Saturday, January 31, 2015

To Save Her Child by Margaret Daley

I really love reading books published in the Love Inspired Suspense line and if the book has the name Margaret Daley on it all the better.

To Save Her Child is Margaret Daley's newest book in her Alaskan Search & Rescue series for the Love Inspired Suspense line and let me tell you, it's one of her best. The first book in the series, The Yuletide Rescue was also a wonderful book. Read my review here.

Ella Jackson and her eight year old son Robbie have been living in Alaska for four years. She works for Northern Frontier Search & Rescue taking care of the administrative office. Josiah Witherspoon and his twin sister, Alex, are co-owners of Outdoor Alaska, a company that outfits S & R teams and they both work as volunteers for Northern Frontier Search & Rescue along with there S&R dogs Buddy & Sadie. Ella & Josiah are two wonderful characters that I loved getting to know but hated saying goodbye.

The story opens when Ella's son Robbie disappears along with two of his friends from day camp. A search & rescue sequence begins which propels the story forward. With twists and turns abounding in this novel, the reader is taken on a wonderful sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat journey. Ms. Daley, does this so well.

Ella and Josiah both have secrets in their past that neither wants to talk about. I found myself wanting to shake both of them so I could convince them they needed to open up to each other. But alas, it is a novel and that was Ms. Daley's job and she allowed them to open up at the appropriate times.

To Save Her Child is a quick read that invites the reader to join in a search and rescue journey. It was obvious that Ms. Daley did her research. I would highly suggest that you make sure you allow yourself a few hours to read this book, as once you begin I guarantee you will not want to put it down until you turn the very last page.

I would highly recommend To Save Her Child to anyone who loves a good romantic suspense novel. It is a quick read and extremely entertaining.

On a 5-Star scale = 5 HUGE stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Margaret Daley for my copy of To Save Her Child. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.


Smiles & Blessings,
  

Monday, January 26, 2015

CFBA - A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliott


This week, the
is introducing
Abingdon Press (January 20, 2015)
by

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer who lives in northern California and whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from playing her fiddle with friends to antique collecting and quilting. Besides collecting (too much) cool fabric, she also enjoys hunting for antiques and is several years into recovery from her eBay addiction. UPDATE: She backslid a while back, enticed to bid on a 1945 Singer Featherweight. (She won.) But now she’s back on the wagon. Except for the recent crazy quilt pillow purchase. She also leads music at church and enjoys time with her grandchildren.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Thea James has accepted an assignment as co-chairperson for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she’s already feeling frayed when things start to unravel. Mary-Alice Wentworth, a much-loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea’s dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick-off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds? When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale’s reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before Mary-Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Stitch in Crime, go HERE.

My Thoughts:

A Stitch in Crime is the newest offering of the Quilts of Love series of books from Abingdon Fiction, It is a Christian cozy mystery packed full of quirky characters and a mystery centering around a quilt show. I must admit, this is the first cozy mystery I have read and while I totally enjoyed the concept of a cozy mystery, I didn't really enjoy the book.

For those of you who read my reviews on a regular basis, you know that I pay a lot of attention to the characters involved in the books I read. I love well defined, life-like characters that come to life on the written page. Unfortunately I wasn't as impressed with the characters in this book. While most of them were quirky, the reader wasn't given a chance to really get to know any of them.

One thing that I found disappointing is there wasn't much romance in this book. I would imagine it was because it is a cozy mystery. Thea James, the heroine of the book, is interested in Cole Mason, a local reporter, and he is interested in her. The reader can see it but the characters cannot. Personally, I think the story would have been better if Cole's character would have been left out. Since the romance never really happened he was a wasted character.

On a 5 Star scale = 3 stars.

I would like to thank Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my copy of A Stitch in Crime. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,
  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris

If you have never read a book by Lisa Harris you are missing out. Her most recent release, Hidden Agenda, is the third book in her Southern Crimes series. I haven't had the opportunity to read the first book in the series, Dangerous Passage, but I guarantee you I will be reading it very soon. The second book in the series, Fatal Exchange, was released in the middle of last year and was an excellent read. Read my review here.

The series follows the lives of three siblings in the Hunt family. Hidden Agenda, is the story of Michael Hunt, an undercover cop who is deep undercover with a drug cartel and his family believes him to be dead. When the story begins Michael's cover has been blown and he is rescued by Ivan and Olivia Hamilton, who just happen to be the children of Antonio Valez, the head of the cartel.

One thing I really like about Lisa Harris's books is her character development. Each character is well defined and has the ability to draw the reader into their story quickly. To be honest, when I read book two in the series, the first chapter of Hidden Agenda was included in the back of the book. Michael Hunt pulled me into his story in chapter one and I have been patiently waiting for Hidden Agenda to release.

Without telling too much of the story, Michael Hunt, Olivia Hamilton and her deaf brother Ivan are running. Running from the cartel and the cops. The journey will keep the reader on the edge of their seats throughout the story. But believe me, it is a journey well worth taking.

Lisa Harris has created a story that could be taken right out of today's headlines and has taken the reader right along with her. With strong believable characters and a story full of plot twists and turns the reader is guaranteed an awesome read.

I would highly recommend Hidden Agenda to anyone who enjoys reading a good suspense novel.

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

I would like to thank Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy of Hidden Agenda. I receive my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review which I have done.


Smiles & Blessings,
  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner


Susan Meissner has a wonderful talent of creating a story that spans different eras. In Secrets of a Charmed Life she weaves present day together with WWII London during the Blitz. She held me captive from the the beginning to the very last page. But then every book I have read by Ms. Meissner has held me captive until the end.

The story begins in present day when an American reporter named Kendra Van Zant visits a cottage in the Cotswolds, England to interview a survivor of the London Blitz. The present day portion of the book is written in first person. My first thought was, 'oh, no, not first person' as I have never been a big fan of reading books written in the first person point of view. However, it works very well in this book as we only visit present day a few times during the story and being in first person brings the reader back to present day.

The historical portion of Secrets of a Charmed Life takes place in London during the Blitz of WWII. I had heard of the Blitz but never realized how terrible it was for the families living in London. Families were torn apart. Anyone with children were forced to evacuate their children to foster homes in the English countryside. It had to be terrible watching your children board a train not knowing whether you would see them again, or as a child being sent away from your parents not knowing if you would ever see them again. Ms. Meissner created an emotional separation of the main characters, Emmeline (Emmy) Downtree and her little sister Julia from their mother Annie. I shed a few tears and when that happens I know I have been drawn into the story.

The girls find a wonderful foster home with an older lady, Charlotte Havelock and her sister Rose. Unfortunately, 15 year old Emmy believes herself to be an adult and she has a dream to fulfill. A dream to create beautiful wedding dresses. She decides to leave and return to London to facilitate making her dreams come true. However, her sister Julia finds out and demands to leave with her. Once back in London, Emmy leaves young 7-year old Julia alone in their mother's apartment. Bombs begin to fall on London and when Emmy is finally able to get back to the apartment, Julia is gone. This propels the story forward taking Emmy on a journey to find her sister. I can only imagine what Emmy and her mother felt while looking for young Julia. I'm sure Julia blamed herself while fearing the worst.

I enjoyed this book so very much and would truly love to share more of the story line with you but that would supply too many spoilers which I cannot do. I will say that this is a story of love, guilt, forgiveness and second chances all set against the backdrop of war. It is a book that is filled with historical information during a dark time in London's history. I learned so much about the Blitz and felt so sorry for the families that lived through that period of time.

Ms. Meissner's writing is stellar and I always look forward to reading anything with her name on the cover. The amount of research she does shows in the excellence of the story.

I would highly recommend Secrets of a Charmed Life to anyone who enjoys reading Historical Fiction. Please note that while most of Ms. Meissner's books can be classified in the Christian genre, Secrets of a Charmed Life, due to certain relationships, does not.

On a 5-Star scale = 5 HUGE stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Susan Meissner for my Advanced Readers Copy. I received it for free to read and give my honest review, which I have done.

If you would like your own copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life Ms. Meissner has been generous to allow me to offer one autographed copy to the readers of my blog. If you would like to enter, you can click on the book cover in the top right corner of this post. Or you may follow the link here.


Smiles & Blessings,
  

Monday, January 19, 2015

CFBA - Blind Trust by Sandra Orchard



This week, the
is introducing
Revell (June 17, 2014)
by

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 



Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense with Revell Publishing and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time . . . when not doting on her young grandchildren.


ABOUT THE BOOK



Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can't believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?


If you would like to read the first chapter of Blind Trust, go HERE



MY THOUGHTS:

Blind Trust is packed full of secrets, betrayals and intrigue and I guarantee you that once you enter into the town of Port Aster, through the pages of Blind Trust, you will be kept on the edge of your seat until you turn the very last page. Then, if you are like me, you will be counting the days until the release of the next book in this series, Desperate Measures, due out in June 2015.

Ms. Orchard has a gift of creating believable, lovable characters that will leave the readers thinking about them long after the last page is read and the cover is closed.  Her knack of weaving a suspenseful tale is masterful.

If you are of lover of suspenseful stories with a Christian thread, I would highly recommend picking up a copy of both Deadly Devotion and Blind Trust. 

On a 5-Star Scale - 5 HUGE Stars!!!!!

I would like to thank Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my copy of Blind Trust. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.


Smiles & Blessings,
  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings

I always like to read books by authors I have never read before. Sometimes I am extremely happy with my choice, other times I'm not so happy. I can honestly say that from the first page to the last, I was extremely happy with my choice to read Regina Jennings' book A Most Inconvenient Marriage.

The book begins in the last few months of the Civil War, in St. Louis, Missouri. Abigail Stuart is a nurse at the Gratiot Street Prison where she tends to Confederate prisoners of war. Her family has turned her out and the only place she has is the prison, at least until they transfer the prisoners out and close down the prison. As the story begins, she is tending to a man who calls himself Captain Jeremiah Calhoun. He has lost an arm in the war and has developed gangrene. Knowing he will be dead soon, he proposes to Abigail offering her a marriage of convenience which includes his farm, livestock and horses, providing she will look after his ailing sister, Rachel, and his mother. Abigail agrees and after a quick wedding, Jeremiah dies and she leaves for the Ozarks to begin her new life on Jeremiah's farm.

Her new life isn't going to be as easy as she thought as she has to confront Laurel, Jeremiah's former fiancee, Rachel, his temperamental sister, and his family and friends who all feel Abigail is telling a tall tale about marrying Jeremiah. But the biggest confrontation is when the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up quite alive. Will Abigail pack her bags and leave? Will the real Jeremiah fall in love with Abigail? Will Abigail fall in love with him? Or will Laurel capture Jeremiah's heart all over again. These answers can all be found inside the covers of this wonderful book, A Most Inconvenient Marriage.

Ms. Jennings has created strong believable characters in Abigail and Jeremiah and the tension between these characters is quite palpable. There are a lot of moments that tickle the funny bone in this book as well. I would highly recommend A Most Inconvenient Marriage to anyone who enjoys reading a good clean historical novel.

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

I would like to thank Bethany House for my copy of A Most Inconvenient Marriage. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.

Smiles & Blessings,
  .

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Q & A With Susan Meissner & Giveaway

Susan Meissner is the multi-published author of seventeen books, including A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named one of the 100 Best Novels in 2008 by Publishers Weekly. She is also a speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. She and her husband make their home in Southern California.

1. Susan, tell us where the idea for Secrets of a Charmed Life came from.
The story began first as an image in my head of an impoverished girl on the brink of adulthood sketching wedding dresses in the tiny bedroom she shares with a younger half-sister. I could see her in my mind’s eye imagining a life far different from the one she is living. She wants a fairy tale life where love and comfort and happiness are in abundance, and for her, that charmed life begins with a wedding dress worn on that blissful day a girl’s childhood dreams come true. I decided to set her in London at the start of the war because I knew that even for a young woman not yet sixteen, war is a crucible. It is a tester of dreams and desires and determination. I knew the London Blitz was an opposition that would bring out the very best and the very worst in this girl, as war so often does.
2. What is the story about, in a nutshell?
Like many of my other novels, Secrets of a Charmed Life is historical fiction framed by a contemporary layer that links to a story in the past. An American college student named Kendra, who is studying abroad at Oxford, interviews Blitz survivor Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets she has kept all her life – beginning with who she really is. The story then takes the reader to England in 1940. An unprecedented war against London’s civilian population is about to take place and half a million children are evacuated to foster homes in the countryside. Fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, but Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. The sisters’ lives are forever changed when—acting at cross purposes—they secretly return to London on the first day of the Blitz.
3. What drew you to include in your story the evacuation of London’s children?
Prior to researching for this book, I was only minimally aware of what London’s parents did to keep their children safe during World War II. I’d long ago read C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and I knew the four children in those stories had been sent out of London into the countryside at the start of the war. But I didn’t know that for tens of thousands of children just like them that stay in the countryside lasted for the duration of the war. We’re talking five years. How difficult it must have been for the parents and their kids to be separated from each other – with just occasional visits – for half a decade, and during a time of fear, danger, and deprivation. From a storyteller’s standpoint, the emotional pull of this situation is intense. I knew I wanted to explore what this scenario might have been like for two young sisters.
4. Is this a book about sisters, then?
It is that, but it is also a book about mothers and daughters, and other family bonds as they relate to children. The universe of children is rather small – home and family are pretty much their world. They don’t always see how their decisions are impacted by the decision of others, nor do they have much frame of reference for war, which is an especially cruel teacher to a child.
5. What is the significance of Emmy’s wedding dress sketches?
Those bridal gown designs represent Emmy’s na├»ve notions about the happily-ever-after life that she believes begins for a girl on the day she wears a dress emblematic of bliss and perfection. Emmy sees her unwed mother as someone on whom fate has frowned and that she is somewhat to blame for that. Emmy’s vision for her future is to rise above the constraints of her mother’s unlucky life. But those sketches blind her at first to the larger forces at work. And there are always larger forces at work.
6. What were you most surprised by in your research for Secrets of a Charmed Life?
I think many of us who were born after World War II have a limited understanding of what England suffered because there were so many other more shocking situations, like the slaughter of millions of Jews, the occupations of nations like Poland and France, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the storming at the beach at Normandy, and the Bataan Death March, to name just a few. I didn’t realize the magnitude of what London suffered until I took a closer look. The city was never occupied by Hitler’s forces but it was bombed relentlessly. Seven of Christopher Wren’s beautiful churches were destroyed, as were thousands upon thousands of homes. More than sixty thousand civilians were killed in the whole of the British Isles. Those are staggering losses. And yet the British people were and are resilient. Their rallying cry of Keep Calm and Carry On (I truly can’t stand trivializations of this motto!) is truly the hallmark of that resiliency. You can go to London’s East End now and see street after street of 1950’s-era buildings, framed by a quiet horizon of much older buildings that the war did not flatten. London, Coventry and the other bombed cities rebuilt what was destroyed and moved on. The memories of the war aren’t in the streets but in the museums, and in national cemeteries, and sometimes, if you look closely enough, in the faces of those who survived it.

7. What would you especially like readers to take away from Secrets of a Charmed Life?
The title of this book, which I love, is meant to cause the reader to wonder if there really are secrets to living a life that has happily-ever-after written all over it. The title seems to suggest there are hidden truths to being able to have everything you’ve always wanted. But in actuality, and what I hope readers will take away, is that a happy life is not made up of what you have chased and achieved, but rather who you have poured your life into, who has poured their life into yours, and the difference you’ve made in the lives of others. Most of the dreams we pursue don’t have intrinsic worth, but people always do.  It’s not a perfect world, and we can only play our own hand of cards – if you will – but if we play the hand as best we can with love for others as the motivation, I think we can rest content.   

8. What are you working on right now?

My next book is set primarily in Hollywood’s golden age, specifically in 1939 when a treasure trove of timeless movies was released, including the most iconic movie of all time, Gone With The Wind. Two studio secretaries who become friends on the set of this movie forge a tale of love, desire, and survival that hints at the dynamic between the characters Scarlett and Melanie. The contemporary thread features a woman whose vintage clothing shop specializes in updated designs of classic Hollywood fashions. When her version of the infamous Gone With the Wind curtain dress is photographed for a local newspaper, a surprising delivery comes her way that ushers the reader back to old Hollywood and the two studio secretaries who, like Scarlett O’Hara, must decide what they are willing to do to get what they want most. The novel will release in February 2016 and is tentatively titled Stars Over Sunset Boulevard. I’ve always loved the movie Gone With the Wind; the sound track alone can stop me in my tracks. It has been a wonderful experience researching the details of how this film came to be made. Like most unprecedented endeavors, there was plenty of drama!

******************************
Now for the giveaway...

Susan has graciously offered to supply an autographed copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life to one of my readers who leaves a comment on this post. So please see the rules below.

1. Giveaway is open to US and Canada

2.  No PO Boxes please.

3.  Answer my questions below for one entry - +1..

4.  For extra entries you may do one or all of the following & be sure to mention it in your      comment:
    -- become a Google Friends Connect follower of my blog +2
    -- 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 5 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 is your favorite book set during WWII

Do you have a favorite author for the WWII time period?
Have you ever heard about the London Blitz before?


Giveaway will run through February 3rd (release day), and one winner will be selected to win an autographed copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life. Good luck! It is an awesome book!


Smiles & Blessings,


  


Friday, January 16, 2015

Coming Soon! Susan Meissner's Newest Book, "Secrets of a Charmed Life"

I am so excited that I have the opportunity to share with you that Susan Meissner has a new book coming out next month. Secrets of a Charmed Life is set to release on February 3, 2015 and let me tell you, it is a book that is a must read for anyone who enjoys Susan's work. However, if you have never had the opportunity to read her work, may I suggest you pick up a copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life, you won't be disapointed. Susan has a way of weaving present day with the past in such a way that the reader is always transported through time and back again within the pages of her books. In Secrets of a Charmed Life the reader is transported from present day London to the London of World War II during the Blitz. 


If you are not aware of the London Blitz it is the period during WWII that the German Luftwaffe ran bombing missions over London. Parents were advised to send their children to the countryside where they were taken into foster homes. To the right is a picture of a small girl cradling a doll while sitting outside you bombed out home.

Because some parents couldn't handle being separated from their children, they either didn't allow them to leave London, or they brought them back home. Unfortunately, it wasn't a wise decision. The poster to the left was used to hopefully convince the parents to leave their children in the countryside.

Susan Meissner opened my eyes to a portion of history I never really knew about. I had heard of the Blitz but never really knew what went on during this time. I know now and am saddened to think of what the parents and children went through during that time.

Within the next couple of weeks I will be offering a question and answer session with Susan and an opportunity to win an autograph copy of Secrets of a Charmed Life for your very own. I will also be posting my review of this wonderful book. So please come back soon!


Smiles & Blessings,