Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mary Ellis's Love Comes to Paradise ~ Reviewed

Love Comes to Paradise
Mary Ellis
Release Date   Nov 1, 2012
Publisher   Harvest House Publishers
ISBN  0736938672  


Love Comes to Paradise is the second book in bestselling author Mary Ellis's New Beginnings series. It's about fresh starts...and how faith in God and His perfect plans provide the peace and joy all long for.

Nora King believes she is a woman in love. When Elam Detweiler leaves the ultraconservative Amish district of Harmony, Maine, and moves to Paradise, Missouri, Nora follows soon after. But does she love the man or the independence and freethinking he represents? Although she finds good work in her new town, Nora can't seem to capture Elam's Englisch-leaning heart, no matter how hard she tries.
And then, unexpectedly, Lewis Miller comes from Harmony to offer Nora what every woman needs--a lifetime of unconditional love. As Lewis attempts to claim her heart, Elam's interest piques. Will Nora come to her senses before Elam's thoughtless choices ruin her reputation beyond repair?


Love Comes to Paradise is book two in The New Beginning Series.   In this story, Nora King follows Elam Detweiler from the super strict district in Harmony, Maine to Paradise, Missouri.  She is staying with her sister in laws family and gets a job in a local bakery.  However, as she gets to know Elam, she begins to wonder if she truly is in love with him.  And when Lewis Miller, an Amish man who had fallen in love with her in Harmony, comes to court her, she gets even more confused as to who she is supposed to be with.
This was a fun story.  Book one left off a bit abruptly for me, and I was glad to see the story continue with Nora.  It was fun to see her character develop from a flighty girl to a more mature young woman. 

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Christa Parrish's The Air We Breathe ~ Reviewed

By Christa Parrish
Published by Bethany House
352 Pages

Book Cover:  

Seventeen-year-old Molly Fisk does not go outside. She's ruled by anxiety and only feels safe in the tiny tourist-town museum she and her mother run and call home. Yearning to live free but unable to overcome deep wounds from her past, she stays hidden away. Then the chance arrival of a woman Molly knew six years ago changes everything. 
Six years ago, newly single Claire Rodriguez was an empty shell. Only in the unique friendship she strikes up with a young girl--a silent girl who'll only talk to Claire--does she see the possibility of healing. But one day the girl and her mother vanish, their house abandoned. What happened that drove them away? And how can Claire now offer Molly the same chance at finding a life anew?


Christa Parrish has readers instantly connect with and care about her characters. They and their situation will tug at your heart strings as the story opens up with Hannah spending the day with her Dad. What was supposed to be a special day out turns out to be a nightmare she’ll re-live the rest of her days.

I’m thankful for the review copy of Christa’s new book. It’s an engaging, hopeful and inspirational read. This author develops her characters so they become your friends. She takes you inside their mind revealing their motives behind their behavior, their hurts and helping you understand and relate to their brokenness. The author pens an authentic, real and honest story talking about topics we don’t normally discuss.

Hannah and Claire have a divine appointment. Hope and healing comes to these two in the most unexpected way. I appreciated reading about their courage and strength to take the first step toward healing.  Its hard but with God’s help all things are possible. Will they continue to take more steps in this journey and do what it takes to receive their healing?

The story starts with Hannah going through an experience we’d hear about on the daily news. She’s forever changed by this event. She has scars no one can see. The six year old girl has stopped talking because of this event, “She wasn’t not speaking on purpose. She tried sometimes, but letters jumbled and their pointy edges stick in her lungs, because even through the words were in her head, the sounds came from her chest, her diaphragm quivering up and down trying to push them out…She felt them all the time, all the unspoken words lumped together, filling her up. Dr. Diane said she might explode if she didn’t talk. Hanna Believed her.”

Claire had a few demons of her own. She was out for a walk trying to forget about the tough times she faced and her reoccurring nightmares. These horrific times have crippled her. She needed answers. On her walk she spies a young girl on a swing all by herself. Claire asks the girl if she wants a push. She nods. So she starts to push her from the front. Hannah looks at Claire and says, “Your necklace.”

Claire touches the crystal necklace she wore very day. “My son gave it to me.”
“I saw one like it on T.V. It hurts you!”
“What does? The Cross?”
“When you say about your son! My mom looks at me like that too!”

Hannah knew Claire spoke out of pain and loss and knew she’d understand more than the others. She sensed that Claire might want freedom from the fear, healing for her soul and a deep understanding of loss and anxiety.”

Hannah’s mom witnesses’ the miracle that just took place between Claire and Hannah. She gets Dr. Diane on the phone and the Dr. asks if Claire would join them in the next counseling session. Claire agrees. She’s not sure why she agreed to go did but she knew she had to be there. The Mom asks her what they talked about, Claire says, “She didn’t say much.”

“Not much is everything. Hannah hasn’t said a word in four months.”

Christia’s novel is a compelling read that has you instantly care for her characters. There’s a hint of mystery in the mix and a spiritual struggle as these women fight for freedom from their fears.  I appreciated the fact this author wasn’t graphic in describing the tragedy both of these women faced. She has the reader understand what’s up without all the details. I like that.

Christa Parrish writes of broken people stuck in the insurmountable pain of the past, which has crippled them on the inside with a fear that controls their life in the present.  The characters are hurting and in search of peace. All are looking for healing, acceptance, and forgiveness. Each can see a way out of the pain and have restoration for their soul. This author shows how God often uses others who have walked in our shoes to draw us close to Him. They don’t have all the answers but take one day at a time in their faith journey and offer hope.

This is a read you won’t soon forget! There are a few surprises for the reader along the way. Part of this book takes place in a wax museum in Maine. It’s an unusual setting that makes it an interesting and hopeful read with a satisfying ending!!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christa Allan's Threads of Hope ~ Reviewed

Christa Allan 
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 2013
ISBN: 1426752660
   ISBN: 1426752660


Passed over for promotion and dumped by her boyfriend, Nina O'Malley is further frustrated when her editor assigns her one of the "soft" stories she despises-covering a gala benefit supporting the AIDS Memorial Quilt. More determined than ever to prove she deserves a promotion to the NY office, Nina decides to write a series featuring a local quilting group raising money for AIDs research.

At the event, she runs into her high school nemesis: Greg is a widower and the adoptive father of Jazarah, an HIV positive girl from Ethiopia. Unlike Nina, Greg has faith in a loving God, and he trusts in God's plan for his life.

Greg and Nina grow closer, and as Nina interviews the quilt families, she begins to question the choices she has made and her lack of faith. Nina suddenly finds herself facing two possible dreams, two paths for her life.


                Threads of Hope is another book in the Quilts of Love Series.  This book involves Nina O’Malley, a journalist with a low self esteem due to incidents that happened during high school.  When she gets assigned to do a story about the AIDS Memorial quilt, she is hesitant at firsts, but decides to put her all into to try to secure a job in the New York office.  Throughout the process, she is reunited with her high school nemesis, Greg, who was the jock that made her life miserable while in high school.  When she learns that he has adopted an HIV positive daughter for Ethiopia, her view of him changes.  His faith in a loving God whom He trusts to lead him in life is a mystery to her.
                This book was a nice read.  It was interesting to see the hardness of Nina’s character in the beginning, and watching her soften throughout it.  She really let her early life’s circumstances define who she was as an adult, unnecessarily.  But thankfully, she was able to overcome it with the help of Greg and the Lord.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Melody Carlson's The Christmas Pony ~ Reviewed

By Melody Carlson
Published by Revell
176 Pages

Book Cover: Eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull knew better than to wish for a pony that Christmas in 1937. Her mother had assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony was the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they needed at their boarding house were the paying kind. But when an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, Lucy starts to believe her Christmas wishes might just come true after all.
The queen of the Christmas novel, Melody Carlson pens another magical tale of expectation and excitement as one little girl dreams big and the impossible becomes possible.

Review:  Lucy Turnball grabbed my heart from the start as she prays, “PLEASE, dear God, help Mama to find her smile again. Lucy could remember when her Mama had the prettiest smile ever. Back when Daddy was still alive. But like Lucy’s memories of her father, Mama’s smile had faded some over the last few years. If Lucy couldn’t have a pony for Christmas, she would settle for Mama’s smile instead.”

Melody Carlson pens a Christmas story that will have you rooting for the characters and put a warm feeling in your heart. Lucy Turball is in the general store running an errand for her Mama when she meets George and Veronica. She over hears them asking about a place to stay while their car is repaired. Lucy introduces herself to them and tells them about her Mama’s bed and breakfast Inn. They are excited and Lucy gives them directions to the Inn. This was an answer to prayer.

This couple was on their way to Hollywood when the car broke. Veronica was on a mission to become a star. Her favorite actors were Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The movie they made together, “It Happened One Night” explained how George and her met. Veronica loved the big city with its bright lights and excitement. She’d never been in a small town like this before. She felt trapped with nothing to do.

George on the other hand loved the small town feel and all it had to offer. He embraced it, the people and their way of life. He was glad to pitch in and help where he could.

Little Lucy was taken by the new tenants. They were an answer to her prayers for sure and so were the other unexpected guests. Lucy captured my heart and put me a smile on my face as I read about her family preparing for Christmas with visitors. Lucy, her Mama and Grandma were having a bright and unusual Christmas you’ll enjoy reading about.

This author is no stranger to creating fun, heart warming Christmas stories. You’ll be grinning from ear to ear as you close the book. This is a fast read I enjoyed so much. It helped kick off the holiday season as it reminded is all of the reason for the season.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins

Monday, January 21, 2013

Warren Cole Smith's A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church ~ Reviewed

A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church
By: Warren Cole Smith
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 265 
ISBN: 0830856986

"My name is Warren and I'm a recovering evangelical." With these words, Warren Cole Smith begins his book A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church. Since World War II, there has been a flowering of evangelical activity and parachurch organizations. But something troubling has happened in spite of this growth and the political and financial power it has created. Overall church attendance is not growing. America's high divorce rate is just one of many melancholy cultural indicators. Is it possible that the evangelical movement has not been an antidote for this decline but has actually caused this decline in the health and vigor of the true body of Christ? Using solid research and original interviews with some of Americas leading Christian thinkers, journalist and editor Warren Smith examines the condition of the evangelical movement, offering an assessment of what's gone wrong as it has grown in power and size and what must be done if it is to be salt and light in a culture in need of redemption. Smith isn't afraid to name the names of many evangelical leaders but it is because he loves the church that he calls her to repentance. He develops the argument that instead of evangelizing and making obedient disciples of Christ, the church has become part of the cultural decline of the West. A Lover's Quarrel is a penetrating look at the current state of theology and practice in the American evangelical movement and offers a helpful, if difficult, way forward.


The cover is far less compelling than the message in this book. And that is maybe why it sat around on my stack for months, waiting for me to pick it up.

Or maybe the timing was perfect. I did The Truth Project study over the summer and found that to be a serious challenge to what I believed. Our belief systems are so personal and so uniquely twisted. What I believe to be true may offend the socks off the person standing next to me in line. Layers upon layers of simple observations, events, circumstances and words form our beliefs. And those beliefs become part of who we are so it's very threatening to have someone stomp on those beliefs because they have become one with our toes.

That said, Mr. Smith goes after some churchy beliefs that are areas of controversy and powder kegs. The title is pretty appropriate. This isn't a gentle disagreement. A lover's quarrel, by definition, is fueled by passion. Mr. Smith slams his sledgehammer of facts and observation very close to the reader's toes.

His targets:

The way we do church
Politics and religion
Modern soul winning
Christian publishing
Christian music
Christian marketing
Church size
Church hierarchy

Is that enough to make your toes tingle?

