"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."--Groucho Marx

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brush of Angel’s Wings, by Ruth Reid

Sweet Amish Story of Forgiveness and Redemption

Thomas Nelson
Rachel Hartzler was never like the other Amish girls, then brother died last year, and she still feels guilty. She tried to fill his place on her father’s farm, but now her father hired Jordan Engles to assist with the work. Rachel feels pushed aside, but then her heart is attracted to his. The depth of this romance grows with the inclusion of some spiritual warfare, as angels battle for souls, and difficult family struggles.

The discussions between the Guardian Angel and the demon add interest, and Biblical references to the story. The story is interesting, fun to read, and heartfelt. I enjoyed this Amish romance and recommend it to anyone looking for clean, heartfelt romance.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Thomas Nelson, April 10, 2012.

The Wedding Dress, by Rachel Hauck

Brought Me to Tears
Thomas Nelson

Charlotte owns a wedding dress boutique, and has a true gift for finding the perfect dress for every bride that comes her way, that is except herself. Somehow, she just cannot move forward with her wedding plans, so she visits a local historical estate for peace and quiet, but instead discovers they are having an antique sale to raise money for the foundation. She finds herself bidding on a trunk, then discovers that it holds a beautiful wedding gown, thus she begins a journey to discover who owned the gown before even though it appears unworn. Her journey takes her through one hundred years, connecting her life to this who lived gone before and opening her eyes to her own choices.

The beginning gave the impression that this book is a simple romance, but it proved to be so much more. Reading about the struggles and the lives of those who wore the dress made me smile and cry as the women found their way to the man that God had chosen for them, along the way growing in faith and hope. Anyone who enjoys a beautiful love story or a story of women seeking God’s will, will love this book.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Thomas Nelson, April 3, 2012.

The Hammer of God, by Tom Avitabile

Definitely a Page Turner of Major Proportions!

Fiction Studio Books
Bill Hiccock is a man of science that works for the President of the United States. He created a network of scientists that bounce information off each other anonymously over the Internet, gleaning answers through virtual brainstorming. Information from his group starts him down the road to intercept a group of terrorists that have links to the neighborhood of his youth and childhood friends. The Islamic Jihadists put together a plot filled with twists to prevent detection, leading Hiccock and his team across the world.

The book is filled with military and scientific terminology giving the information a tensely realistic feeling. The plot races from action to action, leaving the reader breathless. The author paints such realistic pictures that the reader rides on the belief that the descriptions of Washington, defense, and the battle against terror are entirely accurate. Best thriller I have read in a long time. I missed the first in this series, but I will definitely go find it ASAP. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys tense, military, political thrillers.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Released through Fiction Studio Books on April 10, 2012.

Always the Designer, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Good, Clean Fun!

Abingdon Press
Audrey grew up in Atlanta, but for years, she has tried to make it in New York as a wedding dress designer, designing individual wedding gowns. She is at the end of her inheritance and her luck. Now, she has to go back to Atlanta to see her best friend married in one of her gowns. While she is there, her world turns upside down both with her business and her love life, and new opportunities opening up all around.

This is definitely fun, clean, chick lit.  The characters are people you would like to have as your circle of friends, and the southern, down home feel of the culture is as inviting as Paula Dean. Bricker uses great comparisons, adding to the rich southern texture of the book making it an above average romance. Good clean fun, and something you might want to pick up to spend a few hours at a relaxing diversion.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Released April 2, 2012 by Abingdon Press.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rainbow's End by Valerie Comer, Annalisa Daughety, Nicole O’Dell, Cara Putman

4 Fun, Light Romances

Barbour Publishing
Rainbow’s End is a collection of four stories that run concurrently, written by four different authors presenting a very intriguing setup. The stories occur in the Missouri Ozarks at Lake of the Ozarks. All the stories occur during a geocache contest set up by a church that runs over two months. A geocache contest is when teams compete in attempting to locate a series of caches with only the longitude and latitude of the location, along with a poem to help pinpoint the location after arrival. The teams use handheld gps devices to track the exact longitude and latitude. The first three stories are simple romance stories while the fourth has some suspense included. All four stories were worth reading as above average clean romances, and the geocache contest added some fun sideline interest.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Barbour Publishing on May 1, 2012.

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

Great Fun, Totally Enjoyable

Widow Harriet Beamer still living in the house where she spent her married life and raised her son, awaits that son’s arrival from California. Her son and his wife arrive to discover her on the floor after a fall from a ladder while putting up Christmas decorations. Harriet bets her daughter-in-law that the ankle is not broken and if it is Harriet will move to California if it is broken. After the broken ankle heals, Harriet decides to move to California, but to travel there by local public transportation as much as possible. Along the way, Harriet has many adventures, meets many new friends, and reaches some conclusions. 

I loved this book. Reading about Harriet’s adventures is just plain fun, and definitely reveals that elderly women have a great deal of life left to live. Harriet is a character that you want to pull out of the book to visit with, and make your new best friend.  I would recommend this book for women of all ages and men who want more insight into an elderly woman’s psyche. 

Just discovered this is to be a series......can't wait for more.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Zondervan, May 1, 2012.

Temptation: A Novel by Travis Thrasher

Temptation: A Novel by Travis Thrasher

David C Cook
I choose to read this book first, and then I realized that it was the third in a series, so I read the others first.  Now that I have spent my whole weekend immersed in this series, it is killing me that I have to wait for the last one for the resolution to the story. The series is an absorbing read, but they are definitely set in the mind of a teenage boy with teen angst and rebelliousness. 

The Surprises and Twists Continue

Chris Buckley and his mother moved to Solitary, North Carolina after his parents separated over the issue of his father’s faith. After months of pressure, Chris just shuts down. Forces to attend summer school, he believes that he is stuck when Lilly walks through the door. Then when she notices him, his angst turns to joy and he forces all the scary things out of his mind and focuses solely on Lilly. After his mother tries to commit suicide while on a drinking binge, Chris believes that he is on his own with total freedom. Behind the scenes, though, manipulation increases forcing him to open his eyes. 

In this third installment to Thrasher’s Solitary Tales, the mood lifts a little as Chris finds a new girl, but the level of evil increases. The surprises continue keeping the reader locked into the series. Still a good bet for anyone looking at the horror, suspense genre with the added benefit of a Christian slant and no blatant profanity or sex scenes.

Published by David C. Cook, April 1, 2012.

Gravestone: A Novel by Travis Thrasher

David C. Cook

Chris Buckley and his mother moved to Solitary, North Carolina after his parents separated over the issue of his father’s faith. In the first book, Chris’s life is shattered when his new girlfriend is murdered in a ritualistic killing by a group he believes is made up of the town leaders.  Every moment he feels watched. When he turns to an old friend, someone manipulates her, forcing her to leave. 

The creepy factor increases in this installment to Thrasher’s Solitary Tales, but this is definitely a bridge book with no resolution in sight. As Chris attempts to find answers, the frustration level increases. The book is scary and interesting, but since it does not have much closure, it lags a little. I would definitely recommend it for Christians who enjoy the Twilight series.

Published by David C. Cook, June 1 , 2011.

Solitary: A Novel by Travis Thrasher

David C Cook

Scary, Thriller, Rebellious

When Chris Buckley’s parents split, he sides with his mother, and they move to Solitary to live in his uncle’s cabin. In the cabin, it appears that Chris’s uncle walked out of his life without taking any of his possessions. At school, as the new kid, Chris attracts attention of girls and the resident bully, while strange things go on all over town. When he meets Jocelyn he looses his heart, but she suggests that things are not what they seem. 

This book is written from the point of view of a teen-aged boy, making it seem as if the reader falls into his life and thoughts.  Chris is full of anger at his mother for her constant drinking and his father for his method of pushing his faith. Chris is definitely not someone who follows others easily. The gloom of the town hangs over the whole book, as Chris tries to find answers and save the girl. Interesting read, but definitely the first step in a series. There is no resolution of what Chris believes. This would be good choice for those who enjoyed Twilight, as the feeling is similar, but with a Christian bent.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by David C Cook on August 1, 2010.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Soul Saver by Dineen A. Miller

Fun, Exciting Read

Barbour Publishing
Lexie Baltimore is the wife of a non-believer, but her faith is so strong that God speaks to her through her gift. She creates clay busts of unknown people when God sends her on a mission to help them. Then, marital problems begin to crack through her shield and she turns to one of her missions, a preacher himself who turned his back on God when his wife died last year.  Rumors and accusations abound, as a demon called Tobias sets the scene to grab the soul of Lexie’s husband. Although Lexie hears the voice of God, she still has doubts and fears about her life and her choices, giving her a realistic quality.

Spiritual warfare always grabs my attention, and in The Soul Saver Dineen A. Miller, definitely has a hit.  The twists of the plot create a depth that keeps the reader looking for the next turn. Great, exciting story.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., May 1, 2012.

Sunrise Point: A Virgin River Novel: Book 3, by Robin Carr

Great Addition to a Good Series

Nora Crane’s mother had borderline mental problems, leaving Nora, herself, vulnerable to the first guy who looked her way. Then he left her with two babies, severely low self-esteem, and memories of abuse in the middle of the tiny town of Virgin River. Desperate to find employment, Nora decides to walk three miles to an apple orchard that is hiring where she meets Tom Cavanaugh, a veteran ready to settle down on his family orchard. Unfortunately, Tom does not want a connection to someone that comes with children and problems. 

This is a fun romance, with interesting characters and setting.  The reader roots for Nora as she attempts to pull herself out of her problems. This story is cleaner than most and a light read. Great addition to a good series, but it does well as a read alone novel. Recommended for those who are looking for a better than average romance.

Though I’ve decided to stick with Christian based books since the others were getting too raunchy for me, this is a good, light romance and I have already read the first two books in the series.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by HarlequinMira on April 24, 2012.

The God Box: Sharing My Mother’s Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go, By Mary Lou Quinlan

Visible Act of Let Go, Let God.

Greenleaf Book Group LLC
For over twenty years, Mary, Mary Lou Quinlin's mother, made a habit of jotting down her prayers and placing them in a box that she called her God Box. This was her way of physically acting out the habit of giving control to God over all the concerns that filled her prayers. After her death, the family went through the boxes discovering how Mary used her God Boxes to help her minister to her family and others through her prayers, and the gift of listening. In the book, the reader meets Mary Finlayson and her family, and hears how one mother met daily problems with prayer and strength to raise her family.

This is a beautiful story of a mother that relies on God to help her raise her children and actively listen to others, as well as a daughters move through the grieving process. Toward the end of the story Mary Lou begins her own God Box, and sees the reasoning as she grows closer to God

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Greenleaf Book Group, GBG Press, April 17, 2012.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eyes of Justice, by LisWiehl with April Henry

Great Murder Mystery

Thomas Nelson
Cassidy, Allison, and Nicole make up the Triple Threat of justice, each working in a different area fighting against crime. When Cassidy, a crime reporter, receives a phone call offering her a tip to catch some bad cops, including her ex-boyfriend, she does not hesitate to take the bait that pulls her to her death. Allison, a DOJ attorney, and Nicole, FBI, discover Cassidy’s body, and immediately begin the journey to discover her killer. Along the way, they meet Ophelia, an autistic woman that works to save women in trouble. 

This book hooked me from the beginning. I am not sure whether it was the friendship between the three women, their reliance upon God for strength, or the murder mystery.  It was highly enjoyable, and a great read. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys crime/murder mysteries. Though this is a part of a series, it works well as a read alone.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Thomas Nelson, April 3, 2012.

Weeknights with Giada, Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner, by Giada De Laurentiis

Great Flavor, Quickly
Random House, Inc.

Giada has created the perfect cookbook for today’s working home cooks. The recipes are quick, use every day ingredients, and are easy to follow. The added bonus is that the recipes are unusual, flavorful, and healthy.  My very picky family enjoyed the unusual flavor mixes. It is definitely an excellent book to add to your collection. The second part of the title says it all.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Crown Publishing Group; Clarkson Potter on April 3, 2012.

The Irish Healer, by Nancy Herriman

Worthy Publishing

Set in the 1830s, Rachel Dunne flees her home country of Ireland after a child in her care, dies and Rachel stands trial for murder.  Even though acquitted, the majority of their town shuns her family, so Rachel moves to London seeking work through a cousin. The death of the child, the trial, and the move take their toll on Rachel’s faith in herself and the Lord. Her employer, also a physician, stumbled from his faith years ago when his wife died. When a cholera epidemic hits London, they each hit bottom, turning to the Lord for the ultimate support.

This gentle love story provides the reader a time of introspection as the characters seek to find God’s mercy in their lives. The characters have depth, and Herriman describes the scene so well that the reader easily transports to another time. Very enjoyable read, recommended for readers looking for a deep love story with the added depth of Biblical foundations.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Worthy Publishing, April 3, 2012.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

An Uncommon Grace, by Serena B. Miller

Touching Story of Changing Lives with Thrilling Mystery

Simon & Schuster
Grace Connor is a military nurse in Afghanistan when she receives an email from her sister asking her to return home due to her grandmother's heart attack. She has only been home a few days when an Amish neighbor, Levi, appears at her doorstep asking for help for his mother, a shooting victim. This is the beginning a compelling story that clashes an Amish man with the English lifestyle, making him question the strictness of the Ordnung that even forbids efforts to protect themselves with safety measures. Grace runs up against the strict laws when she attempts to care for Leiv's family, her grandmother and her teenage sister. Grace and Levi are attracted to each other, but they choose to ignore the response because of their religious differences, but a fate throws them together with storms, accidents, and a heartless criminal.

This book grabbed me from the first chapter as Grace seeks God's will for her life, then attempts to help her neighbors without stepping on their beliefs. The frustration felt by Grace in what she sees as pointless law, along with Levi's questioning of that same law is easy to understand and feel. An Uncommon Grace does not set the Amish lifestyle up as the perfect ‘Godly’ lifestyle that many see it, but pulls out questions that apply to all Christians in all faiths. Grace and her family use scripture to back up their beliefs, while Levi uses the ordnung.  This highly interesting book kept me up all night with the twists and turns. I would recommend this book for any Christian looking for a great read with many interesting plot twists that include thought provoking Christian ideals.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Simon & Schuster, Inc., Howard Books, published April 3, 2012.

Cuts Like a Knife, by M.K. Gilroy

Full of Tension!

Worthy Publishing
Kristen Conner, the newest detective on the force, does not know that a new serial killer in town focuses on her. Attempting to live up to her father’s reputation at the police department, Kristen pushes herself to go the distance, with her family, in the department, and during self-defense training, but not at personal relationships. The FBI lists AA meetings as a place where the killer met some of his victims, so Kristen begins attending, meeting some others there that help her grow, but all the while the killer watches. Where will he strike next?

This is a great read!  Kristen relies on her family, but also on the Lord for her strength. Maybe I am slow, but Gilroy kept me guessing almost until Kristen figures out the identity of the killer, and I was on pins and needles with the ending.  I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a hunt for a serial killer, but the Christian adds to the depth. Though there is violence, there is no profanity or sex.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Published by Worthy Publishing, April 3, 2012.

The Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club, by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Fun, Tender Story of Changing Lives

Barbour Publishing
Emma Yudor, an Amish widow determined to keep her children from having to subsidize her life, decides to hold a quilting class that is open to the community. She is totally shocked when the small group of women she expected turns out to be three men, two women, and very young woman. Each participant seems to have some emotional problems that become more apparent as the class continues. Emma prays that God will give her the wisdom and the words to help each student. The story follows each person throu the six weeks of struggles, surprises, and growth to make up the Half Stitched Amish Quilting Club.

This lighthearted look at a group of unlikely quilters is fun to read with lots of surprises and an emphasis on their growth in the Lord. I enjoyed meeting the characters and following the surprises in the story. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a light hearted, fun story.

Received Galley from NetGalley.com

Released April 3, 2012 by Barbour Publishing.