Saturday, May 9, 2015

Inside the O'Briens... a book review

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An amazing and heart-rending read....
an insider's look showing how to live well, and die honorably, with Huntington's Disease.


Publisher: Gallery Books
Available April 2015
ISBN 9781476717777
Medical Fiction




Publisher's Description:


Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.


Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?


As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


Never having read any of Lisa Genova's previous books, I was totally unprepared for the open and honest portrayal of a family living with Huntington's Disease... the ups, the downs, the anger, the fear.  We have been given a gift to not only learn about the disease itself, but also the challenges and unknowns for families living with this horrendous diagnosis.


Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bate College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.  With her training in the neurosciences and her wonderful storytelling, she has crafted a story with characters who could very well be our neighbors.  We are given an "insider's" look into the devastating physical and emotional challenges of families living with Huntington's Disease.


I look forward to reading Still Alice about a Harvard professor who suffers early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  Then, just maybe, I see the motion picture created from the book.


I received a complimentary e-copy of Inside the O'Briens from NetGalley and Gallery Books for my honest review.


Happy reading,


    Ellen

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Love Letters... a book review

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The Love Letters


Available March 2015

Bethany House Publishing

Christian fiction / Amish fiction

ISBN: 978-0-7642-1246-8




Publisher's Description:
Marlena Wenger's life takes an unexpected turn on the day she learns she must care for her estranged sister's baby.  Spending the summer in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, to assist her Mennonite grandmother, and miles from Marlena's Old Order Amish beau, she feels out of her element in nearly every respect.  Yet Marlena determines to do her best and stay focused on her future, even as those hopes become drastically altered.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
I have always enjoyed Beverly Lewis' Amish stories.  Each one she pens allows me to learn more about their faith, love of family, and reliance on the Almighty.  The Love Letters opens the door a bit wider as I learned about sects that have broken from the Old Order faith - the Mennonites and New Order churches.  We meet not only Marlena and her family, but also the Bitners next door.  As "Small Jay" Bittner steps out in faith to befriend a homeless man, he unknowingly begins a chain of events that ultimately affect his whole family.

My rating: 4 out of 5
A


I received a complimentary copy of The Love Letters for my honest review.

Happy Reading,
    
    Ellen

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Inn at Ocean's Edge... a book review

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The Inn at Ocean's Edge

A Sunset Cove Novel


Available: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4016-9026-7

Christian fiction / Mystery / Suspense / Romance

A story of family ties and love that binds them together...


Claire Dellamare unexpectedly joins her CEO father at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine, in hopes of closing a merger which would only increase their presence in the aviation world.  Yet, as she is checking in, she is overcome by a full blown panic attack.  What could trigger that in a place she had never been?  Or had she?


"In 1989, Claire Dellamare disappeared from her own fourth birthday party at the Hotel Tourmaline on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine.  She showed up a year later at the same hotel, with a note pinned to her dress but no explanation.  Nobody knows where Claire spent that year - and now, Claire didn't even know she had ever been missing" (back cover).


With flashes of memory and help from Luke, a Coast Guardsman whose mother went missing the same time Claire did, they begin their own investigation to uncover the truth surrounding Claire's and his mother's disappearance 25 years earlier.


I have enjoyed Colleen Coble's books in the past - Tidewater Inn, Seagrass Pier, Smitten, and Safe in His Arms.  But The Inn at Ocean's Edge has surpassed them all!  From the very first page until the closing paragraph, I was pulled into the mystery and suspense surrounding Claire and Luke.  Would they be able to solve this mystery before serious harm comes to Claire?  Why does the local law enforcement seem to be stonewalling?  Will her family survive the truth as it is slowly exposed?


My rating - 6 out of 5 stars   A+

Can I do that..... I sure can!


I received a complimentary copy of The Inn at Ocean's Edge from Thomas Nelson Publisher and their BookLook Bloggers program for my honest review.


Happy reading,
   
          Ellen

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Amish Clockmaker... a book review

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Which is more important - seeing your own family is taken care of or
helping another family who experienced personal tragedy in the past?


The Men of Lancaster Series, book 3
ISBN: 9780736957380
Available: February 2015


As Matthew Zook begins to expand his family’s Amish tack and feed store, he soon realized he does not own the one small plot of land he needs to make the expansion possible.  He quickly learns that the management building a resort next to his property has been trying to locate the previous owner to buy the land for their use.

To settle the dispute of the rightful owner of the land, Matthew must seek out Clayton Raber, the former owner of the store and land.  Yet, there is a dark cloud following Clayton.  His wife died under mysterious circumstances decades earlier and he was the arrested for her murder.  Although all charges were dropped, his family and church felt he was guilty.

Clayton left his church and family and was never seen again.  Now, Matthew must locate Clayton and try to convince him to sign the land over to him and not the resort.  With few leads to follow and Clayton’s family refusing to help, will Matthew locate Clayton before the resort does?

My rating:
A
4.5 out of 5 stars

I always enjoy reading about the Amish and their simple ways of living – add a mystery that spans decades, and you have a winner!  This story weaves in numerous subplots apart from locating the previous owner.  As Matthew begins his search, the readers get a wonderful glimpse into the lives of the Amish – their love of family and their strong faith in God.  I found myself cheering (silently, of course) Matthew on and felt the emotions of learning of one character’s battle with an often misunderstood mental illness. 

As much as I enjoyed the second book in the series, The Amish Blacksmith, I felt a deeper connection with the characters and storylines in The Amish Clockmaker.  Kudos to both Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner for a wonderful, insightful novel.   I look forward to reading the first book in The Men of Lancaster County Series: The Amish Groom.

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Amish Clockmaker from Harvest House Publishers and NetGalley for my honest review.


Happy Reading,


     Ellen

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lethal Beauty... a book review

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Lethal Beauty

a Mia Quinn Mystery

By Lis Wiehl with April Henry

Thomas Nelson Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-59554-905-1
Available: March 3, 2015




Publisher’s Description:

Mia Quinn discovers that a series of seemingly unrelated murders are linked. How far up are the strings being pulled—and what happens when one of her own is at risk?

The murder Mia is prosecuting seems like an open and shut case—until the accused claims he was the real victim and that the dead girl attacked him first. The tabloids dub her a "lethal beauty." Still, a conviction seems imminent. Then a key witness goes missing. Just when it looks like the killer could walk free, the dead woman’s mother takes matters into her own hands. 

Meanwhile, Charlie Carlson, a Seattle homicide detective, is investigating the murder of a man whose body washed up on the beach of Puget Sound, but he's got little to go on. He has no dental work, fingerprints aren't on file, and he doesn't match any missing person reports. Then a church pianist is senselessly gunned down before horrified parishioners. 

All three cases seem unrelated—but are they? Together, Mia and Charlie race to find the answer before another crime hits too close to home.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

Once again, Lis Wiehl with April Henry shines the spotlight on a current social issue alive and well in America – human trafficking and exploitation of illegal aliens.  As Mia and Charlie work together to solve seemingly unrelated cases, we are greeted with the seedier side of humanity.
Lis Wiehl works her magic in crafting not only believable characters but also a very realistic plot with numerous twists and turns!  You will find yourself engrossed in the storylines, both case-related and personal, in which Mia and Charlie find themselves.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A

I received a complimentary copy of Lethal Beauty from Thomas Nelson Publishing and the BookLook Bloggers program for my honest review.

Happy reading,

  Ellen

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Last Sicarius... a book review

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The Last Sicarius


iUniverse LLC, Bloomington Indiana

ISBN-13: 9781491721087

Genre: Christian / Mystery / Thriller




Are the Gospels of Judas and possibly a diary of Jesus' earthly ministry worth dying for? 
Will they prove the Christian faith or destroy it forever?

Biblical intrigue
Theological thriller
Mystery
Suspense
Good versus evil

After surviving the Kolektor's rage and murderous plot against her and those she cares about, Chloe Lejeune returns to Louisiana to continue translating the ancient manuscripts of Jesus' earthly ministry found in the oil jars.  Yet, when a Vatican official turns up to have lunch with her, she soon realizes the mystery behind the ancient jars and evil is not finished.  Along with her son, Pope Francis "charges Chloe to find the cache of jars and keep them away from their adversaries" - the rightful heir of the Kolektor's organization.

Once again, Chloe works with Vatican officials and her son J.E following biblical clues to locate the Cave of Jars before the Kolektor's heir does.  As each clue brings them closer to the jars, it also brings the evil heir-apparent one step closer.  Who will find the cave first?  Will there be any survivors to the last stand between good and evil?

Van R Mayhall Jr once again has drawn the reader into the biblical narrative and locations.  With each twist and turn, you want to cheer on Chloe and her band of scholars and military Vatican guards.  Yet, the evil heir stays on their heels, or, even one step ahead.

I enjoyed The Last Sicarius as much as the first book, Judas the Apostle.  Unfortunately, the beginning of The Last Sicarius did not flow as smoothly as I had hoped.  In his attempt to make this book a "stand alone" in the series, Van R Mayhall Jr adds background information on the characters and basic plot from the first book into the beginning chapters of this one.  This strategy took away from the opening scenes of the new book.  I believe an introductory chapter summarizing Judas the Apostle would have achieved a smoother transition between the two books; thus, allowing the second book, The Last Sicarius, to stand alone.

My rating 4.5 out of 5 stars
A

Please note: I received a complimentary digital copy of The Last Sicarius from NetGalley.com and iUniverse Publishing for my honest review.

Happy reading!

     Ellen

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Dandelion Field.... a book review

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ISBN-13: 9780310339632
Zondervan Publishing
Available: January 2015

How many parents hope and pray that their child(ren) do not follow in their footsteps of bad decisions and/or actions.  Gin Lightly definitely prays for a better and brighter future for her daughter Raine; but, even a loving, mother cannot decide her child's actions and decisions.


When Raine and her mother's car breaks down in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin agrees to stay so Raine can finish her senior year of high school.  During a class project, Raine is paired up with Cody Bennett.  Cody is a friend to all - athletes, nerds, and those not part of the "in" groups.  He is an outspoken Christian who helps lead the youth at Hope Community Church.


When Raine and Cody's relationship become serious, can he practice what he preaches?  Or will he lay aside his beliefs and walk away from God to live life his own way?


Kathryn Springer has written a story that so many women can relate to - poor decisions and the consequences which follow.  God's love is seen in and through the characters.  I look forward to enjoying more of Kathryn Springer's stories of faith, love, and understanding.


My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


I received a complimentary copy of The Dandelion Field from Harper Collins and Zondervan Publishing for my honest review.


Happy Reading!


     Ellen
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