The facts, the quotes and Mr. Smith's interpretations of those is definitely food for thought. I found a piece of gristle here and there, some serious toe bruising in a few places I didn't expect to find the sledgehammer. And I came away with the underscored understanding that just because someone says this, or we've done it like this for years and years doesn't make that thing true and right. My own observations and experiences tell me that the American version of Christianity is anemic and struggling in an attempt to change the world. When countries where we've sent missionaries in the near past now sends missionaries to America because we've become a mission field....well...that says something.

Overall, if we do not think for ourselves, we will be deceived. And thinking is hard work, it requires facts and study and digging deep, and if we are not willing to dig and seek the truth we are going to accept the better sounding lies as truth rather than gentle white lies that please our flesh and waste our time.

If you are looking for a meaty, disturbing, worldview changing book, you may want to invest in it. I have a few reservations with some of what the author says based on my experiences, so I can't say I endorse and embrace all that Smith says. But, what he says needs to be considered. When I finished my copy I immediately loaned it to two other friends who are hungry to follow Jesus on His terms, too. Definitely, this would be a nice, spicy small group or Sunday school discussion book.   

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Elizabeth Camden's Against the Tide ~ Reviewed

Against the Tide
Elizabeth Camden
Bethany House Publishers 
(October 1, 2012)


Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Against the Tide, go HERE.



Deep, dark, and captivating. I started this book one evening and finished it a while later in the early morning hours - not because it is a quick read, but because it completely swept me away with its descriptions and its flawed, amazing characters. Camden has a wonderful talent, and her writing continues to get more and more remarkable with each new book!  
Against the Tide begins with Lydia, giving a sketch of her fascinating but tragic background and then diving into her life as a confident and intelligent adult with a unique career. Some of her quirks ring true for me, and I love her character for her strength and her all-too-real weaknesses.

Camden throws challenge after challenge Lydia's way throughout the story, and it's so horribly sad to witness what she goes through. But oh! The empathy!! What a beautiful thing to be able to feel a character's pain so much that it causes tears and gut-wrenching empathy! It is not an easy journey for Lydia - especially towards the end - but it is a meaningful one with hope and newfound purpose (with a nod to Bane's character - his deep devotion and passion). To be able to feel her emotions so deeply understand how hard it was for Lydia to make the right choices and to accept love while in such a difficult, humble was a powerful reading experience.

Perhaps not everyone will connect with Lydia's character the way I did, but I really think that Camden does a marvelous job of getting into her characters' minds and hearts and helping the reader to do so, too. And while I was most impacted by Lydia's emotional struggles, this story also has plenty of intrigue and suspense, along with a romance that is thrilling, tender, and thought-provoking. 

There is a lot to love and a lot to ponder with this story!

If you enjoy a well-written historical romance that is flooded with mystery and drama, Against the Tide is a great read. But if you're like me, take note: you might just find that the emotion comes up like a sneaker wave and engulfs you.
*With thanks to the publisher through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.* 

Reviewed by: Amber Stokes

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dee Henderson's Full Disclosure ~ Reviewed

By Dee Henderson
Published by Bethany House
473 Pages

Book Cover: Ann Silver is a cop's cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region's most trusted investigative positions. 
Paul Falcon is the FBI's top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder. 
Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn't expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention. 
The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is...

Review: Dee Henderson is back with her new character driven story that has plenty of twists, turns and a few surprises! I was thrilled to receive a review copy.

This novel is written mostly in the POV of leading man Paul Falcon. Paul is a special FBI agent in Chicago at the top of his field in the Midwest.

The leading lady is Ann Silver a Midwest Investigator, who’s called in to help local law enforcement solve their worst cases.

Ann meets Paul when she passes a case off to him to work on. It just so happens the case is linked to a female shooter he’s been trying to track down for years. There’s an undeniable attraction between them. Ann tells Paul the story behind this case. When it’s over Paul wonders if they would ever see each other again. They would if he had a say in the matter.

Ann says to Paul, “Even as a young girl I loved books. In my imagination I as there on those adventures.” Ann writes books to relax and take her mind off the horrific sites she has to see. All the while Ann explains the writing process and how she feels about books I wondered if Dee Henderson felt the same way?

I like how Dee showed Ann and Paul’s passionate pursuit of God’s best for their lives in a very real and non-preachy way. I like that.

Paul says to Ann, “I think you don’t realize how much what you have with lovely (a name Ann called God) flows out to everyone around you, that’s why you are such a good friend. That’s why people trust you like they do. Part of what you are giving back to them is God loving them through you.”

Dee’s new book is filled with mystery, police work and fun. I found it interesting to read about how each of them handles their high profile, stressful jobs. Paul asks Dave about Ann’s books. Paul and his wife are close to Ann and love her novels. “Here’s Ann’s published works Paul. Read the O’Malley series in order!” Surprised! Yes, I was too. I thought having Ann be the writer of this series was cool. It was very interesting to read why she wrote each of these books. I haven’t read this series but they’ve moved up a few notches on my to read list. LOL!

I enjoyed the mystery, suspense and rich characterization in this character driven novel. This author did a brilliant job of giving readers an up-close and personal look at what Paul and Ann’s jobs required and how they went about getting to know each other. I also enjoyed seeing how their faith got them through some pretty horrific stuff.

This book is to be savored, not rushed through. You’ll want to enjoy every word. You’ll smile as you read how creative Paul and Ann are in spending time together and getting to know each other. I highly recommend this as your next book club pick or reading choice. There is so much to think about and discuss. I’m looking forward to Dee Henderson’s next book due out in 2013. You will too!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kelly Irvin's Love's Journey Home ~ Reviewed

  Loves Journey Home 
(Bliss Creek Amish V3)
By Irvin Kelly (Author)
Release Date Nov 1, 2012
Publisher Harvest House Publishers
ISBN 0736953183
EAN 9780736953184 


It's been seven years since her husband died, but Helen Crouch is doing just fine. She's selling her jams and canned goods at the bakery and making a tidy living. But her whole world goes topsy-turvy when a new family moves to town. Gabriel Gless has brought his children to Bliss Creek to escape the worldly influences in Indiana. Helen and Gabriel have so much in common--the loss of their beloved spouses, the experience of raising their families alone, their rock-solid faith--so why can't they seem to speak without arguing?
And that's not all that's going on in Bliss Creek this summer. In the middle of a punishing drought, the community is faced with the decision to uproot their families and establish a new settlement. As families struggle to say goodbye, each one must find the faith to follow the Lord's direction.


Love’s Journey Home is the final book in the Bliss Creek Amish series.  This book focuses a lot on Annie.  Annie and David had decided to marry in the previous book, despite David’s cancer.  However, by book three, David had passed and left Annie with a young son.  However a new family moves into town, and Isaac Gless takes a serious interest in Annie.  However, Annie is unsure as to whether she is ready to give her heart to someone again.  In the meantime, Isaac’s father, a widower with several children, is finding himself attracted to Helen, a local widow in Bliss Creek.  They both have a hard time letting go of their spouses who have passed but have a hard time fighting the growing attraction for each other.

I was very excited to get this book to see how the series concluded.  I was very sad to hear of David’s passing.  The last book didn’t clue you in on whether his cancer went into remission or not.  But it didn’t take me long to start rooting for Isaac.  He almost seemed like a more suitable fellow for Annie than David.  And it was so exciting to see Helen find someone to be with as well.  This was a great ending to the series.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, January 14, 2013

Amanda Cabot's Christmas Roses ~ Reviewed

By Amanda Cabot
Published by Revell
176 Pages

Book Cover: Celia Anderson doesn't need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles

Review: Amanda Cabot pens a novel that will warm your heart and get you in the Christmas spirit! Its 1882, in the Wyoming Territory, Celia Anderson, a young widow, is busy running a boarding house and taking care of her young daughter Emma and Aaron her friend. There was no time for marriage or romance in her life. “She had no doubt her husband Josef cared for her, but caring was not the same thing as love.” She wanted to tell this to the people that were trying to play match maker.

Her friend Bertha and Emma’s friend Aaron kept bringing up the subject of marriage. Times were hard, but she’d manage some how! One more boarder would make a huge difference in her life. Until one day she suddenly spies Emma goes into a coughing fit that doesn’t stop! Ceila senses something is terribly wrong and doesn’t know what to do. She has no way of getting word to Dr.  “All the other women were in Cedarville, planning the Thanksgiving celebration. Celia was on her own with no idea how to help Emma’s suffering.”… Now she was helpless…Help me Lord. Save my baby.” She prays.

Mark Williams rides into town in search of his father. “It had been two years, three months, seventeen days, and more miles and towns than he could count.” A man asks if he can help. Mark says he’s looking for a place to stay. “We ain’t got no hotel, but you might wanna talk to widow Anderson. She opened a boarding house back 10-11 months ago, and every body knows it ain’t full. I reckon she’d let you stay for a night or two.”

Mark Williams arrives at Ceila’s house and knocks, then yells “Mrs. Anderson?” No one answers…He opens the door, it’s quite. “Then He heard it! A painful cough and an even more alarming shrill cry.” He heads toward the noise. “Mark stared out the most beautiful young woman he’d ever seen, a woman who was cradling a desperately ill child.”

Ceila is in her 20’s and looks up. She sees Mark. She pleads for his help. Mark wasn’t a Dr. but had seen this before and knew what to do. He tells Ceila the things to get. They work side by side to help Emma breathe and stop the cough. All was well. Cecila looks at Mark and says, “I don’t know how to thank you, you were the answer to prayer.”

“Mark Blinked. It was the first time anyone had called him the answer to anything, especially prayer, “

Amanda pens a tender story that will pull at your heart strings, as Mark searches for his father. Celica is thankful for the new boarder and the help he is offering around the house..

A sweet admiration develops between Mark and Cecila. Aaron’s dad sees this and asks Ceila to marry him. Cecila is stuck at what to do. She’s known Aaron and his dad for a while. She loved Aaron and knew the marriage would be for her daughter Emma and Aaron. Mark would not settle down in one place until he found his Dad! He was a drifter. No hope of a marriage there. What was she to do?

One thing you can expect in Wyoming is surprises. Nothing is what it seems. And the reader will be all aglow when they learn about the meaning of the Christmas Rose. You won’t look at roses the same! This book will help you get in the Christmas spirit and leave you with a satisfied feeling. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. It won’t be the last.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where book fun Begins

Friday, January 11, 2013

Kathleen Y'Barbo's Flora's Wish ~ Reviewed

Flora's Wish, The Secret Lives of Will Tucker Series #1
By: Kathleen Y'Barbo 

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Harvest House Publishers
Publication Date: 2013

ISBN: 0736952101


May 1887-Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fiancis died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.
Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?


Flora’s Wish is about a twenty eight your old woman named Flora Brimm.  After her first four fiancées pass away, Flora is anxious to find someone to marry.   Flora wishes to marry for love, however due to her Grandfather’s will, which states she has to marry and have an heir before she’s thirty to keep her home in the family, she is finds herself engaged to a man she barely knows just so she can be married.  Little does she realize that her intended, Will Tucker, is a con-man, and Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on his trail.  When Lucas meets Flora, he is unsure whether she’s in cahoots with Tucker, so he keeps her in his custody to help him better solve the case.  They continually butt heads, as Lucas knows Tucker is guilty, but Flora want’s to believe in his innocence.  Not surprisingly, as Flora and Lucas get closer to solving the mystery of Will Tucker, they find their feelings for each other are growing by the day.
This was such a fun story.  I couldn’t help but feel sorry for poor Flora, after losing four fiancées.  She did frustrate me at times, though, when she argued Will Tucker’s innocence to Lucas.  She had only just met Will when she got engaged to him, yet her pride wouldn’t let her doubt his character.  It made me feel sorry for Lucas, as he was fighting a losing battle with her for a while.  But obviously, the Lord brought their paths together for a reason, and it was fun watching them discover that!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tanya Eavenson's Unconditional ~ Reviewed

by Tanya Eavenson
Published by Astraea Press
249 pages
Back Cover:
He will fight for her at any cost...

Elizabeth Roberts can't remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to forget her infant daughter's death, her husband's affair. 

When his wife's coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can't erase his betrayal, but with God's help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost. She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s 
Elizabeth awakens to unsettling silence emanating from the baby monitor. Jolting to her feet, she runs to the nursery to check on her infant girl and finds her not breathing. Panicked, she longs to take her child to the hospital, but her husband thinks she’s overreacting. In fact, lying in bed, he doesn’t even seem to care—about her or their child. Holding her child—her treasure—to her chest, Elizabeth leaves the room and steals her heart. If she cries, it will be for the child she holds, not for the husband who has let her down.
Unconditional is a gripping story of love, betrayal, fear, and hope. It shows the deep despair of a woman who’s been let down when she needed love most, and the hope that comes from turning our eyes to the One who never disappoints. Can God save her marriage—save her from her from herself?  Her husband—her betrayer, hopes so. In fact, he’s willing to bank everything on that hope. But is it too late, and will her emerging memory and a man from her past stand in his way?
I loved the authentic characters presented in Tanya Eavenson’s debut novel, and the promise of love and hope after despair. I also loved seeing Chris, Elizabeth’s husband, fight for the one he loved—whether she reciprocated or accepted it. The writing was strong, and the mysterious events from Elizabeth’s past provided great intrigue. I will certainly be on the lookout for future novels written by this talented new author.  

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Amy Wallace's Nowhere to Run ~ Reviewed

Nowhere To Run (Place Of Refuge V2)

By Amy Wallace
Pages   304 
Release Date   Aug 1, 2012
Publisher   Harvest House Publishers
ISBN  0736947337   

What happens when the promise to protect and serve forces a police officer to do the unthinkable...?
Police Officer Ashley Walters is being stalked. Her wedding plans are interrupted by an attack on her fiance, and a detective is shot protecting her. Ashley is forced to flee for her own safety and the lives of those she loves.

Ashley finds refuge in a Mennonite community in Shipshewana, Indiana. But even in a peaceful town among gentle people she cherishes, danger stalks. All she has left is faith. But when faith fails, what survives?

Readers who love suspense coupled with the simplicity of the Mennonite life will eagerly devour book two in the dramatic Place of Refuge series.


Nowhere to Run is book two in The Place of Refuge Series.  Ashley Walters, a police officer by day, is engaged and planning her wedding with her best friend, Margo, and her parents.  However, she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched.  When she starts receiving gifts from nowhere, she starts to get very concerned.  Then, her fiancé, Patrick, is attacked, which begins a string of attacks on those she loves.  She is whisked away in secret by her best friend who has plotted with her family to hide her, but the stalker is still able to find her and harass her, yet she has no idea who he is.  She is very frustrated that she has no control in the situation and begins to drift away from the Lord, wondering why He is putting her through this in the first place.
I enjoyed this book a lot more than book one.  It was interesting watching what Ashley had to go through in order to let go of her pride and self-reliance.  She was constantly trying to take control of the situation and take it upon herself to protect those she loved, but the more tried, the more things happened that showed her she had no control at all.  I read all but two chapters of this book in one day.  I had a hard time putting it down.  It’s a great read if you love Christian suspense books!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

I want to know your favorite 2012 books.

Did you read an outstanding book in 2012? Leave a link to your review or provide book title, author and the reason you loved it in the comments. 

Your review might show up in February's Christian Fiction Online Magazine. The deadline is the 21st of this month. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

Julie Lessman's A Love Surrendered ~ Reviewed

By Julie Lessman
Published by Revell
ISBN# 987-0-8007-3417-6
416 Pages

Back Cover: Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is?

Review: Thanks to Revell for the review copy of A Love Surrendered, another installment in the Winds of Change series.

Julie’s new novel is set in Boston, Mass, in 1932, highlighting the Prohibition era. The author pulls out all the stops in this novel filled with drama, love and a few surprises. Some that make you re-read the page to make sure you read it correctly! Grin!
A passion most pure is the theme that stood out to me in this novel. God’s the example of love and will help us honor one another in all of our relationships. The author naturally weaves this theme throughout the story.

I adore Julie’s sense of humor too. Gabe is a young gal after my own heart. I also enjoy the relationship she had with Patrick and Marcy O’Connor, her foster parents. I had to laugh out loud at the trouble Gabe just happened into, take a peek..

“Did you break Victor Kincaid’s Jaw? Patrick O’Connor barked and looks at Gabe, “Let-me-rephrase that,” he leaned close, face flushed.

“Did-you-swing-the bat – that-broke-Victor Kincaid’s Jaw?”

“It was an accident.” Gabe whimpered.

“Yes, I’m quite sure it was. Just like tar on Sister Mary Veronica’s chair, the gold fish in the water fountain, and my personal favorite a snake in the confessional.” LOL! Never a dull moment with Gabe around!

Sean and Emma O’Connor face some startling realities of their own. Charity and Mitch, Maggie Kennedy, Katie Rose and Luke McGee are all in this novel too; making this book a great family affair. I delight in the family scenes where everyone gets together. It reminds me of the Christmas scene in the movie, While you Were Sleeping. In it Sandra Bullock hugs the present she was given as she looks around the room with a huge smile on her face, watching the love this family has one for one another as they laugh and open presents. She was thrilled to be included in the joy of Christmas morning.

I’ve felt part of the O’Connor family in the same way. This author has a gift for including the reader in the family gatherings. It’s been fun to be part of it all.

No family is perfect including the O’Connor’s but they love one another fiercely, hold each other accountable, which creates intense family drama at times; along with emotional twists and turns as they live life together, walking out their faith as best they can. If you haven’t read a book by Julie I highly recommend this series.

Make time to nestle in for a great fun with the O’Connor family. Oh, the things you can talk about at book club. I’d add A Love Surrendered, to your reading list.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Amy Lillard's Saving Gideon ~ Reviewed

Saving Gideon, Clover Ridge Series #1 
By: Amy Lillard 
Format: Paperback 
Number of Pages: 320 
Vendor: B&H Books 
Publication Date: 2012 
ISBN: 1433677520

Description: Gideon Fisher wants one thing out of life -- to be left alone. This is not the Amish way, but he's devastated after the death of his wife and son to the point of losing his faith. He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community. But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does Gideon have but to let her in? 

Review: Saving Gideon involves an Amish man named Gideon Fisher, who has lost his faith after losing his wife and son in a tragic accident. He has secluded himself from his family and community, placing the blame (wrongly) for the death of his family on himself. When a sudden snow storm results in a beautiful English socialite, Avery Ann Hamilton, being stranded at his home, he hardly knows how to react, but he has no choice but to save her, as she was injured when her car slid out of control in the storm. Avery, on the other hand, is trying to escape the fast paced world. She has been unsuccessful at finding true love, as every man she meets seems to only be after her father’s money. She finds life on Gideon’s farm a welcome relief, and even learns how to cook and take care of a home. The longer she stays, the less she wants to leave, not only the simplicity of Amish life, but Gideon, as well. This was a great book! It’s very rare that I’ve read a book where an English person wants to stay living in the Amish lifestyle, but coming from the lifestyle Avery did, I can understand why she would prefer not to mention the fact that Gideon appreciated her for who she was, not who her father was. I enjoyed watching Avery overcome her struggles and learn new things that she never would have experienced in the “real world.” 

 Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers