Saturday, October 18, 2014

Out of the Storm... a novella review

Appalachian Serenade

by Jody Hedlund
Beacons of Hope series
Bethany House Publishing
141 pages
Available Now!  FREE!

Publisher's Description:
Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Presque Isle Lighthouse, Michigan, 1854
"'Everyone's dead.' 
Isabelle Thornton shuddered at her father's words......Flotsam littered the beach around them, the remains of a steamer that had been ripped apart by the thrashing squall" (Chapter 1, page 2).

The novella introduces us to the Beacons of Hope series.
From the opening paragraph to the closing chapter, Jody Hedlund captured the harsh reality of living on the shores of the Great Lakes in Michigan.  The dangers, both natural and human, are woven into the story allowing the reader to gain a glimpse into the life of an 1850's lighthouse keeper.
Overall, I enjoyed the novella's setting, characters, and plot.  I was disappointed in the few romantic scenes that did not seem as believable as the rest of the story.

Enjoy Out of the Storm for free!  

I look forward to reading more about the life and times of the Great Lakes' lighthouse keepers and their families in the series first book Love Unexpected in December 2014.
Cover Art
Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spectrum... a book review



by Alan Jacobson
The Karen Vail Series #6
ISBN: 9781497641938
Available: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Open Road Media
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Publisher's Description:
New York City: home to world-renowned museums, theater, restaurants, iconic sports franchises. Central Park. Wall Street. And an infamous serial killer who’s terrorized the Big Apple for decades.

The year is 1995 and the NYPD has just graduated a promising new patrol officer named Karen Vail. The rookie’s first day on the job is anything but easy when she finds herself at the crime scene of a young woman murdered in an unusual manner. Vail is unsure of what she’s looking at or what it means—but it’s a case that will weigh on her mind for nearly twenty years.

As the years pass, Vail’s career takes unexpected twists and turns—as does the case that’s come to be known as Hades. Now a skilled FBI profiler, will Vail be in a better position to catch the killer? Or will Hades prove to be Karen Vail’s hell on earth?

The character who has captivated readers worldwide—and who won the praise of literary giants Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Nelson DeMille—returns in a story that captures the experiences that shaped the revered profiler and made her the top cop she is today.

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

This is the first Karen Vail Series that I have read.  I was not disappointed!  Since the storyline followed her law enforcement career from rookie cop to FBI profiler, I did not feel lost at all.  Having never lived in NYC, Alan Jacobson has written this book so realistically that I feel as though I am a local New Yorker.  His research into not only the setting and characters, but also the crimes and police work shine through in this terrific novel.

The multiple storylines, which at first seem odd, are woven together so well.  I can't say enough about this book.  I will be reading the first 5 books in the Karen Vail series very soon!

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A+ all the way!

I received a complimentary e-copy of Spectrum from NetGalley and Open Road Media Publisher for my honest review.



Miracle in a Dry Season... a book review


Miracle in a Dry Season

ISBN: 9780764212253
Bethany House Publishers
Available: July 29, 2014
Genre: Fiction / Christian / Romance

Publisher's Description:
In a Drought, It's the Darkest Cloud That Brings Hope
It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

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

1954 - - - an unwed mother - - - -  a mysterious gift
I enjoyed the first novella, Appalachian Serenade, by Sarah Loudin Thomas.  This novella introduced some of the characters found in Miracle in a Dry Season.  As we get reacquainted with the original characters, Sarah Loudin Thomas introduces us to more of the townspeople of Wise, West Virginia.  The characters are well-developed and their behavior gave a true sense of the life and times of the Appalachian people.  The story made me miss the simpler times when people spent time together – square dances and community suppers.

As much as I enjoyed Perla’s “gift,” it did not fit with the rest of the story.  Overall, I look forward to reading more of Sarah Loudin Thomas’ novels in the future.

My rating:  A-

4 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary e-copy of Miracle in a Dry Season from Bethany House Publishing and NetGalley for my honest review. 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

NIV First-Century Study Bible... a book review


The NIV First Century Study Bible

Publisher: Zondervan / Harper Collins
Available: September 9, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-310-93890-3
Hardback price: $49.99

Publisher's Description:

Experience the Bible through the eyes of a first-century disciple by exploring the cultural, religious, and historical background of the Bible. This Bible allows you to understand God’s Word in its original cultural context, bringing Scripture to life by providing fresh understanding to familiar passages, beloved stories and all the Scripture in between. The NIV First-Century Study Bible invites you into the questions, stories, and interpretations—both ancient and modern—which introduce you to a world vastly different from your own.  Let us read with an eye on the past and with our feet planted in our present questions and circumstances.  Join Kent Dobson as he unpacks the culture of Bible times, and illuminates Scripture passages while asking thoughtful questions along the way.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
I was thrilled to have the chance to review the NIV First-Century Study Bible from Zondervan.  I had just started an Old Testament Literature class as college and knew this would be a great help in understanding many Old Testament passages.  I was not disappointed!  This new study Bible introduces the reader to explore the Biblical culture in a more meaningful way. 

Special features of this Bible include...
     -  book introductions and outlines for each book of the Bible
     -  study notes for understanding and challenging the reader through thought-provoking questions
     -  word studies to better understand the scriptures
     -  "Addressing the Text Articles" that delve deeper into the passages of scripture
     -  "Day in the Life Articles" to help modern-day readers to understand the Biblical culture

The NIV First-Century Study Bible even included the type of literature found in each book  This was so helpful to me in my current course as it reinforced the best way to interpret that particular book.

Thank you Zondervan for this wonderful study Bible - bringing Biblical times and culture to life for today's reader.  I look forward to mining more of God's Word with the NIV First-Century Study Bible.

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of NIV First-Century Study Bible from Zondervan and Harper Collins Publishing's BookLook Bloggers program for my honest review.



Tried & True... a book review


Tried and TrueTried & True

ISBN: 978-0-7642-1178-2
Publisher: Bethany House Publishing Group
Available: August 26, 2014
Fiction / Christian / Historical Fiction
Series: Wild at Heart


Publisher’s Description:
Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"-- but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?

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

          Tried & True is the first book I have read from author Mary Connealy.  The book teaser intrigued me.  I knew, historically, women fought in the Civil War.  I was excited to read a book loosely crafted from this time period.

          The story was alright, but the characters were not well developed.  Also, the basic plot of the story was transparent… with one exception.  But, even with the one exception, the story did not draw me in or hook me into the unfolding tale.  I will not be reading the rest of the series.

My rating:  C       2.5 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary e-copy of Tried & True from Bethany House Publishing for my honest review. 



Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Cowboy's Christmas Promise... a book review


A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise

ISBN: 9780553394566

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group Loveswept

Available: November 18, 2014


Publisher’s Description:
Boston veterinarian Hayley Scampini tends the city’s pampered pets but dreams of the rural life of a country vet. She’s single and determined to stay that way, convinced that love isn’t permanent enough to trust. Then a vacation to the Whisper Creek dude ranch introduces her to Daniel McKee, a sexy single dad who runs the kind of veterinary practice she aspires to—and rattles her conviction to keep men at a distance.

Managing a thriving practice, coping with the loss of his wife, and fighting a custody battle with his in-laws over his twin daughters, Daniel couldn’t be more overwhelmed. Hayley is a godsend, accompanying him in the field and winning over his girls. It doesn’t take Daniel long to realize he’s falling for this woman, hard and fast. So before Hayley returns to Boston, he extracts a promise: that she will return to Whisper Creek for Christmas. It’s the perfect time and place to show Hayley that the promise of a beautiful life together is something she can believe in.

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

I was so excited to realize this was a continuation from Maggie McGinnis’ book Accidental Cowgirl published April 30, 2014.  I enjoyed returning to Whisper Creek Ranch for Kyla’s wedding.   This book focuses on Hayley and her determination to remain single… and happy.  I curled up with the book and laughed and smiled and welcomed home some great friends!  Okay, okay… I know they are just my literary character friends, but I do so enjoy getting lost in their stories.

My rating:           A             4.5 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary e-copy of a Cowboy’s Christmas Promise from NetGalley for my honest review. 


Friday, August 29, 2014

Seagrass Pier... a book review


Seagrass Pier

Available: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 9781401690083

Fiction / Christian / Suspense / Romance

Series: Hope Beach Series, #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publisher’s  Description:

In a secluded corner of Hope Beach, one woman must decipher a stranger’s memories . . . before they cost her everything.

Elin Summerall was one of the lucky ones. Not only did she get a heart transplant, but the donor was a perfect fit. A miraculously perfect fit.

But when Elin begins having violent flashbacks—and vivid dreams of being strangled—she realizes that she has been the recipient of more than just a new heart . . . Elin is remembering her donor’s murder.

Her strange affliction has attracted some unwanted attention: from the press, from the authorities . . . and from the killer himself. Now, living alone with her young daughter and aging mother, Elin is being stalked—by a man she’s only met in her nightmares.

The police are dubious of her story, but one off-duty FBI agent agrees to help her: Agent Marc Everton.

Now, in a remote cottage on Hope Island, Elin and Marc must probe the secrets buried in her borrowed heart. And there’s no time to waste. One man is desperate to silence her—before she remembers too much.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The transplant brought her life ---- and the donor’s memories may bring her death.
In the third book in the Hope Beach Series, we meet Elin, the central character, as she learns to walk a difficult path in her life.  She is a widow who has recently undergone a heart transplant – the blessing is turning into a curse.   Why is Elin having vivid nightmares of her donor’s murder?  And why, if the police don’t believe her, does the murderer set his sights on Erin?

She moves to Hope Island to begin anew with her 4 year old daughter.  The 100-year old home is filled with treasures of days gone by including an old diary from the original owner’s widow.  Add Elin’s mother who is suffering front dementia and you have rich storylines apart from the murder / stalker mystery! 
My rating: 6 out of 5 stars

Can I do that?  YES!  I just did… this book is that good!

I received a complimentary e-copy of Seagrass Pier from Thomas Nelson Publishing for my honest review.

“Contentment is found in your heart, Elin.  It’s not in a profession or in a relationship.  Your roles don’t define who you are.  You define your roles.” - Elin's mother (Ch. 9 – Seagrass Pier)
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