Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tosca Lee's Iscariot ~ Reviewed

By Tosca Lee
Published by Howard Books
336 Pages
Back Cover:  Based on extensive research into the life and times of Judas Iscariot, this triumph of fiction storytelling by the author of Havah: The Story of Eve revisits one of biblical history’s most maligned figures and brings the world he inhabited vividly to life.

In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—the promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, he joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life. But soon Judas’s vision of a nation free from Rome is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems, in the end, to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.

Iscariot is the story of Judas, from his tumultuous childhood to his emergence as the man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus that forces us to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

Review:  Tosca Lee drops you on the streets of Capernaum, Jerusalem. You will see the sights, hear the sounds and live life through the mind and heart of Judas Iscariot. You’ll feel his pain, and despair as Roman armies rule in the land.
Your heart will ache as you read about his turbulent childhood and grieve with him about the horrific experiences as a grown man.

He was a devout Jew who was a keeper of the law and wanted to be a teacher of it. Tragedy strikes and he knows in his heart of hearts he will fail to live up to the standard set by the “law” he loved so much.

Judas was tormented by the law; this author did a brilliant job of showing the struggle everyone had following the “law”. I could see clearly how Jesus came to set us free of our bondage to the law! Hallelujah!

I’m thrilled to have received a review copy of this enlightening, gritty novel, rich in historical detail that helped bring the people and time period to life. This author soaked herself in over a hundred books, lectures, documentaries, commentaries, sermons, and collected articles even went to Israel to see firsthand where Jesus walked.

Tosca Lee wrote this novel through Judas eyes. This enabled me catch a glimpse of what Jesus ministry looked like through his disciple’s understanding. It also gave me a peek of the crowd Jesus spoke to filled with stalkers, followers and plotters. The stakes were high for the twelve but they felt it was worth the price to follow him.

This author takes her time in laying the ground work and having the reader experience Judas’ development of how he lived and thought. It was realistic and tragic. Judas agonized over Jesus’ situation as the crowds grew bigger, he became more popular and the awareness of the Pharisee and Sadducees’ plot to push Jesus into an offence they could kill him for. Judas felt Jesus didn’t see this happening as he spoke. Tosca captured the political unrest and what was happening around Jesus as he spoke.

Could Judas have been trying to protect Jesus? He felt he knew the law better than Jesus did? Could the religious leaders lead Judas down a path they knew he would take in order to protect his master, Jesus?

Tosca Lee has readers experience Jesus’ ministry through Judas eyes as one of the 12 chosen disciples. Judas felt peace around Jesus and grew to love him like the others. I like how she showed the disciples didn’t get Jesus and they were standing right next to him. He spoke in riddles they said.

Here’s a peek into Tosca’s novel. Jesus tells the man at the Siloam pool, take up your mat and walk. Judas thinks, “That day I understood, if I had not fully before, that Jesus was more than a mystery, more than unconventional, more than a faction able to unite some and divide others.

He was dangerous – to himself and to all of us who followed him…He was the gatherer of multitudes, this Jesus. A man of questioned birth, who claimed the Lord himself, was his father…and then he healed on the Sabbath in violation of God’s law. Man of contradictions! Didn’t he know that there were those who might seek his ruin for this?...He spoke in riddles. He was a riddle himself.”

Judas went on to say, “Our numbers grew. I was nervous because I knew Herod’s spies were everywhere. The Pharisees already conspired against us; soon Herod would come for my master as surely as he had for John the Baptist. We were running out of time…I was also elated because that meant soon the day would come. Jesus would have to proclaim himself- by Passover, I was certain.”

