotional and most important, spiritual danger.”

So, true, Vicki. Not only do I love the action filled story with a complex plot and layered characters I love how she naturally wove in the spiritual thread, addressing all the elements in the note to reader and then some. This is the third book in the Crossroads Crisis Center – Vicki pulls out all the stops and brings you a story that grabs you from the start with a wild bizarre wedding reception with the endearing characters you’ve enjoyed in all the books to wild and crazy action that has characters running for their lives. This book will keep you on the edge of our seat as the mystery unravels. You’ll be staying up late because you just have to read how this all works out. I know I did.

That’s what I love about Vicki’s books; she makes me care about her characters and situations at the same time challenges me and my faith. Love her books and looking forward to the next series.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, April 09, 2012

Shelley Gray's A Texan's Honor ~ Reviewed

A Texan's Honor
Shelley Gray  
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (March 2012) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1426714637


Texas, 1874. Years ago, Will McMillan had fought in the open, next to his Captain, Clayton Proffitt. Now he's waging another war undercover, pretending to be a member of the notorious Walton Gang.

But when a hostage situation goes awry and an innocent woman is in the middle of the fray, Will knows he must protect her no matter what happens. Even if his cover is blown. Even if they risk being killed by his gang or by the lawmen on their trail. Even if the woman he's risking everything for will never love him back.


Well known for her Amish novels, Shelley Gray continues to impress me with her engaging Western romances novels, the most recent, A Texan's Honor, the second in her Heart of a Hero series. Beautifully told, with another appealing yet imperfect hero and a heroine who grows in strength and determination, A Texan's Honor is a terrific read for those who love their romance with some solid action and a little edge. Shelley's character development is excellent as she balances Will's dangerous and risk taking nature with his protective instincts and respect for Jamie. Their relationship slowly unfolds, as they battle attraction, duty and deeply held fears. Great pacing, solid dialogue and the appearance of the enigmatic and brutal Scout Proffitt, the estranged brother of Clayton Proffitt, add up to a compelling and intriguing read. Readers are in for a treat when they pick up this series and and I'm  really looking forward to Scout's story in Shelley's October release, A Texan's Promise!

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Robert Liparulo's The 13th Tribe ~ Reviewed

The 13th Tribe (An Immortal Files Novel)  

Robert Liparulo 

Paperback: 416 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595541691


Their story didn't start this year . . . or even this millennium.
It began when Moses was on Mt. Sinai. Tired of waiting on the One True God, the twelve tribes of Israel began worshipping a golden calf through pagan revelry. Many received immediate death for their idolatry, but 40 were handed a far worse punishment-endless life on earth with no chance to see the face of God.

This group of immortals became the 13th Tribe, and they've been trying to earn their way into heaven ever since-by killing sinners. Though their logic is twisted, their brilliance is undeniable. Their wrath is unstoppable. And the technology they possess is beyond anything mere humans have ever seen.

Jagger Baird knows nothing about the Tribe when he's hired as head of security for an archaeological dig on Mt. Sinai. The former Army Ranger is still reeling from an accident that claimed the life of his best friend, his arm, and his faith in God.

If you would like to read the first chapter of
The 13th Tribe, go HERE.


Supernatural suspense done well. Sigh. Robert Liparulo is a terrific author. His writing is concise but visual, and suspenseful without going over the top into gore just because he can. I’m not saying his stuff is tame…oh no, it is not tame. And it Is not without violence. There are some intense bloody battles within. At some points this suspense read hit horror levels -- Chickens you have been warned.  Liparulo’s characters are imperfect and ones I want to cheer on. Many of Liparulo’s novels have included children and he rachets the overall tension with them. There was one point in the 13th Tribe that I nearly lost it. Sensitive readers may want to take note of said tear-jerker scene so you’ve got tissue handy during your 2:00 a.m. can’t-put-the-dang-book-down read-athon. Liparulo also excels at setting up seemingly impossible to escape plotlines.

With The 13th Tribe Liparulo ramps up his storytelling with supernatural elements based on religious history. Fascinating archeological and historic details pop up regularly making this book a page-turner from page one. Every time I opened the book I ended up playing the “just one more chapter” game over and over again. If you love suspense with dusty, ancient details or supernatural good vs evil tales you might want to check into this one. If you like a great, heart-pounding story to escape into, this is definitely one of those. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Bonnie Calhoun's Cooking the Books ~ Reviewed

Cooking the Books 
By Bonnie Calhoun 
Published by Abingdon Press 
312 Pages 

Back Cover: 

After her mother dies from a heart attack, Sloane Templeton goes from Cyber Crimes Unit to bookstore owner before she can blink. She also "inherits" a half-batty store manager; a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood who meet at the store once a week, but never read books, called the Granny Oakley’s Book Club; and Aunt Verlene, who fancies herself an Iron Chef when in reality you need a cast iron stomach to partake of her culinary disasters. And with a group like this you should never ask, “What else can go wrong?” A lot! 

Sloane begins to receive cyber threats. While Sloane uses her computer forensic skills to uncover the source of the threats, it is discovered someone is out to kill her. Can her life get crazier? 

Read the first chapter here


 “All I can say is that when you turn on the lights, the roaches run everywhere. Sugah, you’ve obviously done something to someone that is pushing all these buttons. You just need to figure out what, it is.” 

 I was thankful to receive a review copy of Bonnie Calhoun’s debut novel and reading that line makes me smile. It also gives you a peek into this author’s humor. 

Fifi, the assistant manger of the book store has all the answers, just figure out who’s pushing the buttons which is easier said than done. Sloan Templeton was still in the middle of breaking the family cycle of being a victim, learning how to make better choices in the men she dated and figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. She was walking that out day by day, recovering from an abusive relationship with a stalker x-boyfriend Trey, when suddenly she’s become the owner/manger of Beckham’s Brew and Books because three months ago her mother died of a heart attack. 

I enjoyed reading how Sloan walked our her new life in Christ in the middle of life threatening situations. Could she trust God to be there for her? No one’s helped her before. Was He listening? Things start getting crazy when a local real-estate agent starts pressuring her to sell the building her mom owned and where the book store was. 

Bonnie’s characters were endearing and a bit unique like Aunt Verlene who is a chef wannabe. Sloan’s Aunt fancied herself as an Iron Chef – Sloan knew a person needed a cast-iron stomach to eat her Aunt’s creations. She wasn’t sure about her Aunt’s ingredients either and didn’t even want to think about what she did with the case of cat food she helped Verlene bring into her house (she doesn’t own a cat). 

Sloan Templeton tells her Aunt to be careful who she tells about this rare cook book she’s found. But Aunt Verlene just can’t keep quite at the hair dressers. What is it about hair dressers? Are they part time therapists? Women find themselves telling them everything. Grin! Sloan says this to her Aunt about her hair, “that hairdo looks like it hurts, your hairs got your face pulled up so tight, I swear I saw your belt buckle move when you raised your eyebrows.” Verlene paid her no mind. She had more important things on her mind like selling that rare book. 

Fifi, the assistant book store manager, was giving Sloane a hard time about taking in strays and reminded her they weren’t like pets. But Fifi didn’t know what it was like to be abused, she did. If Sloan could give Barbara some coffee and a safe place for a few hours in the store then she would do it. 

Sloan Templeton inquires about Fifi’s book club, what they were reading and how they were managing without mom. Fifi says, “Sugah, Do you actually think that Granny Oakley’s are a book club?” she looked at her with a smile. “Are you saying that those oldsters are packing heat? And have no interest in books? 

Surprise, surprise! Bonnie Calhoun weaves a layered and fast-moving plot with stalkers, Doctors fighting over a rare books worth thousands, Sloane receiving death threats on her computer they can’t trace and all the while protecting herself and her Aunt Verlene, chef wannabe as they make plans to sell her antique cookbook. 

I enjoyed Bonnie’s humor interwoven into the drama and suspense. Sprinkled through out the story were a great bunch of quirky supporting characters flawed, misfits working together to fight the bad guys. They were a hoot to read about and I’ve given you a peek into this authors humor and at some of these fun characters in this review. 

I’m not sure where Bonnie will go from here but count me in on the ride. I loved this author’s balance of humor and drama. You will too! 

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent 
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review: 

Bonnie S. Calhoun is a master weaver of snarky humor and suspense. Cooking the Books is fast paced, laugh out loud funny with enough suspense to make you shiver. Sloane is an oxymoron: tough as nails on crime and injustice, yet her Aunt Verlene and Fifi, her nutty store manager, manipulate her. Novel Rocket and I give it a high recommendation. It's a must read. 

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, 
Sr. Editor Novel Rocket

Bonus Review: 

Sloane Templeton finds herself book-ended by problems. Her mother passed away leaving a bookstore, a grieving daughter, a cast of quirky characters, and a rare book behind. 

If that wasn't enough, Sloane also has a recent divorce under her belt and an ex-boyfriend who didn’t mind giving her a good belt when she needed it. Sloane is attempting to heal and figure out life. But circumstances keep her on her toes, and her emotions on eggshells. The new man in her life seems oh so perfect, too perfect? An offer exists for the bookstore property, and the sales force seems a little too eager to slide that sale through. Sloane’s Aunt Verdene holds the interest of the law enforcement and fire professionals in her neighborhood…and an occasional hoodlum. 

This novel has sass and lots of it. Quirky supporting characters show up in every chapter. Sloane grows from insecure to a new awareness of steps she needs to take to ease the chaos in her life. Verdene does not blow up a section of her block. Sloane discovers the true meaning of the word neighbor. And, the book ends on such a note that there better be a follow up or two. 

Readers who go for quippy, sassy Chick-lit style reads will want to check into sassy Sloane. Folks who like both heavy topics and humor in the same novel might find Calhoun’s handling of some serious issues cathartic. Mystery lovers who want t’s crossed and I’s dotted might feel frustrated with the open-endedness of the final few pages. Not for the clean-cut, feel-good inspirational fans, the subject matter got a little tense in a few spots. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Lisa Bergren's Bourne ~ Reviewed

Bourne (River of Time 3.1 Novella)  
[Kindle Edition] 
Lisa Bergren File Size: 480 KB 
Print Length: 116 pages 
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited 
Publisher: Bergren Creative Group, Inc.; 
1 edition (February 26, 2012) 
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services 
Language: English 


Battle weary and injured, Marcello returns to his beloved Gabriella as danger still knocks at the castello gates. Luca continues to woo Lia as she contemplates her future in the 14th century and Lord Rodolfo Greco faces inner demons that threaten to overtake him, mind and soul. Travel once again to the River of Time in this ebook novella. 


Honor. Sacrifice. Love. Make no mistake, words such as these are the lifeblood of Lisa T Bergren's River of Time series, and Bourne breathes life once again into the Bettarini sisters, their heroic Italian knights and the enigmatic Lord Rodolfo Greco. Bourne picks up where Torrent left off, as Marcello, Luca and Greco return from battle with physical wounds and emotional scars that are dangerously unseen. Written from both Gabi and Lia's perspectives, the girls continue to grapple with their 14th century home and the need to hide their true origins. Gabi realizes her new role at the castello brings unexpected responsibilities and sacrifice; Lia is forced to confront her feelings over the men in her life; Greco's reckless behavior exposes his unfathomable pain; and Luca is forced to face his fears. Bergren's writing is evocative and intense, brilliantly captivating with a timeless appeal to any lover of exceptional storytelling. Bourne is an impressive addition to the unmissable River of Time series ~ simply put, I loved it and desperately want some more! 

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, April 02, 2012

Anna Schmidt's A Stranger's Gift ~ Reviewed

A Stranger's Gift (Women of Pinecraft) 

anna Schmidt

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616262346


Hester Detlef, a field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service, is determined to restore a hurricane victim’s faith, as well as his property. Shunned, then done, Amish man John Hafner has no time for a Mennonite do-gooder. Will love and faith take root once the debris is cleared?


A Stranger’s Gift is about a young Mennonite woman named Hester Detlef who heads up an organization for disaster relief in Pinecraft, Florida.  She went against the Mennonite traditions and went to school to be a nurse.  After her mother died, she dedicated her life to helping others, forgetting about herself in the process.  She puts her whole self into the clean up effort after Hurricane Hester hits her community.  In the meantime, she meets John Steiner, a man shunned from his Amish faith.  In the beginning, they get on each others nerves, but throughout the course of the story, they find out they have more in common with each other than they thought.

This was a nice book.  It shows that you can’t shut God out and run away from your problems, and you can’t avoid dealing with life’s issues by submerging yourself in work.  I enjoyed watching as the love story unfolded, particularly for Hester, who figured she would be an old maid.

Reviewed by: Sarah Porter