Friday, October 23, 2015

Dan Walsh's Keeping Christmas ~ Reviewed

Keeping Christmas
Dan Walsh
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Revell (September 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800721195

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it's looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can't bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure they were strange-looking--some could be called downright ugly--but they were tradition. A tradition she's heartbroken to miss this year.

With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan knows something must be done. And his only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments. 

Fan-favorite Dan Walsh invites readers to enjoy this nostalgic Christmas story that celebrates all of our most cherished seasonal traditions, especially the importance of family. Readers will join in remembering the things that make their own Christmas season so special.


Dan Walsh is back doing what he does best, writing sweetly inspirational fiction that touches home with so many folks. 

In Keeping Christmas we go along for the bumpy ride of what to do when what you knew changes drastically.  Judith and Stan have faced their first Thanksgiving alone since becoming a family. All three of their grown children have moved away and, as many families face, the budgets are too tight to head home for the holiday. As Stan enjoys the minimal fuss and bustle, Judith slowly sinks into a depression. 

When they find out none of the kids can afford the trip back for Christmas it's all Stan can do to attempt to pull his wife out of her funk. Fortunately, a few good friends help and slowly Judith begins to feel a small stirring of hope again. 

This is one of those books that will appeal to those who snap up Walsh's books. Those seeking a warm, fuzzy, feel good read will likely adore the story as well. It's short and sweet enough for a cozy weekend read. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sydney Tooman Betts's A River Too Deep ~ Reviewed

By Sydney Tooman Betts
October 2013
Stonebridge Publications


In the spring of 1817, Alcy Callen and her father visit a step-uncle they have long presumed dead; but instead of enjoying a loving reunion, they are plunged into treachery and deceit. Nothing is as they expected and little is what it seems. Even the man who helps her escape is not the reliable suitor he appears. Alcy is caught between gratitude and fear, unable to avoid her rescuer's attentions or understand the responses they stir. Neither can she tell what sort of man he is or what he intends to do with her in the strange place they are going. Will he keep her for himself or will he sell her to the highest bidder? Of one person only is she certain, but will he come for her before it is too late?


This is one sweet read, good enough to keep on my shelf and actually re-read again in a few years, plus I'll look for more from this author. What made it so great?

The relationship between the hero and the heroine. 
Preying Eagle is seriously da man. This is one hero who will set your heart aflutter and not just because of six-pack abs. He's noble, a trait that's not usually seen in today's men.

The story doesn't shy away from tough topics or real issues. 
Murder. Violence. Abuse. These things happen in real life and they happen in the story, but they're all dealt with tastefully if not gut-wrenchingly by the author.

Lots of action.
From an abduction to poisoning, this story really keeps the reader guessing. No cookie cutter romance or adventure here, which makes this a fantastic page turner.

Now then, I should mention, that there were several errors throughout, not enough to bother most people I assume, but enough for me to notice. There were also a few situations that were hard to believe. Don't worry, I won't give any spoilers, but let's just say the heroine's grief disappeared in record time for someone she loved deeply.

But even with those bugaboos, this really is a great read and I give it a thumbs up. So far, it's on my top 5 list for the year.

Reviewed by: Michelle Griep

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Carrie Stuart Parks's The Bones Will Speak ~ Reviewed

The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks
Series: A Gwen Marcey Novel (Book 2)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 11, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401690459


A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice of forensic expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter.

When Gwen Marcey’s dog comes home with a human skull and then leads her to a cabin in the woods near her Montana home, she realizes there’s a serial killer in her community. And when she finds a tortured young girl clinging to life on the cabin floor, she knows this killer is a lunatic.
Yet what unsettles Gwen most is that the victim looks uncannily like her daughter.
The search for the torturer leads back in time to a neo-Nazi bombing in Washington state—a bombing with only one connection to Montana: Gwen. The group has a race-not-grace model of salvation . . . and they’ve marked Gwen as a race traitor.
When it becomes clear that the killer has a score to settle, Gwen finds herself in a battle against time. She will have to use all of her forensic skills to find the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her—and the only family she has left.


Gwen, a forensic artist, is nearly recovered from a recent health crisis. One day while working in her yard her dog proudly trots over to her with a portion of a human skull. 

One grisly discovery soon leads to more until its certain that there is a serial killer on the loose. And once that chilling truth unfolds there is a similarity to his victims that makes Gwen's blood grow cold. 

Now fully aware that he is hunting her family, Gwen must act to save her life and her daughter from this monster. 

This is a gripping novel that was hard to put down. Not for the faint of heart or feathered friends because there are some seriously intense scenes in this book. I didn't read book one so it took me a few pages to get a feel for Gwen and the authors voice. After that it became a page turner. I do love a good procedural novel so the forensic details were an added bonus. If you love great suspense give this one a shot. 

This book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Kristy Cambron's A Sparrow in Terezin ~ Reviewed

A Sparrow in Terezin 
by Kristy Cambron
Series: A Hidden Masterpiece Novel (Book 2)
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 7, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1401690610


Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor’s story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.
Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairy–tale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels like she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy their future before it even begins.
Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future with the man she loves.
1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied Prague in 1939 and was forced to leave behind her half-Jewish family. Now a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, she has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.
Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains them and fight to protect all they hold dear–even if it means placing their own futures on the line.


A Sparrow In Terezin weaves together the story of two different women. In the present day, we have Sera James. She is getting ready to open her new art gallery and marry the man of her dreams, William Hanover. However, just as they finish saying their vows on their wedding day, William is arrested due to some legal issues concerning the family estate. Sera now has to fight for their marriage and pray she can trust that her husband has been truthful with her. The second story is about Kaja Makovsky, and takes place in 1942, beginning in Nazi-occupied Prague. Her parents make sure her and her sister get out of the city before anything happens, as Kaja is half Jewish. She begins working in a newspaper office in London. Shortly after beginning her job, she finds out the horrible things that are happening to Jewish people and is determined to go home to rescue her parents.

This story was really well written. It didn't get confusing as it went back and forth between stories. I believe there was a prequel book written, which I would like to read to get some of the backstory of Sera, but overall, I really enjoyed it. The storyline kept building, especially for Kaja, and I had a hard time putting the book down as I wanted to see what happened!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Cynthia Ruchti's As Waters Gone By ~ Reviewed

As Waters Gone By
Cynthia Ruchti
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (May 5, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426787278

Emmalyn Ross has only a few months left to figure out if she and her husband, Max, can ever be a couple again. In prison for actions that ensured his wife could never be a mother, Max is now scheduled for release, and Emmalyn wonders how she can let him back into her life after all he’s put her through. During his five-year incarceration, Emmalyn moved to the beautiful, but remote Madeline Island in Lake Superior. With the help of a circle of misfit town residents, including the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Café, Emmalyn begins to restore her heart while refurbishing her very own island cottage. She learns what it means to love unconditionally and finds that her dream of a house and a home filled with God’s love might become a reality, but only if she and Max can find a way to rebuild their marriage…and win the fight of their lives in the process. As Waters Gone By, the highly anticipated fourth novel by award-winning author and speaker, Cynthia Ruchti, is sure to be the next book club favorite.


Emmalyn is running to the only place she has left. Her husband has abandoned her. Not in the traditional trade-up kind of scenario but because he is serving time in prison. Emmalyn’s womb is achingly empty, as is her bank account, and future. The only thing Emmalyn has left is a tiny hunting cottage in the middle of nowhere.

Emmalyn lands in what will become a nest that wraps its wings around her frightened bird self. A crazy innkeeper and her unique group of friends breathe life back into Emmalyn until she can breathe on her own. Just in time, too, because she has some serious and life changing decisions to make. As Emmalyn changes and let’s go so that she can embrace truth, her life changes in ways she couldn’t even have imagined. This story is powerful and well-written. The strong vein of gratitude and generosity laps over its shores giving hope beyond the pages.

Review by: Kelly Klepfer

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Charles Martin's Water From My Heart ~ Reviewed

Water From My Heart
Charles Martin
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street (May 19, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455554707


New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin's breathtaking novel of love and redemption.
Charlie Finn had to grow up fast, living alone by age sixteen. Highly intelligent, he earned a life-changing scholarship to Harvard, where he learned how to survive and thrive on the outskirts of privileged society. That skill served him well in the cutthroat business world, as it does in more lucrative but dangerous ventures he now operates off the coast of Miami. Charlie tries to separate relationships from work. But when his choices produce devastating consequences, he sets out to right wrongs, traveling to Central America where he will meet those who have paid for his actions, including a woman and her young daughter. Will their fated encounter present Charlie with a way to seek the redemption he thought was impossible--and free his heart to love one woman as he never knew he could?


I've enjoyed Charles Martin novels in the past, however, he poured some serious soul into Water From My Heart.

Charlie doesn't quite recognize exactly how lost he is as he sets out on a journey of self discovery. Actually, he’s on mission to find the son of his best friend after the son gets in the middle of a bad, bad situation. The bad, bad situation comes about because Charlie was careless. And Charlie feels responsible.

The trail of destruction leads to a place Charlie had been to years before, one that is full of shameful memories.

As Charlie immerses himself into the location where he thinks he might find his frightened, prideful “nephew”, Charlie sees the fruit of his past choices growing like a weed in a village of kind people who had rebounded emotionally but were the poorest of poor.

When Charlie begins to feel a love greater than his fears and his regret he begins to understand Water From My Heart and it changes everything.

Martin paints amazing scenes. There is a poignancy beating strong as a heartbeat throughout the whole book, too. The picture of lostness that paralyzes entangled people, the hopelessness that comes from carrying burdens that Christ died to release, the emptiness of working to recover self-respect that can never be recovered through trying to rewrite the past. Charlie finds the hope and restitution in letting go of everything he clutched onto.

Martin was deeply touched by this place as well and he shares a bit about his real life inspiration and the struggle of some amazing people. This is the best kind of fiction.

Reviewed by:Kelly Klepfer