This is a book to be experienced. It will help you slip into the time period and feel Judas and the twelve disciples struggle. This is a haunting tale that helped me prepare my heart and mind for this years’ Easter Celebration. I’ve seen this story with fresh eyes as I went back to scripture and re-read these events, you will too.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Monday, July 29, 2013

Terri Blackstock's Truth Stained Lies ~ Reviewed

By Terri Blackstock
Published by Zondervan
305 Pages

Back Cover: 

When truth doesn't make sense, will lies prevail? Cathy Cramer is a former lawyer and investigative blogger who writes commentary on high-profile homicides. When she finds a threatening note warning her that she's about to experience the same kind of judgment and speculation that she dishes out in her blog, Cathy writes it off as mischief . . . until her brother's wife is murdered and all the 'facts' point to him. The killer has staged the crime to make the truth too far-fetched to believe. Working to solve the murder and clear her brother's name, Cathy and her two sisters, Holly and Juliet, moonlight as part-time private investigators. Juliet, a stay-at-home mom of two boys, and Holly, a scattered ne'er-do-well who drives a taxi, put aside their fear to hunt down the real killer. Stakes rise when their brother's grieving five-year-old son is kidnapped. As police focus on the wrong set of clues, the three sisters and their battered detective friend are the only hope for solving this bizarre crime, saving the child, and freeing their brother.


Terri Blackstock pens another eye opening thriller! This time she takes a look at blogging and how technology we use every day can be used against us, even ensnare us like a mouse in a trap.

Our justice system is supposed to be one that says we are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately in many cases the media has made people guilty before they’ve had a chance to prove their innocence.

Cathy Cramer is a retired lawyer who has been on a personal mission to see that justice is done in her community. She calls it as she see’s it on her blog no emotions and/or judgment held back. She writes for her readers and tells them the truth as she sees it.

Cathy receives a note on the wind shield of her car it says, “Guilt or innocence is not something to be judged by a two-bit blogger with a drama-loving readership. Maybe it’s time you saw first hand how speculation ruins lives. Judgment that has nothing to do with truth. See how it feels.”

This note didn’t faze her. She got threats all the time. She thought nothing of it; until life has she knew it changed.

I was quickly drawn into this story and cared for her characters and their wild situation. Terri has a way of making you the reader stop and take a look at our fast paced ever changing world in a whole new light. Wow!

If you are into suspense with a faith message naturally interwoven into the story, I recommend this read. It will change the way you think about several things. It will have you read this statement with renewed hope and something more, “The truth is the truth no matter how it looks…tell them that.”

Words typed in an email and sent into cyper space can’t be taken back and they can never be erased. It’s there forever! Think about that as you grab this book to take on vacation with you! Wow!

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nancy Herriman's Josiah's Treasure ~ Reviewed

Josiah's Treasure 
By Nancy Herriman (Author) 
Pages 310 
 Release Date Feb 1, 2013 
 Publisher WPU 
 ISBN 1936034794 


 In 1882 Sarah Whittier dreams of opening an art studio run by immigrant women. She plans to use the house left to her by family friend Josiah Cady as collateral for her studio. But will all be lost when the inheritance is challenged by an angry man claiming to be Josiah's son and legal heir? Rumor of gold nuggets hidden in the house place Sarah's life in danger. Her future uncertain and her safety threatened, Sarah has nowhere to turn. 

That is, unless she can soften a vengeful man's heart - and they both learn that love is finer than any gold. 


Josiah’s Treasure is about a young woman named Sarah Whittier. She is left with a small inheritance from a man named Josiah Cady, who took her under his wing. Though no relation to him, he loved her like a daughter. She is using the inheritance to open an art studio run by immigrant women, hoping to give them a better chance in life. However, her plans are turned upside down when Daniel Cady, who claims to be Josiah’s son, shows up, claiming the inheritance for him and his young twin sisters. Though the two can’t stand each other in the beginning, an attraction develops between them. Unforeseen circumstances begin to bring them together, and they soon learn that money isn’t everything! 

This was a really good book. I enjoyed Sarah’s character a lot. She had been through a lot, but was still willing to take a stand to help these young women who had no one else to turn to. She would do anything for them, and they knew that. Eventually, Daniel saw this wonderful quality in her as well. In the beginning, he cared nothing for her, but as he got to know what a wonderful person she was, his love for her began to override his desire for money and revenge against the father he thought abandoned him. This was a great read. 

 Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, July 22, 2013

Michael Neale's The River ~ Reviewed

By Michael Neale
Published by Thomas Nelson
301 Pages

Back Cover: 

You were made for The River . . ."

Gabriel Clarke was mysteriously drawn to The River, a ribbon of frothy white water carving its way through steep canyons high in the Colorado Rockies. From deep within, Gabriel's passion for The River was undeniable. The rushing waters beckoned him to experience freedom and adventure.

But something was holding him back-the memory of the terrible event he witnessed on The River when he was just five years old-something no child should ever see.

Chains of fear and resentment imprisoned Gabriel, keeping him from discovering the treasures of The River. He couldn't leave his past behind and remained trapped, afraid of the life awaiting him.

In this compelling story, Gabriel learns that letting go of the past means giving himself totally to The River-heart, mind, body, and soul.


I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that felt like hanging out with a good friend. It also reminded me of how important water is to our lives; without it we quickly die, with it we thrive.

Take a peek at how the author describes The River, “it’s wild, free, and untamable. It’s foaming, twisting and thundering. There are places where the water shoots down into crevices and canyons and creates this amazing thunder and then there are places where the water settles into pools of complete calm…I love being with The River.

The River is Alive. The River is timeless, and its moving all over the world…The River can be known but not fully, therein lies the mystery. The River has a voice, and I love the way it sounds. When I’m with The River, I just know it’s where I’m meant to be. It touches something deep inside my soul. It connects me to a bigger story in some indescribable way…when I’m with The River, I feel Alive…I can tell you this from my journey: the more you experience The River, the more you want to stay closer by.”

The River definitely reminds me of our relationship with God our creator. I’ve given you a taste of the many pages this author writes about The River. This is a unique novel like Dinner with a Stranger and that of Tuesdays with Morrie. I think what the prologue says pretty much sums up the essence of this book. It’s a novel not to be rushed through but savored. The author states, “Every now and then, you have an encounter with someone who simply changes your life…you can’t get his (or her) story out of your head and heart.

It’s hard to explain how powerful stories can resonate within us on many levels but it’s often because of the way they speak with passion, heartache, or even joy. Maybe it’s the way they unknowingly reach into our heart of hearts with their words.”

This is one such story! You won’t forget The River or this journey!

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

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dee Henderson's Jennifer ~ Reviewed

By Dee Henderson
Published by Bethany House
155 Pages

Back Cover: 

It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley. The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, and meeting Tom Peterson, and falling in love, is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce him to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.

She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested in a way she didn't expect, and the results will soon transform her entire family.


I’m thankful for the review copy of a fun and touching love story. I enjoyed this novel very much. I got to know Jennifer O’Malley and got a peek into what her family members were like. I was clueless because I hadn’t read any of the O’Malley series yet. I did read Full-Disclosure and got another peek at the O’Malley’s there.

This is story introduces the reader to two very busy Doctors and how they meet. Jennifer and Tom seem to run into each at the hospital Tom started to work at. They can’t seem to find time to meet out side of work so they go with getting to know each on their breaks and in between shifts.  I enjoyed getting to know Jennifer and Tom. It was interesting to hear about the work each did.

The following statement is in the author’s notes to readers, “Jennifer’s story continues throughout the O’Malley series. Her arrival in Chicago, as well as Tom joining her for the fourth of July family gathering, can be found in the Negotiator, Book one!”

I work at a book store so I went to the shelf and flipped through the Negotiator and looked for Jennifer’s name. I didn’t see her name much. When I looked at the back it said that it was Kate O’Malley’s story. Oh, man! I didn’t have time to read the whole series right now. Grin!

If you’ve read the entire series you’ll be thrilled to learn more about Jennifer and discover how she and Tom met. This will be a fulfilling story to you. I’ve talked to people who have read the series and they said they didn’t get to know Jennifer all that well in the series. So, this is a great addition to you if you’ve read the O’Malley series. If you haven’t read the O’Malley series like me, you’ll be left hanging. Jennifer is a good story and should be read but after you has read the O’Malley series. It will mean more and the ending will be satisfying. Now you know what books to put on your summer reading list! Grin!

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

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Evangeline Kelley's Sunflower Summer ~ Reviewed

Sunflower Summer (Postcards From Misty Harbor Inn)
By Evangeline Kelley
Pages 269 Release Date Mar 1, 2013
Publisher Ideals Publications
ISBN 0824932471

Misty Harbor Inn officially opens, and Gracie Gold, the middle Marris sister, wrestles with an over-whelming decision. As the sisters learn the day-to-day workings of running than inn, Gracie counsels its first guests, newlyweds whose honeymoon seems to be ending before it begins. Meanwhile Sam's discovery of a clue in a secret room sheds unflattering light on Hannah Montague, who vanished from the house more than a hundred years ago. And as Gracie and Caroline welcome guests to the inn, they are delighted to see how God uses it--and then--to deepen relationships and transform lives.


Sunflower Summer continues where Seaside Harmony left off, with three sisters, Gracie, Caroline and Sam, preparing the Misty Harbor in for its grand re-opening. They’ve overcome many obstacles to get here, but with the renewed interest they are seeing in their inn, including a newly married couple who wants to be their very first guests, they are hopeful that this will prove to be a successful endeavor! Gracie continues to struggle with the decision as to whether she should sell her home and move to Nantucket or continue to split her time between the two. Sam and her daughter Jamie are intently involved in trying to solve the mysteries surrounding the house, and Caroline is dealing with the loss of her friend, George, after she refused his proposal of marriage.

I was so excited to read more about these sisters! It’s such a fun story, and it makes me wish there really was a Misty Harbor Inn I could go visit! From the way the story ended, I’m thinking there might be another one in the series. I’m sure hoping so, as I’d love to see what happens next!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, July 15, 2013

Siri Mitchell's Unrivaled ~ Reviewed

By Siri Mitchell
Published by Bethany House
400 Pages

Back Cover: 

Lucy Kendall always assumed she'd help her father in his candy-making business, creating recipes and aiding him in their shared passion. But after a year traveling in Europe, Lucy returns to 1910 St. Louis to find her father unwell and her mother planning to sell the struggling candy company. Determined to help, Lucy vows to create a candy that will reverse their fortunes.

St. Louis newcomer Charlie Clarke is determined to help his father dominate the nation's candy industry. Compromise is not an option when the prize is a father's approval, and falling in love with a business rival is a recipe for disaster when only one company can win. Will these two star-crossed lovers let a competition that turns less than friendly sour their dreams?


Siri Mictchell gives readers a peek into the competitive world of candy making in Unrivaled. I’m thankful for the review copy of this heartfelt, fun book! Candy making is serious business especially in the 1900’s. Keeping special ingredients top secret is paramount to being number one in the candy industry.

Siri writes in the pov of Lucy Kendall and that of Charlie Clarke; Lucy’s father owns Fancy Crunch and Charlie’s father owns Royal Taffy which just so happens to be Fancy Crunch’s rival. Each chapter has Lucy or Charlie’s name on the top page so the reader clearly knows who’s speaking. I like how the author changed views throughout the novel. It drew me in, it flowed well and it made reading it fun.

Lucy Kendall arrives home from a tour of Europe and discovers her father is very sick. She had gathered all kinds of candy treasures and ideas to share with him but that had to wait. Her dad just had to get better. She had so much to tell him. She wanted to brainstorm some new candy ideas; ones she hoped would give Royal Taffy a run for its money. Lucy wanted to be the maker of the number one candy sold; she wasn’t interested in capturing a man to wed. Her mom on the other hand wants her to forget all this candy nonsense and get married.

Charlie recently discovered his father was the owner of Royal Taffy Candy Company. It was his favorite candy ever. This news was mind boggling. He couldn't believe his estranged father offered him a job at his factory. It could be exciting, he should be thrilled at the opportunity but could he get past hurts to work side by side with a dad he didn't know? Could he embrace what his father was offering?

