Thursday, May 30, 2013

Amanda Flower's A Plain Scandal ~ Reviewed

A Plain Scandal, Appleseed Creek Mystery Series #2

By Amanda Flower
Release Date   Dec 1, 2012
Publisher   Broadman And Holman
ISBN  1433676982 


The people of Appleseed Creek in the heart of Ohio's Amish Country are under attack. Soon after the dust has settled on a buggy accident that turned out to be murder, an unknown assailant begins cutting off the long hair of Amish women and the beards of Amish men.

New to the area, computer specialist Chloe Humphrey may not share their customs, but she is certainly alarmed over these crimes against the Amish and worries how such events will impact her growing number of friends who are more connected to that way of life.

In this small community, when Chloe discovers the body of an Amish businessman who was stabbed in the back and whose beard was cut off, she knows that finding the murderer and restoring peace to Appleseed Creek is as much her responsibility as anyone else's.


A Plain Death is a follow up to the book A Plain Death.  In this book, we continue to follow Chloe Humphrey, a computer specialist at a local community college who has befriended an Amish family, and has taken in young Becky, who has left the Amish Faith.  Chloe becomes involved in solving hate crimes that appear to be targeting the Amish community.  First, several young Amish girls are attacked only to have their hair cut off.  Then, Chloe stumbles up an Amish man who was murdered.  Despite opposing opposition, Chloe is determined to find out who is responsible and bring them to justice. 
I really enjoyed this book.  It was nice to revisit all of the characters and to see how they were coming along.  I really enjoyed seeing the love story between Chloe and Thomas, Becky’s older brother, grow.  I do hope there is another follow up to this story.  I’d love to see what happens next!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Leslie Gould's Courting Cate ~ Reviewed

Courting Cate
By Leslie Gould
Published by Bethany Publishers
344 Pages

Back Cover:

When Amish farmer Pete Treger moves to Paradise Township, Pennsylvania, seeking a better life, he meets sisters Cate and Betsy Miller. Both are beautiful, but older sister Cate is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Betsy, on the other hand, is sweet and flirty--and seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

However, the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard and fast rule: elder sister must marry first, before the younger can even start courting. Unfortunately for poor Betsy, and for the men who want to court her, her older sister, Cate, doesn't have any suitors--until Pete comes to town, that is.

Though he finds both sisters attractive, something about Cate's feisty demeanor appeals to him. Soon the other bachelors in the district convince Pete to court Cate. She hardly seems receptive to his overtures, though. Instead, she's immediately suspicious of his interest

Review: I’m thankful for the review copy of this book that introduced me to Cate a business Amish woman. Cate is quite content with her life; she was employed by her father as his book keeper for the family business.  She also helped raise her baby sister Betsy after her mom died. Life was good until her father made this announcement, “I’m implementing a new policy, beginning tonight. Betsy doesn’t go to the sing along if Cate doesn’t go…Betsy doesn’t court unless Cate courts…and Betsy doesn’t marry unless Cate marries first! Understand?... that’s the final word. Dat said. “I’ll not budge an inch.”

With this decree life took on a new dimension. Cate had already checked out the boys in their ward district. None of them were interested in her they wanted Betsy. She was ok, with being single. Why did her dad have to make both of their lives miserable?

Cate escapes into what she loves, books! She checks out books from the book mobile. It was Cates favorite place on earth. This is what she thinks of books, “I loved the endless possibilities of the stories. I loved the places they took me. And I loved being with Nan (the bus driver). There was something so accepting so kind and hopeful about her, that for a few minutes I’d forget how disappointing I was to others in my life! Couldn’t her Dat be as encouraging as her friend Nan?”

Cate explains to Nan her situation, “there are two given roles for an Amish woman: being a wife and mother. But there were a few single women who supported themselves. I could too. There was no reason for me to marry a forty-five-year old widow with lots of kids to have a fulfilling life. Sure, I’ve been responsible for Betsy her entire life, but I was not going to marry for her sake. She’d have to figure out this one on her own.”

I enjoyed Cate’s spunk as she maneuvers life to go along with her fathers wishes at the same time staying true to herself. I liked this novel because it doesn’t take place all inside the one district. I also liked that it wasn’t your typical Amish story. Cate is a fighter and is very loyal to God and her family. It was fun to read.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Leslie Gould it won’t be the last! This novel is plain fun and will bring a smile to your face and make you say, Oh, My! As Leslie takes readers on a ride or two they didn’t expect to go on! I liked that too!! This is the first book in the Courting series! Jump aboard! You’ll like the ride!

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

Friday, May 24, 2013

Denise Hildreth Jones's Secrets Over Sweet Tea ~ Reviewed

Secrets Over Sweet Tea
By Denise Hildreth Jones
Published by Tyndall
416 Pages

Back Cover: 

Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well—a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.


I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that answers the question, “What does it mean when someone says; God has healed me from the inside out? How can I let God touch the hurts in my heart and be healed?”

Denise says, “You can only live with your heart shut down for so long. Eventually you will fight for your healing or you will die… Some even find God when their lives fall apart!....Sometimes a person has to die in order to really live. ..Hungry for something real?.. (tired of just going through the motions of life and feeling numb inside?) Want to feel alive? Seek whatever helps you rediscover that carefree childlike heart I know is in there somewhere – that is what you should be doing to Feel Alive!”

This is a journey Denise’s characters having gone on and some have just started down this path. I enjoyed this cast so much they are fun, bold and each have been knocked around by life. Each has a different result.

Scarlett Jo is a Pastor’s wife that’s fun and doesn’t care what people think about her. Denise writes, “Scarlett Jo hadn’t simply survived her life. She had learned how to live inspire of it- and not to worry too much about the perceptions of others.”

Scarlett Jo is fun loving, free spirit and an inspirational person! I loved her voice and her outlook on life she says, “Oh, child do you not know about couponing?...I’m feeding a pack of wolves at my house. If I didn’t know how to coupon, my children would have had to eat me by now. But if you ever want to learn how to do it, you just let me know. It is crazy girl! I can go to a store and leave and they’ve paid me money.”

The characters in this novel welcome you in as family. They’re situations will tug at your heart. What I love about Denise’s books are you’ll be having a good time then all of a sudden she cleverly interweaves spiritual truths that pierce your heart, make you stop and think. Denise will help you “See lies we believe.” You’ll laugh out loud and get teary eyed in parts. A winning combination.

I really liked Scarlett Jo’s husband too he says, “I watch people. I take in people. And to be honest, I learn a great deal about them by what they don’t say.”

I highly recommend this novel and the non-fiction companion book called Reclaiming your Heart! It’s a win win combination. A book you’ll want to put on your summer reading list. Did I mention I just love the cover of this book too! It’s a keeper!

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beth Wiseman's The House That Love Built ~ Reviewed

The House That Love Built

By Beth Wiseman
Release Date   Dec 1, 2012
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  1595548890   


Brooke has only loved one man, her late husband. Owen's rebuilding after a painful divorce. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?

In the charming town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising two young children on her own, supporting them by running the family hardware store. The last thing on her mind is falling in love. But she's intrigued when a stranger moves to town and buys the old Hadley mansion. She's always heard that house holds a secret--maybe even a treasure--and she can't wait to see inside. When she meets the new owner and they spend time together, she can't deny the attraction. Could God be giving her another chance at happiness? Or is she betraying her late husband's memory by even thinking that way?
Owen Saunders bought the Hadley place to spite his cheating ex-wife. She'd always wanted to restore an old house in Smithville. Now he's going to do it without her. But if anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart. Then he meets Brooke and her kids and finds himself tempted by love. Can he bring himself to trust a woman again?

Throw an eccentric uncle into the mix, along with the town's teenage troublemaker, and even a finicky cat--and one thing becomes clear: God is bringing them all together for a reason.


The House That Love Built takes place in the small town of Smithville, Texas.  While Brooke Holloway is working hard at being a single mom of two and running a business after her husband died tragically three years previously, Owen Saunders finds himself buying the old Hadley mansion in town to spite his ex-wife, who left him for his business partner.  Both are still grieving for their previous loves, and trying to figure out how they fit into each other’s lives.  In the meantime, Brooke is struggling with her mother’s decision to go back to her father, who left them twenty years previously for another woman.

This was a wonderful book.  It had love, sadness, happiness, laughter, grief, all rolled into one book!  I loved watching the love blossom between Brooke and Owen.  They were each so hesitant to let go of their first spouses, and afraid to trust someone new, both for different reasons.  The side stories in the book were great, too.  I loved how the story developed and came to a close.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Creston Mapes ~ Fear Has a Name ~ Reviewed

By Creston Mapes
Published by David C. Cook
ISBN# 978-0781408165
400 Pages

Book Cover:  

How Far Would He Go To Keep Them Safe?
It was more than a break-in. More than a stalking. It was personal. When a stalker targets his family, journalist Jack Crittendon must uncover who the person is and what his motives are—if he is to protect the ones he loves. It will lead Crittendon into a world of behind-closed-door secrets and faith gone awry, as does his investigation of a missing pastor, whose apparent suicide is more than it appears. Each move Crittendon makes weaves him tighter and tighter into a web of lies, greed, hypocrisy, sin, and danger. He believed he’d never give in to fear. But that was before. And holding on to his faith won’t be easy. Nor will keeping his family safe, and ending the terror. Because that might require him to step over lines he never dared to cross.


Creston Mapes is back. I received a review copy of his new book that grabbed my attention from the first page. I was spell bound as an intruder smashes into a home with people inside. A mother and small children run for their lives. Creston got the readers full senses going as they wondered the fate of this family.

Home invasions are in the news more and more. Why would anyone do this? Jack Crittendon is a reporter investigating a missing Pastor in Ohio, when he gets the call from his neighbor Tommy Sweeney that informs him of a home invasion, his own. Tommy assures him his family is safe at his house but he better hurry home.

As Jack investigates his own home for clues to this senseless crime, he discovers this isn’t a random act, it’s personal. In his line of work there are bound to be people that hate him, which one was this? As he shares his findings with his wife a look of dread covers her face. He knew who her attacker was, but why after all these years would he seek her out? Didn’t he realize she was married with children now?

If you enjoy novels full of suspense that bring out the dark side and keep you at the edge of your seat biting your nails like those of Brandilyn Collins, Ted Dekker and Mike Delloso, you’ll enjoy Creston Mapes newest thriller!

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Randy Singer's Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales ~ Reviewed

Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales
By: Randy Singer
Tyndale House 
ISBN: 1414375581


Landon Reed is an ex-quarterback convicted of organizing a points-shaving scheme. During his time in prison, he found forgiveness and faith and earned his law degree. Now he longs for an opportunity to prove his loyalty and worth.
Harry McNaughton is one of the founding partners of McNaughton & Clay-and the only lawyer willing to take a chance employing an ex-con-turned-lawyer. Though Landon initially questions Harry's ethics and methods, it's clear the crusty old lawyer has one of the most brilliant legal minds Landon has ever encountered. The two dive into preparing a defense for one of the highest-profile murder trials Virginia Beach has seen in decades when Harry is gunned down in what appears to be a random mugging. Then two more lawyers are killed when the firm's private jet crashes. Authorities suspect someone has a vendetta against McNaughton & Clay, leaving Landon and the remaining partner as the final targets.

I'm a sucker for legal fiction. So Randy Singer's newest was pretty high on my list. The basic premise of Dead Lawyers Don't Tell Tales is pretty convoluted which makes the story that much more fascinating.

Landon Reed is a shamed and just fresh from incarceration former quarterback turned lawyer. He immediately begins to make amends and tries to get his life on the right track. A crusty, seasoned lawyer takes Landon under his wing and things get really interesting after Landon's mentor is killed. In the meantime Landon's wife is getting insider information from a secret source that seems to have access to any secret.

The storyline contains plenty of legal  and relationship drama, seedy characters, some bad ideas and a handful of murders. A crackling plot line whips along at a nice twisty pace and the characters certainly have the reader pulling for the good guys. Imperfect heroes and slightly sympathetic bad guys added a nice layer of depth. A twist at the end caught me by surprise, too.

A great vacation read.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Friday, May 10, 2013

Miralee Ferrell's Blowing on Dandelions ~ Reviewed

Blowing on Dandelions, Love Blossoms in Oregon Series #1
By: Miralee Ferrell 

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: David C. Cook

ISBN: 0781408083


Do Dandelion Wishes Actually Come True?
Katherine Galloway knew this moment of calm wouldn’t last, blown away like the dandelion seeds she scattered as a girl. In 1880, three years after her husband’s death, she struggles to run an Oregon boardinghouse and raise two girls alone. Things don't get easier when her critical, domineering mother moves in. Katherine must make the situation work, but standing up for herself and her family while honoring her mother isn't easy. And with a daughter entering the teenage years, the pressure on Katherine becomes close to overwhelming. Then she crosses paths with Micah Jacobs, a widower who could reignite her heart, but she fears a relationship with him might send things over the edge. She must find the strength, wisdom, hope, and faith to remake her life, for everything is about to change.
  Blowing on Dandelions is about Katherine Galloway, a young widow who is struggling to raise her two daughters while attempting to run a boarding house alone.  On top of everything, her mother, who has never said a kind word to her, comes to live with her and tries to run her boarding house and her life!  In the meantime, when newcomer Micah Jacobs comes in to town, she is face with the prospect of falling in love again, which she never thought would happen.                   
This is the type of historical romance I love reading.  I loved Katherine’s character especially.  Her mother was quite mean to her throughout the story, though she thought she was being helpful.  Yet Katherine did her best to show love and respect to her, even though she didn’t feel she deserved it.  It’s something I would have had a difficult time doing, but as you read the story, you come to love Katherine more for it.  This was a wonderful book!  It won’t disappoint you!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Kathis Macias's The Moses Quilt ~ Reviewed

The Moses Quilt
By Kathi Macias
Published by New Hope Publishers
ISBN# 978-1596693586
240 Pages

Back Cover: The Moses Quilt is a contemporary novel that bridges racial and generational divides. With a realistic and compassionate look into a twenty-first-century dilemma, multiple award-winning author Kathi Macias introduces readers to a confused and apprehensive young woman, Mazie Hartford. Facing major decisions about the love of her life and her future, she must also wrestle with a nagging question about her family's past. She finds the answer to her questions in a most unexpected way—her great-grandmother's Moses quilt. As her great-grandmother begins to explain how each patch represents a story of courage and freedom, Mazie must decide if she has the courage and freedom to overcome her own personal fears and prejudices.

REVIEW: Kathi Macias introduces readers to Harriet Tubman in this compelling read about an amazing young woman, who sacrificed so much to help others achieve freedom. Freedom she had and wanted others to experience.

This novel starts out in current time as a grandmother tells her grandchildren about Harriet, a hero of our faith.

Can one person make a difference? The author answers that question in this novel as she shows how Harriet Tubman’s faith and courage in the way she walked down the path she said God put her on. Harriet’s complete reliance on a faithful God, helped her face death threats head on and be assured her every need would be met.

Edward and Mazie learn about Miss Tubman through the story blocks of the Moses Quilt. Mazie’s grand mother had the quilt made so she could talk about Harriet’s life with others. The quilt also reminded her, “God is greater than any obstacle, any of them could ever face, and if they lived their lives as Harriet Tubman did – believing that God would indeed do exactly as he said – than anything was possible.”

I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Harriet Tubman, a courageous woman, a hero of our faith and someone that paved the way for all people to be free to be what God has made them to be.

Harriet lived what she believed; she had no fear of death and did not hesitate to get in the middle of unimaginable situations to offer her assistance. She was brave as she gave love to others at a great personal sacrifice.  Reading about her made me thankful of what others endured so I could enjoy the freedoms I have today. I highly recommend this book not only for a book club read but also for you to learn about a remarkable young lady who endured hardship and did all she could so no one would have to stay a slave.

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

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Jocelyn Green's Widow of Gettysburg ~ Reviewed

Widow of Gettysburg, Heroines Behind the Lines Series #2
By: Jocelyn Green
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: River North 

ISBN: 0802405770

When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering--and a Confederate scout who awakens her long dormant heart.
When the scout doesn't die, as expected, she discovers that he isn't who he claims to be.

While Liberty's future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty's hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.


Widow of Gettysburg is book two in the Civil War series.  It revolves around a young widow, Liberty Holloway, who lives in Gettysburg.  Her husband was killed in the war as a Union soldier and she is trying to make something of herself, and discover who she is.  In the meantime, her home is turned into a Confederate hospital after the battle of Gettysburg.  At the same time, secrets are coming to the surface involving Liberty and her hired help, Bella, a former slave.  These secrets could change Liberty’s life forever.  As she learns more about her past, she has to decide whether to let it bring her down or whether she can triumph over it. 

 This book was wonderful.  I can easily get lost in this time period, especially when the Lord is involved.  The author made the time period come alive.  I couldn’t put it down!  I loved seeing how Liberty’s character grew throughout the story.  At the beginning, she was timid and unsure of herself.  But the experiences she went through during the war only made her stronger.  I HIGHLY recommend this book.  It was written so well!  You won’t be disappointed!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen's Pastors' Wives ~ Reviewed

Pastors' Wives: A Novel
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Plume; 1 edition (April 30, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0452298822 
What’s it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors’ Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside.

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s “First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen’s reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors’ Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.


When I received Pastor's Wives by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, I had my guard up against stereotyped and caricatured portrayal. I was so wrong! Cullen, a former foreign correspondent and staff writer for TIME magazine, reveals a remarkable depth of truth and strength of character within the women of Pastor's Wives. I was captivated by their stories, cheered them on as friends, and was terribly disappointed when it ended. Novel Rocket and I give it our highest recommendation. This is a must read for everyone who attends a church.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, Sr. editor