Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Intercept by Dick Wolf - a review

For anyone who is a Law & Order fan like I am, you MUST read The Intercept by Dick Wolf.  As you can see by the picture of the book cover to the left, Dick Wolf is the creator of Law & Order and The Intercept is his first novel.

I truly love reading fast paced thrillers that get my adrenaline pumping and Dick Wolf' debut did just that.  His character, NYPD Special Agent Jeremy Fisk is the protagonist and is a character to be remembered.

The story is set in New York City and  days before the 4th of July celebration and dedication of the new One World Trade Center building six people on board a commercial jet stop a hijacking attempt and become instant celebrities known as "The Six".  Special Agent Fisk and his partner, Kirsten Gersten don't believe it was simply a terrorist attack.  In fact, they believe it was a diversion in order to allow another passenger to come into the United States unnoticed.

What I liked most about this book was I felt like I was watchiing it unfold on television.  Mr. Wolf has a gift of showing his story just as if it were a script being acted out on the television screen.  I also love it when I get pulled into a book and I'm held captive until the very last page.  The Intercept did that for me and I'm sure it will be the same for you.  I would highly recommend this book to any adult who enjoys action packed thrillers!

On a 5-Star scale = 5 Stars!!!!!

I would like to thank the author and HarperCollins Publishers for my review copy.  I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Cross Roads by Wm. Paul Young - a review

I was ecstatic when I learned that William Paul Young had written another book.  I read his book The Shack several years ago and it stayed with me for a long while after turning the last page.  When I had the opportunity to receive an Advanced Readers Copy of his new book, Cross Roads, I jumped at the chance.

Cross Roads is the story of Anthony Spencer, a self-made man, savvy and successful in business, but very proud with a very large ego.  Anthony (Tony) has a fear that people are watching him.  It's so bad he even has a secret apartment.  One day while heading to his car in the parking garage, he suffers a cerebral hemorrhage that leaves him in a coma in the hospital ICU.

Tony awakens to find himself in a strange world that he soon learns is part of who he has become.  It is in this world that he soon learns about himself.  While in the coma, Cabby, a young boy with down syndrome kisses him and Tony soon finds himself looking at the world through the eyes of this young man.  Then when Cabby kisses Maggie, a family friend Tony finds himself 'sliding' again.

Just as the protagonist in The Shack met the Trinity, Tony meets Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well.  Each time Tony slides he is back within "himself" and has dialogue with interesting 'characters' as well as Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

I required quite a few Kleenex while reading this book, just as I did when I read The Shack,  If I had to chose between the two books, I would have to choose The Shack,  But Cross Roads is a very good book as well.

I would highly recommend Cross Roads to the adult reader only because a younger audience might not understand all that is happening within the pages.

On a 5-Star scale = 4 Stars.

I would like to thank Sarah Reck and Faith Words, a division of Hachette Book Group, for my ARC copy of Cross Roads.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Chase by DiAnn Mills - a review

The Chase, by DiAnn Mills is Christian Suspense at it's finest. This is the first book in the Crime Scene Houston Series and if the rest of the series is anything like The Chase, Ms. Mills will have a hit series on her hands.

This book is drawn from a real-life cold case and Ms. Mills brings the story to life with her passion for the real tragic event. Just as Ms. Mills wanted to tell the story, her heroine, Kariss Walker is passionate about telling the story within the book.  

Kariss Walker is a former TV news anchor that is now a New York Times bestselling author.  While working as a news anchor she reported on a case where an unidentified little girl is found starved to death in the woods.  The little girl becomes known as Cherished Doe.  Kariss hasn't been able to let go of the story and after writing women's fiction for several years she wants to write a novel about Cherished Doe in hopes that it can help solve the case.

When Kariss approaches her agent about changing genre and writing a suspense novel, her agent begs her not too and soon drops her as a client.  Kariss is determined and contacts an old friend with the FBI.  He pairs her up with his top agent, Special Agent Tigo Harris.  Tigo is not too happy about the match up and in time sparks are flying.  

With the help of Tigo, the Cherished Doe case is reopened and Tigo and Kariss work together to try to determine exactly what happened.  During this time Tigo is also working undercover to try to break up a gun running cartel.  Could the cases be connected.  Are they able to bring a solution to Cherished Doe's death.  All these answers are within the covers of this wonderful book.

If I have anything negative to say about The Chase, its the lack of romance.  Sure, sparks fly between Tigo and Kariss and they think to themselves that they are having feelings for each other but they never really 'get there' before the book ends.  There is a Chapter One of the second book in the series tucked in at the back of the book and Tigo and Kariss will be brought back.  My hopes are that they will finally express their love for each other somewhere within the pages of Book 2 (no name listed).

I would highly recommend this book for mature audiences only based on content.  

On a 5-Star scale - 4 Stars

I would like to thank Zondervan for my copy of The Chase.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson - a review

For me, when a book is good, really good, I connect with the characters at a level where I feel like I am part of the story.  In Melody Carlson's new book, The Christmas Pony, I experienced just that.  Little Lucy Turnbull, the lead character in this book came to life for me.  From the beginning, she pulled me into the story and held me there.

I must say, it's rare for me to put a real life person's face on a character in a book that I am reading, but in The Christmas Pony I envisioned Lucy as Rebecca Harrell.  If you don't know who Rebecca is, watch the movie Prancer.  Rebecca played Jessica Riggs who's character is so much like little Lucy Turnbull's.

The Christmas Pony takes place at Christmas in the year 1937. It is the story of 8 year old, Lucy Turnbull who wants nothing more than a pony for Christmas.  Not just any pony mind you, she wants Smoky, who is owned by a neighbor. Times are hard as Lucy's father has passed away and her mother and grandmother have started taking in borders and Lucy's mother does laundry in order to make ends meet.  The last thing they need is a pony to feed and board.

While in town one day, Lucy comes across a couple of people who's car has broken down and they are in need of a place to stay.  She invites them to her home and so the story begins.

Does Lucy get her pony?  Does Lucy's mother find love again? You'll have to read the book to find the answers to these questions.  This is a wonderful little book of 169 pages that is over before you know it.  I guarantee that you will find joy between the pages.  I loved this little book.

I would highly recommend The Christmas Pony to anyone wanting a clean, feel-good book to read.

On a 5-Star scale - 5 Stars!!!!!

* Available Sept 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*

I would like to thank Donna Hausler and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for my copy of The Christmas Pony. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Soul's Gate by James L. Rubart - a review

I am a big fan of James L. Rubart's work. His new novel, Soul's Gate, is the first book in his "Well Spring" series.  It is a book about fighting enemy warfare in the supernatural.

The story is about four normal everyday Christians who are brought together to learn to fight for other people's souls.  The lead character, Reece Roth, is a trainer of spiritual warriors. Because of things that happened in his past, he hasn't rained anyone for many years.  But a prophecy spoken over him many years ago brings him out of "retirement" in order to train a new group of faith filled warriors.

The warriors are trained to enter a person's soul (with their permission of course) in order to war against the demons the person is battling. This is so they can bring healing and renewal to the person's soul. The warriors enter into prayer and work with the Holy Spirit in order to battle the enemy.

Through their faith, the warriors deal with issues of their own. Through their training they are able to bring healing to each other and open themselves up to help others.

I believe one of the main focuses of this book is to show us, the reader, that we need to help other's heal through prayer.  We need to pray strong prayers, not just, "please bless John or Mary" but really pray.  We need to open ourselves up to be receptive to the Holy Spirit and let Him know our hearts for the hurting of others.  This book has definitely changed my perspective on praying.

This is not a book for the faint in heart.  But it is a book that can make you think.  I would highly recommend this book to adult readers.

On a Five-Star Scale - 4 stars.

I would like to thank Litfuse Publising and Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review copy of Soul's Gate.  I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan - a review

I love Maggie Brendan's work and after reading Deeply Devoted,(read my review here), the first book in "The Blue Willow Brides" series, I had to read Twice Promised.  

Twice Promised is the story of Greta Olsen, a mail order bride from Wyoming.  On the train to Central City, Colorado, she meets Cora Johnson, another mail order bride.  They become quick friends and soon find that they are both traveling to Central City with the hopes of marrying the same man, Jess Gifford.  The first problem is, Jess didn't write to either bride and the second problem is his brother Zach did write to them both using Jess's name.  Zach asks the brides to give it a month and if they want to leave he will pay their way home.

Both brides stay and begin working in the brother's mercantile store.  Jess, the older brother is angry with his brother for bringing the brides to town, but in time he softens to the idea of taking a bride.   He finds Cora is the quiet one and easy to get along with while he soon finds himself butting heads with Greta on a regular basis.

In order to decide which brother would court which bride, the brother's Granny devises a plan to pair the brides with her grandsons.  Unfortunately, in time, the two couples find they are mismatched.

A year before Greta arrived in Central City, she lost the love of her life, Brian Gifford, to a renegade indian's arrow.  Ironically, Jess and Zach are Brian's older brothers.  Greta answered the advertisement for a mail order bride because the name was the same as Brian's.  Greta doesn't discover Brian is really Jess and Zach's brother until a little over half way through the book.  Jess finds Greta crying at Brian's grave and the truth comes out.

I could go on and tell you who ends up with who but that would spoil the story.  My readers know I dislike spoilers so I will just say that you won't be disappointed with the outcome of this book.  Twice Promised is a very sweet love story with memorable characters that invite you into their story and hold you there long enough to allow you to fall in love with each one of them.  Another gift this book offers is two romance stories within one book.

I would like to thank Donna Hausler and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy of Twice Promised.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and offer my honest review, which I have done.

On a 5-Star Scale -5 STARS!!!!!

“Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Smiles & Blessings,

Monday, October 15, 2012

Practicing the Presence of Jesus by Wally Armstrong - a review

Do you believe in Jesus but sense there is something missing in your relationship with Him?  Have you ever had the desire to grow closer to Jesus?  Would you like to know Him as a true companion and friend?  In Practicing the Presence of Jesus, Wally Armstrong shares his journey in growing his friendship with Jesus.

One day, while on the golf course, pro golfer, Wally Armstrong experienced a moment in which he realized Jesus offered him the same gift of a close and personal friendship that He shared with His disciples over 2000 years ago.

In Mr. Armstrong's book, he clearly shares his experience of being in the presence of Jesus and the wonderful relationship he has developed.  He offers simple steps to the reader on how to interact with Jesus as if he were sitting by their side.

Practicing the Presence of Jesus is a book I jumped at the chance to review.  I really knew very little about the book but knew in my heart that it was a book I needed to read.  I wasn't disappointed by any means.  Wally Armstrong shares his journey of growing closer to Jesus in a down to earth, easy to comprehend way.

The book itself is quite small, containing only 112 pages in it's paperback form.  I was able to read the entire book in just a few hours but I must say that I now plan on reading it the second time and taking notes.

This is a book I would highly suggest to anyone wanting to grow closer in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

On a 5-star scale - 5 Stars!!!

I would like to thank Litfuse Publicity and Summerside Press for my review copy of Practicing the Presence of Jesus.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Gaither Homecoming Bible - a review

I am a BIG fan of Bill and Gloria Gaither! When I learned that they were the general editors of a new Bible, The Gaither Homecoming Bible, I was ecstatic.  Imagine my delight when I was given the chance to review their Bible.

The Gaither Homecoming Bible is without a doubt the most beautiful Bible I have ever held in my hands.  From the first page to the last the colors and pictures "POP" off the page.  If you have ever watched any of the Gaither Homecoming shows on television you will know that a lot of people take part in a Homecoming show.  Well, those people also took part in producing this Bible.  In the first few pages you will find a small picture of each contributor along with a short bio.  I loved this part as it gave me a chance to 'get to know' some of my favorites. The area for family records is more extensive then in some of my other Bibles.

Throughout this New King James version, Gloria Gaither explains the inspiration for twenty-five Gaither songs. This is probably one of the features I love most. There are also stories pertaining to fifty popular hymns and gospel songs as well as devotionals written by the contributing Homecoming artists.  What I found interesting is the artists wrote their devotionals on their favorite Scripture passages. There are Scripture devotions written by Gloria Gaither, quotes from great people of faith reflecting on the importance of music in believer's lives, and five articles by Gloria Gaither on the significance of music throughout the Bible and in the lives of today's believers. Sprinkled throughout the Bible are also some original poems by Gloria Gaither.

As you turn each page of The Gaither Homecoming Bible, you will find beautiful colorful pictures of nature.     I was so totally blown away with the beauty on each page.  Not only the beauty of the Scriptures themselves but the photography.

The Gaither Homecoming Bible has already become a treasure to me.  It is not only inspirational as the inspired Word of God but as it states on the cover, it is "Inspiring Hope Through Scripture, Song and Story".  I would highly recommend this Bible to anyone.

On a 5-Star scale - 5 Stars!!!!!

I would like to thank the BookSneeze Program and Thomas Nelson Publishers for my free copy of The Gaither Homecoming Bible. I received my copy for free in order to give my honest review.

When a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason - a review

Lynette Eason's When a Heart Stops is the story of medical examiner, Serena Hopkins, and FBI agent, Dominic Allen.  In her youth, Serena had a crush on Dominic, the brother of her best friend.  When the story begins, they are brought back together when a serial killer starts killing off people from Serena's high school graduating class.

As Dominic and Serena begin reviewing the evidence they find the that the methods of this serial killer mimic that of the Doll Maker Killer, a serial killer who is sitting in prison.  Dominic and Serena fear they have a copycat killer on the loose.  However, by the end of the book an alarming realization lets the reader know that....oops! I almost gave you a spoiler which I try to never do.  

When a Heart Stops actually has to suspenseful story lines that the reader is made to believe are one and the same.  I must say I was disappointed by the way the book ended. I pretty much figured out who the serial killer was and I believe I figured out who the characters are who are involved in the second story line.  However, the second story line wasn't resolved.  That of course means I have to wait until the next book in the Deadly Reunions series is released.  I love it when an author writes a series of books with characters interacting throughout all the books, but I am not a big fan of cliffhangers.  I guess I need to learn patience.

I have read several of Ms. Eason's books and find that she has a way of creating believable characters that you want to root for and again there are those you really don't like.  The story, while plot driven, is facilitated well by the characters.  It was definitely a page turner.

I would highly recommend When a Heart Stops for anyone who loves good Christian Suspense. However, if you are like me, and dislike cliffhangers, you might want to wait until the next book in the series is released.

On a 5-Star scale - 4 1/2 Stars!!!!

I would like to thank Donna Hausler and Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for my review copy of When a Heart Stops. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

**** Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group****

Smiles & Blessings,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Winner of Margaret Daley's "Shattered Silence"

to Pam K.

Pam K. was selected by Random.Org as the winner of Margaret Daley's book Shattered Silence!

I have sent an email to Pam K. and she has 48 hours to respond or another name will be selected.  For those of you who didn't win this time, please come back soon as I have quite a few books I am lining up for giveaways!

Smiles & Blessings,

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley - a review and giveaway

Shattered Silence is the second novel in Margaret Daley's "The Men of the Texas Rangers" series.  The first book in the series, Saving Hope, (read my review here) was extremely good and I could hardly wait for Ms. Daley's second book in the series to be released.  I wasn't disappointed.

The story is set in the town of Durango, Texas and is about Texas Ranger Cody Jackson and police officer, Liliana Rodriquez.  Cody has just arrived in Durango with his son Kyle who is mourning the death of his mother, Cody's ex-wife.  As soon as they arrive the first of five murders occurs.  Between murders, gun smuggling and bullying I was kept on the edge of my seat, quickly turning the pages and trying to figure out who were the bad guys.  I truly enjoyed this book.

I enjoyed watching the relationship of Cody and his son Kyle heal and grow.  Kyle was a bully when he lived with his mom and step-dad and he didn't want to live with Cody.  In time Kyle sees himself in other kids that are bullies at school and realizes he doesn't want to be like that anymore.  In time he grows closer to his dad.

Liliana and Cody spend so much time together while trying to solve the murders that their feelings for each other grow even though neither one was looking for love.  Liliana had an abusive childhood and always kept men at a distance, but in Cody she sees how a man should treat others and can't help falling in love with him.

I would highly recommend Shattered Silence  to anyone wanting to read a good clean suspenseful novel.  Ms. Daley pulls you into her novels from the first line and carries you through on a suspenseful ride all the way to the end.  I look forward to her next book in this series.

ON a 5-Star Scale - 5 Stars!

I would like to thank Julie Dowd and Abingdon Press for my review copy.  I received my copy of Shattered Silence for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

Margaret Daley
is an award winning romance author who has recently won the Golden Quill Contest and the Holt Medallion, among others.  She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for Love Inspired.

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

While my copy of this book is going on my 'keeper shelf', I have a second copy that I would love to send to one of my followers.  Please follow the rules below and one lucky person will win their own copy of Shattered Silence.

************ GIVEAWAY RULES  ************

1.  Giveaway is open to US and Canada

2.  No PO Boxes please.

3.  You MUST be a Google Friends Connect follower of my blog (please be sure to leave the name you follow under in your comment)

4.  For extra entries you may do one or all of the following:
    -- become an email subscriber +1
    -- invite a friend to become a follower of my blog.  If they become a follower & mention your name, you will both receive 2 extra entries

5. Include an email address where I can reach you if you are selected as the winner of this giveaway.  Please enter your email address in this format    winner[at]yahoo[dot]com

To make sure your entry counts, please answer the following questions:

What book have you read this summer that you absolutely loved?  What was the title and who was the author? 

Giveaway will run through September 30th and the winner will be selected using Random.Org

Smiles & Blessings,

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin - a review

For those of you who follow my blog, you know I am a big, big fan of Sarah Sundin's work.  When I read her debut novel, A Distant Melody, the first book in her Wings of Glory series, she drew me in with her settings (one was my hometown in Riverside, California) and her characters.  This series was so very, very good that I really didn't know if her new series could compare.  Let me tell you, after reading With Every Letter I can honestly say, she has the start to another hit series!

With Every Letter, the first book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, is the story of Lt. Philomela (Mellie) Blake, a flight nurse and Lt. Thomas MacGilliver Jr. an engineer who begin a relationship through anonymous letters during World War II.  Mellie was raised in the jungles of the Philipines where her father worked as a botanist.  She grew up without real friends and depended on a scrapbook her mother created for her with 'paper' friends.  Through the years she added pictures of real people who she felt needed a friend.  She also included pictures of real people who she felt needed a friend.  Such as a young boy who's father was put to death because he had committed murder.

As Mellie begins her life as a flight nurse she is made aware that she doesn't really know how to make friends.  In order to boost morale Mellie's commanding officer starts a letter writing campaign with her husband's Engineer Aviation Battalion stationed in England.  Mellie really doesn't want to participate but her commanding officer suggests strongly that she does.  This starts the anonymous letter writing relationship between Mellie and Tom.  Tom gives the name of Annie to Mellie and she in turn calls him Ernest.

Tom is the son of a convicted murderer who was put to death.  In order to prove he is nothing like his father, MacGilliver the Killiver, he smiles all the time.  Through his letters he is able to open up his heart and show who he is and Mellie is able to do the same.  While Tom easily makes friends he has a hard time leading his platoon.  Mellie has a hard time making friends and because of her shyness the other nurses think she's a snob.  Through their letters Tom and Mellie learn from each other and before long they find themselves falling in love.

Tom adopts a stray dog that he quickly falls in love with and names Sesame.  During a stop  to pick up wounded, Mellie encounters Tom and through comments he makes and his dog Sesame she realized Tom is her "Ernest".  She also finds that Tom is the same person she has a picture of in her scrapbook.  She thinks Tom is so handsome and convinces herself they can never meet because she thinks she is very plain and he wouldn't be attracted to her.

The characters of Mellie and Tom were so very real to me that I find myself still thinking about them.  To me, when an author can make me love a character enough that I can't forget them, they have a true gift.  Ms. Sundin definitely has a gift in creating real, believable characters.  I found a lot of myself in Mellie.  She reminded me of my youth when I was so very, very shy and because I was an Air Force brat we traveled a lot and I was always trying to make friends only to have to say goodbye when one of our fathers got transferred.  With Each Letter is a portrait of relationships.  The relationship of Tom with his men and his dog.  The relationship of Mellie with the other flight nurses.  The relationship between Mellie and Tom and their relationship with God.

Each time I read a Sarah Sundin creation I am blown away.  From the first page I am drawn in and feel as if I am right their with the characters.  In the Wings of Glory series I experienced being in the cockpit of a B-17 Flying Fortress.  Now with the Wings of the Nightingale series I know what the men went through when they had to repair landing strips during WWII in Africa and Italy.  I rode along with the patients and Mellie in the belly of the C-47.  I was there.  I felt what the characters felt and experienced what they saw.  I wasn't told the story, it was painted on the canvas of each page and it drew me in from the very first page to the very last.  I can hardly wait until the next book in this series.

I would highly recommend With Every Letter to anyone who enjoys good fiction and stories set during WWII.

On a 5-Star scale = 5 STARS!!!!!  An EXCELLENT read.

         * Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*

I would like to thank Donna Hausler and Revell publishing for my review copy.  I received my copy for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Smiles & Blessings,

Monday, September 10, 2012

The River by Michael Neale - a review

In the book, The River, Michael Neale begins his story in an airport during flight delays.  An older gentleman begins telling the author the story of Gabriel Clarke, his story.  The story begins when Gabriel Clarke suffers a devastating tragedy which   causes him to be very shy and withdrawn most of his life.

There are key things that happen in his early years that the reader needs to take note of as in his young adulthood they come back as a remembrance to him and are part of The River that keeps calling him back.

With a childhood friend, Gabriel goes back to The River and that is where the story truly begins.  That is where the reader needs to pay close attention as there is a bigger story within the story.

The River by Michael Neale was an interesting book to say the least.  I read it in about seven hours and found myself guessing as to what The River actually represented.  At first I thought it was an allegory for Jesus Christ but later I figured it was an allegory for The Holy Bible.  I guess in looking at the book cover I should have figure that out right off.

Mr. Neale's way of writing made The River very easy to read and I recommend it highly.

On a 5-Star Scale - 4 Stars.

I would like to thank the BookSneeze program and Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review copy.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,

Dan Walsh Holding a Giveaway for Two of His Books

For the next week, starting today and running till next Monday, September 17th, Dan Walsh is celbrating the release of his new novel, The Reunion, with a 10-book giveaway contest!  Five winners will each receive a signed copy of The Reunion, as well as his third novel, The Deepest Waters.  (He's including this book because it was named a finalist for ACFW Carol Award for book-of-the-year).  Click on the link below to see how easily you can enter the contest!

Smiles & Blessings,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Reunion by Dan Walsh - a review

What if someone saved your life during a war that was very unpopular? What if that person won the Congregational Medal of Honor for saving you but you never really had the opportunity to say 'thank you'? That is the basis of The Reunion, the new novel by award-winning author, Dan Walsh.

Aaron Miller is a Vietnam veteran that has lost everything that was ever important to him.  He came back from Nam a broken man. One who turned to drink in order to forget the images of war and drugs to kill the pain from his wounds. Unfortunately, he lost his wife and family during that time.  By the grace of God he became a Christian and cleaned up his life but by that time his ex-wife had remarried and their children call her new husband Dad.  She tells Aaron there's no room in their life for him.

Unbeknownst to Aaron, the three men who's lives he saved in Nam are searching for him.  At the same time, Dave Russo, a reporter is doing research in order to write a book about heroes of the Vietnam war.  When he meets up to interview one of the three men Aaron saved, he is given an offer he couldn't refuse.  He is funded to search and find Aaron Miller so that the three men can finally give him the 'thank you' he so deserves.  In the course of his search he also finds Aaron's grown children and he finds he is attracted to Karen, Aaron's daughter.

Every time I pick up a Dan Walsh novel I know I am going to be drawn into the story and become one with the story.  I always fall in love with his characters and I have learned to always have a box of tissues handy.  Did I shed tears in The Reunion?  You bet I did!  But they were happy tears!

Dan Walsh has an uncanny talent of creating believable characters that stay with you long after you have turned the last page and closed the book.  They are real.  They are believable.  They are unforgettable.  His books are "keepers".

If you love great fiction.  If you love a story that makes you feel good.  Then I highly recommend The Reunion.

On a 5-Star scale - 5 STARS!!!!!

*** I would like to thank Donna Hausler and Revell Publishing for my copy of The Reunion.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done. ***

* Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. *

Press Release for The Reunion

Expert storyteller Dan Walsh pens a new tale filled with the things his fans have come to love – forgiveness, redemption, love and that certain bittersweet quality that few authors ever truly master. Fans old and new will find themselves drawn into this latest story about restoration for the broken and ignored.

Walsh brilliantly weaves together two stories of men embroiled in turmoil – Aaron Miller a Vietnam vet who returned from war only to lose everything and of Dave Russo, a writer unable to love again. The Reunion opens with Aaron, 40 years after the war, slowly putting his life back together. Dave uncovers his heroic actions during the war, leading both men to find a second chance in life and love if they’re willing to take a risk.

Walsh captures genuine emotion in his writing, and according to RT Book Reviews, he “demonstrates that, like Nicholas Sparks, men are capable of writing romantic fiction.”
Walsh has mastered telling stories set in separate time periods. The Reunion is a contemporary story with flashbacks to Vietnam. When Walsh was young, he hated history until he discovered a few non-fiction history books that read like page-turning novels. “They made history come alive,” says Walsh. “Reading became a joy. That’s my goal now, to create that same experience for my readers. I hope they get inspired and thoroughly enjoy themselves.”

Smiles & Blessings,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Midnight Madness from @SarahSundin!

Sarah Sundin's brand new book, With Every Letter, releases on September 1, 2012. To celebrate, Sarah is hosting the Midnight Madness Promotion!

Pre-order or purchase a copy of the book by midnight on August 31, 2012 and be one of the first to read Book One of her new Wings of the Nightingale series. AND as a Thank You for pre-ordering or purchasing With Every Letter you'll be entered to win a $50 gift card to, Barnes and Noble or (winner's choice!).

All you have to do is pre-order or purchase With Every Letter and send an e-mail with the following information to sarah{at} :

1. Your Name

2. Where you ordered or purchased it from

3. Your email address.

That's it. Easy. 

Here are the pre-order links:

Legal Mumbo Jumbo:
**No Purchase Required** While I'd love for you to purchase the book, it's not necessary to enter the contest. Just send me an e-mail to be entered. Winners will be chosen at random from entries. E-mail me at sarah{at} to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/4/2012. Contest open to US residents only.

Smiles & Blessings,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Heart of Glass by Jill Marie Landis - a review

Heart of Glass by Jill Marie Landis is the third book in her Irish Angel Series.  I have read all three books in the series and have loved them all.  If you would like to read my review for the second book, Heart of Lies, please go here.

This is Kate Keene's story.  She is the one of four sisters that at an early age were separated from each other.  Kate ended up in an orphanage and was adopted by a couple who adopted her merely for status in the community.  Kate, at an early age, befriended Amelie Delaney and was more or less part of the Delaney family.  Then the Civil War happened and life as she knew it changed.

The story is set in Louisiana and Chapter One begins in 1976 when Kate returns to the Delaney's plantation home Belle Fleuve.  She has heard that Colin Delaney, her best friend's brother and her childhood crush, has returned to Belle Fleuve, and he has gone crazy.  What she finds breaks her heart.  What was once a beautiful plantation home is now in disrepair and Colin is living on laudanum due to a wound he sustained in the Indian Wars in Texas. But Kate sees hope as she is an architect and in no time at all she feels she can restore Belle Fleuve, as well as, Colin.

So begins the story of Kate and Colin.  The story was well told and the characters were so well written that they came to life for me.  Ms. Landis does have a way of writing characters that are so real they invite you into their world and you become part of the story.

I will suggest that that you have a box of tissues handy.  I shed more tears in this book then I think I have ever shed in any other book.  When a book can make me emotional, it is a good book.

If I were to say anything negative about Heart of Glass, it's that Kate's sisters don't show up until the very end.  I felt cheated on their reunion.  I do hope though that there will be a fourth book to tell the youngest sister, Sarah's story.  Maybe then there will be a wonderful full reunion for all four sisters.

If you like to read good Christian love stories I would highly recommend Heart of Glass, as well as, Heart of Stone and Heart of Lies.

ON a 5-Star scale - 4 1/2 Stars!!!!!

***** I would like to thank Zondervan for my review copy of Heart of Glass.  I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done. *****

Smiles & Blessings,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Wild Card Tour - Angel of the Cove by Sandra Robbins

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Sandra Robbins

and the book:

Angel of the Cove

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town in Tennessee where she grew up. They count their four children and five grandchildren as the greatest blessings in their lives. Her published books include stories in historical romance and romantic suspense. When not writing or spending time with her family, Sandra enjoys reading, collecting flow blue china, and playing the piano.

Visit the author's website.


Anna Prentiss wants to be a nurse, but first she has to spend a summer in Cades Cove apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself…but she never expected to fall in love with the Cove. Has God’s plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948848
ISBN-13: 978-0736948845

My Thoughts:

Angel of the Cove, by Sandra Robbins, is the first book in her new series, Smokey Mountain Dreams.  It begins in 1894 and it is a story of a young woman, Anna Prentiss, who has always dreamed of becoming a nurse.   Her father had promised her he would pay for her to go to nursing school, but before she has a chance to attend, her father passes away.  Her brother Robert, who steps into the role of 'head of the family', will not allow her to go away to school stating that if she can't handle the job of nursing, they'd be out the money.  Their Uncle Charles (who is also a doctor) convinces Robert to let him take Anna to Cades Cove, deep in the heart of the Smokey Mountains, to work with Granny Lawson, a local midwife.  Anna hopes that after a successful summer working as an apprentice to Granny her brother Robert will change his mind and let her go to New York to study nursing.

As soon as Anna arrives in Cades Cove, she meets the young pastor Simon Martin.  They both feel an attraction from the very beginning.  As time progresses Anna finds that she loves Cades Cove, the people and Simon too.

This is my first experience reading any of Sandra Robbins books.  I found her characters well written and believable.  Her descriptions of Cades Cove captivated me and I felt myself going back in time. Ms. Robbins details of the time period were well written.  I especially love Granny's dialect as it reminded me of how my own grandma spoke.

I enjoyed this book very much and would suggest it to anyone who loves to read good Christian Romantic fiction.

I would like to thank First Wild Card Tour and Harvest House Publishers for my review copy.  I received my book for free in order to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

On a 5-Star scale: 4 stars!!!!


Mountain air was supposed to be cool. At least that’s what she’d always heard.

Anna Prentiss couldn’t be sure because she’d never been this far into the mountains before. But if truth be told, they still had a fair piece to go before they reached the hills that rolled off into the distance.

The narrow dirt road that led them closer to those hills twisted and bumped its way along. The June heat had dried out the winter mud in this part of Tennessee and produced a dust that threatened to choke her, roiling up and around the buggy. Anna covered her mouth with the lace handkerchief her mother had tucked in her dress pocket and sneezed. The smudge left on the cloth made her wonder what her face must look like.

She glanced at Uncle Charles, her father’s brother, who sat beside her on the leather seat of the buggy. Perspiration had cut meandering, dusty trails down his cheeks, but he didn’t appear to notice. His attention was focused on trying to avoid the holes that dotted the road.

She wiped at her face once more before stuffing the handkerchief back in her pocket. It really didn’t matter what she looked like. There was no one to see her. The only living creatures she’d seen all day were some white-tailed deer that had run across the road in front of them and a fox that had peered at her from his dusky hiding place beside the road. In front of them trees lined the long roadway that twisted and turned like a lazy snake slithering deeper into the mountain wilderness. She’d come a long way from the farm in Strawberry Plains.

A twinge of homesickness washed over her. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. The uneasy feeling lingered a moment, but with a determination she’d only recently acquired, she banished thoughts of those she’d left behind to the spot in her heart where her grief lay buried.

Just then the buggy hit a hole, and Anna grabbed the seat to keep from bouncing onto the floorboard. Uncle Charles flicked the reins across the horse’s back and glanced at her, his spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose. Wispy gray hair stuck out from underneath a black hat.

“Hold on. These roads can be a little rough. We had a hard winter up here.”

Anna nodded, straightening herself on the buggy seat and studying her uncle’s profile. How many times had he ridden this way to take care of the mountain people he loved? He looked every bit the country doctor. His smooth hands, so unlike her father’s work-roughened ones, gripped the reins tighter as he grinned at her.

The corner of his mouth curled downward when he smiled, just as her father’s had always done. That was the only similarity she’d ever seen in them, though. Uncle Charles used to say he got the brains and Poppa got the brawn. When she was a little girl, she wondered what he meant. But she knew no matter what it implied, the two brothers shared a bond like few she’d ever seen. And they were the only ones who’d ever encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.

Anna took a deep breath and inhaled the heavy, sweet smell that drifted from the forests on either side of the road. She turned to Uncle Charles. “I’ve been noticing those white flowers that look like shrubs growing along the road. What are they?”

“Those are our mountain rhododendron,” said Uncle Charles. “There are also pink and purple ones. Sometimes in the summer you can stand on a ridge and look across the mountains at the rhododendrons blooming, and it looks like somebody took a paintbrush and colored the world. It’s a mighty beautiful sight.”

Anna swiveled in her seat again and looked at Uncle Charles. “Thank you for working out this trip for me.”

A grin tugged at his mouth. “How many times would you say you’ve thanked me today?”

“Not enough yet.”

A sudden breeze ruffled the straw hat her mother had given her, and Anna grabbed the wide brim. After a moment she released it and pulled the handkerchief from her pocket again. Grasping it with both hands, she twisted the cloth until it stretched taut between her fingers. “I hope I don’t disappoint Mrs. Lawson.”

He didn’t take his eyes off the road but shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about that. She’s been delivering babies in Cades Cove for a long time, and she’s glad to have an extra pair of hands. It’ll be good experience before you leave for nursing school in the fall.”

The old anger rose in Anna’s throat. “Only if Robert agrees.” She spit out the barbed words as if they pierced the inside of her mouth. “Why does he have to be so selfish?” She clenched her fists tight together. Ever since their father’s death Robert had assumed the role as head of the family, and he took his responsibilities seriously. Too seriously, if you asked Anna. He never missed an opportunity to tell her how their father wasn’t around anymore to cater to her every whim. The first time he’d said that she felt as if he’d shattered her heart. The pieces had never mended as far as her relationship with him was concerned. But if things went as planned, she would soon be free of his authority.

“I don’t want you to be angry with your brother, Anna. You may not understand his reasons, but he’s trying his best to be the head of your family. He’s still young and has a lot to learn, but he loves you and wants what’s best for you.”

Anna crossed her arms and scowled. “All he wants is for me to stay on the farm and marry somebody he thinks will make a good husband.” Anna shook her head. “Well, that’s not what I want. Poppa promised me I’d be able to go. Robert has no right to keep that money hostage.”

“I know. Your father would have been so proud to know you’ve been accepted.” Uncle Charles’s shoulders drooped with the sigh that drifted from his mouth. “Try to see it from his perspective. You’ve led a sheltered life on the farm, and Robert feels like you aren’t ready for what you’ll see and have to deal with in a big hospital in New York. You think you’ll be able to assist injured and dying people, but it’s different when you’re right there with somebody’s life in your hands. If you find you can’t do it, then Robert is out the money for your tuition, not to mention travel and living expenses.” He cocked a bushy eyebrow at Anna. “And he doesn’t need to be wasting money that can be put to good use on the farm.”

“I know. He’s told me often enough.” Anna smoothed out her skirt and straightened in her seat. “I’m just thankful you came up with a plan that Robert agreed to. Spending the summer with Mrs. Lawson ought to prove I have the grit to handle New York.”

“Remember you’ll need a good report from Granny Lawson.”

Anna smiled. “You don’t have to worry about that. I’m going to listen to her and do everything she tells me, no matter how distasteful I think the task is.” She clenched her fists in her lap. “When I board that train for New York in the fall, it will all be worth it.”

Uncle Charles shook his head and chuckled. “I’ll leave New York and all its hustle and bustle to you. I prefer to spend my time right here in these mountains.”

Anna let her gaze rove over the trees on either side of the road. “Still, maybe you’ll come visit me someday. I can show off the maternity ward!”

He flicked the reins across the horse’s back. “I’ve read a lot about that ward. First one in the country. You’ll be fortunate to work there. But don’t forget you may see a lot of babies born this summer while you’re at Granny’s cabin. And there’s not a better place in the world to learn about nursing. She can teach you things you would never learn at Bellevue. Listen to her and do what she says and you’ll be fine.”

Anna nodded. “I will.” Her hat slipped to the side, and she reached up and straightened it. “I really can’t thank you enough, Uncle Charles. Everything’s coming together just the way I planned it, and nothing—not even Robert—is going to stand in my way.”

Uncle Charles sucked in his breath and directed a frown at her. “Nothing? We can only follow the plan God has for us, Anna.”

She settled back on the seat and cast her eyes over the hazy hills in front of them. “But that is God’s plan for me.”

“And how do you know?”

“Because it’s what I’ve dreamed about all my life. God’s never tried to change my mind.”

“Maybe you’ve never listened to Him.” Uncle Charles stared at her a moment. “Like I said, pay attention to what Granny says. She’ll teach you how God uses those He’s chosen to take care of the sick. It isn’t all done with medicine, Anna. A lot of my medical successes—and Granny’s as well—have come about after a lot of prayer.”

The buggy hit another bump, and Anna bounced straight up. As far as she could see, the rippling Smoky Mountains stretched out toward the horizon. A plume of wispy fog hung over the valleys. A strange world awaited her out there.

Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the inn where they’d stayed in Pigeon Forge last night, had taken great pleasure in warning her of what she might face in Cades Cove this summer. Anna clasped her hands in her lap and glanced at Uncle Charles. “Mrs. Johnson said the folks who live in Cades Cove don’t take to strangers.”

Uncle Charles nodded. “That doesn’t surprise me. What else did she say?”

Anna took a deep breath and brushed at the new layer of dust on her skirt. “Oh, not much. Just that everybody knows it’s a closed society in the Cove, but it doesn’t matter because no sensible person would want to live there anyway. She called the people there a strange lot.”

Uncle Charles cocked an eyebrow and chuckled. “Is that right? I hope you didn’t believe her. I know every family in the Cove, and some of them are my good friends.” He hesitated a moment. “Of course you’re going to find some who cause problems—just like you would anywhere else.”

“Like the moonshiners?”

He turned to stare at her with wide eyes. “What did Mrs. Johnson tell you about moonshiners?”

“She said all the men were moonshiners. Are they?”

Uncle Charles threw back his head and laughed as if he’d just heard the funniest joke of his life. After a few seconds he shook his head. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There may be a few who give the Cove people a bad reputation, but most of the men work too hard to waste their time on such nonsense.” He reached over and patted her hand. “I wouldn’t leave you in a place where you weren’t safe. Mrs. Johnson may run a good inn, but she’s the worst gossip in these mountains.”

Anna heaved a sigh of relief. “I guess I’m just a little nervous. I want everybody to like me.”

“They will. Just be yourself and they’ll all love you.”

Uncle Charles meant well, but doubt still lingered in her mind. Would the people of the Cove accept a stranger into their small community? And if they didn’t, what good could she possibly do in this place?

She had to succeed. Her future depended on it. She squared her shoulders. There was no turning back.

As the day wore on, they found themselves deeper in the hills. As they did, a slow awakening began to dawn in the deepest corner of her soul. She’d never seen anything as beautiful as the lush growth that covered the vast mountain range. The air now grew cooler, just as she’d expected it to be, and the sweet smell of mountain laurel mingled with the rhododendrons. As her uncle’s horse, Toby, plodded along the rocky trail that grew steeper with each step, she saw the world through new eyes and stared in awe at the wonders of nature unfolding before her.

For the last hour she’d sat silent and watched the shallow river that flowed beside the road. The water bubbled over rocks like huge stepping-stones scattered across its bed, and the rippling sound had a lulling effect. She wished they could stop so she could pull off her shoes and wade in the cold mountain stream, but there was no time for such fun today. She turned her attention back to the steep hillside on the other side of the road.

“It’s beautiful here.”

Uncle Charles glanced at her. “We’re just about to Wear’s Valley. When we get there, we’ll be close to Cades Cove.”

Anna wondered if Uncle Charles was tired of her questions about the Cove. She hoped not. She settled in her seat and said, “Tell me more about Cades Cove, Uncle Charles.”

He pushed his hat back on his head and stared straight ahead. “Well, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been following that stream as the road’s climbed. Pretty soon now we’re gonna reach a place where we turn away from it and head into a flat valley right in the middle of the mountains. That’s Cades Cove. It’s almost like God just took His giant hand and tucked a little piece of heaven right down in the Smokies. The land’s fertile—not so many rocks you can’t farm—and completely surrounded by mountains. You’re gonna love it when you see it, Anna.”

“How many people live there?”

He pursed his lips and squinted into the distance. “I’d say there are about two hundred fifty scattered throughout the Cove nowadays. Some left for town life—better work there, you know—but they’ll never find a place that’s as beautiful as these mountains.”

“How far is it from Mrs. Lawson’s house to where you live?”

He thought for a moment. “It’s not that far as the crow flies, but it takes me almost three hours going around these roads.”

A lump formed in her throat. Now that they were closer, she didn’t want him to leave. She scooted a little closer to him on the bench of the buggy. “Will you stay at Mrs. Lawson’s tonight?”

He shook his head. “No, I’ll have enough daylight left to get home. But don’t worry, I’ll come to the Cove from time to time to check on you. Granny does a good job of taking care of the folks there, but she knows when it’s serious enough to send for me.”

Anna clasped her hands in her lap to keep him from seeing them tremble. The time had come to begin the test. She couldn’t fail. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. She dredged up all the determination she could muster. No, she wouldn’t fail.

“How long before we get there, Uncle Charles?”

“Not much longer. The entrance is up ahead.”

Smiles & Blessings,