The rivalry between these two companies is brutal. Charlie and Lucy create some pretty clever tactics for getting the attention of their customers. I enjoyed Lucy’s spunk and passion for creating candy. I had compassion for Charlie’s inner struggle as he chased away the past and took one day at a time doing the best job he could and fit in this new life style and his father. It wasn’t easy.

The author has a few surprises for her characters and readers. Some surprises’ had me re-read the page to make sure I read it correctly! Fun! This is the first book I’ve read by this author it definitely won’t be the last! Oh, the fun you’ll have at book club with this novel! Just saying: think of the parties ideas! Candy anyone?

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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Jolina Petersheim's The Outcast ~ Reviewed

By: Jolina Petersheim
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2013

ISBN: 141437934X




Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life. Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop.
The Outcast is a modern day re-telling of The Scarlet Letter.  Rachel Stoltzfus was raised in an Old Order Mennonite Community, along with her twin sister, Leah.  Shortly after Leah marries an older widower, Tobias, she asks Rachel to come live with them, as she is having a difficult pregnancy.  By the time Leah’s baby is born, it becomes apparent that Rachel is also expecting, though she is un-married and refuses to reveal who the father is.  She is kicked out of her sister’s home and left to fend for herself.  As more secrets are revealed, other tragedies present themselves, threatening Leah, Rachel and Tobias’ relationships even further.
I REALLY enjoyed this book.  It’s been years since I’ve read The Scarlet Letter but I really enjoyed the parallels between the two stories.  I also thought it interesting that the author chose the names Rachel and Leah for the twins.  It takes you back to the Bible, with the struggle between Jacob and Esau, and Rachel and Leah.  I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen next and I had a really hard time putting the book down.  This was a great read!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Deborah Raney's The Face of the Earth ~ Reviewed

By Debra Raney
Published by Howard Publishing

Back Cover: When Mitchell Brannon’s beloved wife sets off for home after a conference, he has no idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised that Jill’s car isn’t in the garage. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. “Hey, babe, I’m just now checking out of the hotel, but I’ll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you.” Hours later, Jill still hasn’t returned, and Mitch’s irritation turns to dread.

When the police come up empty, Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill’s best friend, Shelley, to help search. As hours turn into days and days into weeks, Mitch and Shelley’s friendship grows ever closer—and decidedly more complicated. Every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth.

Review: I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that instantly had me care for the cast of characters and their situation. I appreciated the authors note to readers too it said, “In the Face of the Earth, I explore what it might be like to that person whom, suddenly – and forever after – you are defined as the couple whose baby drowned, the parents of the school shooter, or the man whose wife disappeared off the face of the earth.

How can a person ever go on with life after being marked by such disaster? Can God truly redeem and redefine a tragic life? I believe he can.”

Debra Raney takes the reader on a journey with Mitchell Brannon a man in search for his wife. She went away for a conference and is late getting back home. How long do you wait to call the police, hospitals etc?

This author looks at what, “till death do us part” means. Debra says, “It seems our society has all but discarded the value of loyalty in marriage…I believe the wedding vows are sacred and precious, and its been one of my goals as a writer to portray the kind of marriage I’ve seen modeled in my family…. It hasn’t always been a breeze, but it has always been worth fighting for.”

Mitchell Brannon plays the message left on his machine from his wife, Jill, “Hey babe, I’m just now checking out of the hotel, but I’ll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you!”

The time shown on the recorder when the call was placed gave her plenty of time to be home already Mitchell thought. What should he do? As the hours pass and dread sets in, it’s hard to stay calm, and know when to notify his college age children. He wondered where could she be? Broken down some where? What could have happened? What should he do now to find her? It was driving him crazy.

This author had this story set in current time using all the latest and greatest technology available to track down someone whose lost, GPS, cell-phone tracking someone’s text messages, facebook page etc. It was interesting to read and discover that Mitchell didn’t know every single thing about his wife as they explore all the messages she received and sent out. This surprised him he thought he knew everything there was to know!

Mitchell enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill’s best friend, Shelley to help watch for his wife while he searches the roads to see if she has broken down.  Shelley is more than happy to help. She struggles about sharing Jill’s confidence one that might be a lead and something that might hurt Mitchell’s feelings. In sharing this it would betray her friend’s trust. But how would she feel if this really turned out to be something.

Debra Raney pens a heart felt, believable story that had me instantly care for and agonize with her main characters as they try to find Jill Brannon – wife, mother of two, BFF to Shelley, and teacher in a school to many. These characters and their journey will stay in your heart long after you’ve closed the book. I recommend you add this to your summer reading list!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Normandie Fischer's Becalmed ~ Reviewed

By Normandie Fischer
Published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

With her days chock full - designing jewelry for the shop she co-owns with her best friend, sailing her sharpie, and hanging out with girlfriends - Tadie Longworth barely notices she's morphing into the town's maiden aunt. When Will, a widower with a perky daughter named Jilly, limps into town in a sailboat badly in need of engine repairs, Tadie welcomes the chance to help. Her shop becomes Jilly's haven while Will hunts boat parts, and Tadie even takes the two of them sailing. It's the kind of thing she lives for, and it's a welcome distraction from the fact that her ex-boyfriend Alex, aka The Jerk of Jerks, is back in town. With his northern bride. Oh, and he's hitting on Tadie, too.

Those entanglements are more than enough, thank you very much, so it's almost a relief when a hurricane blows into town: at least the weather can match Tadie's mood. When Will and Jilly take shelter in her home, though, Tadie finds herself battling her attraction to Will. Even worse, the feeling is mutual, tempting them all with what-ifs that petrify Will, who has sworn never to fall in love again. Mired in misunderstanding, he takes advantage of the clear skies and hauls Jilly out of there and back to his broken boat so fast, Tadie's head spins.

With the man she might have loved gone, and the man she wishes gone showing up on her doorstep, Tadie finds herself like a sailboat with no wind; becalmed, she has to fight her way back against the currents to the shores of the life, and the man, she wants to have.


I'm doing something I rarely do in a book. I'm savoring Beclamed, by Normandie Fischer. I have dozens of books in my to-be-read pile that I usually speed read. But when I come across one that's so good, the characters so beautifully drawn, I discipline myself to stop after about 6 chapters a night; I don't want to reach the end. What I find so interesting about Becalmed is that I'm not sure how she's going to get Will to come around. Becalmed is truly masterfully written! Novel Rocket and I give it a very high recommendation. It's a must read and going on my Top Ten for 2013 list.

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
Novel Rocket president/Sr. editor

Friday, July 05, 2013

Melody Carlson's A Home at Trail's End ~ Reviewed

Melody Carlson
Release Date Jun 1, 2013
Publisher Harvest House Publishers
ISBN 0736948759


Bestselling author Melody Carlson (more than 5 million books sold) continues her Homeward on the Oregon Trail series with this third and final adventure.

Elizabeth Martin and her two children have finally reached the Oregon Country. But Eli Kincade, the wagon train scout who captured her heart, has chosen to continue life on the trail. As other pioneer families begin building new homes, Elizabeth has never felt more alone.

However, when Eli unexpectedly returns, confesses his love, and proposes, Elizabeth accepts with her family's blessing.

A community begins to take shape, but not without growing pains. As an alternative to the local minister's fiery sermons, Elizabeth's father begins to preach at home, raising the ire of some. Racial biases arise against Brady, Elizabeth's African-American hired hand. Eli's warm sentiments toward Indians also raises concerns.

Can Elizabeth and her family overcome these differences and begin a legacy of reconciliation and love?

About This Series: The Homeward on the Oregon Trail series brings to life the challenges a young widow faces as she journeys west, settles her family in the Pacific Northwest, and helps create a new community among strong-willed and diverse pioneers.


A Home at Trail’s End is book three in the “Homeward on the Oregon Trail” series. In the final book of the series, Elizabeth Martin and her two children are finally settled in the Oregon Territory. Elizabeth and Eli are now engaged and planning their upcoming wedding, while the rest of the settlers are building their homes and getting settled in. They learn to adjust to the new climate, as well as well as the folks who have already settled in.

I didn’t realize this book was coming out, so I was SUPER excited to find out what happened next! I loved how Eli and Elizabeth finally got together in this book. It was interesting seeing the struggle going on with Elizabeth, learning to move on from her first husband and finding room in her heart for Eli.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Mary Connealy's Swept Away ~ Reviewed

By Mary Connealy
Published by Revell
318 Pages

Back Cover: 

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn't make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can't just abandon Ruthy, so she'll have to come along.

His friends--a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers--take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that's rather rude--he's the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.


I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that reminded me of the movie Silverado. It has a great cast of characters mixed together with an action packed western just like the movie. Inside Swept Away you’ll see the good, the bad, and the ugly up-close and personal!

I enjoyed the leading man and woman in this story. They made me smile! I truly cared for their situations and enjoyed how Luke and Ruthy found each other. It was a definite divine appointment.

Luke Stone is on a mission to bring justice to his father’s death and reclaim the family ranch. Luke was prepared to do whatever it took to over-throw the people that stole his family’s inheritance- legacy.

Ruthy MacNeil has a mission of her own. She’s tried to escape a family that took her in after her parents died. She had thought they did this out of the kindness of their heart but she soon learned they had another agenda she didn’t want any part of. She often looked for ways to escape.

Luke literally stumbles upon Ruthy MacNeil! She was hurt bad. He couldn’t just leave her behind. He wasn’t raised that way. Helping her put a cramp into his plans but he’d make it work out some how.

Mary Connealy pens a suspenseful, page turning western that gives readers a climatic conclusion and an ending that satisfies your soul. If you love a good western you’ll enjoy this first book in the trouble in Texas series! Be sure to add this western to your summer reading list!

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

Bonus Review:

Swept Away is about an orphaned woman who fell to the mercy of a pack of heartless folks looking to benefit from a tragedy. The novel begins with heroine Ruthy MacNeil manning a horse drawn wagon with her “family”. As they travel, her doing the work of two men but being treated like a lazy rat, she’s on the alert for possible escape routes. When the caravan reaches a river, she notices a storm on the horizon and attempts to warn her brutish “father”. She soon finds his dense stubbornness can become a blessing and that storm she feared? A chance at freedom…if it doesn’t kill her.

This novel has all the elements one would expect from a historical romance with an unexpectedly gripping depth that leaves one contemplating the characters and situations long after the book is read. I’ve always loved strong female characters, and the stubborn, determined, hard-working Ruthy MacNeil did not disappoint. Having been beaten down by a family of abusers, one might expect her to become fearful and docile, but Ruthy turned a painful and frightening past into a noble purpose that spurred within her a courageous and persistent strength.

The secondary characters woven throughout the novel are equally spunky, intriguing, and unique. Luke is a true hero in every sense of the word. Initially, he fights to reclaim his father’s ranch. But upon encountering a woman in desperate need of rescue, his fight is deepened, motivating him to lay everything—including his life—on the line so others might live.

Although he didn’t speak much, there was a child in the story—the son of a battered woman—that captured my heart. His fierce desire to protect his mother and sister, his childlike hope, and his selfless courage, made me want to snatch him up in a motherly hug! Of course, he’d be much too grown for that. ;) I also enjoyed his mother, a woman who initially seemed hateful but later turned out to be quite compassionate and tender.

I especially love Ms. Connealy’s ability to write a sweet, tender, and heart-stirring romance without feeling the need to add sensuality into the mix. Those who enjoy sweet and pure romances will love Swept Away. But even if you’re not a romance reader, I’d encourage you to give this novel a try, because it contains a depth of plot and characterization I believe will appeal to readers of all genres.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery