Thursday, January 29, 2015

Jennifer Slattery's Beyond I Do ~ Reviewed

Beyond I Do
by Jennifer Slattery
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: New Hope Publishers (August 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1596694173

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sarah Ladd's A Lady at Willowgrove Hall ~ Reviewed

Whispers on the Moors Book 3
Sarah E. Ladd
Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 1401688373


Willowgrove Hall is full of secrets, but soon everything hidden is brought to light.

Cecily Faire has a secret—and she intends to keep it. But when she arrives at Willowgrove Hall to serve as a lady’s companion, she comes face-to-face with the only person who knows the truth about her past.

As the steward of Willowgrove Hall, Nathaniel Stanton is dedicated to serving those around him. Nothing escapes his notice—including the beautiful new lady’s companion. He is certain the lovely Miss Faire is hiding something, and he determines to uncover it. But Nathaniel has a secret of his own: he is the illegitimate son of Willowgrove’s former master. Falling in love was not part of his plans . . . until he meets Cecily Faire.

When Willowgrove’s mistress dies, everything changes. Fear of exposure forces Cecily to leave under the cover of darkness, embarking on a journey to finally find her long-lost sister. When the will is read, Nathaniel’s inheritance makes him question his future plans. Cecily and Nathaniel are forced to make decisions that will change the course of their lives. Is their love strong enough to survive?


Secrets. Intrigue. A dashing hero and a heroine you root for. All these add up for one fantastic Regency read in book 3 of the Whispers on the Moors series. Don't worry if you haven't read the first two books. This story does just fine as a stand-alone as well.

Cecily Faire starts out as a head-strong young girl about to run away with her beau. Bad idea, especially since her father catches them. The story ten fast-forwards to Cecily all grown up and much more tame. She's sent to become a lady's companion, and of course, that's where she runs into her former beau. There are several twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end.

Author Sarah Ladd pens a beautiful read filled with gardens, a ball, a gorgeous manor, and a yummy hero. If historical fiction is your thing, this is the read for you.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beth Wiseman's The Promise ~ Reviewed

  • The Promise
    Beth Wiseman
    Paperback: 320 pages
    Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 30, 2014)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1401685951


    Mallory’s search for happiness leads her to a faraway place. There she finds heartache, betrayal—and danger.

    Mallory Hammond is determined that no one will stand in the way of her goal—to save a life. She had that chance years ago, and she failed to take it, leaving her adrift and in search of the real meaning of her life. Finally, she meets a man online from a volatile corner of the world who offers her the chance to find that purpose. But she will have to leave everyone she loves behind in order to take it.
Tate Webber has loved Mallory for many years. He understands that Mallory will never be happy with him until her deepest heart’s desire is satisfied. When Mallory decides to travel across the world to fulfi ll her dreams, Tate begs her not to go but tries to give her the space she needs. Mallory embarks on her dangerous journey only to discover how swiftly and easily promises can be broken. And Mallory can only pray that she will make it out alive.
Inspired by actual events, The Promise is a riveting love story that asks the question: how far will we go for love?


Mallory struggles to find herself and a god she can trust while driven by an old promise to save someone's life. This passion has placed her in the right place at the right time to do just that. 

All it will take is a small financial sacrifice, a few weeks out of her life and the willingness to trust a kind relative of her boss, far, far from home. 

Against the advice of all those who care about her, Mallory steps onto a plane and into a nightmare. 

The Promise is a page turner. One of those where I felt compelled to sit down with Mallory and have a heart to heart. But her stubborn desire to do good would've left me as frustrated as her friends and family. The chilling part of this is that Mallory's story is based on true stories of women who have found themselves in similar situations. Definitely consider reading this novel if you are at all intrigued by Mallory's story or the story behind the story. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Donn Taylor's Lightning On a Quiet Night ~ Reviewed

By Donn Taylor
Print Length: 315 pages
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Language: English

In the years following World War II, a town too proud of its own virtues deals with its first murder. 

Despite the implications of this crime, the town of Beneficent, Mississippi, population 479, tries desperately to hold onto its vain self-image. The young veteran Jack Davis holds that idyllic vision of the town and tries to share it with Lisa Kemper, newly arrived from Indiana. But she is repelled by everything in it. While the sheriff tries to find the murderer, Jack and Lisa's contentious courtship reveals the town's strange combination of astute perceptions and surprising blind spots. Then they stumble onto shocking discoveries about the true nature of the town. But where will those discoveries lead? To repentance or to denial and continuation in vanity?


1948 and the boys were home from the war. It was an era of innocence, where people only saw the good. A good, nostalgic time for this book to be set. It is somewhat different from Taylor's other books. Those who know me know I shy away from thrillers and suspense, but this story is so compelling, I had to keep reading. With characters you'll care about and snippets of Taylor's tongue-in-cheek humor, it's a book I highly recommend. 

Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, president Novel Rocket, author of Chapel Springs Revival

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Varina Denman's Jaded ~ Reviewed

By: Varina Denman
More in Mended Hearts Series
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: David C. Cook
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 1434708373


Ruthie Turner resents the Christians in her small Texas town, but when she falls for the new preacher, she must release her bitterness, and learn to love.
On the surface, nothing seems to change in this dull town--yet God always works beneath the surface. As a child, Ruthie was shunned by the local congregation after a scandal involving her parents. 
Thirteen years later, her interest in an attractive single minister is bitterly opposed--unearthing a string of secrets which threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside down.
Jaded is an intriguing and slightly convicting novel full of small town drama, religious misuse and abuse, broken hearts and crushed dreams. And it's a novel full of the promise of redemption, imperfect people who know the perfect God and hope. 

I appreciated the realism Denman captured in her characters and small town life. She also managed to portray bitterness and unforgiveness in a way that I was able to fully understand the struggles and have hope for the characters to pull out of the cycle they were caught in. 

Of note, some readers might not appreciate a relationship that develops between a believer and one who is struggling to understand exactly how to feel about the Lord. So if unequally yoked is an area of struggle or concern for you be warned. I had to look inward a bit to assess my own level of religiosity. I think that fiction that makes a reader consider their own life, the world and God is great fiction indeed. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl ~ Reviewed

Gillian Flynn
434 pages
June 2012

Back cover:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 


I know this book is technically an older read, but it appears to be making the literary rounds once again, and has certainly jumped to the front of the bookstore shelves, or more accurately, “hot read” tables That was where I found it at my local Barnes and Noble when it was recommended to me by based on my love of the Maze Runner and the Help. Which is interesting, because this novel is nothing like either of the aforementioned stories, except in that it was exceptionally well-written and kept me turning the pages. 

That’s not to say, however, that I liked it. Nor is it to say I didn’t like it. If pressed to give an overall opinion, I’m not sure I could. Honestly, I had mixed feelings regarding this book. As I said, it was incredibly well-written, and it drew me in immediately. We begin the novel with Nick, her hero (a very unfitting term, I must add) receiving a phone call from his neighbor. It appears the front door to his house has been left open and his cat is outside. And what begin as an annoyance soon turns into the stuff bad, like insanely bad, dreams are made of. 

The rest of the story? Well, let’s just say it  unfolds into a scenario that may be the stuff, for readers, bad dreams are made of. I liked Nick initially… I think. I was never sure what to think of him. He certainly wasn’t the most concerned husband one would expect to find. He had a weird habit of giving a crazy grin at all the wrong times and in all the wrong places—like during a press conference regarding his wife’s disappearance. Of course, this is explained—bad affect caused by, well, I’m not sure. Emotional brokenness? We’re led to believe he simply responds inappropriately to stressful and emotional situations. I get that. When I get nervous, I have a tendency to laugh, which got me in quite a bit of trouble when I was a teen. But there’s nervous behaviors and then there’s downright… I’d say psychosis but that might give too much away. 

Then there’s Amy, his wife. We learn about her through her journal, a chunk of which I skimmed through. I’ve never been a fan of huge sections of backstory inserted between the pages of the real story. That being said, there were times when her journal interested me, and truly made me question Nick’s motives and heart. I found, at story’s end, I was wise to do so. But he wasn’t the only character I should’ve been doubting. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but this novel had some interesting twists for sure. And because of that, I loved it. However, I hated both characters, and I hated the ending even more. And yet, it’s become a best-seller, and someone even purchased movie rights, so… 

For those planning to pick this one up or see the movie, I should mention, it’s not rated G and therefore contains more sensuality and crude language than I found necessary. (Then again, I think one can tell a great story without adding any sensuality or profanity.) And yet, for a secular novel, it was fairly tame in that regard. 

Would I read it again? Maybe. Would I spend money to read it again? Um… 

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Beth Vogt's Somebody Like You ~ Reviewed

Somebody Like You
Beth Vogt
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 336
Vendor: Howard Books
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 1476737584


Can a young widow find love again with her husband's reflection?
Haley's three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he's killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening-and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?
Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation-ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other. How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together-and whose ghost could drive them apart?


Somebody Like You is about a young woman named Haley. She was married for three years to Sam, an army medic whom she rarely saw during their marriage as he was deployed many times. Before she could tell him she was expecting a baby, he was killed in Afghanistan. Now, she is trying to fix up the house she bought, prepare for her baby, and figure out what to do with her life. In the meantime, Stephen's twin brother, whom Haley knew nothing about, learns about his Sam's death and decides to go meet Haley. Not surprisingly, Haley is shocked when she sees who she at first thinks is Sam, standing at her door. After Stephen's explanation that he and Sam had grown apart after their parent's divorce, she is faced with the decision as to whether to dismiss him from her life, or help him re-discover the brother he hadn't seen in years. Stephen doesn't give her much choice, though, as he constantly comes around to help her around the house, and even helps her through the birth of her baby, Kit. Not surprisingly, they find themselves attracted to each other, however, both feel that it's an impossible relationship, and aren't sure where they stand with each other. 
I LOVED this book. It was so well written. I really felt for Haley. How devastating to lose a husband that you rarely saw, only to find out he hid things from you and you possibly didn't really know him at all. Then, to have an exact replica show up at your door and have to face him. And then there's Stephen. I felt so bad for him and his broken relationship with Sam. It just goes to show you that we may think we have forever to make things right with those we may have had a falling out with, but you never know how much time you have left. It's best to settle those things as soon as possible. 
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Julie Arduini's Entrusted ~ Reviewed

By Julie Arduini
Paperback: 320 pages
Published by Write Integrity
Nov. 5, 2014

Back cover:
Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows—literally—into Speculator Falls with a busted GPS, arriving in town as the new senior center director. She has only one goal—that of belonging no matter how out of place she appears and how angry she makes town councilman and grocer Ben Regan.

Her new life is so rural there are no traffic lights, and when she learns her car isn’t equipped to handle the mountain terrain, Ben’s grandmother offers her late husband’s vehicle, further alienating the local businessman.

As she endears herself to the seniors at the center and creates a vision full of ideas, programs, and equipment, she ruffles Ben’s plans to keep Speculator Falls void of change, including the store his grandfather built.

The two work through community events and shared heartbreak only to face off in a town council meeting where Ben publically rejects her proposal for the senior center, causing Jenna to react out of her fears about belonging.

She returns to Ohio where she realizes she needs to surrender her plans for the center and fears about belonging and trust her Heavenly Father when facing fear, change, loss, and love.


As I read Entrusted by Julie Arduini I could easily envision the small town of Spectacular Falls. In the first scene, I had such detailed images of the forested, winding road Jenna barreled down. Julie’s voice was fun and spunky, and as a result, I tended to see Jenna in the same way. She seemed truly out of her element in the close knit community she tried to embrace, and I felt her loneliness during her transition time authentic. I also enjoyed learning about what might go on in a senior center, and I found Howard delightful. I especially enjoyed how Jenna interacted with him, gracefully helping to soften his rather grumpy side.

Julie Arduini has a witty voice with a gift for visual description. I have a feeling we all know of a place like Spectacular Falls, filled with community, great food, and, perhaps, a few town members with a stubborn resistance to change. If you enjoy light-hearted novels with small town settings, I encourage you to try Entrusted

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Friday, January 02, 2015

Michelle Griep's Brentwood's Ward ~ Reviewed

Brentwood's Ward
by Michelle Griep (Author)
Paperback – January 1, 2015
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press; Gld edition (January 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 163058679X


Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.


Michelle Griep is an artist with smells being her forte. Seriously, this woman can paint an olfactory smorgasbord. Unfortunately, she writes gritty historical details that leave the smells...well, more pungent than pleasant. 

But, blessedly, Griep doesn't just stick with smells. The woman can write a scene. Whew. A near kiss, a glance, kidnapping, torture, meals, she offers up rich sensory emotions as well.

Rich prose full of amazing sentences and paragraphs build complex characters. Those bad guys are wicked bad. The heroines are multifaceted and either unfurled rosebuds just waiting for the courage to bloom, or wilted wounded blooms in need of a gentle touch, or thistles requiring the some serious groundwork. Her heroes are good men who've had bad to overcome and are in need of redemption and man enough to be aware of it. 

Brentwood's Ward. All of that and more. Action, check. Love, check. London society, check. Danger, check. Sorrow and loss, check. A happy ending, check. 

If you love a good historical, a touch of escapism or just a fine page-turner, get a copy. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer