Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Taken by Dee Henderson

Released: May 26, 2015
432 pages

About the Book:

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time. When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her re-entry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn't mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there's the fact that Shannon's escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they'll stop at nothing to silence her.If justice is to be done, and if Shannon's life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her--even if it means stirring up a hornet's nest of secrets.

My Rating & Thoughts:       πŸŒŸ 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

It took me a while to decide how to rate this one. On one hand I really liked the characters of Matthew and Shannon and felt they were both really well developed. But on the other hand I found the story a bit slow at times with a lot of dialogue and very little action actually happening. This was not what was I was expecting with a suspense book. But in the end I went with 4 stars because the characters just resonated with me.

The story is told mainly from the Matthew’s point of view, what he is being told by Shannon. There is a bit of mystery as Shannon slowly shares her story with Matthew. What happened to her during the 11 years she was missing, what instigated her kidnapping, how did she escape and will the people involved be caught?

I enjoyed the way the relationship between Matthew and Shannon was handled, yes there was an attraction between the two, but Matthew understood that Shannon needed time to adapt to her new circumstances before pursuing a romantic relationship. He gave her friendship with no strings attached and connected her to others who would treat her the same way. I liked that characters from previous books made appearances, especially Ann & Paul, it was fun getting a glimpse of how they are all doing.
There were definitely some moments that provoked thoughts on why God allows bad things to happen. Two quotes that stuck out to me were: “God decided to create a world where free will was more important than no one ever getting hurt. There must be something stunningly beautiful and remarkable about free will that only God can truly grasp...” or “I can tell the difference between the acts of man and the acts of God. That’s why I still believe.”
The strength and depth of the characters Matthew & Shannon keep me connected with the story and even without the normal action I expect from suspense novels I enjoyed this one.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury

Published: October 29th 2006
400 pages

About the Book:

"Their whole life was a series of miracles. Can they really hope for one more? And as tragedy pulls their lives apart, can they somehow find that all-important time to embrace?"

After twenty-one years, John and Abby Reynolds are back together and feeling like newlyweds. Together they are convinced they can handle the issues of their past, the questions from their children, and even the high-school politics that drain the joy from John's coaching career. But then disaster strikes...the type of tragedy John and Abby never expected.

The squeal of brakes and the crunch of metal changes everything. Suddenly devastation tears at the heart of their family, and the depth of their existence. In the process, their children falter in their faith and guilt colors everything about the future. Fumbling for forgiveness and hoping for a miracle, John and Abby must remember what is important and cling to that above all else.

Together, they're determined to move on with their lives. but is "together" enough for a future they never expected?

My Rating & Thoughts:       πŸŒŸ 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (5 stars)

I first met John and Abby Reynolds in the first book of this series titled “A Time to Dance”. I loved that one, and of course could not wait to read the next in the series.

This book is filled with inspiration. I loved following along with John and Abby and their family members as they navigated through life and the tragedy that strikes their family. Life can change so quickly and this book captures this, and shows just how important it is in how we deal with all of the situations of life. Not just the big devastating situations, but also in the smaller everyday situations of life.

This book deals with so many topics and life situations through the stories also told of John and Abby’s kids and also his football player’s lives. There are so many lessons to learn from this book. This book and this series is a must read.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Ready to Fumble by Christy Barritt

Published: January 24, 2017
204 pages
Series: Worst Detective Ever # 1

About the Book:

I'm not really a private detective. I just play one on TV. Joey Darling, better known to the world as Raven Remington, detective extraordinaire, is trying to separate herself from her invincible alter ego. She played the spunky character for five years on the hit TV show Relentless, which catapulted her to fame and into the role of Hollywood’s sweetheart. When her marriage falls apart, her finances dwindle to nothing, and her father disappears, Joey finds herself on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, trying to piece her life back together away from the limelight. A woman finds Raven—er, Joey—and insists on hiring her fictional counterpart to find a missing boyfriend. When someone begins staging crime scenes to match an episode of Relentless, Joey has no choice but to get involved. Joey’s bumbling sleuthing abilities have her butting heads with Detective Jackson Sullivan and kindling sparks with thrill-seeking neighbor Zane Oakley. Can Joey channel her inner Raven and unearth whodunit before she ends up totally done in? And where is her father anyway? Can she handle fame or is disappearing into obscurity the wiser option?


My Rating & Thoughts:       πŸŒŸ 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

I received this book free from the Ms. Barritt but the opinions expressed here are completely my own. Joey has come to North Carolina to search of her dad who disappeared and to escape her Hollywood life. But while here she gets dragged into an investigation after being mistaken for her tv persona and someone staging the crime scenes to match episode's of her show. Joey's only experience with solving mysteries is what has been written for her in the tv show, so she is fumbling her way through with the help of her neighbour Zane, crossing paths many times with Detective Jackson Sullivan. Both guys are potential romantic interests for Joey, but she is determine not to get into a another relationship. Each character was unique in their own way and the situations Joey finds herself in were entertaining. I was surprised at who the villain turned out to be as I didn't see that coming. The cliff-hanger at the end has me wanting to know what happens next. Also will Joey be able to find her dad? This was a wonderful beginning to a new series and introduction to new characters. I look forward to getting to know Joey and the others in future stories. Now to patiently wait for book 2, Reign of Error.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Judge by Randy Singer

Published: August 2012
440 pages

About the Book:

Previously published as The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney. When a brilliant billionaire is diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer, he realizes that all his considerable wealth cannot prepare him to meet his Maker. But he has an idea that might: he will stage the ultimate reality show. With his true agenda hidden, he auditions followers from all the world’s major religions, inviting them to the trial of their lives on a remote island, where they must defend their beliefs against spiritual challenges.

Oliver Finney, a feisty old judge with his own secrets, is chosen to defend Christianity. As the program takes a strange twist, he quickly realizes he is trapped in a game of deadly agendas that may cost him his life. With Internet access monitored, Finney sends coded messages to his law clerk, Nikki Moreno. Aided by a teen crypto-geek, Nikki soon discovers the key to understanding Finney’s clues in an apologetics book Finney wrote and must race against time to decipher the mysteries contained in the ancient words of Christ before her boss dies defending them.

My Rating & Thoughts:     🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

Story began by giving the reader a glimpse into thoughts of the patient, the assassin and of course the judge. I found the story started suspenseful, with me trying to figure out who the patient and assassin where as the story progressed and trying to figure out how all the characters introduced connected. The story did slow down a bit in the middle for me, with all the talk about the coding and ciphers, but wow did it ever become tense with suspense the closer it got to the end. There was a lot of stuff packed into this story - defending religious faith on a reality show, an assassin, terminal illness, revenge, coding and ciphers, relationships, reading people and self-sacrifice. I was suspicious of a few people and it turned out I was right on a couple but was surprised on a few too. I really liked Judge Finney and enjoyed the way he defended his Christian faith. I admired that he was presented as a strong character but was not perfect. The other character I liked was Nicki even though she didn't share Finney's beliefs she respected him and was willing to go the distance for him. I shed some tears at the ending but felt it was fitting. I think this was an unique way of sharing about Christian beliefs and was very well done.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh

Released: March 1, 2016
416 pages
Series: Paper Hearts # 2

About the Book:

A Colorado senator’s wife, Evelyn Brandt seems to have it all. But her carefully constructed life comes toppling down when the FBI crashes her society brunch with news that her husband has been arrested for embezzlement, and he’s far from repentant. It turns out this was only the start of his indiscretions―for which he has little regret.

As the weeks following the scandal turn into months, Evelyn withdraws, even shirking her duties with the philanthropic Valentine Volunteers. The inquisitive women of the group are determined not to let Evelyn’s divorce destroy her. They have big plans for her to use her long-forgotten artistic talent to reimagine the city’s iconic lamppost hearts. But doing so will force Evelyn to work closely with Trevor Whitney, her ex-husband’s former best friend. Though she and Trevor used to be close―and he’s been letting her hide in his guesthouse―his gruffness conveys his unease with the situation.

Amid the beauty of Trevor’s farm and the comfort of a paintbrush, Evelyn starts to reclaim the dreams she sacrificed to become the perfect politician’s wife. And as creativity inspires them both, Whit begins to see the girl he fell in love with before his friend―and his own mistakes―stole his chance. Possibilities for a new beginning emerge, but long-kept secrets threaten to ruin everything. After so much time, is a change of heart too much to hope for?

Giving It:     🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

This was a heart-wrenching story. How could Chris do to Evelyn what he did? It bothered me that if people knew what Chris was like why didn’t anyone ever tell her. I really felt for Evelyn, but she found her inner strength as the story progressed. I was so happy when she finally stood up to Chris. I really liked Trevor, yes he made some mistakes but his heart was there and he tried his best to put his own feelings aside to be a true friend. His compassion shone through the grumpy state he gave off. The peacefulness and simplicity of the farm shone through. The Valentine Volunteers, especially Ursula, were entertaining and showed Evelyn what real friendship was. It was quite the journey that Trevor and Evelyn ended up on with many ups and downs, but it felt realistic and had me hoping that things would work out for the good. I was disappointment that there was no answer given of what happened to Chris. I really did not like him and hope he ended up in jail. The message that stood out to me throughout the story was that the only opinion that matters is God’s. We can end up spending so much time trying to fit in and worrying about how other see us that we can lose ourselves. To find true peace we need to be true to ourselves and be content with who we are. Knowing you are in the right with God is the true goal. I enjoyed this and do recommend it.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Candy Cane Kisses Collection

Published: Sept. 2016
About the Collection:

Eight Christmas Romance Novellas
   1. Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful by Susan May Warren
   2. Deadly Night, Silent Night by Margaret Daley
   3. The Wonder of His Love by Kimberly Rae Jordan
   4. Calm and Bright by Autumn Macarthur
   5. Heavenly Peace by Lesley Ann McDaniel
   6. Wish You Joy by Jan Thompson
   7. A Husband for Holly by Marion Ueckermann
   8. Maid for Marriage by Susette Williams

My Rating & Thoughts:  πŸŒŸ 🌟 🌟 (3 stars)

First I have to preface this by saving novellas are not really my thing. I struggle to connect with the characters as I can't get to know them the same as you would in a longer story. Also the happy ending usually seems unrealistic as things happen so quickly or things jump ahead in time that you miss parts of the characters lives. The one advantage to novellas is that they can give a reader a nice insight to an authors writing style so they can be a great introduction to finding authors you haven't read before. Most of these stories are a part of series collection that each author has on their own. Below are my thoughts on each individual story:
Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful - This is part of Ms. Warren's Montana Fire Series. I haven't read any of this series and felt completely lost with the characters. There was a lot of background between the characters which made it hard me to connect with them. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if I had read the others books.
Deadly Night, Silent Night - Book # 8 in Ms. Daley's Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations series. Felt like this could be read a stand alone. A lot of stuff happens in just a few days and the connection between the characters felt real because they had a background together, but I didn't feel like you need to know the whole background to cheer for them. The ending surprised me, I did not suspect the person who turned out to be guilty. I enjoyed this one.
The Wonder of His Love  - Book # 1 in Ms. Jordan's Fostered by Love series. I really liked the Hero in this one but the Heroine bugged me. She had known Finlay as a friend for over a year yet as soon as he began to show interest in her she no longer trusted him thinking he was poor and was just after her money. But as soon as she finds out the truth about him, her opinion changes so quickly that I began to question if her feelings were real or not.
Calm and Bright - Book # 1 of Ms. Macarthur's Huckleberry Lake series. The main couple in this book in an ex-husband and ex-wife who's two very different wants for a hometown broke them apart once but they realize that they still have feelings for each other. Her life is at the lake and his job is in the big city. I could tell these two really cared for each other and wanted to be together but didn't know how to deal with the barrier that their wants for a home life has created. I felt the ending was rushed.
Heavenly Peace  - Book # 2 of Ms. McDaniel's Holiday Hearts Series but can be read as a stand alone. It was a sweet read and the little boy was cute, loved he questions he came up with. I did not like the lady at the church who tried to tell Valerie that she would lose her salvation if she remarried after her husband had passed away. Jake was a great guy, kind and backed off when Valerie pulled away. I was happy with the ending.
Wish You Joy - this was my least favourite of the bunch. It jumped ahead in time quite a bit that I had trouble following what was going on. At first the two main characters are fighting then all of a sudden they are dating. How did that happen? I struggled to connect with these two.
A Husband for Holly  - Book # 4 of Ms. Ueckermann's Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters series, but can be read as a stand alone. This was my favourite of the bunch. I loved all the characters. I laughed so much at things Agatha did or said.
Maid for Marriage - was very short, but author included a note why. I felt like the whole romance was based on looks. I didn't care for this story.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Before the Leap by Liz Isaacson

Released: January 9, 2017
209 pages
Series: Gold Valley Romance # 1

About the Book:

Jace Lovell only has one thing left after his fiancΓ© abandons him at the altar: his job at Horseshoe Home Ranch. He throws himself into becoming the best foreman the ranch has ever had—and that includes hiring an interior designer to make the ranch owner's wife happy. Belle Edmunds is back in Gold Valley after she lost her job at a prestigious design firm in California. She's working for a conglomerate, but she's desperate to build a portfolio that she can use to start her own firm in Montana. She applies for the job at Horseshoe Home, and though Jace and Belle grew up together, they've never seen eye to eye on much more than the sky is blue. The spark between them now that they're adults can't be denied, and as Jace and Belle attempt to work together, they also fight their growing attraction to each other. But Jace isn't anywhere near forgiving his fiancΓ©, and he's not sure he's ready for a new relationship with someone as fiery and beautiful as Belle. Can she employ her patience while he figures out how to forgive so they can find their own brand of happily-ever-after?

Giving It:     🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

I received this book free from the author but the views expressed are my honest opinion. This book shows how people who are stuck in the past, holding onto resentment and anger, are held back from moving forward and experiencing true happiness. Jace and Belle have both experienced hurt from those who should have been there for them and are hesitant to trust again. Jace has a really hard time trusting women and it takes him a while to realize that he is hurting Belle because of this. Jace had more to overcome than he realized but thankfully Belle was patient with him. I really liked both characters and was cheering for them to be happy in the end. The banter between Jace and Belle was entertaining. One of my favourite lines was "I believe two people who love each other can work through anything especially with the help of God." I look forward to reading more in this series to see what Ms. Isaacson has in store for readers.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck

Released: August 2016
382 pages

About the Book:

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled. It's the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman ?after having inherited her great aunt's wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet? More than eighty years later, former? Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart's Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life. When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love. As Cora’s and Haley's stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love. 


My Rating & Thoughts:     🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

This book is contains a dual storyline that weaves together in a way that is unexpected. There is the historical part of the story that takes place in the 1930's with Miss Cora trying to keep her Wedding Shop open during the great depression. Then the other part is set in the current period and focuses on Hailey who is trying to reopen the Wedding Shop after having been closed for more than 30 years. Story is told from various points of view, both the girls and some guys, I love getting multiple people's perspective. I feel it allows me to get to know the characters even better. Cora is so blinded by love for a riverboat captain she can't see a love that's right in front of her. Will she get a happily ever after? Will the Wedding Shop owner get to wear her own wedding dress? Even though Hailey has closed herself off to love she is determined to get the Wedding Shop open, but she facing challenges along the way that stand in the way of it happening. Can Hailey get the Shop open and will she find love in the process? I enjoyed how Ms. Hauck shared the message that Jesus is always there for us through everything, how he can take our baggage and turn it into something beautiful. I fell in love with all four main characters. Story had me experiencing a bunch of different emotions, crying at sad ones and aweing that the sweet moments. I was not expecting the two stories to weave together the way they did, it was a pleasant surprise. This book also incorporates details about two previous books, The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel. This one can be read as a stand alone, but I would recommend reading the other two as well, as they are so worth it.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars) 

I enjoyed this book.  I loved the symbolism used through out the whole book as well as the spiritual journeys of the owners of the wedding shop, Cora and Haley, and the story of Jesus’ love that is told through the stories of these characters.  As we read through the book, the story is told through several different perspectives, which I really enjoyed.  I liked that it was not just Cora and Haley’s perspectives, but also Birch and Cole as well.  The storyline flowed very well with alternating between the 2 stories, 1 set in the current day and the other story set historically.  I loved how intertwined the stories were, with the wedding shop being not the only connection of the stories.  This book, and the entire series, are must reads.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Whistler by John Grisham

Released: October 2016
374 pages

About the Book:

We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.  But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.  Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history. What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money. But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous. Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

Giving It:    🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 (4 stars)

This was a complex tale of greed, corruption and those trying to bringing the guilty to justice. Lacy, whose job is to investigate complaints against judges, has been approached by a Greg Myers with what ends up being the most dangerous and biggest case of her career. Due to the nature of the those involved Myers is secretive and is only a messenger. As Lacy and her partner, Hugo, begin their investigation things begin to heat up and they soon realize just how dangerous this case is. There is so much corruption, how can you be sure of who to trust? I was suspicious of everyone. I really liked Lacy and was proud of her to have the guts to continue rather than back down. I also really liked her brother, Gunther, as much as he might have annoyed others he was there for Lacy. The story kept me intrigued, I wanted to know how the guilty parties were going to be brought to justice and if Lacy, Greg and the others involved be safe.