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Friday, September 19, 2014

A Place Called Hope



This is my first experience with author Philip Gulley and his novel involving a Quaker pastor known as Sam Gardner. Based on the cover of the book I was drawn to read it based on dealing with life in a small town of Harmony, Indiana. Sam has been the pastor of Harmony Friends Meeting, the name of his church, for the past fourteen years and he has seen a lot of change in that time. He wanted to move back to Harmony because he wanted a place that he was familiar with and one he knew quite well, but even in a town you grew up in, people change. Even Sam's family is making forward changes with his oldest moving away to college and his last remaining son, wanting to join the Army when he finishes with school. Something his wife Barbara is struggling with as a first time empty nester. She too is looking for new adventure and is tired of all the complaining Sam does when he gets home from work.

She's tired of hearing all the people in his church are tired of the way Sam is running things and they want him out. The sooner the better. They don't like how he has managed things and have tried three other times to get him fired. Now that Sam has grown tired of all the efforts of the church elders, he's finally fed up. He dreams of running a hardware store where no one cares what you do as long as you sell them what they need. You don't have to worry who you offend or if people agree with how you're doing your job.

In fact the church has just about had it with everything especially since the Unitarian church bought the vacated church building and insists on converting members of their church to join them. When Sam is called to fill in for their sick pastor at a wedding, Sam agrees to fill in. But what he doesn't realize is that it is a gay wedding and it goes against everything in his church. He knows if he does this it will simply make firing him a no brainer but since gay marriage is outlawed in the state and Sam isn't marrying them just witnessing it and offering a prayer he doesn't think there would be an issue. But that is exactly the match to light the fire for the elders to get rid of him. It doesn't help that Sam resigns before they fire him. Now what will he do if he can't pastor a church any longer? You'll have to pick this one up and find out.

I received A Place Called Hope by Philip Gulley compliments of Center Street Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Groups for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions are strictly my own. I struggled to find something in this novel I liked, a character I could relate to or even care about, but it just felt like a book of complaints directed to the town's church pastor. Every chapter dealt with another issue someone had with the pastor and his constant complaining to his wife that he hated his job. It felt redundant and I had a hard time attempting to stick it out to the end. For me to engage the reader, you have to create a character your reader will care about and even 50 pages into this one, I could care a less if Sam quit or stayed. The writing style seems choppy and the storyline just never connects enough to make me want to read any further novels in this series. It feels like a start and stop with each chapter, simply picking up another problem before it ends once again. For me, this book just didn't engage me like I would have wanted. I was hoping for so much more than what I got and there was a disconnect I could seem to fix by the end of this one. For me, this one was a 3 out of 5 stars in my opinion but others may enjoy it.

For more information about A Place Called Hope, Philip Gulley or where you can pick up a copy of this novel, please click on the links below:


You can find Philip Gulley on Facebook to stay up to date with all his latest novels.

To read more reviews on A Place Called Hope, please visit Center Street Publishing's website. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hidden in the Stars



Robin Caroll's name is synonymous with Christian suspense and if you have ever read any of her novels you know just what I mean. For those of you that haven't and love a great novel that literally will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next proverbial shoe to drop, you might want to check her out. She is also the latest author contributing her writing talents to the Quilts of Love Series, in her addition, Hidden in the Stars. Even though these are all part of an ongoing series, they are truly stand alone novels and can be read in any order, but what a way of introducing readers into the talented writing styles of some great Christian authors.

Hidden in the Stars involves Sophia Montgomery, an upcoming new Olympic gymnast who has finally taken all her hard work and is on her way to the Olympics. At least she was until two men showed up at her home with what looked like a home invasion, and began to assault her and her mother Nina, speaking in Russian. Knowing enough Russian, she had the basic understanding that the men wanted something from her mother and would not leave until they got it. What she didn't plan on, was that they would stop at NOTHING to get it, even torturing her daughter Sophie, first with crushing her hands, and then choking her to the point of dying.

All Sophie knows when she wakes up is she can't talk, her hands are badly damaged and bandaged and she is facing a detective who has a load of questions for her to answer. But how will she be able to convey what she saw if she can't speak or write? Detective Julian Fraiser knows that the person he is looking at in the hospital bed is more than lucky to be alive. He has seen car accident victims look less beat up and still die. He isn't sure just how much time he has, but he knows this, he will do whatever it takes to find out who did this to Sophie and why!

I received Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll compliments of Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions contained here are strictly my own. This is such an intense novel because there is that unknown element of wondering just what the men wanted who brutally assaulted Sophie and her mother and what is the meaning behind the Russian language that was spoken. You are turning pages as fast as you can read in an effort to know what will happen. Like all great suspense stories, if you can twist the plotline enough to keep the reader engaged but not so lost they give up, but still leave them surprised at the end, I believe you have succeeded as a suspense author and Robin Caroll clearly has done that in this novel. This is the 21st novel in the Quilts of Love series and includes a Reader Discussion Guide at the conclusion. Well worth 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. You also get a sneak peek at Quilted for Christmas, the next novel in the series coming soon.

For more information about Hidden in the Stars, Robin Caroll, or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can find Robin Caroll on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Hidden in the Stars, please visit Litfuse Publicity's Book Tour page.


Don't miss the newest Quilts of Love book, Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll. September's QOL release is a wonderful combination of mystery, romance, and family love bound together by a quilt and the story it tells.

Hidden in the Stars Robin Carroll Quilts of Love

Enter to win a "Night on the Town" (a $200 Visa cash card!) and RSVP for the "Fall into Fall" Quilts of Love Facebook party on 10/7.
One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card (The perfect accessory for a "night on the town"!)
  • A Grand Design by Amber Stockton
  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 7. Winner will be announced at the October 7th author chat party with Amber Stockton and Robin Caroll! RSVP for an evening of book chat, quilting tips and tricks, prizes, and more!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on October 7th!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Life Intercepted



Well all hope that when we walk this path called life, that adversity will somehow overlook us, that it will happen to the "other" guy and not us. We'd prefer it that way but so often it does happen to us and begs us to ask the question, now that this has happened, how will we manage? Will it change the course of our lives so much that we don't move forward, that we forget how to live without that title, that salary, that marriage, that family any longer. What truly defines who we are inside? Certainly not our circumstances as one man is about to find out.

In the latest novel from Charles Martin, A Life Intercepted, takes us through the struggle and adversity of what happens to the rising football star Matthew "the Rocket" Rising. He was the greatest thing to ever happen to Gardi, Georgia. From his high school career as quarterback it was as perfectly scripted as you would hope a life as a quarterback would be. The back to back wins throughout his years in high school, back to back wins subsequently in college, and the hope of a future with his wife and high school sweetheart Audrey. He was much different than all the other football heroes because he refused to take any personal credit for the teams wins, instead emphasizing that it takes an entire team and not just one man.

That was what set him apart from everyone else. He had his heart and mind in the right places and not just on his skills as a football player. Even his wife supported his game from the humble beginnings to the cusp of success. But just before he got to the top of his future game, just when it looks like all his dreams would come true, the lights would be turned out and his life would take a turn he never saw coming and all those who truly believed in Matt's character would begin to doubt they ever knew him at all. Now the only thing facing him would be 12 years behind bars at prison for a crime he didn't remember committing and one that would change how the world would forever label him including his wife Audrey. This is Matthew's story of what happened and how he would attempt the come back of his life.

I received A Life Intercepted by Charles Martin compliments of Center Street Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Groups for my honest opinion. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions in this review are strictly my own. I've been a huge fan of Charles Martin's novels because they truly cut to the core of who we are as humans and this is no exception as he begins to strip away Matthew Rising from his humble beginnings to his pinnacle of success. What dedication he has to encourage and motivate his fellow teammates and to showcase the true unconditional love he has for his wife Audrey. I couldn't imagine how painful this was for her and even his close friends. This is a fictional novel but based on the Author's Notes at the end, shows the true inspiration of this idea for the novel. It truly shows the power of forgiveness and creates an inspiration for those areas in our own life where we might need to exercise forgiveness and just what it really means for us. For fans of football fiction with a side of romance thrown in for good measure or if you are just a fan of Charles Martins' novels, definitely pick this one up. I would rate it a 4 out of 5 stars.

For more information about Charles Martin, A Life Intercepted, or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can find Charles Martin on Facebook to stay up to date on all his latest novels.

For more reviews on A Life Intercepted, please visit Center Street Publishing's website. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes



She had to win this competition.

Kat really had to lose this competition!

When you are looking for an exceptional contemporary romance between two best friends, who believe they have what it takes to make the perfect romance aside from actually telling the other how they really feel, you have the recipe for an incredibly delicious summer romance in All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes from Betsy St. Amant. Kat Varland has always dreamed of something more, something beyond the reach of simply baking strawberry, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for her Aunt Maggie at Sweetie Pies, the local cupcake shoppe in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. But Aunt Maggie isn't ready for what she considers Kat's "weird" creations and insist she knows what's best. So Kat is sidelined until she can whip up a way to leave this small town life behind.

But she is her own worst enemy. Perhaps that is due in part, to her parents who simply believe she is wasting her talents baking cupcakes for a living. Or the love she lost when her boyfriend Chase decided her sister might be the sweeter of the two sisters to possibly settle down with, leaving Kat in more doubt than ever before. Good thing, she has a real life coach in her best friend Lucas Brannen, who coaches high school football and dreams of the day when he can finally let his true feelings for Kat come to the surface and actually act on them. But what she needs now more than love, is a true confidence boost and lucky for her, he has just the thing in mind. He has secretly signed her up for Cupcake Combat, a reality cupcake bake off show from Food Network. He hopes that once they contact Kat, she'll finally realize that those delightful creations she has been making in her own kitchen are worthy of so much more.

"You did what?"

Perhaps that wasn't the answer he was expecting from Kat when her email announced that she had made it to the show which begins in just two weeks in Los Angeles. But he does manage to convince her that his intentions were more than honorable. A way to show her that he truly believes that she has the talent to follow her dreams anywhere. He just is half hoping that she won't win. Kat has told him that the grand prize for the winner is a year's internship at Bloom, one of the largest bakeries in New York, just what she needs to finally get out of this small town. And she has just the right person in mind for the assistant she is allowed to bring. Won't Lucas look amazing in an apron on national T.V.?

I received All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant compliments of Litfuse Publicity and Zondervan Publishing for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own unless otherwise notated. I couldn't wait for this novel when I got the invitation to review it. Being an avid cupcake baker myself and a die hard romantic, this was the perfect creation for me. I love the premise and how well the writer establishes the chemistry brewing between Lucas and Kat! Funny thing is that is my name as well and I simply LOVED this one from cover to cover, inhaling it like peanut butter chocolate cupcakes!!! Hands down well worth every 5 out of 5 stars. There is even a recipe for Raspberry Lemonade Torte Cupcakes and a Reader's Group Guide at the conclusion of this novel. One I simply can't wait to try.

For more information about All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Betsy St.Amant or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can also find Betsy St. Amant on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes, please visit Litfuse Publicity's book tour page.


Don't miss Betsy St. Amant's latest fiction release, All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes. A "sweet" tale of two best friends and the choices they make between dreams and a possible "sure thing," St. Amant's novel is sure to satisfy your romantic-fiction craving.

cupcakes-400-click

Betsy is celebrating with a fun Kindle giveaway and a Love & Cupcakes Facebook party! One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle
  • All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the "Love & Cupcakes" Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a "sweet" book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

So grab your copy of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!


 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead



What do you get when you take the owner of a catering business and couple that with her ability to help the local sheriff with solving crimes in her free time? You get the latest series from best-selling author Diane Noble in The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead, the first novel in the Professor and Mrs.Littlefield Mystery series. It's like taking Angela Lansbury from Murder She Wrote and pairing it up with Indiana Jones and you get a taste for what this novel is like.

El Littlefield runs The Butler Did It, a catering company that allows her to operate her own detective agency to aid in solving the latest crimes to hit Eden Bridge, where she lives along with her daughter Katie and her granddaughter Chloe Grace. Armed with her partner in crime at times, Hyacinth Gilvertin, Southern Highland University's archivist, they hope that they will be able to pull off the biggest catering event of the year. Dr. Max Haverhill is set to host a dinner party and announce his latest archaeological find, a figurehead that was carved by a Boston artisan in 1812 that quite possible holds a map to locate one of the largest stockpiles of treasures stolen by the Nazis and hidden by the French Resistance.

But Dr. Haverhill is convinced that someone has been responsible for a recent attempt on his life while removing the figurehead from the ocean bottom where he discovered it had been hidden all these years. In fact he suspects that unless he cancels this dinner party tonight, his life and that of countless innocent guests may be in jeopardy until they have more time to hunt down the elusive couple from Paris that seem to have a connection to these recent events. But doing so now that El and Hyacinth have pretty much invested their entire life savings in food and party rentals, would mean the disaster to the future of her catering business. Just as she is able to convince Dr. Haverhill that there is plenty of security and all the mysterious guests have been accounted for, the guests at the dinner party becoming violently ill with apparent food poisoning and the figurehead goes missing along with Hyacinth, who was suppose to ensure that the figurehead remained safe and secure. Now El has a limited amount of time to do the investigation because as more time continues to elapse, the fingers are beginning to point to El and Hyacinth as being the criminals.

I received The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead by Diane Noble compliments of David C.Cook Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions contained here are strictly my own. This is such a great mystery series, because it adds a bit of comedy, romance, and of course down-to-earth detective work as El tries to unravel the clues she finds as she tries to clear her name and that of her business while trying to find her best friend, which no one believes is really missing. Even more amazing is that El finds herself suddenly falling in love with the Professor while helping him hunt down his missing artifact that will undoubtedly hold more mysteries once it's found. A must read for fans of mystery fiction coupled with a bit of romance. It's fast paced and definitely a whole lot of fun until she can solve the crime of the century, at least in her small town, and you'll never guess who is behind it all!! I rate this one a 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead, Diane Noble, or where to pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can also find Diane Noble on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Curious Case of the Missing Figurehead, please visit Christian Fiction Blog Alliance's book tour page. 


Friday, September 12, 2014

Joyful



For those of us that have come to love and call Sugarcreek our home away from home, best-selling author Shelley Shepard Gray, takes us back in her latest novel Joyful, the third book in the Return to Sugarcreek Series. This has definitely been one of my favorites because I feel like I have come to know each of the couples we deal with in this novel, like they're close family friends. I've had the opportunity to get to know them and the struggles they have had up to the point we are reunited with them once again. For me, it's like having a really great television series, that you have to wait for each next episode to air so you can come back again and again to a place you'd love to be a part of.

Randall Beiler and Elizabeth Holt have been seeing one another for the last two years, and Elizabeth is just waiting for the day when he will finally ask her to marry him and join the large Beiler family. Just when she believes that day is finally here, Randall gives her news she wasn't quite expecting. He tells her that he needs to spend more time taking care of his family, now that his older brothers and sisters have gotten married and moved on. Still taking on role of caretaker, mother and father, and older brother leaves him at a disadvantage with the house failing into a state of needing constant cleaning, someone to do all the cooking, and helping to raise nine-year-old Kaylene who feels being left at home with four older brothers is beyond what she can take. So Randall's solution is to call things off with Elizabeth.

Now heartbroken, Elizabeth struggles to figure out a way to help pay her bills taking care of her grandmother since her mother has moved away to begin her own life. She had originally planned to send money, but each month is seems like she is sending less and less, leaving Elizabeth with no choice but to find a way to supplement their income while still caring for her ailing grandmother who needs constant care. She had hoped that being married to Randall would solve things for them, knowing he could support not only them, but allowing her grandmother to move in with them, but that is not going to happen anytime soon. But will one unskilled bachelor be able to handle taking care of a house, cooking, cleaning and raising his siblings without any help, or will Randall realize he has simply bitten off more than he can chew?

I received Joyful by Shelly Shepard Gray compliments of Avon Inspire, a division of Harper Collins Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I absolutely LOVED where Shelley took her characters in this novel. As the title suggests, each of them will be forced into a situation in which they will have to find the joy in life once again, instead of dwelling on worries and things beyond our control at times. Too often we find ourselves taking on more stress and worry wondering what will happen, instead of simply enjoying what we have right in front of us, that we miss the joyful moments, of learning what it means to care for those we love, to help out our friends and family when they need it the most, and learn to appreciate what we have instead of wanting more that may never come. It causes the reader to reflect on those joyful moments in their own life, they may be missing simply worrying about tomorrow instead of enjoying today and one that I believe can cause us to change how we view our lives and see more joy instead of worry. I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars. A reader's discussion guide is included as well as a sneak peek into Shelley's next novel Snowfall.

For more information about Joyful, Shelley Shepard Gray or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:


You can also find Shelley Shepard Gray on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Joyful, please visit Litfuse Publicity's book tour page.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tremors



If you are a fan of movies like Hunger Games, Divergent or The Giver, you just might want to pick up the prequel Tremors  to what seems like will be a great new series from author Bonnie Calhoun. In this short 48 page introduction to the Stone Braide Chronicles, it does what it is supposed to do, draw you in and make you want more, much like chocolate does for me. I would classify this one as a Christian Science Fiction Fantasy and truly fans of that genre will absolutely want to begin this journey with Tremors before Thunder, the first book in the series begins early this fall.

The teaser opens with three teens who find the beach deserted at night, which provides the perfect setting for a night of surfing without the hassle of others stealing the prime waves that are slated to begin tonight. Only they truly get more than what they bargain for, when a sudden, unexpected current begins to drag them away from the shore. As the waves begin building, they don't panic at first, expecting to catch the next wave and head for shore. However when a sudden fifty-foot rogue waves appears, it will be the last thing they ever see.

Selah Rishon Charez is simply tired of being cast aside as her father and brothers scourge the coastal waters looking for "Landers." Her father has reminded her that she is to keep to the house for the next two days to keep her safe until her 18th Birth Remembrance. Her older brother warns her that it is for her safety since there have been rumors of her possibly being kidnapped before that happens. Just had hoped for some free time to work side by side with her father and brothers before being given away in a per-arranged marriage slated for 90 days after her 18 Birth Remembrance to a man she truly doesn't love, Jericho Kingston. She doesn't understand such a rush for that to happen and when she attempts to talk to her mother about it, she isn't much help. Is there a reason her father wants to keep her locked away until the wedding? Just what secrets is her father keeping from her that she has a right to know? What true purpose does her life as a girl serve in the society is which she is living? When she finds out the price her father is willing to pay for her life, she will truly be surprised at just the reasons behind him wanting to keep her safe at all costs and one she won't be happy with at all?

I received an electronic copy of Tremors by Bonnie Calhoun compliments of Revell Publishing and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions are strictly my own. The best part is that for a limited time, you can get a copy of Tremors for your eBook reader free which also includes the first chapter of Thunder, the first novel in the Stone Braide chronicles due out early this fall. This truly does sound like a great series, and this has already peaked my interest to know just what is the purpose of the rush to get Selah married and the high cost her father is willing to pay, unlimited petrol, in a world where that would be like unlimited money? And just what has been happening with the dreams Selah has only when she is near the beach? Does that preclude the reason why her father is being so secretive all of a sudden? I can't wait for the answers I hope to get when I pick up Thunder as soon as it is released. In my opinion, this one was a 4.5 out of 5 stars and truly offered what I believe prequel purpose is and that is to get people interested and wanting to read the series. It did just that.

For more information about Tremors, Bonnie Calhoun or where you can pick up a copy of this prequel, please click on the links below:


You can also find Bonnie Calhoun on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Tremors and to download the prequel today, please visit Amazon.com.